Thursday, October 22, 2009


© 2009 by David Wainland

When the rain finally arrived, it was anticlimactic. I spent much of the day preparing, something I have learned over the past twenty years. In Florida, even if there is only the slightest chance of rain interrupting your art show, you can depend on it to happen.

I slid off my seat, unsnapped the fasteners and dropped the side curtains to my tent. Earlier that morning while opening, I checked and lined up the zippers so now it took only seconds to secure them. My tables were already inside and I moved the sculptures I featured from the top of the displays down one level. I work in cold-rolled steel and even with a heavy lacquer protection the slightest mist can cause rusting.

It was a three-day show and the Delray Affair committee expected their usual two hundred and fifty thousand plus visitors. Of course, that was prior to the weather people and their dire warnings.

Friday went as expected, small crowds, but steady sales. Saturday they swamped us and we lost many customers to the heat and crowds. Still, it turned out to be an average if not record-breaking day.

When I was younger and first started the art tour, I dreamt of a gypsy life. I pictured myself roving from town to town, laying my goods on a blanket, sharing my work with the world, my philosophies and a bottle of wine with my fellow artisans. It was never that way and I should have known better.

Getting ready for a show season means days, weeks and months of preparation, Producing the inventory is only part of the business, planning, packing, loading and unloading make up the other half.

Creativity does not end with the product. To get into the better shows you need good pictures, slides of your work and your display, professional not amateur work. Almost as important as your art form is the way you show it. The judges of a quality show deny entrance to many a good craftsman, not because his work is bad, but because his display is lacking. There is no setting up on a blanket if you want to make the big money.

For a two or three day show, I have to plan weeks in advance. The real work begins two days before. I spend two hours cleaning and packing up my pieces, over one hundred and fifty of them and then loading my vehicle. The next day, if the show begins at ten in the morning I must leave my home early enough to arrive by six or six thirty. Depending on the location of my booth, it takes two to three hours to unload and set up. How early I awaken depends upon how far away the show is.

You can count on people arriving before the opening and if you are not ready, they pass you by. The early birds come to beat the crowds and tend to be buyers out looking for bargains or the cream of the work.

By mid morning, I have already had my share of “Be-backs,” those who look, compliment and say they will return. They seldom do. Over the years, my skin has grown thick so I am capable of warding off the inane remarks that threaten to bury my usual jovial mood. Candid acidic comments like, “My uncle makes this stuff.” “It’s nothing but nuts and bolts soldered together.” (I neither solder nor use nuts and bolts,) “You make a living doing this?” “You charge sales tax even if I pay cash?” And my favorite of all, “Can you do better if I buy more than one?” They never do. Some people get their jollies by asking me for something they know I will not have. I do custom work so they cannot get me on that.

I have a friend that collects comments as some people collect stamps. He has a book-full and still manages to enter one or two new stupid remarks each show.

Six o’clock finally comes and it is time to pack up for the evening, depending on show security this can take from an hour to two or more. The next morning I am back and doing it all over again.

I hate three-day shows.

After a long day I break down once more, if the show is over it takes a minimum of two more hours to rack, pack and stack. Then I return to my home and the next day I unpack, place my displays and tent in the warehouse, clean, revitalize, inventory my stock and place my orders into my computer. I spend the evening doing the necessary paper work.

Tuesday I start the cycle all over again.

The average two-day show uses up about forty-hours, there is not much time for sharing philosophies or drinking wine.

As I said before, The Delray Affair runs three days and every year it seems to rain on Sunday. This year the weather people added to the mix by threatening high winds, heavy downpours and tornado warnings.

By three, what was left of the crowd was drinking beer, staring at the sky and no longer buying. Like I said, when the bad weather came I was prepared.

It never did storm. I just got a little rain in my face.


  1. What a great page David. I wanted to wish you all the best with it and I'm looking forward to watching it as it grows........and grows.


  2. Great blog, thanks for sharing your art David

  3. I'm very happy to see you've set up a blog! I wanted to be among the first of your followers. I look forward to reading your stories and seeing more of your art work!

  4. The blog looks good. I'm glad to see you here, since I seem to be floating around in blogland more than the other place these days. You will get so hooked once you start finding blogs you like. I'll hit the follow button too!