Tis the Season

by Judy Gula

Tis the Season

by Judy Gula

Tis the Season... We normally associate this headline with the November/December holiday season. But this season is the Season of Quilt Shows. And like the holidays, we enjoy the happy, excited energy of shows... but (also like the holidays) it can lead to exhaustion!

Australian Aborigine-Designed fabric for sale by Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal

I am frequently asked how many shows per year that Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal exhibit at, and I am never really sure. I guess I could count them… but maybe I don’t want to know?

Those of us who take our businesses on the road really appreciate those of you who come prepared to shop. It makes the difficult work and long hours worth the travel. Fortunately, I have many customers who are very aware of what it takes for a business to participate in shows around the country. If you haven’t thought too much about this subject, may I share?

The first show of the year for us is Road to California in Ontario California in January. I should really begin ordering and pulling product 3 weeks before the show. (I can tell you it never happens.) Ten days before the show, the pallet needs to ship to California from us inVirginia for it to arrive on time. The cost to ship the pallet is $1.00 per pound. I try to ship just 500 lbs, but usually it weighs in at approximately 700 lbs.

The Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth at Mid-Atlantic Quilt FestivalWe fly out the day before the set up day, which is a day to set up our booth, usually a 10 x 20 booth. Depending on the show, that size booth can cost between $1,000 –$2,000. The Road to California Show is four days long; most quilt shows run three or four days. The show ends on Sunday, then we have to repack the unsold product and supplies used in the booth onto the pallet and ship back to Virginia. Monday morning we fly back to Virginia, always with some product carried in our luggage. The following week when the pallet arrives back, it’s time to unpack and put the store back together.

The end of February we went through the entire laborious process again for the 26th Annual Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, VA, only this time we also had to prepare and ship a pallet of materials and supplies to Portland , OR for Art & Soul.

And since Hampton had a record 8 inches of snow the first day of the show, I ended up putting on my taxicab hat on... I made six runs from the hotel to the Convention Center to ferry determined attendees when shuttle bus didn’t show up. (Happy to help out, but I had to laugh at the number who assumed I was the official hotel shuttle driver!)

I left Hampton, flew to Portland, and without an extra minute to adjust to the new time zone, began assembling a satellite store in the hotel. Art & Soul

Empire Quilt Guild 2015 Show logoBarely recovered from that, at the end of this month I’m attending the Empire Quilt Guild show in New York City: Urban Inspirations Quilt Show, Under a New Star. This will be the first time I have been a vendor for this show; the original owner of Batik Tambal, Trish Hodge, was a vendor there often, so I am looking forward to continuing the tradition.. The show will be held at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT, which was my dream school!), right in the heart of the city, 7th Avenue at 28th Street.

If you are close to the city, or lucky enough to plan a trip, it should be a great experience. Paula Nadelstern, whose quilts have been featured internationally, will moderate a panel of experts on Collecting Quilts: How and Why. The show will also feature Barbara Brackman, the renowned and well-loved author of the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, who will discuss the ebb and flow of block patterns, how and why they rise and fade in popularity over time.

The quilt show craziness continues for most businesses until November, with the International Quilt Festival in Houston.

Why do we do it? Some days I am not sure! But then the show opens and excited, creative, friendly, wonderful people show up and the day is wonderful!

To end, I would like to offer the following ettiquette for those attending quilt and craft shows.

Quilt/Craft Show DO’s

  • DO bring your patterns, ideas, and fabrics to coordinate with.
  • DO, bring your open mind, creativity and sense of adventure and be willing to listen to new ideas.
  • DO, use some of the space in your tote to bring “show and tell” projects you’ve made using products and materials that you’ve purchased from vendor at previous shows.. I know I love to see what you have created with the materials and supplies that I have gathered for you!
  • DO come by and let me know that you read our newsletter and blog, and that it is helpful!
  • DO come by and let me know that you are a current customer, whether shopping in person in Alexandria, or virtually online..
  • DO, ask before taking any photos of samples on display in a booth. I am usually happy to oblige when it is my own work, but please ask, as I do have other artists’ samples on hand. Know, and respect, that many companies restrict photography of their patterns, which is only fair as they are protected by copyright.
Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival attendees

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