The day began well before the sun rose. Some of us were awake around 3:00 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep, worried that we wouldn't wake comfortably when the time came and others slumbered, however restlessly, until the alarm rang out at 4:30 a.m. This was the day Peter and I had been working toward since early June, the day of the Shelter Island Art Show and Craft Fair - Saturday the 23rd of August.
Once we decided to participate in the show and our application was accepted, work began. First we had to create an inventory of product - something to sell - culled from our thousands of photographs. Immediately I created a desk calendar for 2015 and ordered 80 feeling very optimistic. We also had to order prints in a variety of sizes on a variety of materials such as paper, foam core, canvas, metal, and even glass, and we had to do it early enough that reorders could be made if something didn't turn out or if something turned out very right. To frame or not to frame became our most pressing question for weeks on end and that which wasn't framed now needed to be matted and bagged. A wonderful online store called ClearBags became our go-to source for these supplies; great quality and good service, we couldn't ask for more. Soon boxes of 11x14", 16x20", and 20x24" cut mats, backing board, and clear protective bags in each size began arriving at our front door.
Decisions now had to be made about how these matted images would be displayed - in baskets, boxes, or bins which entailed hours of research to select a product that would hold each size. We quickly learned that we had to read the fine print about the internal dimensions of a basket not just the outside, and we also learned most of these display products come in batches of at least six. Larger matted images were too big for table-baskets so we ordered standing print racks - first the inexpensive black canvas racks and later the more open wood print racks. The latter are more inviting to a viewer looking from any distance because you can glimpse the rack's contents from afar. The appearance of our friendly UPS man on our front stoop occurred daily now, rapidly filling our front hall and den with box after box of materials for our little store.
Speaking of our store, one of the most important purchases we made was of the booth itself - it would become the gallery for displaying our art. After much research, we contacted a company out of Arkansas called Flourish and after consulting with Luke, a seasoned veteran of the art festival circuit, we decided upon the Trimline Canopy, the dimensions of which are 10x10x10 (at it's tallest point). Normally the booth's walls are only 7 feet tall but we chose to get a one foot extension in order to have more wall space for hanging the art - a good business decision but one that makes erecting the booth a challenge for our less-than-6-foot-selves. The canopy and all its parts would arrive within about ten days from the day of our phone conversation.
In the meantime, our largest finished pieces started arriving: 14 12x36" framed canvases (two to a box each 30x40"), 2 16x48" framed canvases, 5 16x32" gallery wrapped canvases, a 15x30" float-mounted metallic print, a 16x24 print on aluminum, and two 7x7" prints on glass. The livable real estate within our small house was rapidly being reduced, but when the canopy arrived it all but disappeared. It was painfully evident a solution was needed, and carrying the very heavy, cumbersome boxes of canvas and mesh walls, the canvas roof, poles and all the connecting hardware down to our basement was not an acceptable solution for these two sexagenarians. Enter the latest addition to our backyard - a 6x4x4' Rubbermaid shed which, happily holds everything we'll ever need for our little road show.
Mornings in late July and early August were spent matting and bagging 130 of our 8x10, 11x14 and 16x20 prints on the downstairs guest-bedroom bed, and when that was done, we did it again so we could title each image and attach a business card to the back. To display the baskets of the smaller prints and calendars, we would need tables in our tent and Costco was the perfect place to find affordable, sturdy, portable, collapsable tables and Amazon allowed us to cover their plastic surfaces (and everything we would be hiding beneath) with Royal blue table clothes.
As I wandered around our small house, making lists of the next steps that needed to be taken like ordering bubble wrap and packing tape, business card holders and a clip board, making up our price list, and ordering the van for transporting everything to Shelter Island, I paused just a moment and smiled, "Is this what they call a cottage industry?" I asked myself, and immediately went back to work with no time to find the answer.
Peter and I had been trying to agree on some signage for our little gallery, something to beckon viewers to come see our wares, and finally we borrowed an idea I'd read about in Art Festival Guide (by Maria Arango) - "Welcome to Our World". Peter did all of the research this time and found a place that could make us a banner and deliver it on time, and with velcro patches could be easily attached to the front roofline of our canopy. Our tiny gallery was now as complete as we could make it, for our first time out!
Before the day of the show, Peter and I practiced putting up the tent twice by ourselves. The first time it took several hours, the second just a couple. We knew we were allowed four hours in which to set up on the day of the show, so we felt confident that we'd be ready to open by 10:00 a.m. A full dress rehearsal was completed on the Thursday before the show, with all of the art hung, tables dressed, baskets, bins and racks filled, and a supportive little sister, in from Florida, amongst our ranks. The extra helping hands were a big help and the added common sense and humor were greatly appreciated as the pressure mounted approaching "opening day".