Archive for the ‘Valencia’ Tag

Simple Designs   Leave a comment

It was 14 months ago that I first discussed a special project for a restaurant that was in development. The manager found me at a craft fair, and wanted me to make some special serving pieces for him.

Well, OK then.

After following up with my contact immediately after the event and then again about 13 months ago, I assumed this idea would not move forward.

1 month ago, the phone rang. The restaurant was finally to the point that they almost knew what they wanted. After some design discussions, they gave me direction for 4 pieces … and I decided to make 8 different pieces on spec.

They offered to pay me for the work, but I know that if they don’t like the pieces, then someone else will. The ideas here are very simple – the food will be the star, I’m sure!

I meet with the managers this week, and I’ll let you know how it goes. Here’s what we will be discussing.

 

A New Coat For Susan   Leave a comment

Susan gets a new coat with this batch.

As with yesterday’s clipboards, these Lazy Susans are finished with “wipe on poly,” or polyurethane. I then added a topcoat of wax.

The three Black Walnut Susans really show the incredible variety of Black Walnut. I say it all the time: there’s nothing like Black Walnut.

In these pieces, you can clearly see the wide array of colors that can come out in some piece of Black Walnut: purples, turquoises, reds … as well as the much more common browns and creams.

Since I was having so much fun playing with the Walnut, it’s odd that a single board with a totally different design snuck in there, but sneak it did. It’s a good thing, too: my updated inventory of Lazy Susans tells me I only have 11 pieces for next week’s event. That’s fine … but 11 pieces won’t take me though October, much less the end of the year.

I have some long nights ahead of me!

For The Clippers   1 comment

I’ve been told these are old fashioned.

I’ve been told these are simply fabulous.

I’m pretty sure it all depends on your attitude towards paper. If it’s in your life, then clipboards probably have a special place in your heart.

If your goal is to be paperless, well, then just move along. Nothing to see here.

These pieces introduce a new idea for me: I’ve decided to make non-food items not have a food-ready finish.

I’m an innovator.

So, these clipboards are finished with “wipe on poly” … polyurethane. After the urethane was dried & smoothed, I then put on a wax topcoat … because that’s how I do.

Each clipboard has a 1/2″ clip. 2 sizes here: letter size and notepad size. Enjoy!

Cheesy, Or Small?   1 comment

A long time ago, I recall a fabulous late night conversation about plants that are confused. Trees think they are bushes. Bushes think they are trees. Very confusing times.

Alcohol may have been involved.

Today, I confront a similar conundrum. I make cheese boards … and people want them to be cutting boards. I make small cutting boards … and people think they are perfect for serving cheese.

My job, therefore, is to get out of the way and let people choose what they like, and use them how they like.

I’m good with that. Just like I’m good with bushes that think they are trees. After all, everyone should have a dream.

The shop has been humming for the last several weeks, even though you haven’t seen much of what I’ve been doing. There’s big stuff going on … and here’s a small taste of what I’ve been able to get out of the shop this week.

From The Shop: I Have A Problem   1 comment

To do what I do in the shop, I buy lumber.

I have a problem.

When you buy wood, you’re buying a natural product that is not perfect. Wood has knots. Checks. Voids. Cracks. Part of the intrigue of the craft is figuring out what to do with each piece of wood: finding the perfect project for each piece. That sounds like fun … until you get a piece like this one.

Black Walnut, 8/4 stock, with a knot and void … on this side. Sapwood (the light colored, younger wood) showing on the right edge.

This is an end cut – the end of a big, long board that was left because it’s just a bit short. I primarily use 24″ lengths of “8/4,” or “eight quarter,” lumber to make large cutting boards. This end cut piece is … 23″ x 12-1/4.” If I use that with longer lumber, I just end up shortening the good pieces I pair it with into waste, so this piece has to wait for me to find another use for it. A perfect use.

And it’s been waiting a long time.

This is a financial decision, in part. This end cut board is 2 full board feet, so it cost about $20. You don’t just throw away $20.

The problem isn’t readily apparent on the front side of the board … but when you flip it over to look at the back, the challenge is apparent:

The small knot at the bottom doesn’t look too bad, though it goes completely through the board. However, the large knot at the top is a big defect that’s hidden inside the board and travels towards the other knot. I think. That entire chalk circle is waste … in the middle of the board.

When a cut off board is waiting for me to find inspiration, it lives in the shop in some nook or cranny until I can figure out what to do with it. The root problem for me is that I’m out of nooks. And crannies.

I have no space. No. Space.

That means boards that are waiting for me to find the “perfect use” sit out on the floor, leaning against a handy vertical, just waiting for me to trip over them. Or knock them over. Or have to move them so I can get at whatever is being blocked.

And then move them back again.

Yesterday, I’d had enough of this double defect board, and inspiration was not forthcoming. Doesn’t matter; time to cut it up and see what what’s what.  I chalked the outline of the board, and ended up with one long piece that’s 4″ wide. I got 2x smaller rectangular pieces that will end up as routed bowls. Or something. And, I got a little bonus piece that … will find it’s way into a nook or cranny along with many other walnut pieces that look just like it.

I need a new plan.

Someday.

 

 

The Board Chronicles: Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair 2017   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.

It was at this event, several years ago, that I first saw an iPad with a Square card reader in action. I remember my jaw dropped. Technology had made a great leap.

This was back before we were vendors; we’d gone to see the booth of our good friend Heather of Heather Hill Clothing. Once we became vendors, we had talked every year about doing this big community Street Fair that promised attendance of 30k, but we were always put off by the temperature … it’s July, and Mrs M’s products don’t do well in the heat.

This year, the event fell on the weekend that Mrs M had to work at her “job,” so we decided that I should do a solo event with just my stuff.

Yes, “we” decided that “I” should work. Did I mention that the Saturday of the event was on my birthday? I wrote about that, in It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles.

This will be my 2nd solo event of the year, and it seems like my expectations for solo events are almost never met. Time will tell….

 New Ideas

  • This is the first solo event that I took the trailer to … so I had the full setup with the roll-off cabinets. You know our slogan: go big, or stay home.

Observations

  • So disappointing when I arrived and the guy with the clipboard (a youth volunteer) could do no more than confirm my booth number. No map for me to take. No clear direction on how to get to my booth! “It’s just over there” was all of the information I got.
  • Booth numbers were not clearly marked on the curb when I got there. This event has been happening 50+ years, but they didn’t seem to have their act together. No clear paths for people to get in and out for loading and unloading. Very disorganized when compared to last week’s 4th of July event that had the same basic setup!
  • I need more Goncalo. The board I have on display is so striking! It didn’t sell, but it did inspire a special order and many comments.
  • The booth was located on one end of the event, so I got a lot of people that had just arrived and didn’t want to carry/commit, so I heard a lot of “See you on the way back.”
  • The event is 5 blocks long, with a beer garden/concert stage on each end. Food & carnival rides are in the middle. It’s really laid out so the booths get seen, which I appreciate.
  • At this event, many of the “See you on the way backs” actually did come back. Always nice when that happens.
  • I was greeted on Sunday with bags of trash behind the booth, next to the trash can. Nice of the near-neighbor caramel corn/lemonade vendor to leave their trash for me.

  • A guy was looking at my boards while his wife was next door buying a hat. She got the hat … but wouldn’t let him buy a board (sigh).
  • Good crowd here, and they did walk the booths. No complaints about the attendance; just wish I would have sold more stuff.
  • My main problem at this event was boredom. When I’m alone – so alone – and I go an hour + without a transaction, I start wondering why I’m there. Over 25% of total sales happened in the final hour of this 14 hour event, so I spent 13 hours staring at the crowds wondering what was wrong. Hard to overcome all of that contemplation.
  • I get so many compliments on my beer bottles … and so many people wonder about why the bottles are empty. And then they see the MBO demo. And they smile.

  • Several repeat customers came through and gave me kudos for what I do, which is very uplifting. One guy came in to buy his 4th board from me. He doesn’t use the first 3, he said, but he enjoys looking at them. He may use #4. He said.
  • Requests were for hot plate trivets, a Cribbage set (x2!), coasters (x2!), a cutting board stand (x2!) … and a chess board (x2!). I am committed to having all of those things available by September’s events.
  • Did I make my low goal for this event? Nope … but I was close.
  • Maybe my whole solo event strategy is wrong. Something else to contemplate….

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, Old Friend.

Saturday Lunch: Velda’s deluxe ham sandwich.

Saturday Snack: A giant chocolate chip cookie.

Saturday Dinner: Lasagna at Bella Cucina. Yum.

Sunday Breakfast: Santa Clarita’s 2nd best breakfast burrito, from Jimmy Deans.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday.

Sunday Snack: See Saturday.

Sunday Dinner: Papa John’s. It was easy … and the Dodgers scored 5 yesterday so it was cheap!

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 262
  • Booth cost: $250
  • Food cost: $129
  • Travel cost: $136
  • Total sales: $960
  • Net Revenue (does not include product cost): $445
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 1
  • Saturday alarm: 5am
  • Sunday alarm: Nope
  • # transactions: 17x
  • # soap & lotion vendors: No clue.
  • # woodworking vendors: No clue.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 16:1
  • Returning next year? Nope.

Boards sold: 17

Magic Bottle Openers: 6

Large Cheese & Cracker Servers, AKA Surfboards: 2

Domed Cheese & Cracker Servers: 2

Small Sous Chef Board: 2

Cutting Board: 1

Small Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese Boards: 1

Bread Board: 1

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

2a – It’s my birthday. Why am I awake?

4:04a – Ugh. Cannot sleep.

5a –  Alarm. I’m up. I’m up. Dress. Pack the cooler. Go.

5:29a – On the road.

5:44a – Hello, old friend. Here’s a thought: I could do a diary of my day and blog it, since I think I’m going to be bored today. OK, done. Welcome.

ed. note.: I am doing a solo event today, which we decided was a good plan since Mrs M has to “work” at her “job” and summertime events aren’t good for her since she would melt. I mean the lotions would melt. Or something. In any event, she’s out. I’m in. I decided to do a solo event on my birthday: the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Welcome.

6:43a – Arrival. Found the guy with the clipboard … who has no map to give me. Who cannot tell me how to get to my booth. He calls over Joe, who also has a clipboard. Who cannot tell me how to get to my booth.

6:45a – Going for it. Drove through, dodging canopies, vendors and vehicles … didn’t find my booth. Found a guy, who gave me a couple of landmarks and I drove through. In the other direction, still with my trailer. Of course. Dodged canopies, vendors and vehicles again. Also rolling freezers. And trailers. And portable lights. And generators. And barricades. And golf carts. Threaded the needle, and didn’t hit anything. This is what I do for fun. I guess.

6:51a – Found the booth … about 50 yards from the original guy with the clipboard (and he couldn’t tell me that?). Hidden, faded chalk marks on top of the curb marked the booth, but they were not visible unless you are standing over them. But, no worries, they’re putting visible papers with booth numbers taped to the face of the curb for the next guy. Unfortunately, their vendor check-in started over an hour and 15 minutes before I got there.

6:52a – Unloaded the trailer. Drove out to park it, and got lucky. I must be early. Parked on a street 2 blocks from my booth.

6:55a – Setup begins. Opened the bag for the canopy … pieces fell out. This is not good.

6:56a – I know these pieces. This is the same thing that broke in Ridgecrest last year, so I know how to fix it. I’ve got this. I have duct tape.

7:03a – Canopy up. Duct tape in place. First thing I do is move the canopy 18″ away from the curb, and farther into the street. Have to get out of the gutter. Nothing good comes from being in the gutter.

8:15a – Setup ongoing, but mostly done. First walker in the booth. He bought a cutting board just 2 weeks ago, and he loves it. Good for him. He did not buy from me.

9:21a – Set up complete. My neighbors are a chiropractor, and a vendor of imported crap. 2 for $5. Or, 1 for $8, 2 for $15. Like that.

9:28a – Street is empty, so I go walkabout. Vendors seem to be just what I expected: heavy on the imported cheap merchandise. No organization that I can see. A few handmade items, mainly food.

9:38a – Bought 2 massive chocolate chip cookies. Handmade. Of course. Happy birthday to me.

9:51a – First sale … had to break a hundred. Great start.

10:15a – Handed an entertainment schedule for the event … and a map! Come to find out, there’s an entertainment stage and beer garden on both ends of the event, with 5 blocks of booths between. I’m at one end, near one of the entertainment stages (but it’s across the street, in a park, so I can’t see/hear it).

1023a – She said: We will be back later.
He said: I knew I wouldn’t get past this booth.

11:07a – Chiropractor’s assistant is now 2 steps into the Midway trying to grab people to get their posture evaluated. Lovely.

11:18a – He and She came back. Bought 2 boards!

11:24a – “I just came from the gym. I am not here to shop.” That’s fine … she almost bought 2 boards. “Settled” on one.

12:54p – 90 minutes later … no more sales (sigh). Yawning. Time for lunch.

1:12p – Another sale, and the sandwich is now dried out.

1:53p She #2 asked: Are your boards dishwasher safe?
I said: No. No, they’re not … and I kept a straight face.

2:13p –  The worst part of a solo show is the boredom. No Mrs M transactions to fill the time. The worst part of a bad show is the boredom. No quality conversations to fill the time. And when it’s a bad, solo show….

2:20p – Another He said “I still have your board that I bought 3 years ago and I still love it.” Love. This.

3:02p – The battery on the chip reader died. This cannot be from use. I know I charged it. Heat? Bad charge? One more problem to contemplate. Luckily, I have a swiper. The Lady packed the bag bag of supplies (with bags in 3 sizes) well.

3:32p – Most heard comment of the day: “too pretty to cut on.” One lady saw the pic I have of a cheese & cracker server in action, showed her husband, and used the picture to prove her point that the cutting boards weren’t really cutting boards … they were serving pieces that were too pretty to cut on. Geez. Speechless.

3:40p – Open-mouthed reaction to the MBO demo. I own the demo. Didn’t sell the MBO, though.

3:45p – What kind of a crowd was it? I noticed a lady, older than me (on my birthday), who was wearing a Todd Rundgren t-shirt. Not something you see every day….

4:08p – Fun conversation with a couple that came into the booth, and were clearly having fun looking. The guy eventually admitted he was a turner (meaning he’s crazy), and the woman also goes into the shop with him to turn smaller stuff like bottle stoppers (good, they’re crazy together).

Why are turners crazy? They take a perfectly good piece of wood, put it on a machine to turn it at a high rate of speed, and then they stick something sharp into it just to see what flies off. Crazy. But I digress.

4:09p – The couple eventually admit that they’ve thought about vending as they like making stuff … but they’re running out of relatives that will take stuff they’ve made. He shows me smartphone pix of the work, and it’s really exquisite. Great, great looking stuff. I caution them that to vend, they need to figure out how to make things for under $50 that will sell … what he likes to make takes a month per piece and should cost hundreds of dollars each. Difficult to vend with art pieces like those. I point them to this blog to read more of my supposed vendor wisdom. Welcome.

4:31p – Hot. Drinking my cooler dry.

4:37p – Another She tells me she bought an MBO at Champagne on Main (April, Ventura) and she loves it. Her He loves it, and uses it every day. Love. This.

4:59p – A lady in the booth is looking for a charcuterie board. Last year, I didn’t know what that was. Now, I’m so continental. And a year wiser.

5:36p – The only thing I like that’s sold by the importers of crap are the battery operated bubble blowers. Every kid should have one. The 4 year old kid in front of the booth had one, and when he stopped walking, he held his finger on the trigger. Bubble blizzard! You couldn’t see through my booth for the bubbles, and I was all good with that.

5:40p – Bubble blizzard cleared up. First time explaining end grain vs edge grain today. First quality conversation about cutting board-sized cutting boards. It was 7+ hours into the event. Geez. Not good.

6:27p – My new catch phrase: “I start with lumber and I end up here.” Works.

7:04p – Shutting down. Wrapping it up, even though people are still in the booth. Doesn’t matter. It’s my birthday.

8:25p – Home. Quick, quick turnaround & out to my favorite Italian restaurant: Bella Cucina. Yum.

9:43p – Home. Check the tally, which was right. 10x boards sold.

10:10p – Return emails with birthday wishes. Haven’t even looked at Facebook. Not today.

10:18p – In the chair. Ahhh.

10:  p – Asleep.

The next day, today, 2:46a – Awake again, still in the chair. Bed.

More

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

Cutting On The Edge   Leave a comment

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards: edge grain & end grain. Today’s boards are all edge grain.

Today we celebrate stripes. It is Bastille Day, after all!

All of these boards are made with a variety of hardwoods, both domestic & international. They are made to be of use, and with proper care will last for decades. What’s proper care? Check out my post on that topic, here.

All of these boards have non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life. All of these boards have routed fingerholds to make them easier to handle.

If you like what you see, all of these – and more – will be on display at this weekend’s solo event for me at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Yup, I’m going to the Street Fair this weekend. After all, it’s my birthday. I’m entitled!

Mrs M isn’t coming along, though … she has to “work” at her “job.” She says.

I hope to see you on Saturday & Sunday at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair, at booth # 128.

Clipping Right Along   Leave a comment

The truth of the matter is I like making clipboards.

That’s much to the chagrin of Mrs M, who just doesn’t get it. She works in a paperless office. A virtual world. You could argue that it’s a fantasy world of her own making, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Some people, however, still use real paper to write real words with a real pencil. Or pen. And those people seem to love my clipboards.

After receiving an order for three, I finally got enough shop time to make this batch of 9. One of those is notepad size, and the rest are letter size. All have 1/2″ clips.

With this batch, I’m using a polyurethane finish. Since these boards don’t need to be food ready … they aren’t.

Innovation, on a clip board.

I find that satisfying, so I’m going to keep making these!

My Favorite Posts From Year 5   Leave a comment

A Family Heirloom

It’s been a tumultuous year. The 5th year of the blog saw me address politics more than ever before – if only to get people to stop talking about politics.

No one ever accused me of being effective at that, by the way.

Other posts were about woodworking, some about going a-vendoring, and I even managed to sneak one post in about family history.

I hope you found some topics to enjoy along the way, and if you missed any of these posts, then, please, enjoy!

A Family Heirloom

Be Kind To Vendors

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2

Buying A 10×20 Trimline Canopy by Flourish

Do All Lives Matter?

The Golden Strawberry

From The Shop: Planning To Be Wasted

I’m Exhausted

Should Speech Be Free?

The 250th Cutting Board

The Board Chronicles: Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival 2017

The Farce Of CalExit

The Golf Course Project

The Lady Asked

Too Snarky

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

More

My Favorite Posts From Year 4

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

My Favorite Posts From Year 3

My Favorite Posts From Year 2

My Favorite Posts From Year 1

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