Whew! My last show of the year was Saturday and it was such a nice end to the season. Due to slower sales at last year's San Francisco holiday shows, I decided to opt out this year (I've participated six years in a row) and concentrate on smaller venues closer to home.
For sales in this wonky economy I've worked to develop some lower price-point items especially for gifts. With the exception of two shows that were excruciatingly slow, I'm encouraged and excited that sales were strong. I said I'd never make coaster sets but hey, selling dozens of sets at $35 each is the equivalent to selling a few larger pieces, right?
While shows are always a lot of hard work, I get so much out of engaging with my customers. Talking with them about their likes, dislikes, needs and wants is so incredibly energizing. It's always hard not to want to run back to the studio in the middle of a show and get to work! A big thank you to everyone who took the time to share their opinions with me, purchase my work, and inspire me to stretch my creativity.
I keep my notebook handy and jot down comments and new ideas and sketches when time permits. I keep track of color schemes that sell best (and which don't)—often different from what I'd assumed would be popular (the reason I sometimes force myself to work outside my preferred color range). Contact with the public is vital to my art; seeing my work through my customers' fresh vision helps define my next approach.
I had almost decided to discontinue jewelry in 2010 but it's so fun to watch as shoppers choose that perfect piece, and my jewelry continues to sell well. I always offer a "buy five get one free" sale for pendants which is apparently hard to resist. I've sold hundreds of pendants over the years and love hearing from repeat buyers that they get compliments every time they wear them. Hmmm, maybe jewelry will continue to be part of my inventory.
So for the rest of December, I've given myself the gift of time. I'm giving myself a few weeks to review my notes, refine and research the best ideas and do a few experiments. I need to finalize my indoor photography set up and take some new photos, since I usually rely on the sun for lighting. I've got a crate of "curious glass" (basically one-of-a-kind colors or swirled combinations) and intend to challenge myself with some different color palettes. I've got sheets of gold foil and fine silver so maybe I'll be tempted do make a little more jewelry. I'm still playing with the concept of thicker pieces which I tiptoed around during my residency at Pilchuck...
Our Christmas tree is already up (when I'm crazy-busy with shows it's usually much later) and the mantles are decorated. I'm going to collect the big glass vases my stringer tubes are stored in and bring them in for decorating (the vases, not the stringer!) I'm going to relax a bit, play a bit, bake a bit, be thankful and treasure these moments with my family.
But when I turn the calendar to January, it's time to get back to work (and the treadmill)! I wish you and yours a rejuvenating holiday season!