I had the great fortune to attend the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore and I got paid to be a demonstrator too. The Baltimore Area Turners were invited to come and demonstrate during the three days of the Retail part of the Show. I have never been to that Show before, but I am here to tell you that it will be an annual event for me for many years to come.
I had heard the show was big, but I did not realize how big is really was. I took my time walking around, then suddenly I realized my time was almost up, and I had to go through the last third at a quick clip. Next time, I’d like four to five hours to see all of it.
The level of craftsmanship and artistic work was outstanding. I was inspired by a variety of media; fabric, jewelry, metalwork, fine art and especially the woodworking. There were a number of booths that I would simply stop and burst out with “Wow!” or “Holy Crap!” I’ve seen a lot of good work, so it takes a lot to make me stop in my tracks and gawk.
I bumped into many friends and business associates and I took the time to talk to many of the vendors. What a joy that was. The best thing was that I got paid to be there! So I got to see everything for free, meet loads of great craftsmen, and I had a VIP Show badge to boot! I’d walk into a booth, and they see my worn out pants and shoes and looking like death warmed over (from a horrible cold) and they’d perk up because I had a silly VIP badge because I was a demonstrator. Some would ask me why I was a VIP and I told them that was a “Very Impressionable Person”. I have to admit, I got some mileage out of that badge and it opened doors.
As I said before, I spoke with a number of woodworkers, especially the turners. I had a good time speaking with Warren Carpenter (AAW Board), and I had a nice chat with Cindy Drozda. I asked to have a picture taken with her, so she got the vendor from across the aisle to take our picture with her smart phone, then she uploaded it right to Facebook. BTW, I do know that I look awful. Even my father called my wife to asked what had happened to me. I also meet Jerry and Debbie Kermode for the first time. They were such lovely people and they spoke to me like they had known me for years. They were both so charming. Jerry even gave me a lovely wine bottle stopper for our Friday night wine. I certainly am looking forward to meeting them again.
If I hadn’t been so tired from the cold, I would have had an even better time. On a sad note, a number of vendors told me that business was not great. The crowds were there, but once again, people were just not buying. I’m sure, a number of vendors did well, but woodworker after woodworker told me that their sales were not what they hoped to be. Aside from Load-out, the show was all I hoped it would be, and I hope it will be even better next year for them and me.