Monday, December 9, 2013

Indoor vs. Outdoor Exhibiting

Hello, friends. This past Sunday marked the last of my exhibits for 2013. I am quite new to exhibiting my work "live" (I've sold online for over 5 years), but I've learned a few things this year and thought I would share a few thoughts today.

Indoors vs. Outdoors
I've sold my work in a variety of places. In general, my work has drawn the most attention & has sold well when it is displayed outside. Why has this been? Well, first, I have a big canopy tent when I exhibit outside; my booth space is clearly delineated. Also, I have a big sign/banner that is hung in my tent identifying my business name and tag line, "Handwoven Textiles, Londonderry, New Hampshire."

Me, exhibiting outdoors in August at the Morrison Museum. See the apple trees?

Exhibiting outdoors has some disadvantages: you have to have a sturdy tent and all of the stuff needed to secure it, including tools, and then there is the weather. Wind gusts are terrifying. However, I still like exhibiting outdoors despite these things and believe the benefits & outright fun of it all outweigh the negatives. Plus, I'm sort of an outdoorsy kind of girl and enjoy being outside. I guess I am most "at home" outside vs. a strange, indoor space.

There are several things that I've found to be difficult about exhibiting indoors, but for me the big issues are space and lighting. Space: at most of the indoor events that I've participated in this year, I did not have the amount of space available to me that I paid for (and neither did anyone else, for that matter). A 10' space was an approximation at best. I don't have "indoor walls" to delineate my booth space at this point, so this might be something to consider. I don't have a "Nutfield Weaver" sign that works well for an indoor space. Another something to consider. Lighting is somewhat controllable, provided you have the money to purchase the necessary lights for your display, have a way to utilize them, have access to electricity, and have the means to pay for the electricity fee on top of your entrance fee. And one last thing: just because you exhibit indoors do not assume that you will be comfortable. I exhibited in two different indoors venues this fall and both were extremely cold. Bring enough layers to stay warm. Fingerless gloves were an absolute necessity for me on these occasions.

For 2014, I would like to add a visual aid to my display. A friend of mine, who is a seasoned and successful fiber arts exhibitor, suggested that a short video of the weaving process would be helpful, and I believe that she is absolutely right. A lot of people are new to the idea of handwoven cloth. "No, this is not crochet." "No, this is not knitted." "No, this is not fabric from a store that I hemmed." My loom is housebound; it is an 8 harness Nilus II Leclerc with 10 treadles; it is not feasible to disassemble and take to an event. I'd like to be able to show people how cloth is made, and this might be a practical way to do so.

Do any of my friendly blog readers exhibit their wares? What are your experiences and what lessons have you learned? If you'd like to share one of your pearls of wisdom, please do so in the comments section below!
Be well,
Kate K.


Kerimae said...

I thought you'd like to know that your work has inspired ME! I have a couple of your towels and just bought a little table runner; I love displaying them and using them. Maybe you'd like to take a minute and hop on over to my blog to see my very first warp and weave? Don't laugh...I'm sure you remember your first one :)

Nutfield Weaver said...

Well done, KeriMae! I just saw your post on your post and left you a dazzling review. Your first warp/weave is definitely one that you will remember. Be sure to keep it; it is always good to go back and review your first piece. Thank you for sharing! I am looking forward to seeing more of your posts! Be well, Kate K.

Kerimae said...

Thank you! I think I'll keep your kind feedback also along with it :)

Karen Tenney said...

Congratulations on taking your show on the proverbial road....vending can be fun. In the past, I used my tent outdoors, of course, and now I use it when I do an indoor show. If I am in a large building (such as the NY Sheep and Wool Festival), I just leave the top on , lift the legs as tall as they go, and create a great space. It is possible to use the framework of your tent to support "walls" for your booth space. I have sewn simple plackets in wide stretch fabric (think curtains) that I hang on curtain rods secured to the framework of the tent. These can be secured to the legs, giving a neat, unobtrusive, but finished look to you space. I hope this is clear....if you want more info, just ask. happy weaving.

Nutfield Weaver said...

Karen, thank you very much for sharing that information. I don't think I would have thought of using my "outside" canopy in an indoor setting in a million years! It is certainly sturdy enough and can be "dressed up" for indoors, especially with curtains. (I have the plastic/tarp-type of walls, but they're mostly for inclement weather). Your weaving is wonderful, by the way. I've followed your designs/articles in "Handwoven" for years. Be well, Kate K.