Archive for the ‘Santa Clarita’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Rodeo Days Arts & Crafts Fair 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.

The long darkness lifted a bit.

I went to an event. I sold stuff. It was almost normal. Except, you know, for the masks & health checks & threats & such.

This was my 4th trip to Prescott, AZ, and I was going for their big 4th of July celebration that centers around the World’s Oldest Rodeo. The Rodeo happened … limited to 25% capacity. The Arts & Crafts Fair happened … with all of the booths socially distanced. The very popular parade … canceled.

But I was back in business, if only for a moment. I had to leave California & drive 400+ miles each way, but I had an event!

New Ideas

  • Geez, it was all new. I hadn’t had an event in 5 months. I hadn’t set up this canopy in 6 months.
  • New products, made during the pandemic:
    • 2x sizes of Dip Servers
    • Magic Bottle Openers returned from a 2 year hiatus, both wall & fridge mount
    • Cutting Board selection was deep, with highlights to include several charcuterie boards like a live edge Black Walnut board (sold), a Dough Board with Hooks, and many traditional boards.
    • Also returning from being sold out previously: Hearts, Coasters, Ampersand Boards, Cracker Things, California Bears, 5 Section Servers & a wide array of Handled Boards on a new display stand.
  • The Mowry Cookbook made a rare appearance for sale, as I had the space.
  • Mrs M stepped up and made “Keep ‘Em Clean,” a Waterless Hand Cleanser. This new alcohol-based product was offered for free so everyone could clean their hands before/after entering the booth, or even just as they wandered by. Everyone appreciated that.

Observations

  • I have no expectations for this weekend. None. I mean, how can you? Who knows who will show up, or if they will have money in their pocket?
  • I found this event because my original event for this weekend in Morro Bay, CA was canceled on June 1. I scrambled & followed my friend Delinda back to Prescott because Arizona is open. Delinda had been there for Memorial Day; I stayed home then. But, no more.
  • I was very fortunate that some good friends had recently moved to Prescott, and invited me into their home for the weekend. Not only was the lodging free, but they cooked for me, too. This was not only incredibly kind, but allowed me to do this event with much less financial risk.
  • Vendors were required to wear masks. Vendors had to pass a health check at set-up on Thursday, and had temps taken daily. We were warned that if we were non-compliant with the masks, we would be required to close our booth. We were told that if the event was found to be non-compliant, it would be closed by the county. We live in an era of threats.
  • My local friends connected me to a recent high school graduate to help with set up. He had a buddy … so I had a crew to set up. I love it when that happens.
  • In spite of the help, we didn’t get set up done on Thursday evening. A quirk of events on the courthouse square in Prescott (which is *lovely*) is that you can’t begin set up until the last judge leaves the courthouse. That was after 6p … we worked until dark, and then buttoned up. I had an early morning on Friday.
  • Friday, I couldn’t sleep so I got to the booth at 6a. Set up continued, with a brief pause at 7a for a mandatory vendor meeting where the threats were repeated. I continued with set up and was ready for customers at 9a.
  • Here’s a truth: dog walkers aren’t buyers of my product. They are out to get exercise, see the sights, and share with other dog owners. They never buy cutting boards (Oh, ok, there was this one lady … in six years.). Not my people.
  • One dog walker met another dog walker in front of my booth. The dogs were the same species. Or something. They chatted. They talked. One of the dogs pissed on my table cloth.
  • The dog owner, deep in conversation, barely turned her head for a pro forma “sorry” and kept talking. My table cloth now serving as a territorial marker for the rest of the weekend was unimportant to her.
  • Not. My. People.
  • It began to sprinkle about midday on Friday, and it eventually worked itself up to raining for 30 minutes. I had to tarp over my exterior displays and wait for the blue skies to return at 2p or so.
  • My biggest sale of the weekend was during the rain. I feel sorry for the vendors that close up when it gets wet outside. They just don’t get it.
  • Saturday was the 4th, and Prescott traditionally has a parade that’s a little slice of Americana in this rural town of 40,000+. The parade was canceled this year due to the virus, though, so no one knew how large crowds might be on this holiday weekend. They were good, but perhaps not great. There was a steady flow past my booth all weekend which had both locals and tourists.
  • The morning of the 4th saw some convoys of vehicles cruising through town with many American flags & much honking. The town leaders might have canceled the parade … but there was still a parade.
  • People carried flags around the square as well. It was very red, white & blue on the 4th. I appreciated that very much.
  • Masks are hot when you wear them for hours.
  • The vast majority of shoppers were masked. Some were not, certainly, but most people were following the directives that the governor of Arizona had given.
  • Did I mention masks are hot? I took to alternating between my various masks: I brought 5x styles with me. I preferred the gaiters, though the paper masks were good. I did discover that if I was setting up – working – I felt the mask limited my oxygen. I didn’t wear a mask when I was doing the physical labor required to do what I do.
  • New at this event were the Dip Servers, which were prominently displayed, front & center. I heard the Dad joke twice and was embarrassed I hadn’t thought of it myself. “Dip Servers … oh, this is for me?”
  • I did see a lot of hats & shirts promoting President Trump. Through the whole weekend, I only saw one Democratic sign. Truly, 99+% were pro-Trump. This is a conservative area, but I was still struck by the absence of visual Biden support.
  • Two ladies were wearing Q t-shirts, which caused a bit of a stir. People were asking to take pictures with them!
  • I can’t believe I saw more Q than Biden.
  • Please note: my selling of cutting boards is 100% non-political. So is this blog. I am reporting on what I saw, nothing more.
  • My handled cutting boards were again compared to paddles (sigh). I was asked if I had one engraved, “Make Kids Great Again.”
  • I do not.
  • I will not.
  • Definitely saw some price resistance this weekend, but, honestly, no more than I typically do. I wondered if there would be more due to the large unemployment numbers, virus damage to the economy, etc. Things seemed pretty OK for those that were shopping. And, I did sell the most expensive board in the booth, so there is that.
  • Saturday afternoon, I was processing a credit card transaction when out of NOWHERE, water started running down the roof onto my front table. Did somebody launch a water bottle onto my roof? Squirt gun war. HUH??? My table was soaked.
  • Come to find out, there was a pool of water trapped on the roof from yesterday’s rain. 24 hours later, the wind must have caught it just right, and I suddenly had an ill-positioned cascade. No boards were damaged, but it was freaky to have water just appear.
  • My worst day of the weekend was … Saturday, July 4th. That wasn’t typical of most other vendors according to my informal survey. My best day was Sunday. Weird.
  • But what would you expect from 2020?
  • Taking everything down was speedy, as I had 2 helpers + my hosts help me. I was more manager than worker, and we got everything back into the trailer well before dark.
  • On the drive home, I thought I would stop in Barstow at the Black Bear Diner … closed. Back to the reality of living in California.
  • In the end, I broke even on the weekend. The booth cost was relatively expensive. Event promoters are not giving a Covid-19 discount. The attendance was clearly lighter than prior years, I was told by many. There were fewer vendors, too … but sales didn’t rise as a result. But, I got out of the house, remembered how to set up the Trimline again, and went a-vendoring. I’ll take that as a win.
  • Request included a larger Cracker Thing, a Cheese Board/Cracker Thing combination, and a Cutting Board display stand (sigh). Maybe someday.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Pot Roast. Home cooking for the win.
  • Honorable Mention: Creamy Shrimpy stuff.
  • Worst Meal: Friday bagels that tried to get eaten after set up. They didn’t age well in my gear bag.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 882
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Total sales: $2,695
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 4
  • Friday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 35
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue, but I know at least 2 others were selling similar things. The guy selling cheap, shaped boards made from Corian was there, too.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 36:3
  • Returning next year? probably not, if California is open

Boards sold: 39

  • Signs: 8
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 4
  • Charcuterie Boards: 4
  • Dip Servers: 3
  • Cracker Thing: 3
  • Handled Boards: 3
  • Magic Bottle Openers: 2
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Lazy Susans: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Board: 1
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Special Order: 1

Odds. Ends. The Rest Of The Batch.   Leave a comment

Most of these are single items that got finished after the main batch was done for some odd reason. The MBO just got misplaced. The Cracker Thing needed another end cut. The sign (I actually made 6) was one that didn’t get made when I “completed” the rest of my inventory of signs.

For whatever reason, here are 8 different kinds of items that just finished.

A few notes on the bread saws, as I made a very large batch of them:

  • There are 7 different kinds of woods here – Sapele, Hard Maple, Padauk, Purpleheart, Goncalo Alves, Cherry & Osage Orange.
  • My biggest injury in months was when my driver slipped and the bread saw blade went into my thumb. I actually used a band aid. These blades are sharp!
  • These pictures have the blade guards installed on every saw except for the one featured in the picture of the Purpleheart Bread Saws. Safety First!
  • A few of these Bread Saws have cord tied around the bow holding the saw blade. That’s how I identify left handed models.

The Trouble With Trivets   1 comment

First of all, I was reminded last week that anyone that gets the Star Trek reference in the title of this post is a true nerd. If you want to see some clips from the memorable episode, the link is at the bottom of this post.

As pleasing as the alliteration is, there are a few problems associated with trivets. Luckily, they don’t threaten the Starship Enterprise as the Tribbles did … but I digress.

Trivets are made from a laminated assembly, a “blank” in my terminology, that is then cut 8-1/2″ square. That piece is then put on the CNC with sturdy hold downs to make sure the workpiece does not move as the slots are cut into the blank. After one side is done, the assembly is flipped and the other side is cut with the same pattern.

The process … makes saw dust. A LOT of saw dust.

So, my first problem is that I have a lot of saw dust to clean from the CNC after each and every side of every Trivet gets cut.

The 2nd problem … trivets are now one of my more popular items.

And that, my friends, is a wonderful problem to have.

Here’s the latest batch of trivets, ready for my event that starts this weekend in Prescott, AZ. If you’re not going to make it to the mountains of Arizona to see me, then you can always order trivets on my retail website, MrMsWoodshop.com.

In celebration of my “troubles,” I’m offering a special discount on trivets purchased through the website. Buy 4, get one free. Plus, you’ll get free shipping with your purchase. Just put 5 trivets into your shopping cart, and the site will automatically make the 5th trivet free. The holidays are coming, and these make great gifts, I’m told. Let me know, will you?

If you are particularly enamored of certain trivets, just hover your mouse, or click on a photo & get the file name of the one(s) that you like. The file name will be in the format, “Trivet 20 – 1xx.” Put those numbers in the notes section of your order, and I’ll choose those for you if they are still available. Here’s a direct link to the trivets page, and here are the latest trivets that have made it to the finish line:

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Yes, I Make Cribbage Boards   1 comment

I mean, I must. I buy cards by the case and pegs by the hundreds.

Things just sort of sneak up on you, sometimes.

However, when I’m at a craft fair (ah, memories….), it’s very common for me to be asked if I make cribbage boards. So yes, yes, I do. And since I’m working feverishly (but without fever, in case you intend to test me for everyone’s favorite virus) to round out my inventory for the coming holiday season, it’s best if I make some round cribbage boards.

Here’s the latest batch, including some special orders that prompted this flurry of making.

There are a couple of 3 player bases at the bottom of this post, and several 4 player bases. There are many, many carved tops for both styles that are already made. Here is how they work:

  • The tops & bottoms work together. Choose the bottom you like, pair it with a top, and you’ve got your own set.
  • Each round bottom is for a 4-player game (or 2-player or 3-player!). 2 decks of cards & 3x pegs in 4x colors are included.
  • Store your cards & pegs in the bottom; the top covers that storage compartment.
  • The oval sets are for a 3-player game (or 2-player!). 1 deck of cards & 12 pegs are included.

These are all available for purchase on my retail website, MrMsWoodshop.com. All cribbage sets ship for free! Here’s a direct link to the games that are currently available.

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Cribbage Is My #1 Game

The Cribbage Obsession

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)

New: Sectioned Dip Servers   Leave a comment

There are 2 stories about this new thing I’ve made … and I’ve only just made them. Stories are like that sometimes.

#1. I often post pictures of my work when it makes it to the finish line. The finish line is usually a row of tables and a chunk of melamine set up in the driveway, so the finish line is about 50 square feet of stuff. These new Sectioned Dip Servers made it to the finish line this week, I posted pictures, and 2 sold before the oil was dry. That’s not unprecedented, but it is unusual.

Sometimes, things just work, y’know?

#2. At the finish line, food contact products get a coat or 3 of mineral oil. Most of them then get a coat of Mrs M’s Board Butter, which is mineral oil mixed with locally-harvested beeswax. And it’s at this point, that the tale takes a dark turn.

I placed a few dobs of Board Butter in one particular Dip Server, picked it up to hand rub the finish … and the board flew out of my hands. I tried to catch it, touched it … lost it.

The brand new, almost-finished Dip Server found the driveway, and that was that.

Sometimes, things just don’t work, y’know?

The rim was cracked for about 6″, in addition to the chunk that was broken out entirely. Back to the shop to make another!

The, uh, surviving dip servers are 14″ in diameter. They have a center circle, holding an 8 ounce ramekin for the dip du jour. The rest of the piece is divided into 4 sections to help you organize your presentation.

Flip the piece over, and you’ve got a smooth, circular space for charcuterie, cheese & crackers, or whatever. You serve what you like … just send me a pretty picture, OK?

Note that this is the 2nd Dip Server I’ve made recently. There’s a smaller, square version as well (which being the creative type, I call “Dip Servers”); a link to that post is below.

The 8x Sectioned Dip Servers that remain in inventory will be traveling with me to Prescott, AZ for the Arts & Crafts Fair on the courthouse square that’s associated with Prescott’s World’s Oldest Rodeo. It’s July 3-5, right by Whiskey Row. Hope to see you there!

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New: Dip Servers

New: Tear Drops & More   Leave a comment

I’ve got this thing for boards with holes in them. They should hang on a wall, I believe.

Or perhaps not. I do understand I don’t get a vote on a cook’s kitchen decor.

At least, not in my home. But I digress.

I felt the need to make boards shaped like tear drops. Water drops. Whatever. They have a work surface that’s about 8″ in diameter. These boards would be perfect for appetizers for 2, I’m told. I think they are perfect for smashing & chopping the stinkin’ rose: garlic.

Can’t wait for people to buy these and tell me how they’re going to use them! I’m just the maker here….

Also at the finish line this week are a stash of handled boards. The larger ones have a 9″ x 12″ work surface, and a 6″ handle. The first 2 pictures are of smaller, squarer handled boards that have an 8″ x 10″ work surface.

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)

Custom Work   1 comment

I get all sorts of odd requests when I’m out rubbing elbows with people at craft fairs.

Ah, memories.

Some of those requests I bring to life, as you can see from the unique projects below. Some are personalized, some are just personal.

Boards can be engraved with names as gifts for yourself, for weddings & anniversaries, for real estate closings ….

If you would like to order a special item for a special someone, email me and we’ll develop the idea. Some projects can be accomplished relatively quickly (like the board with “Hall” on it; that can be delivered in a very few days as I keep the blank boards on hand). Some boards require me to buy specific species of lumber, glue it up, smooth it, carve it, finish it … and when I’m busy that can take weeks. Months, even. But whatever the time frame may be, I’ll give you an estimate in advance and will always keep you informed of where I am in the process.

So, what have you got in mind?

Pizza Servers   Leave a comment

Some things just need to be made.

And … I get to choose what I don’t want to make, too.

I make Pizza Servers. I don’t make Pizza Peels.

That might seem to be an odd choice for someone with a pizza oven in the backyard. I stoke the fire with the wood defects and even some mistakes that happen in the garage Woodshop. Pizza is very important in our home.

But, I don’t make pizza peels, which are the boards you slide the raw pizza off of when it goes into the oven. Not my thing.

My thing is to help when the pizza’s done & ready to serve. Some day soon, you’ll be able to have people over for pizza.

Those times will come again.

And to be ready … you need a way to serve your pizza. It’s my pleasure to help.

My pizza servers are 16″ in diameter: large enough to take an extra large pizza (and yes, I’ve researched this point. Extensively.). There’s a sturdy 6″ handle that’s pre-drilled for hanging, if you’re so inclined.

Final thought: some use these round serving pieces for things other than pizza. That’s OK. I like things other than pizza, too.

My new website is now up. If you would like to buy a Pizza Server, or browse the latest things that have come out of the shop, then go to MrMsWoodshop.com. Free shipping for orders over $75. As you look at the below pictures, note the file name of your favorites. The format will be “Pizza Server 20 – 9xx”. Put the number of your favorite in the notes of your order, and I’ll make sure you’ll get your choice, assuming that you’re the first to ask for it!

Here’s a direct link to the page with Pizza Servers!

Posted June 9, 2020 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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