Craft Shows and Why I love Them

Over the weekend I attended the 2017 Penn Hills Parks and Recreation (20th) Annual Holiday Craft Show at Linton Middle School. I was extremely excited to attend this year, and I even made a new piece specifically for this show. I have made several additions to the inventory, compared to my first appearance at the show last year. As you will see in the picture above, the table was FULL of items – but a healthy variety…. The popular Rounds Cutting Boards, Cleaver Plank Cutting Boards, Standard Cutting Boards, Pallet Coasters and Organization Bins – These are all the regular items that I have brought to shows since the beginning. New to the line up were the Knick Knack / Chalk Boards, Large/Medium “Welcome Sign” Chalk Boards, Rustic Picture Plaques, Rustic Welcome Signs, Chalkboard Easels / Sandwich Boards….Oh, and…. The Bench…

The Bench pictured above is a unique combination of woodworking and a new skill that I have been learning over the last year. Welding and basic metalworking have truly opened my eyes to many more possibilities for project ideas, and I wanted to share that potential. When most people think about Woodworkers – as a profession…… or maybe Furniture Makers…. or the more modern term for us – “Makers”….. Not too many people actually think of combining many different skills into that category. I admit, I sometimes get comfortable with the skills that I already possess – However, I want to constantly grow and expand my skill set – to create new things and to always continue to think outside of the box. So, this bench served as a great conversation piece and offered an opportunity to discuss other possibilities – beyond just woodworking.

So, I LOVE Craft Shows because of the opportunity to meet awesome people. It was extremely amazing to meet and greet so many of the shoppers. I love to share my passion of woodworking with others and explain how things were made and why they are made that way. And more importantly, to see the joy. Granted, my work is not for everyone. However, we can connect and discuss different variations and ideas – and that is a great conversation to have as well. Rather than being offended by someone’s opinion of my work – I am humbled and I enjoy listening to their ideas. Our lives can be much more rewarding if we swallow our pride and approach every situation eager to learn something new, or to see something from another perspective. Attending craft shows gives us this awesome opportunity. At a craft show of this size you have 150+ vendors who brought with them their own creativity and the products that they offer for sale. You may see several SIMILAR items, but NOTHING is exactly the SAME.

As a vendor, this size of show can be quite stressful. The show usually gets approximately 3,000+ visitors each year, between 8 am – 4 pm. That’s a lot of people and can be a hectic day if not managed properly. Thankfully, this event is operated smoothly and it’s not entirely overwhelming. That being said, it is great to have assistance with operating a space – bathroom breaks, eating, sitting for a minute, taking a stroll to see the other vendors, etc… This year I was expecting to be there by myself. My wife, Amy, was out of town for a conference and my Dad was going to be working and is a very busy dude. This leads me to my next point…..

My family. I am so incredibly thankful for my family. After setting up for the show Saturday morning and just hearing the announcement of the start of the show….I saw my Mom and Dad rounding the corner. I thought they were just stopping by to check out the show, but no. They were there to help. (Awesome sigh of relief) My Dad is a Beekeeper, and as such he harvests Honey and that is one of the items you see on the table. He joined me last year with his Honey for sale, and I am extremely happy that he joined again this year. And, this year my Mom was there as well – which made the day even better. One thing I struggle with in life is not being able to spend a lot of time with my family – and the little things like spending the day together at a craft show – these little things make my day…. What an incredible blessing it is to have such amazing parents!!!

 

As I collect myself and dry my eyes…. I will continue on to my next point. Another thing that I love about craft shows. Meeting the other vendors. You may see them as competition, but that is one thing with which I must disagree. If you know me, you know that I believe in encouraging creativity and I love the community of “Makers” – a community that thrives on the sharing of ideas and skills – to continue to help each other grow and reach new heights. As we grow as a whole, our abilities will continue to grow. So, this is a very important part of craft shows for me – meeting other vendors and “crafters” and hearing their story. I do want to give a shout out to a couple of people that I met.

Let’s talk about Chuck Ondrizek. Chuck is a Computer Guy by day, and a Woodworker. He’s been woodworking for a while and he has recently fallen into the rabbit hole or turning. By which I mean that he is expanding his skill set by learning more on the lathe. Looking at his table I saw some beautiful work  – he makes small keepsake boxes that are elegant and I would highly recommend him to anyone. One thing that he makes is his Portable Camping Bow Saw – which comes apart for ease of carry and features. You can CLICK HERE to visit his Etsy page and check out some of his work. It was a great pleasure to meet Chuck, and I am excited to see what he does next.

Now I’d like to introduce Lisa Tabb. I had first met her husband as he was walking around the show and I later visited their table. First of all, I’d like to thank you, Lisa, for your service. Lisa served in the US ARMY – although the rivalry between the military branches may be a little intense at times, it’s only for show….mostly. Seriously – I am honored to have met Lisa and for her to share her story was a great blessing. I won’t go into extreme detail of Lisa’s story, as it is her story to tell – but I will say a little. Like many who leave the battlefield, Lisa left with a souvenir of sorts. The type of souvenir which then comes with the honor of getting to know your local VA very well. Through her journey she has chosen to hone her skills in creative expression – and her creativity is amazing. This woman took simple clay and sculpted a magnificent representation of a castle and, I guess after that she was hooked. She later had an opportunity and she took hold of it and it has led her to creating some beautiful art. I especially love her trees that she makes. If you watch her ETSY page, maybe you will see them soon….

To summarize, this year’s Penn Hills Linton Craft Show (keeping the title a little short) was a lot of fun. I met some amazing people while working alongside my family and gained a lot of inspiration for future projects. I’m already very excited for next year and I am looking forward to everything that is yet to come. Thank you for reading and I will talk to you soon….