I’m thrilled to announce that I will be showing my work at the 32nd Arts and Crafts Conference at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn next February. I’ve long wished to exhibit my work at this splendid gathering, which I first attended about 16 years ago. It has been damn-near impossible to break in, partly because of a longtime policy whereby once an exhibitor has a booth, he or she may return annually. So I stopped trying and told myself to be grateful that I wasn’t making an 8-1/2-hour drive with a trailer full of heavy furniture and spending days standing around talking to strangers in a loud, stuffy room.
A string of events led to this chance. I recently put the publisher of my book English Arts & Crafts Furniture in touch with the operator of the conference bookstore. (Could there be a more ideal marketing venue for this book than this event at the Grove Park Inn?) Putting these people together involved contacting Bruce Johnson, the event’s director. When a furniture maker from California decided to retire from the show, he offered a booth to me.
Everything that happens is a product of numerous factors. In this case three editors who have worked with me to publish my Arts and Crafts furniture have my heartfelt thanks.*
- Patricia Poore at Old-House Journal was the first to publish any of my writing. Over the years she has made space for my writing and furniture in Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival, Old-House Interiors, and related magazines.
- Anissa Kapsales at Fine Woodworking has worked with me on several articles.
- Megan Fitzpatrick, longtime editor at Popular Woodworking (who now runs her own business, Rude Mechanicals Press), invited me to write a project article on an Arts and Crafts bookcase inspired by the designs of English furniture manufacturer Harris Lebus. When her books editor, Scott Francis, pitched the idea of a book on English Arts and Crafts furniture, she referred him to me.
One of the best things about working with this trio of women, each of whom I admire deeply (for more reasons than would be appropriate to relate here), is that I now call each of them a friend.
Like writing a book, doing a furniture show is a major undertaking. Out-of-town shows involve long drives, heavy lifting, and talking to strangers for hours each day. Sometimes sales amount to far less than the cost to participate. (For Michael Fortune’s take on marketing through shows, read this.) My husband used to think I was mad to put in the work for no discernible monetary return. But now he gets it. You have to put in the work and the time to get opportunities to do the kind of work you love.
Too many people imagine that invitations to write books or build kitchens in cool old houses just fall in my lap (and the laps of others who do work that looks enviable). They don’t. These opportunities result from hard-core slog–and in turn they require more. Overall, as long as my back, eyes, and hands hold out, I say the slogging’s worthwhile.
*listed in chronological order