Archive for the ‘end grain’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Faire On the Square 2020   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.

An event! I have an event!

That’s about all I could think about in August, as I finally, FINALLY prepared to do an event that had been on my schedule for months. This Labor Day weekend event in Prescott, AZ has proven to be a solid one for me; this was my third year there. You can read about my previous efforts in 2019 and 2018.

This time, I had picked the spot I wanted facing Montezuma Avenue, AKA Whiskey Row, across from the legendary Palace Restaurant & Saloon. The Palace, the oldest business operating in Arizona, was once frequented by Doc Holliday and his buddies, Virgil & Wyatt Earp.

Whiskey Row? I’m your huckleberry.

Gotta do the easy ones. C’mon.

But, this is 2020. Nothing will be easy during this pandemic. I’ll get transported back to the wild west for a bit. But, at least the whiskey was good….

New Ideas

  • Vendors must wear masks. Vendors must certify they are healthy. Vendors must sign a hold harmless with the Chamber of Commerce that means no one gets sued if they get sick.
  • I left the chess boards, card boxes and other lesser products at home this trip. I have so many cutting boards & serving pieces, I only brought those, plus the cribbage boards & signs. I only had a 10×20 (!), and I had to fill it with the right stuff.
  • I arrived at the booth shortly after 6am on Saturday with only minimal setup still required. I got the last 2 details done: set up the cribbage boards, and price all of the signs. Once that was done, the walls were rolled up and securely stored, the banner went up … and I took pictures of the booth. This was all done by 8:30am. That was almost unprecedented!

Observations

  • Mrs M packs the food when I go a-vendoring. Food’s her thing. When I was already at our friend’s home in Prescott, my BnB for the weekend, Mrs M announced that she forgot to pack the Everything Sprinkles for my daily breakfast: bagels & cream cheese.
  • I had no sprinkles. I was deprived.
  • I pack my clothing when I go a-vendoring. When I got dressed on Friday … I found that I had forgotten to pack socks. Ooops.
  • Note: I could not go buy bagel sprinkles in an unfamiliar city. I could go buy socks. My feet were not deprived; only my stomach.
  • We got advance warning that there was a BLM protest at 3pm on Friday … and our setup was 6pm on Friday. Vendors were told not to park on the Courthouse Square during the protest, as we might get towed. We were directed to meet at the off-site vendor parking lot, and hope that all remained calm.
  • Prescott is a remote area, and traditional values run deep here. That indicates a conservative viewpoint, of course. The stage was set.
  • I got to the area early so I could get to the correct parking spot before any craziness could affect traffic patterns. I planned on grabbing lunch at The Palace, visiting an ATM so I could pay my helpers after the 6pm setup, and relaxing a bit before the work started.
  • The Courthouse Square was packed. Packed. When I arrived at 2:30 or so, the sidewalks were teeming with locals that were openly carrying long guns and pistols. They were there to protect the area businesses from the protesters in case things got wonky.
  • I talked to one of those business owners … he has 3 large sheets of glass in his front windows, and he was very nervous that those windows would be broken if the protest took a wrong turn.
  • The protesters arrived at around 3p, and numbered about 100. College kids, perhaps. Out-of-towners, probably. They were there to exercise their first amendment rights.
  • I’m a fan of those rights. Peaceful protest? Fabulous.
  • Meanwhile, the locals were there to exercise THEIR constitutional rights, which includes the right to bear arms. Remember, I’m in an Old West town. By an Old West Saloon. I’m going to estimate there were 400 locals carrying guns.
  • Yes, that’s a lot of guns at a peaceful protest.
  • There were also lots of police … 50? 100? Not sure. They were pretty mobile, and I saw at least 3 kinds of uniforms. In the end, thank goodness, peace prevailed.
  • BLM protestors marched. They shouted slogans. They marched. Then, they went home.
  • The typical protester was 20-something, white, female, and carrying a sign. The typical counter-protestor was 60-something, white, male, and carrying a gun. There were also a bunch of younger guys driving Bro trucks with American flags flying that were circling the area during the event. Lots of activity. Lots of noise. Lots of people. Lots.
  • The counter protestors, the locals exercising their 2nd amendment rights, basically watched.
  • One final note on Friday’s prologue to my event: as the protestors were marching near my (future) booth location, one young lady was screaming “Black Lives Matter.” A 65 year old white guy sort of leaned towards her and screamed back, “All Lives Matter.” She, of course, screamed back “Black Lives Matter,” and that circle continued for about 45 seconds. Finally, her friends rescued her, yelled some more, and led her away from the conflict.
  • The old white guy, meanwhile, had done it all for sport. He laughed. He enjoyed taunting a young girl and her values. That moment of derision from the old white guy was the hardest moment for me to swallow, frankly. And, remember, it was all free speech. Protected free speech.
  • What does all of this have to do with going a-vendoring? Simple:
    • I was supposed to set up at 6pm. Would it be safe? I didn’t know until after the protest was over and all of the protestors and counter-protestors went home. In the end, it truly was a peaceful protest. Thankfully.
    • When conflict erupts in the street, no one wants to walk through the event to do shopping. I had an immigration protest ruin an event in 2018. I support peaceful protests … but when I pay money to be at an event that is ruined by other people protesting, it gets harder to swallow.
    • That, of course, is especially true now. This is only my third event this year. If a protest had ruined/canceled it, that would have hurt me.
  • “All’s well that ends well,” Shakespeare said.
  • And I had not yet begun to set up.
  • My crew arrived at 5:30, and we waited for the clock to tick for setup to officially begin at 6pm. I parked the trailer on Montezuma, and we got to it. We worked past dark, and got 90% set up before we buttoned up.
  • I posted my booth pictures on Facebook Saturday morning, and they got a huge number of likes and comments. It’s good to have support! And, finally, I was open for business.
  • I saw a truck circling the square each day. It was owned by a flat earther; it was painted with something about “NASA IS A HOAX.” It’s a big world out there.
  • Suggested sign: “CAUTION! Dog cannot hold his liquor.” Nope.
  • Suggested sign: “Absolutely no working during drinking hours.” Nope.
  • Saturday was an odd day of transactions. Business was good. Very good. But I had 4 different non-chip cards presented for payment. That’s odd these days. I haven’t had 4 non-chip cards at an event for a couple of years, much less on a single day.
  • One of the first Presidential wearables I saw on Saturday was a Biden facemask. I thought that was odd, so I decided to do a tally of all of the Presidential wearables I saw throughout the weekend. As I observed above, the locals are largely conservative. The tourist trade is from Phoenix & Las Vegas, though, and is much more progressive. It’ll be interesting to see where that ends up.
  • One serving piece I didn’t put out this time was an Ampersand board. I only had one (still on my worklist!) … so I thought it should stay under the table. I was wrong. It was requested by name, and sold early.
  • She said: “My husband isn’t with me this year, so I’m going to buy it. He told me I shouldn’t last year … but he’s not here now.”
  • The clown show came out Saturday morning. Two 20-something men, somewhat unkempt, walked the Courthouse Square with signs worthy of a homeless person yelling, “We are transexual bi-polar prostitutes for Trump! Let’s send our boys back to Iraq!” No clue what that was about, but they did seem to be having a good time. They definitely confused a lot of people.
  • One vendor did not comply with the mask mandate – that was announced well in advance of the event. That vendor refused to sign the paperwork, and was asked to leave. Police eventually evicted him from his rental property (the booths are on county property, the Courthouse Square). This blew up on social media in the vendor community. Bottom line for me: idiots are everywhere. The rules were announced in advance. Follow them … or stay home.
  • I was ‘whelmed at 2pm. People were literally waving money at me to get my attention. That got me to thinking … in how many professions do people literally wave money at you? And do I like it?
  • Things you don’t hear at most events:
    • Guy # 1: Are you left-handed?
    • Guy # 2: Uh … no. But why do you ask?
    • Guy # 1: Well, your holster is crooked, and I wondered why.
    • Guy # 2: Yeah, it keeps moving around. I just adjust it when I need to.
    • Note: yes, of course, Arizona is an open carry state. And this weekend, it was.
  • Suggested Sign: “Eating’s Cheating.” No, no it’s not. And no thank you.
  • Favorite t-shirt of the weekend looked like this:

6

4

+ 3

2

  • Can’t figure it out? I needed a hint. The shirt was worn by a baseball mom … and 6-4-3 is how you would fill out a scorecard for a typical double play: shortstop to 2nd base to 1st base. Had a fun conversation with the family, and they ended up buying a few pieces.
  • Suggested sign: “We Love Vegetarians. We Have One For Dinner Every Night.” Uh … nope. But I did laugh.
  • She read my sign, saying I’m from Valencia, CA:
    • She said: “You’re from California?”
    • I said: “Yes, Ma’am.”
    • She said: “I’m sorry!”
  • The next day, another She read my sign, and said, “You drove in from Cali?” When did “Cali” become a thing?
  • Another favorite t-shirt: “Surround Yourself With Positivity & Tacos.”
  • Requests were for an Ulu Board (a style of cutting board used by native Alaskans), a backgammon board (nope) and wooden spoons (hmmmmm).
  • Final tally on Presidential wearables: 53 for Trump, 2 for Biden. And no, that’s not a scientific survey.
  • Masks were everywhere at the event. There were many people, certainly, that did not wear a mask. I believe most did, however. For over a simple majority. 75%? Something like that. Mrs M’s Waterless Hand Spray sampler was very well received. And emptied. Sales of the Hand Spray, though were negligible. That’s OK: I’ll take clean hands for the win.
  • This became a great event for me. This is my 6th event in Arizona, and there will be a 7th and 8th in 2021!

The Food

  • Best Meal: I stayed with friends in Prescott who graciously opened their home to me … and cooked every night. Velda better mind her Ps & Qs … I found a home away from home that comes with chefs. Grilled Rib Eye for the win. A good day of sales should always be followed by Beef & Bourbon.
  • Honorable Mention: Pork Loin with yams is yummy after the conclusion of an event. The trailer was packed, I was relaxed. And hungry.
  • Worst Meal: I blame the pandemic. Honestly. I was headed out of town & wanted to visit my old friend, the Sausage Egg McMuffin. But, McD’s doors were locked & only the drive thru was open. I drove through with the trailer, and didn’t swing wide enough through the drive thru curve. I crunched my trailer fender on a post. My fault … because the pandemic made me do it. After that … breakfast was awful. And, it cost $200.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 1,016
  • Booth cost: $550
  • Food cost: $29
  • Travel cost:
  • Total sales: $
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost):
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 2
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: 6am
  • Monday alarm: nope
  • # transactions:
  • # woodworking vendors: There were several, including 3 direct competitors. None of the those 3 had the range or depth of inventory that I carry; I have no clue how successful they were. Just goes to show that more competition does not necessarily indicate less success.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain:
  • Returning next year? Absolutely

Boards sold: 59

First Question: What Size Cutting Board Do You Want?   Leave a comment

It’s the most basic question once someone tells me they want to buy a cutting board. OK, what size?

There’s no wrong answer here.

I’m now making boards as small as 6″ square, and counter-top boards as large as 17″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. I’ve made even larger cutting boards … but I don’t carry them to & from events.

Carrying is a burden when the boards are large, you see.

“Cheese Boards” are what I call cutting boards that are less than 11″ in any dimension. They can be used for cutting, of course, but in my head, these are for serving cheese & crackers or other appetizers. I know many buyers love these small boards for one purpose uses, such as dicing fruit for after school snacks. The smallest of these are what I envision as “Bar Boards” for slicing lemons & limes. Dicing garlic or onions on a dedicated small board might make sense to some that like to separate the stinkin’ rose from other vegetables.

Here are the “Small Boards” that were just completed. These are all edge grain boards, meaning you cut on the edges of the lumber. They are all 11″ x 11″ x 7/8″, and have a juice groove. Routed fingerholds & non-skid rubber feet complete these boards (and all of the boards on this page) that can be cutting boards, serving pieces for ribeye steak … or you get to choose what to do with yours!

Finally, I get to my favorite cutting boards, which are end grain boards. These are the most difficult to make, show the least wear, and are the best for your knives. Made like the classic butcher blocks, these end grain boards are the centerpiece of any well-appointed kitchen. I seldom make these smaller than 13×17.

The 900th Cutting Board   5 comments

I have a plan. I STILL have a plan. Pandemic, be damned.

The main way that I sell my cutting boards, serving pieces & such is by vending at craft fairs, street festivals, holiday boutiques … and even an occasional foodie event.

Until 2020 hit and all of those events – all of them – canceled. I haven’t had an event since January.

However, the nation is ever-so-slowly beginning to open up, and I have an event next week.

The plan is coming together.

When events started canceling, I just went to the shop & made more stuff. I always intended to build inventory in the first part of this year: I had big events scheduled for the 4th quarter. Last year, I had my biggest event ever, and sold 100 pieces at a single event. This year, I’ve already booked 5 additional, similar events with the same promoter. Plus I’m returning to the great event from last year, as well. Hope they stick.

The plan was simple: get ready. Build a LOT OF STUFF & put it on the shelf. Make it so replacing inventory is as simple as opening another container. That’s why I’ve built 105 Magic Bottle Openers. 68 Cracker Things. 147 Coasters … the list goes on.

Today, I add 15 cutting boards to the inventory, and that puts me over 900 pieces in stock. I’m ready to sell 100 pieces at an event … for a few weeks in a row.

Now, if the events will come back as they plan to in the 4th quarter, things will get a bit better. And, if they don’t … well, part 2 of the plan was the launch of the website, accomplished last month. If you haven’t checked it out, please visit MrMsWoodshop.com.

Now, here’s the newest eye candy. Or premium kitchen tools. Or, just perhaps, both. You buy one, you get to decide.

More

The 800th Cutting Board (6/12/2020)

The 700th Cutting Board (5/19/2020)

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round (4/4/18)

The 300th Cutting Board (2/9/18)

The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

The 800th Cutting Board   1 comment

Another milestone.

This pandemic has been good for almost nothing, near as I can tell. When all of my scheduled street fairs & craft festivals canceled beginning in March and continuing through October, at this point … I kept going back to the shop.

Every day.

When you’re a maker … it’s what you do. So, I did.

My total inventory is now, for the first time, over 800 pieces. And, for the record, I’m not stopping. I will take a pause soon, however, as I have an event over the July 4th weekend. The only problem … is I have to leave California to do the event. California is still closed, but luckily, Prescott, AZ, is my destination. To see all the current schedule of events for Mrs M’s Handmade & Mr M’s Woodshop, click here.

But, this post is the story of this board, which was actually a special order through MrMsWoodshop.com: a Father’s Day Gift! The order was for a large cutting board, made from Black Walnut.

There is nothing like Black Walnut; I love working with it, every time. Unfortunately, though, Black Walnut can be a challenge to work, as it’s very difficult to get good Black Walnut lumber in Southern California.

I’ve found.

I actually set out to make 2 of these large Black Walnut cutting boards, which would require about 12 board feet of clean stock. Unfortunately, to get the 12 board feet of finished lumber, I went through 20 board feet of lumber. Here are the boards for the 2 cutting boards that I’ve “picked & processed”, ready for glue up:

Those are good looking boards. The problem is the waste. For a cutting board, I need clean boards, free of knots, voids, bark inclusions, shakes and cracks. Here’s what that the process waste looked like:

The very thin pieces are normal waste from the edges of the boards; they get recycled. The larger pieces with knots in the middle will get cut into smaller pieces to remove the knots and will eventually be used … after I store them long enough to gather enough small pieces that I can make something with. Unfortunately, that saving process can take years, and I end up chasing buckets of small cut offs around the shop until I’m ready to start that process.

But I digress.

This is the story of one of my favorite boards: a large, end grain Black Walnut Cutting Board. This beauty is 16-5/8″ x 21-1/4″ x 1-1/2″.

And the normal finishing touches, of course:

  • Non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life
  • Routed finger holds for easy pick-up
  • Finish is mineral oil, with a topcoat of Mrs M’s Board Butter
Cutting Board 20 – 508. Black Walnut. End Grain. Commissioned Piece.

More

The 700th Cutting Board (5/19/2020)

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round (4/4/18)

The 300th Cutting Board (2/9/18)

The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

The Rest Of The Batch   1 comment

By the time I was to this part of my flurry of finishing, my hands were tired of vibrating.

Even with the best of hand sanders – which I have invested in – hours of sanding results in me, uh, feeling it. And as much as I don’t like that, I absolutely love getting to a glass-smooth finish on my cutting boards.

It’s one of the most satisfying things I do in the shop, truly.

The end grain boards are smoothed first with a drum sander that sands across the entire board in one pass, giving me a flat surface. Each of these boards was smoothed, top & bottom, with the drum sander. Then hand sanding began on both the edges and top & bottom surfaces of each board. 5 grits of paper are used: 80, 120, 180, 220 and 320. After the wood is smooth, then it gets oiled & waxed with Mrs M’s Board Care Kit.

There’s nothing like a hand-rubbed finish.

And, don’t forget … it is my pleasure to re-finish your board as needed. A cook will leave a knife mark or three over the years, and I’ll restore any board you get from the Woodshop to like-new condition. No charge. It takes me about 8 minutes, but you may have to wait for the right day when the shop is set up for finishing.

All of these boards are now available on the newly improved MrMsWoodshop.com. In the month of May, there are 2 special offers:

  1. Free shipping for all orders over $50
  2. 20% off everything, site-wide, when you use the promo code “MrMsLaunch”

Thank you for your kind attention. Now, with the boards finished, the photographs taken and the websites updated, it’s time to get back to the shop!

The 700th Cutting Board   Leave a comment

When the enormity of the “Shelter in Place” mandate sank in, I decided it was time to get to the shop & get to making.

And making.

Lost my head for a bit, I did.

When I begin to make a batch of things in the shop, I cut boards from several different species of wood into the right sizes, and then lay out the wood design for each piece. I call this picking and processing. That’s what I did.

And I got stuck there … so I did it a lot.

I actually had over 400 pieces in the shop in process at one time. And I know from all of the times that I’ve tripped or said a bad word when I had to move that pile of stuff AGAIN … having just 70 pieces in process at one time is a pain. 400 pieces … I’m in a small garage Woodshop. There’s only so much room.

Closed in, it was.

Difficult to move, it was.

Undeterred, I was.

So, now I’m on the other side. I’ve finished over 300 pieces; still have 100 Magic Bottle Openers to finish this week (which is a several day process, with multiple drying times required for each MBO).

Today, though, I can celebrate the rare air of accomplishment that has not been seen before.

I have over 700 pieces in inventory right now. My previous record was 400, which I first touched a little over a year ago.

The cutting board that I’ve just brought to the finish line in the flurry of finishing 300+ pieces in 3 days is a simple end grain cutting board made of Hard Maple. It’s 12″ x 16″ and is extra thick at 1-1/2″.

Juice groove? Check.

Non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws? Check.

Hand rubbed finish with mineral oil & Mrs M’s Board Butter? Check.

The unprecedented characteristic of this board are the the wedge-shaped ends which make the board easy to pick up. Traditionally, I make routed finger-holds on all of my cutting boards, but I’ve been wanting to do a board like this for some time. Will there be another?

No clue, I have.

Cutting Board 20 – 107. Hard Maple. Juice Groove, End Grain. 12″ x 16″ x 1-1/2″.

I’ve just launched the new & improved MrMsWoodshop.com, and there are 2 special offers that apply to the month of May. You can get free shipping for any order over $50. Plus! There’s a site-wide discount of 20% off when you use the promo code of “MrMsLaunch”. Don’t delay though, as the offers will expire on May 31.

Here’s a direct link to where this board is available.

More

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round (4/4/18)

The 300th Cutting Board (2/9/18)

The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

The Board Chronicles: Winterfest 2020   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.

I’ve got a history with this event, so I begin cautiously. After all, this is where the Flying Dry Soup Canopy took flight … and crushed Mrs M’s Handmade. That was in 2018.

But I came back in 2019. I note Mrs M declined the opportunity; I was solo.

So, this is year 3. Once again, Mrs M has declined the opportunity to join me in Arizona. Something about her “job.” As if that could be important.

So, what will Lake Havasu City have for me … and in my first event in 2020, our 7th year as vendors?

New Ideas

  • The weather forecast for this year is (at last) wonderful. Blue skies & highs in the 60s on Saturday, with more of the same on Sunday … until a storm blows in late in the day. About time we have good weather for this event!
  • I feel like everything is new at this event, since I haven’t done any event in 60 days. And, I haven’t done this physical setup with 2 pop-up canopies & me solo since … the Simi Valley Street Fair in 2019, and that was 8 months ago. I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing.
  • And, yes, that is new.

Observations

  • The load in at 6am on Saturday was just like last year: chaotic. I was yelled at for being in someone’s way by 6:10am. And … I was parked partially IN MY BOOTH. She just didn’t like that I narrowed her path to the width of a bit more than a parking spot – that was clearly marked, and unobstructed by me.
  • Such is the chaos that is Winterfest load in. I emptied the trailer ASAP, and moved my Jeep & trailer out of the line of fire.
  • Set up, unfortunately, takes as long as it takes. These days, my full set up in a double booth takes about 4 hours. I had walkers after about 2 hours. Fortunately, they were primarily dog walkers, and they are not my buyers.
  • The event started hot, and traffic was significant a bit before my set up was complete. When I was done at 10am, traffic was good. Very good.
  • This event has 2 kinds of people in attendance: snow birds that winter in Arizona, and residents of Lake Havasu City … which are definitely weighted towards retirement age. Both have issues with my offerings: snow birds often have a need for me to ship to their home, because they are limited by the airlines for suitcase weight. Local residents don’t have that issue, but older people that are downsizing are not my crowd. People that cook & people with families that cook … those are my people.
  • I nearly had a fight break out over a Garlic Dipping Board that 2 ladies had their eyes on at the same time. It got a bit confusing, but eventually lady # 1 decided on something else, so lady # 2 got the GDB that she wanted. Meanwhile, lady # 1 changed her mind 4 times before finally making her selection. Eventually, her buddy asked me a question mid-transaction, causing me to lose track of where I was … and lady # 2 left, with me still having her credit card in the machine.
  • Oops.
  • She came back on Sunday to retrieve the card. And bought something else.
  • Last year, I met Mesquite Mary. She was an LA resident that was in the process of retiring to Lake Havasu City, where she and her husband have a 2nd home. There was a wonderful mesquite tree that they had to cut down … and she offered me the wood if I could use it.
  • Of course I could. She only asked that she get something that I made from the wood.
  • Of course I would.
  • But, come to find out, I couldn’t. The wood had laid out in her backyard for 2 years, and was just too old for me to use. Too many cracks.
  • I did give the wood to my buddy Charlie, and he was able to use the wood for turning, with cracks adding to the character of the wood. Charlie gave me a bowl he turned … and a year after I met her, I returned to Lake Havasu City with the bowl for Mary.
  • She was on the moon! So happy. I got a hug, even. Saturday was a happy day.
  • A young lady saw my Cracker Things, and didn’t think they were cute. Or clever. No, she thought they were bad ass. That’s good … but she didn’t buy one. That’s bad.
  • I met Rob Cook, who published Popular Woodworking in the ’90s. We had a great chat, and he complimented me on my work. Much appreciated from a real pro!
  • I started Sunday going walk about, and saw about half of the vendors. This is a chamber of commerce street festival … and it is *very* buy & sell. There is some handmade merchandise there, but not much. That can be a bad thing … a very bad thing … but in this case, the attendance is high enough that the event still works for me.
  • Thank goodness.
  • A Cracker Thing went to a party, I’m told. Don’t know anything about the party … but I do know that 3 ladies came to the booth on Sunday wanting to buy a Cracker Thing. Unfortunately, I had none. Sold out.
  • Sorry.
  • A couple looked at my Lazy Susans. We had a long conversation about the event, what they wanted … and how the event ended at 4 o’clock. The lady asked what my 4 o’clock cash price was for the Susan she wanted. I told her the price doesn’t change … still $80. She walked away.
  • Buy bye. My prices don’t change.
  • A couple wanted a custom cutting board for a wedding in a month. I turned it down … I have no time. No. Time.
  • T-shirt of the weekend: “I may be old, but I saw the great bands.” Made me laugh.
  • The event ended at 4 o’clock … and the weather began to turn. Clouds rolled in. Temperature dropped. Winds picked up a bit … and I knew I was in a race to get everything into the trailer before the storm hit.
  • I didn’t make it.
  • I was close. I was doing well, but I got to the part when I take the signs down when the wind started gusting. Signs hang on the walls … part of the weight that holds the canopies down. Wind. Gusts. I’m in a race. It got exciting at 6pm.
  • I won’t say I lost.
  • I won’t say the canopy flew … but it did hop. At the time, I had the signs down, but the mesh walls were still up, so there was a bit of a sail making the booth catch the wind. Luckily, I had some nice neighbors that leapt in to help, and with them holding things together for me, I quickly – well, as quickly as possible – dropped the mesh walls & collapsed the canopies. No more incidents.
  • I ended with 3 helpers, 2 broken fingernails (how did that happen?), booth hardware in 3 pockets, and a trailer finally loaded at 6:55pm. Finally.
  • The weekend was a success. In 3 years, this was the best one yet. That’s a great way to start off 2020.
  • Requests were for a TV tray, a custom counter top, shoe horns, smaller Lazy Susans (2 of those), Pegs & Jokers (on my list, honest!), a stamp dispenser, an English pub game called Shut the Box (?), and a wine rack.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday night pizza from Rosati’s. Recommended.
  • Worst Meal: Saturday breakfast was 2 hardboiled eggs. I don’t love eating immediately after I wake up … and once the set up started, that’s all I did.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 612
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $95
  • Travel cost: $505
  • Total sales: $2,590
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 5:00a
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00a
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none that I saw in the half of the event that I walked
  • # woodworking vendors: none that I saw (!) in the half of the event that I walked
  • Returning next year? Yes. I left my first deposit for 2021.

Boards sold: 48

  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 7
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Signs: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 4
  • Cheese Slicers: 5
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Pizza Server: 1
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Sous Chef Boards: 2

The Board Chronicles: Harvest Festival Sacramento 2019   2 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I’ve been working on catching up.

Today, I have! Here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles. And, stay tuned, there are big plans for 2020!

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Harvest Festivals are very big events in our region. There are 9 of them in a year, spread between northern & southern California (and 1 in Las Vegas). This highly successful series of events features handmade goods only (well, almost), and are scheduled in the key 4th quarter.

The costs are high, but the rewards can be very high as well. After initially planning to do several HFs this year, I eventually settled on doing just one, as all of the others had a conflict of some sort. Plus, I was pretty busy …

I did 2 Harvest Festivals in 2018. However, both were impacted by the Camp Fire, so they probably weren’t a perfect indicator of what I can do at a Harvest Festival. Still, the Sacramento event was very, very good for me in 2018.

Time to see if I can up my game a bit more with my almost “complete” product line, as I now define it!

New Ideas

  • My set-up is much like last year, with a double booth utilizing mesh walls hung from the Trimline frame without the canopy. No Mrs M: Harvest Festivals are 100% me.
  • New products this year include Cheese Slicers, Garlic Dipping Boards and Cracker Things.
  • Last year, the guidance for how to sell at this event from the promoter got me to thinking, and I tried – but failed – to produce engraved price signage for all products. This year, that is complete, with price signage for everything from Carnivore Boards to Bread Saws to Cribbage Boards. Look at the booth shots, below, and you’ll see the little wooden signs on every table I have.
  • Some larger display pieces now have signs integrated, such as the pieces for Surfboards and Large Serving Pieces. My signage is now better.

Observations

  • Big ideas require a time commitment. Set up is on Thursday, the event is Friday – Sunday (with tear down), and then I drive home on Monday. That’s 5 hotel nights, Wednesday – Monday. Some scrimp on the hotel cost by driving Sunday night after working a full day, or arriving later on set up day, but that’s not how I roll. Go big or stay home, if you will.
  • Several products are missing this year: Magic Bottle Openers, Serving Trays, Sous Chef boards and California Bears. Not having California Bears while in the state capitol … is a bad plan. I’ve been out of MBOs all year, and they used to be my #1 seller. Another bad plan.
  • I need more time in the shop.
  • Sold a charcuterie board to a guy that wants to mount a watchmaker’s lathe on it and hang it on the wall as a display piece. Well, OK, then.
  • Friday started hot and stayed hot. Lots of traffic on this work day in November. Sales were over $2,500 on this day, and that’s rare air for me. Rumor was that Friday attendance (you have to pay to get into a HF) set a new record.
  • Saturday got better, as you would expect. I got ‘whelmed several times. When people are 3 deep with product in their hands, waiting on me to wrap and do the transaction … life is good.
  • Sold 2 Foodie definition signs to one person. Don’t know them … but I bet they eat well.
CNC Sign 19 – 732 Foodie
  • Put up the unique In This House sign I made from Red Oak and Sapele, and it sold very quickly once it was out of the container. Hmmmmm.
CNC Sign 19 – 713 In This House
  • There was a lot more traffic on this day, but there were a lot of requests for discounts, too. I don’t get offended when people ask for a discount … but I don’t change my prices, either. It wouldn’t be fair to all of the people that pay the published price. Shows like this are not swap meets; people may expect to haggle, but I will not oblige them. My prices don’t change.
  • Cracker Things are the odd thing I’ve added this year, and they continue to surprise me with how popular they are. I hear the words over and over: CTs are “cute” and “clever.” I’ll take that for the win.
  • Now I have to come up with another cute & clever idea for 2020. No pressure.
  • Sunday sales fell precipitously, but this event delivered in a serious way. For the first time ever, I sold 100 pieces at a single event.
  • 100 pieces. I bring about 300 pieces to most events … so that means I sold about 30% of my total inventory in Sacramento.
  • Oh, and our biggest event of the year for each of the last 5 years is in 2 weeks! I have a LOT of product to make in that time.
  • But, that pressure was for another day. As I added up the results, there was a smile on my face. A big smile.

Best. Solo. Event. Ever.

  • And, as I write this in 2020, I know one more thing:

Best. Event. In. 2019.

  • I certainly plan to do more Harvest Festivals in 2020!

The Food

  • Best Meal: Nope. Given the other costs I had for this event, I did my best to stay in the hotel room and eat frozen food from the microwave.
  • Best Meal: After finding how bad traffic was to get to the grocery store from my hotel, though, I definitely tried Uber Eats delivery. It was easy. It had a convenience cost, but it was worth it. After a full day of fun in my booth, I was tired!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 754
  • Booth cost: $1,590
  • Food cost: $182
  • Travel cost: $508
  • Total sales: $6,019
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several. This is a very competitive marketplace. Very competitive.
  • # woodworking vendors: See the above comment. Lots of woodworkers are here.
  • Returning next year? Absolutely, and I intend to be cute and clever, too.

Boards sold: 100

  • Cheese Boards: 11
  • Trivets: 19
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Signs: 11
  • Cribbage Boards: 5
  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Cheese Slicers: 9
  • Lazy Susans: 6
  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Bread Saws: 3
  • Small Boards: 4
  • Hearts: 2
  • Cracker Things: 15
  • Surfboards: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Serving Piece: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 2019   2 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.

** ** **

A note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I am ALMOST caught up. After this post … one more to go.

Thank you for your patience!

** ** **

Ridgecrest, CA. Santa’s Art Shop. Year 6.

For each of the last 5 years, this event was our biggest event of the year.

For each of the last 5 years, we set a sales record at this event.

Every year: Best. Event. Ever.

Every year.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It was time for year 6, 12/7 & 8/2019.

No pressure.

New Ideas

  • Nope, this was not new territory. After 5 years, we knew what we were doing. I did have several new products: Cheese Slicers. Cracker Things. Garlic Dipping Boards. But, we had legacy clients and they knew where to find us at Santa’s Art Shop.

Observations

  • This event began with me freaking out.
  • Thank GOODNESS I have friends.
  • A good friend.
  • You’ve heard the story of my Garlic Dipping Boards: how I collaborate with Nicole, who makes my Great Garlic Graters. We told Nicole about this event, and she decided that she wanted to play.
  • She told the promoter that she wanted to be next to Mrs M’s Handmade. The promoter – who was new this year – told Nicole that we weren’t signed up.
  • It was Black Friday, November 29. The promoter told our friend that we weren’t signed up FOR OUR BIGGEST EVENT OF EVERY YEAR.
  • EVERY. YEAR.
  • OK, go.
  • Freaking out.
  • Me.
  • What happened? I have no idea. How did the promoter not have our application? No idea.
  • No.
  • Idea.
  • Managing Mrs M’s Handmade – and Mr M’s Woodshop – is a big job. To keep track of the details, I keep a spreadsheet of every event on our radar.
  • Every event.
  • I have promoter contact information. Websites. Costs. Descriptions. Comments. Dates. And, I keep track of whether or not we’ve approved the event for this year’s calendar (Mrs M and I), if the application is in, and if we’ve received approval.
  • The spreadsheet said that the application was in.
  • Honest.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter didn’t have the application, and the NEW PROMOTER THIS YEAR did not reach out to us to ask why we were missing after 5 years of faithful vending.
  • What did happen, though, was that my friend Nicole’s application said she wanted to be next to our booth (bless her), so the promoter called Nicole … and told her we were not on the list.
  • Nicole did not accept that. Oh YES we were coming. YES we were a part of the event. And, YES, she wanted to be next to our booth.
  • Bless her.
  • And, in the end, it worked out just fine. I called the promoter at Nicole’s direction, the promoter accepted that we could be a part of the event if I would just submit (re-submit?) the application, and get the check in the mail.
  • Today.
  • I did. That day.
  • Now, in 20/20 hindsight … I don’t know what happened. Normally, I keep a copy of EVERY APPLICATION on file so I know what I’ve provided to each promoter. Every application. However, I know that when this application was due, my life was out of control and I remember not keeping a copy of a couple of applications. This one? No clue.
  • But, the spreadsheet said the application was in.
  • Unfortunately, the promoter gets a vote, too, and she said she never got it. I’m sure it’s my fault. Must be, right? But every event is different, and we do 25+ events every year. Some will talk to you, some don’t, some will NOT talk to you … and I’ve gotten into the habit of submitting my application and forgetting about it.
  • My mistake.
  • Thankfully, our 3 booths were still available (!), and we slid right back into that opening. After Thanksgiving. For an event on the first weekend in December.
  • Thank you, Nicole. Couldn’t have done it without you, obviously.
  • And, yes, paid for dinner at Mon Reve. It was wonderful, too.
  • This event is now about legacy, and we have many fans in Ridgecrest after 5 years. Thank goodness.
  • One customer did observe the sign above my head as I sat in the booth (“Meet The Maker”) and asked if I was the maker. Uh, yes. They wanted to make sure, as I might have been sitting in the wrong chair.
  • Uh, OK. Me = Maker. Be calm.
  • We were way, way down on Saturday. Almost 40% down. Was it the new promoter? No, I think not … perhaps it was the major earthquake that Ridgecrest had in 2019. People had to fix their homes, perhaps? In any event, we were down on Saturday. Way down.
  • This event finally – finally! – fixed it’s #1 problem. There was WiFi, which meant that PayPal transactions could be done in the metal building without me having to go outside to find a cell signal. It would have been great to get a heads up about this, but oh well. We had WiFi, and that made transactions SO much easier.
  • I have fans in Ridgecrest that buy something from me every year. That is so sweet, and so unexpected. Every time.
  • I have to work very hard to earn those accolades. Every time.
  • But, alas, we were down on Saturday. We were down on Sunday.
  • The streak is broken. This was not the best event of the year. This was not our best event ever. It was good, certainly, but not even in the Top 5 all time.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Mon Reve, a ridiculously good French restaurant on the edge of the Mojave desert.
  • Honorable Mention: Olvera’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant that is a good value for good food.
  • Honorable Mention 2: Kristi’s, a local “diner” that serves comfort food, every day. We had lunch on Friday and dinner on Sunday here; definitely good decisions.
  • Worst Meal: Fair food for our lunches was easy; we didn’t pack food for this trip. But to call the vendors at these events fair … well, that’s what they are. IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 270
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $315
  • Travel cost: $368
  • Total sales: $4,439
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # soap & lotion vendors: Several, as always
  • # woodworking vendors: Several, as always
  • Returning next year? Maybe. Probably. But, perhaps we should give it a rest….

Boards sold: 50

  • Cutting Boards: 5
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 5
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Slicers: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Lazy Susans: 3
  • Trivets: 5
  • Cheese Boards: 5
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Bread Saws: 5
  • Card Box: 1

The Board Chronicles: Santa’s Art Shop 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 note about my absence. After a few months of getting more and more behind … I still haven’t caught up.

I will, just not today. In the interim, here’s the latest installment of The Board Chronicles for all of you that have been missing my missives.

Enjoy, and thank you for your patience!

** ** **

OK, OK. I know. I’m behind … but this is ridiculous. The good news is that I’m almost caught up – really! I believe I have 3 more reviews after this one. And this one, well, keep reading.

This is our 5th year at Santa’s Art Shop. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event of the year. For each of the previous 4 years, this was our biggest event ever.

We like Santa’s Art Shop, in not so far away Ridgecrest, CA. It’s a good 2 hour drive, and Ridgecrest is on the edge of the Mojave. It’s just down the road from Inyokern, that proudly announces on a sign next to the highway, “100 miles from anywhere”.

So, Ridgecrest is not a garden spot. It’s not close to the bright city lights.

It’s my kind of town.

New Ideas

  • Not so much. We are again doing a triple booth, but this time it’s just Mrs M & I to get it up and running. The trailer was filled to capacity. And, probably, beyond.

Observations

  • Friday set-up begins at 1p, and we were there with bells on. We. Were. Excited.
  • Shoppers come to this event. They usually inspect everything in both buildings (lots to see!), and then come back and buy what they want. It’s unusual to get many special orders: they know what they want, plus, there’s not much time before the holidays.
  • Oh. And I’m tired.
  • Suggested sign: “I Love You More Than Bacon.”
  • This event is a bit tricky to know when people are coming. Sundays can be bigger than Saturdays. Afternoons can be bigger than mornings. Some Saturdays, in the first couple of hours, sales actually fall because there are too many people and the aisles are just jammed.
  • Good problem, yes?
  • We had a good Saturday, but lower than last year.
  • I walked by the entrance just in time to hear a very excited little girl walk in and say, “It’s BEE YOU TI FUL.”
  • I love Ridgecrest.
  • Each year, we set a new record for sales at this event. And, each year, we agree we can’t do it again. We can’t keep going up, right?
  • Competition is steep at this event. I have 2 direct competitors, and both have a complete product line (though one has a lot of turned items, and the other has many crafty-style items … they both have many similar items to what I have, too. I need proprietary designs and unique pieces to compete, I believe.
  • In addition to those 2 woodworkers, there are 3 others that have a few items that are competitive, along with other items I don’t make that they focus on (jewelry boxes, furniture, etc).
  • So, a very robust environment for woodworkers. Can I stay strong?
  • Last year, the event organizer asked if she could buy a large group of items for a charity auction benefiting a local community autism organization. It was my pleasure to match her purchase, dollar for dollar. This year … she wants to do it again.
  • It’s my pleasure to match her, dollar for dollar.
  • Sunday afternoon started to heat up … and then it got hotter. I actually did 20% of our total sales in the last hour. That’s a big number … and we just made it.
  • We just made it. Fifth year in a row.

Best. Event. Ever.

  • Requests included items with a California Quail engraved, a moose and a dresser organizer.

The Food

  • Best Meal: We couldn’t get into our favorite French restaurant, Mon Reve. We settled for our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olvera’s.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 268
  • Booth cost: $758
  • Food cost: $247
  • Travel cost: $224
  • Total sales: $6,211
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 3
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • # transactions: busy, busy
  • # soap & lotion vendors: 4 others
  • # woodworking vendors: 5 others
  • Returning next year? Definitely

Boards sold: 59

  • Coaster Sets: 2
  • Hearts: 2
  • Custom Order: 3
  • Cutting Boards: 13
  • Cheese Boards: 7
  • Trivets: 8
  • Cribbage Boards: 2
  • Serving Pieces: 7
  • CNC Signs: 5
  • Chess Board: 2
  • Small Boards: 2
  • Clipboard: 1
  • MBOs: 3
  • Lazy Susans: 2