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Commissioned Pieces   Leave a comment

I do a lot of wedding & anniversary gifts. Here you see several different styles … as well as a couple of other special orders thrown in.

I have a love/hate relationship with special orders, honestly. Keeping track of them, their individual deadlines & extra steps required for the personalization is another record keeping system that I have to maintain to stay on top of these orders. It’s a wonderful thing, truly – who wouldn’t want to be a part of a wedding as a gift supplier? Lots of love there, and that’s a good thing.

A very good thing.

Also shown are a sign for a restored car’s dash (the Beach Bug sign). It’s a carved sign with painted letters. Similar techniques were used with the making of the final piece, that shows the longitude & latitude for the happy couple’s meeting, engagement & wedding.

Cutting, Display or Serving?   Leave a comment

OK, I’m behind.

Way behind.

I’ve been making stuff, and even taking pictures … and then hurriedly going to events so I have to make more stuff. This cycle has been repeating for 3 months now.

3 months.

So, yes, I’m behind. Many of these items were made months ago, and have already sold! … but I’m just now showing them to you here. Sorry about that.

This includes the very latest stuff for the holiday boutiques, as well, so please enjoy the pretties … because they will be gone soon, I trust!

Protecting Stuff Since 2017   2 comments

I started making trivets to protect tables & counters – and food! – soon after I got my CNC. They continue to be a top seller … even though they confuse many people who don’t understand what this odd looking thing is when they pick it up in my booth.

I need better signage.

Maybe I’ll have more time for that next month!

Trivets are 8-1/2″ square, with heat vents in a diagonal pattern across the top and bottom of the trivet. Each trivet is 3/4″ thick, and they nearly always feature a fun color pattern of hardwoods. I do occasionally make trivets with just one species of wood, though I’ve found most people prefer the colorful versions.

Meanwhile, I am now making coasters with cork inserts to protect tables & desks from hot & cold drinks – and condensation.

Everyone knows what a coaster is, thank goodness!

These have always been colorful. I’m yet to try a single species of wood for a coaster. Hmmmm. Maybe next time.

Signs: Trying For Completion   2 comments

Only a couple more new signs this time: the collection of signs for my booth is just about complete.

I’m out of wall space, for one.

And, now that the display is built out, it’s time to see if people really like these signs enough to buy them, or if they just like to point and laugh. Either way, I think I’ve accomplished my original goal of making the booth more attractive and interesting.

This weekend, I head north to do my first-ever Harvest Festival in San Mateo. This series of events is what the serious vendors do in California.

Time to see if I am serious enough.

Nah. Time to see if I’m happy enough. That’s the ticket.

I’ll be taking my indoor booth setup with 4 mesh walls, and I’ll be setting up a 10’x20′ booth. Hope it all works: after a week in the midwest dealing with the death of a loved one, I’m not sure if going a-vendoring will be a relief or another in a long list of really difficult days.

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, these are the signs that are going with me. Some are new, some are replacements for signs I’ve sold … and all hope to be entertaining.

 

 

The Cribbage Obsession   2 comments

It took me far too long to begin seriously making cribbage boards. When I started … I couldn’t stop. I can’t stop.

I’m obsessed.

I’m currently in the throes of preparation for the largest holiday events, and this year, I’ve committed myself to two very large events. So, I had to get to making. And that’s what I did, as you will see.

These cribbage boards are uniquely designed so you can combine the top of your choice with the bottom of your choice. Two styles are offered: a 3-track, oval design and a 4-track round design.

You get to choose.

I trust that these will prove popular with holiday gift givers. The initial reaction to these has been rather spectacular, honestly, so as I’ve built out more & more options … well, I now have 4 containers filled with, uh, options.

Here are the latest.

Still to come: a simpler 2-track version. God willing, the first ones of those will be done before Thanksgiving.

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This Cribbage Thing Is Catching On

New: Cribbage Board Sets

The Board Chronicles: California Avocado Festival 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.

Their slogan is “Peace, Love & Guacamole.” Who can’t get behind that?

This was our 3rd trek to Carpinteria to enjoy the California Avocado Festival. It’s been a good event for us; you can read about previous successes in 2016 and 2017.

Though we have enjoyed this event, it is not without its challenges. The event is expensive, for one: a 10×10 is $450 (corner is $550). Plus, they take a $100 cleaning deposit to ensure you leave the asphalt in the middle of the street as clean as you found it.

Seriously.

Finding an affordable hotel in Santa Barbara County is also a challenge. This year, we’re opting for an AirBnB which is still pricey, but when you are a bit north of an hour from home, it’s difficult to drive home after a hard day of vendoring.

Mrs M got her avocado soap made, and my inventory is in pretty good shape these days. Let’s see what is in store for us in Carpinteria.

New Ideas

  • After being off for 7 weeks, Mrs M had nearly forgotten how to go a-vendoring. We both took too long to set up … it was almost 4 hours. Not. Good.
  • Cribbage boards are not completely finished, but I have a dozen to take to the event. This will be the first time I’ve shown the options with, uh, options.

Observations

  • Getting to our AirBnB proved to be an adventure. We followed my old, portable GPS which led us to a washed out bridge on a twisty overgrown mountain road. Good times. I then *read the directions* from our hostess, got back on the freeway and drove to our home for the weekend without further incident. Thank goodness.
  • I know inventory is expanding. I have 6 containers of signs. 2 containers of cribbage boards. 3 containers of cheese boards, and I have no idea how many cutting boards. No wonder setup takes 4 hours.
  • The sign making business is a competitive one, and I note that a lot of people are taking pictures of my signs … many without asking permission. Some artists put up “No Pictures, Please” signs. Some just say “No Pictures!” I think the signs are ineffective (I have signs displayed on an outer wall … am i supposed to get up and police people throughout the day?), but I wonder if I should do that. My signs are popular; should I let people copy what I do without even asking for my permission?
  • So far, my answer is to follow Elsa’s advice: “Let it go.”
  • Carpinteria is 66 miles away … and this event is a good getaway from Santa Clarita, apparently. At one point, someone asked where I lived in Santa Clarita, and 3 groups in my booth at the same time were all from Santa Clarita … and didn’t know each other!
  • Best moment of the day was when a very young lady solemnly passed her ZooSoapia turtle to me so that we could wrap it up for her. She was very focused on not hurting her turtle. Total cuteness, in the booth.
  • At the end of the event, I did ask our event representative what the official policy was on “handmade” in our handmade section. He called over some other guy on the 2-way, and the other guy said everything should be 100% handmade.
  • Uh, no.
  • I think a good clue is that my neighbor for the last 3 years brought merchandise in a box labeled “Made in China.” That’s a clue, right?
  • Both load in and load out were extremely tight. A double row of booths is in the center of the street, and a row of parked cars and a driving lane is on each side. Very tight. During load out, a vendor driving a U-Haul van hit our canopy with her mirror.
  • She got to meet Frenzied Velda. As Geena Davis said in The Fly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
  • After Frenzied Velda came out, the organizer apologized to us several times.
  • This event has been very good for us … but in our 3rd year, we were down from our 2nd year … which was down from our fantastic 1st year. It’s still a good event, but it’s also a very high cost event. There are alternatives that we must consider for 2019.
  • Requests were for custom signs (at least 6x!), a kitchen counter and a Go board. Time will tell if any actual orders follow, which will affect how we look at this event.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Breakfast at Esau’s, which is half a block from our booth. It’s an annual treat.
  • Honorable Mention: Dinner at Clementine’s, another annual treat … with blackberry pie to go.
  • Worst Meal: A getaway chicken sandwich at Carl’s Jr after teardown. The fries weren’t edible … and I didn’t want to eat, really. I wanted to go home. But, ya gotta eat, y’know?

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 175
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Food cost: $181
  • Travel cost: $423
  • Total sales: $3,047
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $1,453
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: Several
  • Saturday alarm: 4:45a
  • Sunday alarm: 5:45a
  • # transactions: 115
  • # soap & lotion vendors: At least 5
  • # woodworking vendors: There were several; one does work similar to mine
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 25:2
  • Returning next year? Maybe

Boards sold: 27

Signs: 11x

Cribbage Boards: 4x

Cutting Boards: 3x

Cheese Boards: 2x

Trivets: 2x

Large Serving Piece: 2x

Coasters: 2x

Small Board: 1x

 

This Cribbage Thing Is Catching On   7 comments

Since I’ve finally broken through and started making cribbage boards, I’m getting obsessed. Variations abound, and I’m only scratching the surface.

Last weekend, I sold more cribbage boards than cutting boards. That’s a sobering thought … especially since so many people comment that this is a game for old folks that so few play anymore.

But then, people also tell me that no one uses wooden cutting boards, either.

I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and people get to choose. That seems to be working out so far!

All cribbage boards are finished with lacquer. They are not cutting boards (yes, I’ve been asked), and they are not food ready. They do, however, come with the cards and pegs for playing, held in the convenient storage slots under the top. All of these sets are customizable: any 4-track set top can go with any 4-track set bottom (the 4-tracks are the round ones, about 14″ in diameter). The oval sets are 3-tracks, and are 10″ x 14″.

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New: Cribbage Board Sets

The Board Chronicles: Santa Barbara Home & Garden Expo 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.

Santa Barbara artists have a virtual monopoly on events in their city. Most events require you to be a county resident to be a vendor. When the opportunity came up to represent at an event in Santa Barbara, I was very interested.

This promoter does 3 home & garden shows in Santa Barbara (and one in Santa Maria) every year. It fit on the calendar.

Let’s see what all the fuss is about in Santa Barbara.

New Ideas

  • Same setup as last week in Visalia. I didn’t even unload the trailer.
  • I had a corner location with a wall that extended forward to the door … and the promoter invited me to fill the space. I was happy to oblige with an extra table that I dedicated to a cutting board display. I sold 3 boards off of that “feature” table.

Observations

  • Got to the venue for setup, and found they had me in a single booth. I asked the promoter if that was a mistake, and she put me in a double. After researching everything following the event, I believe the mistake was mine, but she had the space, so it all worked out.
  • But … I was right by the exit. I an superstitious about being by the door, but whachagonnado?
  • This is a relatively small event, with about 70 vendors. All were indoors. Some traditional home show businesses (AC repair, window replacement, bath remodel, etc). Some buy & sell, from Scentsy to import crap. A few artists. And me.
  • The first buy & sell vendor left at 1:30p on Saturday, after only 3-1/2 hours. I mean, it was slow, but, wow.
  • I didn’t sell anything until 3p on Saturday. In the next 2 hours, I sold 15 pieces, including 5 cutting boards. Patience is a virtue.
  • A self-professed turner came into the booth, talked about her passion for the hobby … and bought 2 cutting boards. Loved that!
  • As at most shows, I was asked if I was local. I generally responded that I was “local-ish,” from 2 hours away. 2 of the questioners talked about how they wish there were local artists here.
  • What is it with the insular approach to art vendors in Santa Barbara? That’s a mystery to me.
  • Sunday started slow … and stopped. Not. Good.
  • This weekend, I could have done the nearby Goleta Lemon Festival, which we’ve done a couple of times previously. That event has not proven very profitable, so I though I’d try something new. This event … was a bit worse.
  • Requests were for an elephant board, surfboards (I’ve been out for months now), in-counter boards, and a few custom boards “with details to follow.” We’ll see; good follow up orders could make this event more interesting for next year. Without them ….

The Food

  • Best Meal: Woodstock Pizza, Henry’s MOS. Best pizza I’ve had in some time.
  • Honorable Mention: Hello, Old Friend
  • Worst Meal: Chicken & Fries from the diner @ the Showground. The fries were not edible.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 176
  • Booth cost: $500
  • Food cost: $96
  • Travel cost: $315
  • Total sales: $1,365
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $454
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 10
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there was one; she had a big bath bomb display
  • # woodworking vendors: one of the artists there did woodburning, but not woodworking, really. She just decoratively burned pieces of wood.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 15:4. Amazing.
  • Returning next year? Doubtful.

Boards sold: 19

6x Cutting Boards

6x Trivets

2x Word Blocks

2x CNC Signs

1x Cheese Board

1x 5 Section Server

1x Custom Order

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Visalia HomeExpo 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.

Visalia is another community on the edge of the mountains that many travel to and through while on their way to a getaway in the Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks. Visalia is in an area with a lot of farms & ranches, so there’s agricultural business in addition to the recreation economy. It’s a growing community, and I was convinced that going to their 17th Annual HomeExpo just might be a good idea.

Though I’ve driven through the town, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped there before. Time to see what’s what in Visalia.

New Ideas

  • For the first time, I’m putting up the Trimline frame with the mesh walls but without the canopy top. I need to display the signs … and you will see that, once again, they are my top selling item at this event (though not the highest revenue item, of course).

Observations

  • Home Show Fridays are days for woodworker hobbyists that are retired to come into the booth and tell me what they’ve made.
  • Friday was one of those very rare days when I didn’t sell anything. We’ve done 142 events at this point … and this is the 2nd time I have had a day with zero sales.
  • Think it’ll get any better?
  • Parents: control your children. Please.
    • My coaster display is in the front of the booth at this event, and one little boy touched the coasters & moved them. Coaster sets are displayed with 4 matched coasters in a stand, and that bored little boy moved them around, leaving the stands half filled. Mom said, “don’t touch things,” and kept walking. My display was left messed up. Mom didn’t care.
    • I was engaged with a customer, and didn’t see that another little boy picked up a bread saw. He started poking his Dad in the legs with it. Dad was oblivious, talking to a buddy. It was when little boy started squeezing the blade against the wooden frame of the saw that another customer saw what was happening and took the saw away from the little boy. Dad continued to be oblivious. As I finished with my other customer, the kind customer returned the saw to me, explaining what had happened. The blade had come loose from the screws holding it in place, so the customer didn’t buy that one. They would have; they bought the other 3 that were on display and wanted more.
  • Women: control your purses. Please.
    • 2 women (note I am not calling them ladies) saw my coaster display, still in the front of the booth, and decided it was an ideal place to set their purse while sorting through whatever they were carrying. One of those women then proceeded to knock coasters on the floor when they picked up their purse. She did pick them up … but no acknowledgement, no apology, no responsibility.
  • I sit under a sign that says “Meet The Maker.” 2 different people asked me if I did that on purpose. Uhhhhhh….
  • I’m not exactly loving Visalia at this point.
  • Guys, control your urges. Please.
    • I was engaged with a customer, talking about cutting boards. Another guy interrupted to show me a kitchen counter that his buddy got from a local woodworker that this guy had recommended. He didn’t want to buy anything, he just wanted to show me the great counter that his buddy got. Uh, OK. I turned, and the other customer was now gone.
  • A vendor truth: when a person in your booth wants to show you pictures on their phone, it almost always ends badly.
  • I did get ‘whelmed at 2pm on Saturday, though. Busy, busy. And then … it was over. Not nearly enough, unfortunately, but at least I did sell something.
  • I hung a set of 3 Word Blocks (Live, Laugh, Love) on a mesh wall at this event; it’s the first time I that I have done that. They are now on their way to Italy, I’m told!
  • A Lady walked into the booth.
    • “Here’s the sign you should make, ‘I love you to the liquor store and back!'” I have no response to that.
  • Who knew that my worst neighbor at this event would be Home Depot? They were promoting their home services, and at one point had 4 reps spread across an 8′ booth space (meaning shoulder to shoulder) while they were stepping into the aisle to stop people, saying, “Are you a Home Depot customer?” Stepping into the aisles is against the rules, of course. Oh, and the adjacent storage shed that they were showing had a 42″ wide door that blocked the aisle anytime it was opened. Once opened, it would come to rest in the aisle while they were talking about the interior of the shed. I hate amateurs.
  • A guy walked into the booth.
    • “How much is that sign? I have the perfect place for it.” he asked, pointing to the sign with the $50 sticker on it.
    • “$50,” I replied.
    • “Oh, too rich for me.” And, he turned & left.
  • An old guy shuffled into the booth. He was mobile, but barely. He then talked to me about being a cabinet maker in Mexico City back in the 40s. He liked the work, he said, but when he made a mistake, his boss pulled his ear. He didn’t like that part, he said.
  • Woodworking has changed. Thankfully. No ear pulling in my garage Woodshop.
  • Requests were for flooring (that’s a first), backgammon boards (2x), counter tops (3x) and in-counter boards (2x).
  • Sales were very disappointing at this event … attendance was down. The promoter knew that my sales were poor, so he’s going to make me a deal for a booth at their bigger spring show. That’s a very nice accommodation. It appears I’ll be back in Visalia, come February!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mrs M’s dinners, from the freezer. AirBnB’s are the new normal.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 482
  • Booth cost: $750
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: not nearly enough
  • # soap & lotion vendors: there were a couple
  • # woodworking vendors: No one like me. There was a company that would build you a rough stock bar for your backyard; no clue how they did.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 16:0
  • Returning next year? Doubtful

Boards sold: 16

CNC Signs: 3

Bread Saws: 3

Word Blocks: 3

Trivets: 2

Cribbage Board: 1

Chess Board: 1

Heart: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Large Sous Chef: 1

The Board Chronicles: Elks Craft 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.

Time to shake it up.

We started at events like this: table top displays in a large room. A charity fundraiser.  Local, local, local.

We still do events like this … but, rarely. We’re traveling to big events more than staying home and doing small & simple events.

We’ve done 3 events at the Elks Club in the past, and Mrs M opted to spend her day off doing their Craft Boutique (and Car Show and Chili Cook-off) this year. This is a low impact event for us … it’s harder to decide what products & display pieces to not take than it is to set up.

Simple can be nice occasionally, y’know?

New Ideas

  • Old ideas seem new when you haven’t done them in a while. A table top event? Sure, why not.
  • I did the heavy lifting, set up my stuff, and then left the Lady to handle it. I returned to the garage woodshop for the rest of the day, making, until it was time to load out.
  • More heavy lifting, you see.

Observations

  • Great to see old friends at an event. Familiar faces are a wonderful thing.
  • Though this event was not as successful for us as 2 of the previous ones, it was still fun to shake the cobwebs off and wave the flag in our home town. We used to do events in Santa Clarita multiple times a month; now we’re down to doing just a few events a year. “Progress,” we call it.
  • Check out the photos, below. I’m going to say Mrs M’s smile says it all.

The Food

  • Best Meal: I had a ham sandwich for lunch, of course. No clue what Mrs M brought for lunch, but I know it was keto. It’s her thing.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 64
  • Booth cost: $50 + 2 raffle gifts for 2 tables
  • Food cost: $0
  • Travel cost: $
  • Total sales: $173
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $88
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: several
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Saturday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: too few, unfortunately.
  • # soap & lotion vendors: just Mrs M
  • # woodworking vendors: just me
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 3:0
  • Returning next year? Maybe, if it fits on the calendar

Boards sold: 3

1x Cheese Board

1x Coaster

1x Trivet

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