Author Archive

And The Signs Say….   2 comments

I’ve discovered that if I post signs on a booth’s exterior wall, then people don’t point and laugh at me so much.

Or so it seems.

The signs continue to entertain many, and it probably only seems that amused people are pointing at me and laughing at me.

Probably.

If you happen to be in Tehachapi for the Mountain Fest this weekend, please drop in. Mrs M will be there — with her stuff! We’ll be in our big triple booth this year; this is the 4th event where we now do a triple booth.

We need the space. I have more signs to show, after all!

More

How Long Does It Take?   4 comments

It’s one of the most common questions I get asked.

“How long does it take to make a board?”

The easy answer is I have no idea. Truly. I know it takes hours as I work through my 8 steps:

The Process

Picking & Processing: the lumber has to be selected for the board. This is where the lumber is cut to shape, the various species are selected, and the wood is laid out in its final form. I then tape the boards together so they stay in order, awaiting the next step. It’s unusual for me to do more than 20 boards in a day.

12 boards … well, I made 13 … ready for glue-up.

Gluing: my least favorite step. It’s a mess. Glue flies everywhere. I have to put a faux top on my workbench, set up with glue, water, paper towels, a rubber roller & a green kitchen scrubby. Clamps have to be prepped, and 3x clamps go on every glue-up. Each piece lives in the clamps, under pressure, for somewhere between 4 and 24 hours. I know to glue up one piece takes 10 minutes – plus set up and clean up time. I have enough clamps to do 12 pieces, which means gluing is a 2 hour process. Every time.

The glue needs to have sufficient “open time” so I can apply the glue to all 13 strips, and then still have time to spread the glue before placing the strips into final position.

Shaping: after the pieces have dried and cured – for at least 24 hours – then they need to be smoothed with either the planer (up to 13″ wide) or the drum sander. Once smooth, each piece is cut to its final shape & size. Then, the pieces either go to the CNC for carving, or perhaps go to the router table or another machine for final touches.

Shaping can make dust fly, unfortunately.

Sanding: once the pieces are shaped, they are sanded using one of my 5 finish sanders (!). 3 of these are hand sanders … and every piece is hand sanded. I use as many as 6 different grits of sandpaper at this stage, depending on the needs of the piece. Cutting boards are sanded to a glass finish as I work up to 320 grit.

Sanding is never quick.

Branding: when I’m doing it right (and I’ve failed at this step too often in the last several months), every piece gets my logo laser engraved on the back. To do this, I put each piece into a container, separate each piece with paper or bubble wrap, and take each piece to my engraver.

Finishing: food products all get oiled & waxed. Hand rubbed. Hand finished. Non-food products get a lacquer or urethane finish (I use 3 different ones, depending on what I’m making). Curing again takes 24 hours, mimimum. Most cutting boards get non-skid rubber feet.

Photography: every piece is photographed. How else can I show them to you?

Wrapping: every piece is wrapped for transport. Cutting boards, and most other products, get a jute tie with a board card, showing the price, the species used in the piece, and care instructions for the board. Each piece is then re-packaged into containers for transport to the next event.

The Question

So, how long does it take?

I’ve said it takes as many as 8 or 10 hours for a big, end grain cutting board … but I have no idea.

Some artists insist the only accurate answer is “I’ve been a woodworker for over 40 years.” It’s only through the experience you’ve gained over time that you know how to do what you do … so, some say, it is fair to say that to make THIS piece, it’s taken me 40 years to get here.

I recently made a pair of pieces that brought that home to me.

While digging deep (and I mean deep) into the shop, I discovered a couple of old glue-ups that had been languishing. They were red oak panels that I think were made for my desk & book case … that I made in 2009.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

So these extra panels were large … and I make signs. OK, so I’ll make 2 of my large signs, “Family” and “In This House.” These are typically made from cherry & left unpainted, like these:

CNC Sign 18 – 26 Family. Cherry. 12″ x 16″.
CNC Sign 18 – 50. Cherry. 13″ x 16″.

I cut the panels to shape … and discovered that they had been assembled with biscuits, which is an old school technique that helps keep a large panel flat. The edge of the panel, when I cut it, revealed a biscuit. Crap. I’ll have to fix that … by covering it. Problem. And when I have a problem, I often put the project aside.

I went ahead and carved the red oak panels, but the prominent grain on the panels didn’t look right to me. When a project doesn’t look right … I put it aside until I can think of the right solution. This can be the kiss of death. “Putting it aside” is always for weeks. It can be for months. Remember, these panels were originally put aside … and it’s been years.

Ten years.

I knew that these signs needed to be painted. I knew they needed to be framed. Each presented problems.

To paint the signs, I had to deal with the reason I seldom use red oak in the shop these days – and never use it for cutting boards. Red oak is too porous. When you paint it, the capillary action of the grain will transport paint easily, so you can’t get a clean edge like I’m used to with Hard Maple or Cherry. To paint these signs, therefore, I will have to lacquer them first, to fill the grain, then paint the entire sign, sand the paint off the surface to reveal the painted letters, and then lacquer the sign again for the top coat.

The framing is a simple process; I’m once again framing my chess boards, so I know the steps to do a frame with mitered corners. It’s not my favorite thing to do, though … and when I don’t love doing something, I tend to put it aside.

Weeks. Months. Years.

These 2 signs finally overcame my inertia. They finally overcame my lengthy thought processes. They overcame being put aside.

I’m quite happy with the result.

And, I’m also certain I know the answer to the question for these pieces. How long did it take to make them?

Ten years. It took 10 years to make these signs.

CNC Sign 19 – 712 Family
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House

New: Cribbage For 2 … And California!   Leave a comment

It took me forever to get these done.

I had the idea. I had the design.

I even had the California boards done for months … but didn’t have the bases done.

For months.

Finally, though, I had my breakthrough and finally got 2 pairs of 2-person Cribbage boards done.

As with all of my boards, the base holds the cards & pegs. The tops are interchangeable, so you can choose the bottom and top that you most like.

The standard “race track” 2-player version is a common design; it’s the board that most people have used. The California board is my own design. Every California I make will have yellow wood in it … California is the Golden State, after all.

Half of these are now sold (note that I neglected to photograph one of the 2-player sets … and it’s sold. Sorry!). I was intrigued that the purchaser of the California set went stripey-stripey. No plain wooden pieces for her California!

I continue to add to the collection of custom 3- and 4-player boards. More of those designs will soon follow; check out the links below to see the other cribbage boards I have made.

More

The Cribbage Obsession

This Cribbage Thing Is Catching On

New: Garlic Dipping Boards   Leave a comment

I was going to a foodie event … and I wanted to be prepared.

I talked to my buddy Nicole, the potter, and she agreed to make a batch of great garlic graters for me, in 2 shapes. My job: to find a board design that incorporated the great graters that I could live with … and Mrs M would allow me to make.

Something like that, anyway. She doesn’t get to tell me what to do, but after 41 years of marriage, she’s still trying.

She’s very trying.

But I digress.

I had to design the perfect well to put the great graters into, so I went to the CNC and started making shapes of different sizes and depths to see what would fit the samples that Nicole gave me the best.

It was not a quick process.

I finally settled on the proper dimensions, and decided to make most of the boards in the long, skinny, curvy shape you see above … that was inevitably called a surfboard by my California customers.

Dude! Not a surfboard! The nose would just dig in! But, alas, customers get to call boards what they want … after they buy them.

I ended up with 3 different shapes, and the buying process was very interactive. Customers got to choose the board they liked, then choose the great grater that either matched – or didn’t match. They got to choose their own custom set. I love that.

Here’s how they work: you peel a clove of garlic, and then rub it against the rough center of the great grater. It really pulverizes the garlic! Then, you pour in olive oil and add balsamic and spices to taste … serve with bread, and you’ve got a great appetizer!

Rub a raw clove of garlic on the grater.
I finished a batch of bread saws just for this event!
Add olive oil, spices to taste. Serve with sliced bread for a great appetizer!

I’m happy to report that the majority of these sold at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I immediately texted Nicole to get a larger order of great graters for my Christmas shoppers. I sure hope that people buy these when they’re not in Gilroy!

Recovery: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   1 comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

When I left you, dear readers, I had a rental car and was in a hotel in Gilroy, trying to imagine what should be next. That was Monday. If you need to catch up, you need to read about our experiences at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival. Read about it, here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Since that fateful Sunday evening just 5 days ago, I’ve driven several hundred miles, finally gotten all of my stuff back … and am now sitting at home. Here is what happened:

Velda & I spent Monday watching the news and trying to figure out what to do. We networked with other vendors and read email updates that we began to get. The Garlic Festival website had a dedicated link to news as well.

CNN was carrying all of the Gilroy press conferences live at this point, and we were eager viewers. We learned that the entire Christmas Hill Park was now considered a crime scene, and that the entire area was now under FBI protection. It appeared that it would be days before anything could be recovered from inside the park – where the jeep and trailer were parked, and the booth was set up with all of my wooden pieces on display, open to the elements 24/7.

Remembering the Enterprise Rent-a-car slogan (“We’ll pick you up!”), we took them up on that offer and got a rental. We stayed near Gilroy on Monday night, which was an extra night in the motel, plus food (an accurate accounting will follow in the formal event review, but for now, you’ll just get approximations). $200.

We communicated with our final customer of the day, who had bought a beautiful, large Black Walnut cutting board and left it with us for pickup later … until we were all interrupted by the idiot with the gun. The buyers, luckily, lived in Gilroy, and we agreed that we would see each other when we returned, so they could get their cutting board … which was currently in the FBI’s protective custody.

We decided to drive home with the rental on Tuesday, and drop it off in Santa Clarita. $200.

Gas, $40.

On our way home, we learned at 2:45p – when we were 4 hours away from Gilroy – that we could pick up the Jeep if we were there by 6:30p. No way we could make that, and having the Jeep wasn’t that helpful anyway in the near term. The trailer had to stay with the booth – and the product was not accessible. Yet. We decided to keep on the road to home and do nothing, for now.

Wednesday was more of the same. I called the offered information number … and got the main receptionist for the city of Gilroy. No help there. Velda got a call from an FBI agent, who verified that she did not see the perpetrator.

We saw nothing.

Our near-complete lack of information, and general confusion continued throughout the week. Official announcements were typically made shortly before the time period that you were allowed to do something, so you really had no advance notice when anything would change. No. Idea.

Late Wednesday, an update landed on the website saying that “sometime” on Thursday the vendors on our side of the park would be able to recover their property. No other information was given. No time. No schedule. Nothing. We were cautioned that we would need an ID or driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration for the vehicles before they could be recovered. Well, OK, then.

Velda & I agreed that we would pack up Wednesday night and drive north Thursday morning. We would take the opportunity as it presented itself.

Velda, who had her fair share of anxiety – and then some – woke up at 2:15a. She puttered in the kitchen. At about 4a, she starting making the bed with me still in it and that’s when I got up.

We were on the road shortly after 5a. We drove her car, with the plan being that she would drive it home while I drove the Jeep & trailer home. Gas to & fro, $80. Wear & tear … well, we’re way beyond accounting for that on this one.

We were in line behind a flatbed produce truck. I have no idea why.

When we were almost to Gilroy, we learned that we could get access to the park after 1p. Since it was shortly after 9a, we had some time to kill. We ended up at the Gilroy outlet mall, and Velda did a bit of shopping. I read a book. We ate lunch (she made our lunches at 3a, I think it was). We headed out at about noon, and we were at the gate at 12:15p. A CHP officer was manning the barricade, and he told us where to wait. We got in line; about 10 cars were ahead of us.

Soon after we got in line, an FBI agent came out to talk to everyone in line and tell them what to expect:

  • You would be individually escorted at all times
  • You were not allowed to do anything but recover your property that was located on what’s called the “park side” of the park … where our booth was.
  • Everything in your booth had already been examined by the FBI.
  • All cash in the booth had already been photographed, logged and removed by the FBI (we had left none).
  • All valuables were similarly removed from the booth, we were told (so my cutting boards were not considered valuable. This is SO WRONG.).
  • They had already arrested some people that tried to sneak through the protective line of police. The crime scene was still being managed by the FBI (how stupid do you have to be to try and sneak onto a crime scene while the police are still there?).

We finally got to go in a little after 2p.

Each car had to be checked in by the FBI. A form had to be filed with my ID info for each of my 2 vehicles. Velda was also identified with legal ID and logged into their system. While in the park, we had a nice FBI agent named Matt (badged & armed) by our side at all times. Our trailer was an additional wrinkle; but we got a ride in an FBI cart to the Jeep, where I could then hook up the trailer, drive to the booth and begin to do what we were there to do. Velda took the pictures … this is exactly how we found the booth. The empty containers in front of the booth, the products and the canopy were set up exactly how we had left them Sunday evening.

This is the area of our booth after it was removed. The mostly brown grass was the walkway between my tables. The green grass was under the tablecloths. The rectangles of dead grass are where my empty containers were sitting under the tables. As you can see, most of the other vendors were already out of the park, but work continues.

There was some minor damage to most of the boards due to exposure to the elements; they’ll need to be refinished. Unfortunately.

Thursday evening, we went to our motel for the evening & I took a shower, thankfully. We went out to dinner, and then found our customer to present her with the board, now liberated from protective custody.

Motel, $140. Food, $52.

We got up Friday morning, had our horrible but “free” breakfast at the motel, put gas in both cars and got on the road. We’re now home with the Jeep, trailer & my boards. The trailer is in the driveway … and now I have to fix all of the damage.

But not today.

I need to repair 200+ boards before my next event in 14 days. Costs … let’s call it a day or more, and at least $100 for supplies (sandpaper, oil, beeswax, lacquer).

Home again.

We now know that the FBI investigation will continue for perhaps another week; all booths and property left on the other side of the park (the “ranch side”) are still in place. Those vendors must simply wait.

We now know that our last customers of the day – the couple that bought the nice Black Walnut end grain cutting board – were RIGHT THERE when the shooting happened. They saw it all. They ran for their lives, and, fortunately, were not injured. They are also 100% certain that the shooter acted alone. There was no accomplice. There was no 2nd shooter.

There was just one stupid, crazed gunman who wreaked havoc on a community.

More

Terror: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Shredded: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Terror: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   3 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

2 July events … and both get a Special Edition of The Board Chronicles.

Not. Good.

I was a vendor at the 41st Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. It’s been on our bucket list for many years – long before we were vendors, Mrs M was a great cook. She is a foodie. And if you’ve ever eaten at her table, you know she loves garlic.

Loves. Garlic.

So, of course, we wanted to go to the world’s pre-eminent festival in celebration of the Stinking Rose. Since the event is always in the heat of summer … and Mrs M’s products don’t play well when it’s in the 90s … we decided that I would be the vendor, and Velda would be the tourist. We had a plan. I applied to the Festival, got accepted as a vendor, and we were on our way.

All was good through most of the event, which will be reviewed separately. It’s a 3 day event, and Friday and Saturday passed without incident. We had fun. Sunday was a slower, relaxing day as is typical for a festival. I had just finished with my last customer at 5:35p and sat down to rest for a few minutes before our packing & load out would get started at 6p.

5:41p. We heard some pops. And then some more.

It sounded like gunfire, but some pops didn’t, I thought. No clue what it was. We then saw people running by my booth, screaming. “Shooter! Run!” But … run where? We had no clue what was happening where, so we didn’t move. We did go behind our booth to not be as visible.

5 sheriffs ran by, towards the source of the sound, guns drawn.

A 30-something woman was also behind our booth, with a crying, lost child. The woman called the child’s mother trying to reunite them.

No one knew anything. Hysteria. What? Where?

Terror.

A little after 6p, event organizers (all volunteers!) told everyone to evacuate to the south (away from the gunfire). I had already emptied the cash drawer; I gathered up our electronics and was ready to go. Velda … she picked up her valuables, which were 3 braids of garlic and her purse. Yes, I got to carry 10 pounds of garlic the rest of the evening. But, it was safe.

Velda saved the garlic.

We walked away from our $4,000 Trimline canopy, and my 200+ boards in the wide open booth. We moved with the crowd to the southern-most area of the park, and then eventually were moved to a nearby large concert amphitheater.

We simply abandoned the booth. We walked away from everything, open to the breeze. It’s just stuff.

We. Got. Out.

Organizers were there to help keep people calm and announce what was known (nothing). Velda shot a little video (why?) that shows you what the chaos sounded like.

We were in the amphitheater with several hundred people. Most were normal guests of the Garlic Festival. There were several volunteers, and many vendors as well. Eventually, it was decided that the guests that were in remote parking could walk to a nearby elementary school, and meet shuttle buses there to get them back to their cars. Those with cars on site (us!) would sit tight. That was just getting going … when 6 police moved quickly through the theater, guns drawn. They were going further south. Quickly.

Soon, there was a panic and people started running away … to where? Back to where we were evacuated from? Chaos returned. We had been sitting on a straw bale in the front of the audience area; Velda and several nearby people were now face down on the grass, hiding from … what?

We had no real information.

After that calmed down, we were quickly told that everyone would go to the elementary school. We started walking: six tenths of a mile to the school. We got to the school, and many people got picked up by family members there. Buses were there, taking people to parking lots. We … sat on a curb. We had no easy way to get anywhere we wanted to go. Our hotel was 8 miles away. No family or friends to come pick us up. We heard there were 3 Uber drivers in all of Gilroy, and they would clearly be overwhelmed.

Then we heard from a bus driver (!) that we were all to get on a bus which would go to the remote parking lots the Festival patrons needed, and then could go to Gavilan College, where people like us would get assistance to leave the area.

We got on a bus, and the driver immediately got lost. We turned around, circled the neighborhood, and then finally got to the Green lot … and waited behind some unmoving buses for a while. The driver eventually determined she needed to go around the buses that weren’t moving, and we got to the loading zone. Some people got off. We turned around … and then another party on our bus determined they should have gotten off at the last lot. We had to turn around. Again. The chaos continued.

We got back to the Green lot … but now we had to wait to be interviewed by an officer there that were taking down ID info, phone numbers, and statements. We saw nothing … but they have my cell number if they want to ask me any questions. After the interview, the CHP did arrange for us to get on the bus and get transport to Gavilan College.

Once there, another officer stepped on board to ask if we had seen anything. With that negative answer, we were free to go … where? We had no way to go anywhere and thought that waiting for a cab would probably be hours at best. That’s when a nearby young man raised his hand and called out, “Anyone need a ride?”

Fidel was simply a good samaritan that was helping out. He lived in Gilroy. He and his buddy Neil had their families in a safe place, and they were now offering rides to strangers.

You bet we got in their car. We do rely on the kindness of strangers all of our lives; but it’s always surprising when it’s such a large kindness. Fidel, AKA “Pops,” gathered up 5 strangers, and we proceeded to go to 3 different hotels & a restaurant that the strangers needed to get to. We were the last stop, and discovered that Neil was actually our vendor neighbor. His girlfriend is a 2D artist; the Gilroy Garlic Festival was her first-ever event. We met them Friday; hadn’t realized that he was the boyfriend until we got out of the car.

Kindness.

One passenger in our SUV was 80 feet from the shooting and talked about throwing kids in his booth behind boxes to try and get them undercover. We met another vendor that talked about how the shooting happened right beside the booth they had last year … but they were in a different position this year. But for the grace of God….

We got back to the motel at about 9:15p, 3-1/2 hours after the incident. Velda bought screw top wine from the motel gift shop. We ordered pizza.

We now know that the shooter cut through the perimeter fence to bypass the entrance security for the event. We now know that the incident was contained VERY quickly by the police force on duty at the event. The event site was divided into 5 zones, with officers patrolling each zone. We saw cops on foot, on horseback and on dirt bikes throughout the event, and 3 of those cops responded immediately to the shooter, and killed him with their pistols within a minute of the shooter opening fire with his AK-style rife. The cops were out-gunned, but they ran to the danger. And, perhaps, they ended it right then. Perhaps all of the uncertainty that thousands felt after the shooting was unnecessary, if that idiot shooter was truly a lone, crazed gunman.

Our perspective is that the event organizers did EVERYTHING right. They had a fenced border. They had security. They had a significant police presence. One idiot lone gunman defeated their planning. Unless they build a border wall around the park … what can you do?

As I write this on Monday, we still don’t know if there was a 2nd person involved in the attack (witness accounts varied). We still don’t have access to the park, so our booth and my products are still open to the elements. The Jeep is still on lockdown, and we now have a rental car.

We’re fine. We’re safe. The stuff we left in the park will be taken care of eventually, and I’m very OK with that.

More

Shredded: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Shredded: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   5 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

There I was, settling into a long drive home from the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Prescott, AZ had not been kind to me on this trip (read the event review, here), and I was 400+ miles from home.

I had elected to take the northern route home (I-40 to I-15) instead of the southern route (I-10). The southern route takes me across 50 miles of absolutely nothing desert before I get to the freeway, and I just don’t like the drive. The northern route is about 40 miles longer, but I like the drive more.

So there I was, 30 minutes out of Prescott on Arizona 89 North. It’s a 2 lane blacktop, connecting to I-40.

I felt the trailer fishtail a bit, so I checked the side mirrors.

The semi behind me was flashing his lights.

There was smoke in the right side mirror.

This is bad. Very bad.

I pulled over immediately. Here’s what I saw:

The tire was shredded. When the tire came apart, the flailing rubber pieces caught the aluminum fender and bent it back underneath itself. The white side of the trailer was marked by all of the revolving rubber pieces. The tire totally came apart.

Why? Who knows. Maybe it was a blowout. Maybe I hit something. Maybe the tire was tired of carrying an overloaded trailer and decided to teach me a lesson. I don’t know … but I do know that my spare tire is now required to get me home, and I need help to get it on the trailer. Thank goodness for AAA (which Mrs M insisted we get last year, by the way).

So I call AAA, and am told that 1) my policy doesn’t cover changing a tire on my trailer and 2) the person I called was in California, and I need to talk to an Arizona person. I was told I would have to pay cash to the tow truck driver. Oh, joy. She then transferred me … and I was disconnected.

Strike 1.

I called back, and got a different person that could help me. She had a great deal of difficulty with my location. “What city are you in? What’s your address? Your cross streets?” All very reasonable questions … and I had no answer. I was 21 miles south of I-40 on AZ 89 N. That I knew, from the GPS. Other than that … there was nothing visible but highway, junipers and brown grasses as far as the eye could see.

Nothing else.

I knew I had gone through Chino Valley after leaving Prescott, and knew I’d gone by a post office a while after that. Eventually, the AAA lady decided she knew where I was, and told me help would be there within 3 hours (sigh).

I then got a call from another lady, from the designated tow company out of Flagstaff. She asked me where I was … and, yup, we had to do the whole routine again. She eventually decided that I was outside of their territory, and she told me someone else would be coming to help. Not her territory.

Strike 2.

I noticed it was getting hot, so I decided to get a folding chair out of the trailer and set it up in the shade of a convenient Juniper bush, about 10 yards off of the highway. It was very nice in the shade, but the temperature was only going to go up.

15 minutes later, I got a text that help was on the way.

Then Officer Krumm of the Arizona Highway Patrol stopped by to see if I needed assistance. I told him I was fine – and learned that he and his wife had visited my booth at Prescott Frontier Days! His wife, a seasoned trail cook, he said, really liked my cutting boards! I did ask where I was. Come to find out, there were mile markers on the highway and I was near mile marker 241. Paulden was the nearest community … and the cement plant in Drake was just up the road. I was on the edge of the Coconino National Forest, I’ve since learned.

Pro tip: you can always call 911, and then have them give you the GPS coordinates of the call, which you can then relay to AAA for roadside service … if you should ever find yourself on a remote highway on the edge of a National Forest without a cross street!

I was not lost.

About a half hour later, the tow truck driver showed up. He surveyed the situation, rolled out his mechanic’s jack, and changed my tire. Come to find out, the tread of the tire had wound itself around the axle after it detached from the shreds of the tire still on the rim, so he had a bit of a struggle to clean it all up. No worries: the tire got changed, and in the end, I was back on the road with only a 90 minute delay.

The driver only asked for my signature. I did not have to pay cash for the tire changing service.

Next stop: I went to the next gas station to check the inflation of the trailer’s tires, and the newly mounted spare was indeed low. $1 of air later, I was on my way across the Mojave & back to home in Valencia, CA.

  • I visited my local AAA office, and the clerk there confirmed that I needed “RV” level coverage to get roadside assistance for my cargo trailer. Further, my “classic” level of coverage only provided 7 miles of towing, should that be required … and I know I was way more than 7 miles from a garage on this latest trip. I upgraded to Plus membership as well. Pro-rated, that was $53.09 to upgrade to the additional coverage, good until next February.
  • My tire store carries trailer tires, and I have an appointment tomorrow to get both my old tire & my shredded remnant replaced. The spare will … go back to being a spare. $285.
  • My trailer retailer will inspect the trailer, and I’ve got an appointment Friday for them to replace the broken fender, repair the running light and get the trailer back to good condition. I don’t have an estimate on that cost yet, but I’m certain it’ll be more than a dollar.

More

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Frontier Days 2019   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

My first trip to Prescott, AZ was for the Faire on the Square event last Labor Day. Nice community … and when I heard that they had a big event in July, I was interested.

Prescott is at altitude, so it’s cooler than most of Arizona. It’s a getaway destination and a retirement community for many. Events there have the ability to appeal to tourists as well as locals. Add in a big attraction, and there’s a real opportunity. I hope.

The World’s Oldest Rodeo? It started in 1888, and has happened every year since! Sounds like a it could be a good one for me. I was tired of our traditional July 4th one day event in Ventura that was good … but not great. And, I hate one day events with our big set-up and tear down. Frontier Days, on the other hand, is a 7 day event. Time to try something new, I think.

New Ideas

  • When I go a-vendoring these days, I frequently state that “This is not my first rodeo.” But …
  • I’ve never had a long-term show before; the longest previously were a couple of long weekend shows. 7 days in one place, with no tear downs in the middle? Sweet.
  • Dirty & dusty. Everything was dirty and dusty. I cleaned daily, and it was a losing cause. I watered the ground to minimize dust in the booth, and that may have helped … but not much.

Observations

  • This is a casual community affair. The organizer, Suzy, has been there and done that. Many of the vendors know each other and have done this event before. I’m the tenderfoot.
  • Suzy greeted me by name as I stepped out of the Jeep … she knew who I had to be. Set up was a breeze. We’re upwind from the livestock, so there is that.
  • As Dad used to say, “Smells like money.”
  • Did not love that my neighbor on one side turned his 12×20 booth into something like 18×24 … totally trampling on my aisle, and sticking 5′ forward from my space. 2 vendors were sharing the space, and I was not impressed.
  • On the other side, it was the Dodge Ram 5th wheel … and a truck was parked in my 5′ aisle on that side … that I paid for. Honestly, I don’t think either incursion affected my sales, but I was not pleased.
  • Rules mean so little to vendors. And how they treat other vendors … I’m not normal, I know that. I’m too polite at events, I think. But in the end, I have to live with me.
  • First person in the booth bought a cutting board. This might work.
  • Second person in the booth really liked my Shakespeare sign. This might work. No sale though.
  • You wouldn’t hear this in LA. Overheard from a 40-something lady: “I don’t think I’ve been in a truck that small before.”
  • I found that me saying that I’ll be back in town for the Labor day event, Faire on the Square … works. I love appointment selling.
  • Live country, bluegrass or even alt country next to my booth every day for 2 hours. This is a good thing.
  • There’s an open bar throughout the event. I could grow to like events like this.
  • Great conversation with a 91-year old woodworker, still active and still making. He loved my work, and I loved hearing about what he did.
  • I think I’m getting truck envy. So, so many pretty Dodge trucks here …
    Dodge Ram is a big sponsor of rodeo.
  • I had a guy ask me about using lemon on a chopping block, and I explained it was an old butcher’s trick. Come to find out, he was an old butcher.
  • He was not the first person at this event that told me I knew what I was talking about. Me, I just wish knowledge paid better.
  • This is one of my most commented on signs:
  • One of the observers looked at me and said, “Your sign is broken. The answer is whiskey, not beer.”
  • Well, OK, then.
  • An advantage of this long term event is that my wounds are healing. One of my most irritating minor injuries of late was a paper cut (!) from a cardboard edge. The cut happened when I picked up a sheet of plywood to move it into the shop and partially grabbed the protective cardboard … that sliced the pad of my index finger. Very happy that wound has now healed with my time away from the shop.
  • Requests were for an Arizona-shaped cutting board (multiple requests, actually, and it’s on my list … my long list), a game board for a marble game I’ve never heard of (sounded like a variation of Wahoo, which I WILL MAKE THIS YEAR), a Chinese checkers board (which I WILL MAKE THIS YEAR), a tray with sides (hmmmm), rolling pins (nope) and plates (maybe … someday).
  • Sunday began with a bus parking behind my booth … with the diesel motor running. It was really harshing my mellow. I called Suzy, and she got it shut down.
  • Love working with a professional.
  • I also had a long conversation about how to treat the wood from a treasured marquetry piece (I believe it was actually intarsia) that the artist left untreated. The owners were properly concerned about how to finish the wood now that they had moved to this very, very dry climate, and I helped them as best I could. They loved the information, thanked me … and walked away. It’s always nice when my free information results in a mercy sale, but ’twas not to be this time.
  • In the end, this event didn’t work for me. Loved the long term set up. Loved the vibe. Didn’t love the lack of sales. At all.
  • Final sale: family of 5 came into the booth. Young mother had 3 small boys, which I commented on. We shared a smile. She wanted to buy a sign for her mother-in-law, but her husband had the money. She returned … and he had given her $5 less than the price. She commented on how much they spent on lemonade and popcorn, and I bet there was no negotiation on those prices. But on the sign for HIS MOTHER, the young man thought negotiation was in order.
  • A fitting end to a frustrating event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Velda’s spaghetti. Naturally. Leftovers were packaged for me, and I brought them from home in a cooler. Velda stayed at home.
  • Honorable Mention: Velda’s meatloaf. See above.
  • Worst Meal: My first night here, I ended up at a conveniently located Mexican restaurant in Cottonwood, AZ. It was next to the motel. Both were mistakes. Big mistakes.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 1,059
  • Booth cost: $975
  • Food cost: most meals were from home
  • Travel cost: I don’t want to think about this.
  • Total sales: $1,407
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): I lost money on this one. It wasn’t even close.
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • # transactions: bored. bored. bored.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none, but there was someone selling natural infusions, I think. Sort of like essential oils … but not. Odd.
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Signs: 7
  • Cheese Slicer: 2
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Trivet: 1
  • Custom Orders: 1
  • Coaster Set: 1

The Board Chronicles: Fun In The Sun Chili Cookoff 2018   1 comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

A brief note about timing: I am BEHIND. This event happened last October; just getting to writing about oh so many events. My apologies to my loyal readers. Draw your own conclusions about why I’m so, so far behind. Meanwhile … from Castaic:

This event is sponsored by our Sherriff’s department, and is a fundraiser for a kid-focused charity.

Community.

Vendor fees help make the event happen, and the funds raised help our community. We’ve done the event 3 times, I believe, and know it well. It’s not a big money maker, but it’s a good thing.

My calendar is open.

I’m in.

New Ideas

  • I’m solo this year, and it’s a Jeep-only set-up. Easy in, easy out.

Observations

  • A question that I’ve never been asked before: “What’s a Foodie?”
  • Uh … read the sign.
  • I want to make spoons. I need to make spoons.
  • This event had more than its fair share of shade stealers. It was a hot October day, I get it … but my shade is provided for my customers. Please.
  • Worse than a shade stealer was the table swipe by a Mom’s Purse … knocking a board onto the ground. Mom didn’t notice.
  • With only the room in the Jeep, inventory was necessarily limited. But I was still frustrated when I was asked for a chess board and a cribbage board. They were at home.
  • I love the energy of this event.  It’s a good day … even if the results were not stellar this year.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 24
  • Booth cost: $25
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $11
  • Total sales: $483
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $447
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none
  • # woodworking vendors: Just me
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 14

  • Cheese Boards: 4
  • Heart: 3
  • Individual Coasters: 4
  • Coaster Set: 1
  • Sign: 1
  • Trivet: 1

The Board Chronicles: Trailer Park Holiday Boutique 2018   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

A brief note about timing: I am BEHIND. This event happened last December, and I’m just now getting to blogs from the 4th quarter. My apologies to my loyal readers. Draw your own conclusions about why I’m so, so far behind. Meanwhile … from Hollywood:

This is an office boutique.

Trailer Park is a company that makes trailers … for movies. Clearly, they have a sense of humor.

After all, they invited me to their holiday boutique.

New Ideas

  • Nope. Did this last year; doing it again.
  • This is a table top event. I have 2 tables, plus a grid I borrowed from my good friend Jan to display a few signs.

Observations

  • Urban events are a pain. Parking. Elevators. Congestion. Nice host, though.
  • Mrs M had an OK day … Mr M didn’t. I sold one sign.
  • Ultimately, this is a low impact, low cost event. The sales were poor though; it wasn’t worth my time in the end.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Pizza take-out for lunch. Winner.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 74
  • Booth cost: $11
  • Food cost: $9
  • Travel cost: $40
  • Total sales: $156
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $96
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 1
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: many
  • # transactions: 8
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 2
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Returning next year? nope

Boards sold: 1

 

CNC Sign 18 – 116 Why Limit Happy
%d bloggers like this: