‘Do you speak English?’: PMA Craft Show recap

Now that everyone has overdosed on Thanksgiving leftovers and participated in the contact sport better known as Christmas shopping in the U.S.[I for one haven’t started…I did all my shopping in a 3 hour window of time two days beforehand last year.  I’m efficient.  This year I’m a little less confident.  In fact I haven’t the slightest clue of what to get my family members.  Things were so much easier when we were younger and we all lived under the same roof.  I could eavesdrop on conversations and make mental notes year-round for superb gifts for people.  Ugh, now I have to use my imagination?!] I have a moment to sit down and regale you with the events that transpired at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.


I should have known better than to decide two days before I leave to re-jig the entire display for my wearable pieces[a.k.a. super-sweet necklaces that make a great Christmas gift for that special lady in your life *winkwink*].  I made a trip to Lowe’s and picked up a generous piece of MDF-backed marker board.  Of course I wasn’t content with the white color it came in so I also picked up a can of black hammer-finish spray paint.  I did the responsible thing and decided to put the first coat of spray paint on that afternoon.  Except I failed to check the weather report.  No one told me we were scheduled to receive category 10 gale-force winds all day.  That made things REAL interesting.  Pretty sure more paint ended up on the grass than the actual board.


After letting it dry overnight, I actually took the time to put together a make-shift spray booth out of cardboard to get a more even second coat.  Then came the fun part: gluing down the frames.  What.  A.  Nightmare.  Well let me first tell you that I used Gorilla Glue.  I was not keen on using a lesser-strength glue at the risk of these frames not adhering and falling off during the show.  Based on it’s name I thought it was a brilliant plan.  Does anyone read the fine print on bottles?  I do.  Most of the time.  I might have been rushing a little since it was about 8pm until the second coat of spray paint was dry.  Did you know that Gorilla Glue expands 30-40x beyond the size it is when you squeeze it out of the bottle?  Huh, that’s interesting, well now you do and so do I.  Okay so it’s more like 3-4x, but still…I had to learn it the hard way.


After I carefully laid out the formation for the frames, I put what I thought was a very small bead-line of glue along the frame backs and put weights on top and left it to dry.  Cut-to 3 hours later and me swearing up a storm when I discovered that the glue, which dries white, had seeped out around the edges of all the frames on the board.  Yes, now that you mention it, I did want to spend 4 hours trying to scrape the dried glue off of my display with a box-cutter and x-acto knife.  All the while, simultaneously, trying not to rip the MDF into shreds and then trying to mask it further with more spray paint.  Good times.  Although the final product didn’t look too terrible:


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I was supposed to leave at 7am the next morning to drive to Philadelphia to set-up.  My body had a wholeeeeee other plan in mind.  I had the great misfortune of picking up a stomach virus from my sweet, sweet nugget of a nephew.  And at the risk of over-sharing, I will say that my first whiff of eggs and bacon set off uncontrollable vomiting.  And I was not able to pull myself together enough to make the 2 hour drive until much later in the afternoon.  My diet the rest of the week was really savory and exotic when I could tolerate it: white rice, saltines, bananas, and watered down Gatorade.  My energy and enthusiasm took a real hit as well, but as the old saying goes: “fake it, ’til ya make it!”  No one has the luxury of sending someone in his/her place, we each have to be at the show to represent our own artwork.  I did my best to keep myself distracted by making beads when I wasn’t talking to people attending the show.


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And bonus, my Alma Mater was one of the art schools to have a booth set-up with current student work.  So I got to see a few of my professors and even meet the University Provost.  Ya know, no pressure or anything.


The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is unique in the way that they invite a small group of craft artists to exhibit from a different country every year.  This year’s chosen group of talented artists hailed from Lithuania.  It just so happened that my booth was on the aisle bordering the block of booths where all the visiting artists were set up.  Naturally, I wasn’t expecting someone to come up to me and ask: “Do you speak English?” since all of the Lithuanian artists had giant turquoise colored banners hanging in their respective booths with the words “LITHUANIAN ARTIST” in boldface type along with their first and last names.  Or the time that I was asked a general question about my work and I immediately responded in fluid sentences and the inquisitor’s face glazed over with shock and amazement:


“Wow!  Your English is FANTASTIC!”


me[speaking at a drastically slower-than-normal pace]: “Uhhh, thanks?  I should hope so.  I’m from Pennsylvaniaaaaaa.  Also known as the state in which we are presently located.




I am still not entirely sure what about my physical appearance screams I am of Eastern European descent!  It wasn’t until the third or fourth version of this line of questioning that it registered with me that people just assumed I was one of the visiting artists due to my proximity to their booths.  At least I got some laughs out of the situation.


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All-in-all I’m just happy I managed to survive the week–there were several other incidents that shall remain untold.  And I’m already only 3 short days away from my first venture to the Hynes Convention Center for the CraftBoston HOLIDAY show!  Hopefully it will be less eventful than the spring show.  Just maybe a little colder.  You can find me at booth 223!  If you are coming to the show in Boston you can print out the coupon below to receive $3.00 off of admission.



The show must go on!: Craft Boston 2013

Monday, April 15th: Per my usual I was working on some things last minute to prepare for Craft Boston when I got a phone call:


‘Have you seen the news?’


‘No, why?’


‘Someone set off two bombs near the finish line at the Boston Marathon.’


‘What?!  You have GOT to be KIDDING me…good gravy that gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing as I am supposed to be driving up there at 7am in two days time.’


ALRIGHT EVERYONE!  There is no need to panic!  The show must go on!  So I left Pennsylvania briiiight and early Wednesday morning and arrived in Boston around 2pm.  I was promptly greeted by three helicopters hovering overhead in the financial district, where the trade center also happens to be located, and police officers on every block.  Take away: don’t mess with the people of Boston.






Setup went smoothly and when I made it back to my car I plugged the address of my gracious host into my GPS.


A word on my generation:  We are all so spoiled by technology these days.  Does anyone even use a road atlas anymore?  I genuinely believe I would be screwed if I were forced to try to even read directions from MapQuest whilst driving.  I have a hard enough time following what the little British lady is shouting at me from that contraption attached to my windshield when I’m in the middle of an all impressive rap solo[Call it car karaoke.  It’s why I drive alone.].  If I have to hear her say “recalculating” one more effin’ time I swear to God I will chuck that thing out the window.  Then I’ll really be screwed.  And can we all take a minute to just address the lack of an “Avoid Ghetto” option on those devices.  I mean…you know you’d use it.  Don’t lie.


According to my scheduled ETA it should only take me 20 minutes to get to her house in Brookline.  One hour later…I arrived.  In my opinion Boston streets need to be labeled better/more consistently.  And the British lady inside the GPS needs to get her stuff together and realize which street I am actually on instead of the highway that happened to be running parallel to me and stop leading me directly into traffic for people headed to the Bruins game.  Come on woman!




Later in the evening I found out that the other artist staying with our amazing host, Ellen, also got lost for two hours driving to the house.  So I wasn’t alone in that department.  I generally try to stay with people when I go to shows to save money on expenses when I can.  Some shows even offer to set you up with people who help organize the show or are friends of the organization.  Right away I knew that this was going to be the best host experience I have ever had.  Ellen was funny and easy-going and was just all-around amazing and accommodating to me and Sandy during our stay.  Sandy is a fantastic ceramic artist[she ended up winning the Artist’s Choice award at the show!  Peer recognition–yeah!!] and in no short supply of funny anecdotes, some of which you can read on her blog.


Thursday:  Ahhhhh free time!  Donning the most colorful coat known to mankind and a new necklace design I went for a jaunt around downtown Boston.




I went to the nearest “T” stop and when the next train arrived I tried paying for my ticket with cash.  Too bad the machine was broken and not accepting bills.  I was the ONLY person who didn’t have a Charlie Card or long term pass and I didn’t know what to do.  The conductor just smiled and said: ‘don’t worry about it honey–you’re good.’  Say whattttt?!  Free ride on the “T”?  That is what I am talking about!  It just goes to show how it pays to be nice to people.












I could not have asked for better weather to walk around the city and act like a tourist.  One thing I did not count on was the number of times cops would stop and ask me if I was with the press. All because I was toting around my beastly camera and they wanted to know if I had any photos of Obama, who also happened to be in the city that morning.  Much to their disappointment I saw no sign of the POTUS or his giant motorcade, but there was definitely no shortage of pride and strength on display throughout the city.
















Eventually I made my way back to the show for the gala preview party that evening.  Sandy and I joined forces at the end of the night to carpool back to Ellen’s and miraculously we made it back without getting lost!  And I was more than happy to take my hair out of the braids I was sporting for 15 hours.



Friday:  7am.  Ellen informs us that there may not be a show.  Turns out that law enforcement had been on a manhunt for the two brothers responsible for the bombing since midnight.  Allllllrighty then.  The show is delayed to open at 2pm.  The show director calls and informs Ellen that she had woken up to S.W.A.T. teams on her lawn in Watertown where the second bomber was suspected to be lying low.  City of Brookline calls with an automated message informing us that we’re on lockdown along with the rest of the city.  There is discussion of cooking up a smoked pheasant for dinner that Ellen just happened to have in her freezer.  Read books.  Check e-mail.  Call family members and assure them we’re not in any kind of danger.  Swap stories.  Eat lunch.  Informed the show is canceled for the entire day.  Intermittently watch/listen for updates on the news like a train wreck you can’t quite turn away from.  Eat dinner.  News of another shootout and the second bomber is found.  Yay!  Back to normal.


Saturday and Sunday:  There may have been a small twinge of worry about how the events of the week would affect the show, but it opened as originally scheduled and people came out in droves.  The aisles were full all day.  The lockdown the previous day may have worked in our favor because people wanted to get out and go do things.  The tireless promoting that the Society of Arts and Crafts did to get people to come to the show also played a large part.  A special thanks to everyone there for their utmost professionalism the entire weekend and keeping all of us, the artists, informed of the changing status of the show on Friday.


Monday:  Another early morning drive back to Pennsylvania with a detour through Kutztown: home to rolling hills, farms, many covered bridges, and my alma mater.




My top notch welcome committee at home:




The End…until Craft Boston Holiday.  Maybe I’ll be back in December. ;)

Postcard(s) from abroad…

Contrary to what my recent lack of posts would indicate, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  The past few weeks were spent traveling to some breathtaking and extraordinary places and meeting incredible people that I hope to call life-long friends.  While it would have been more interesting and thrilling to defect and continue roaming around Europe with my backpack and inordinately large camera the vacation had to end sometime.  I have yet to even go through the some 2,400+ photos taken on said camera, but I will share some random gems captured with my iPhone.  Carrying thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment…takes photos with her cell phone.  Yes, I was THAT girl.  My only argument being they are easier to share.  Enjoy!  Diving back into work in the studio soon!


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