Friday, February 13, 2009

Journey to and from Tucson Part II

Watercolor Painting of the Manning House used for the show ads

The Welcome
So it's opening day at the Manning House Beadshow. I'm at the same booth in the Silverbell Gallery as I have been in the last three years. The show's name has changed with the new management but with that came a smaller, more intimate show and many welcomed improvements.
My booth and old photos on gallery walls
First of all, for those who had visited this show in previous years, one of the inconveniences was the lack of parking. Because the previous show grew too rapidly and too large for my tastes, I heartily welcomed the removal of the Redondo Pavilion (aka fondly "The Tent") for more customer parking. Sometimes too much is too much. Too large is too exhausting. And... I believe in the concept of "less is more" or "quality over quantity". I use these same concepts when I design jewelry too. We had less vendors this premiere year but all of them were quality exhibitors.
Some booth photos before opening on Sunday. I am always the early bird, otherwise I don't get out of my booth during the day!

As a new show, there were a sprinkling of vendors spreadout in several rooms with one wing of the mansion left unoccupied for future expansion in 2010. The show had about 43 vendors this year which made remembering everyone's names much easier. It was great, like the tv show Cheers, you're at the Manning House where "everyone knows your name". The Manning House is a beautiful venue where one "experiences" the ambiance, not to just shop. The relaxed environment is welcoming, unlike the cold floors of a cemented exhibit hall or the white-washed tents that dot the streets of Tucson this time of the year. With so many shows in Tucson offering a litany of commercial goods, walking through the Manning House is like a stroll back through history. For instance the Silverbell Gallery which I exhibit contains historical photos of the mansion and surrounding area. I don't know about you but I'm all for paying tribute to those who came before me and honoring the past. The Victorian decor compliments my beadwork so well that I can not imagine exhibiting anywhere else in Tucson except the Manning House.

Architectural elements around the Manning House taking you back into time. A show to be "experienced" not just to shop in this historical Tucson landmark.

Looking out the three french doors of the gallery, you get a view of the garden with a lovely gazebo. If time was no issue, you could order a glass of wine and stroll around the garden then come inside to shop. The leisure takes the stress out, the comfort a welcome and the beautiful architectural elements harkens back to a bygone era as you daydream strolling through the rooms. For this first show, we wanted to have some fun. Each of the vendors donated a prize for a superb raffle. Upon registration each attendee had a chance to win some fabulous prizes with a raffle ticket. I donated a copy of Bead Romantique to the prize pool. And as you made your purchases throughout the week, each time you would get another opportunity to win a prize. I sensed the excitement in the air but wanted to participate in the fun also but exhibitors were not allowed to. Did you see the loot in those display cases at registration?

One of two cases showing the "loot"

I always like to launch something new in Tucson to start the year rolling. It seemed everyone loved our Japanese tool wraps and if you were wondering, the wraps also fit other tools besides the PPT. I will compile a list of other brands of tools in the near future. Because of the feedback on just the first day, my sister Sandy and I are jump starting on prototyping the larger wrap with the same basic design concept. We anticipate launching that at the Santa Fe Beadfest in March. Another new item to Tucson was my triangle borosilicate beads. It is a new shape I am working on and color selection will expand over time. Unfortunately these are generally offered at shows and not on the website due to the difficulty of replicating the colors. Lastly, another new offering which will be added to my website is Italian Wire Mesh. Because many of you asked for kits of the Pearl Mesh Bracelet from Bead Romantique, I have partnered with my friend Jannell Botto of SpecialtyBeads to represent her product at select shows. Each 6mm wire mesh spool is 100" which is perfect for two bracelets or a matching ensemble when you select two colors. I hope to have the selection of colors on my site after Santa Fe. All mesh are the same price per spool, unlike "other" suppliers that mark prices based on color.

The first day was a busy one and I was extremely exhausted but that didn't stop me from partying with my friends at the Interweave bash, at the Tucson Museum of Art, down the street. But... before I could go enjoy myself, I checked into my new hotel. I love the casita I reserved at the Starpass Golf Resorts because it is away from the hustle and bustle. I also love the locale for the view I get each morning driving down to the Manning House. I get to experience the Tucson sunrise and breathe in the mountain air!

The morning viewMy casita!

So I quickly donned on my silver metallic leather jacket over my daywear, flung on my blue velvet ruched scarf and slide on my black boots in lieu of those Nike running shoes I wear during show hours. Comfort during the day but at night it's time to get fiercely stylish (wink). I am mostly seen as a very conservative and serious person (oh if you really only knew me...hahah)because of my "ex-engineer" status so me wearing a leather jacket is "letting loose". Hey I honestly have NEVER owned a pocket protector but I do wear glasses sometimes.

At the party I had a fun time mingling. I spotted one of my good friends Andrew Thornton of Green Girl Studios near the FOOD. Mind you, I hadn't eaten all day so was famish. The food selection was great but as I was a little late from checking into Starpass the selection was a bit picked over. I gather up some curry chicken skewers with apricot and a few chicken tortilla wraps. Andrew saw me too and I knew I had to "run". (See photo above where I am trying to escape from his camera!) He is famous for carrying his camera everywhere he goes. He is DANGEROUS! I avoid that guy when I see his camera. No photos! I am very camera shy. I think I managed to make him dizzy. hahah.

Then the drink bar called my name. I succumbed to having a diet coke. I had cut out all diet sodas while training for the 60 mile walk last November. I do not consume alcohols when traveling as a general rule unless Nick is around to vouch for me.

Interweave knows how to put on a great party and I had an excellent time with friends while making new ones. It was great of Interweave to not break from tradition and still put on this party despite the economy. They always know how to take care of their writers and advertisers. I appreciate them more than they know. What a great team of people! I especially enjoyed David Pyle's encouraging speech! I snucked away and made it back to the room to check-in with Nick. The ringer on the phone was broken or I never figured out how to enable it. So I watched for the flashing light instead to determine someone was calling. I didn't bother complaining to the management about the phone. I spoke to my sister Sandy also to make sure she was making more tool wraps. (What can I say, I'm a slave driver!! haha). That night I actually slept "a bit". I had brought some knitting to work on, but who was I kidding, I was EXHAUSTED!

(story to be continued, maybe)

Have a great Valentine's with the one you love tomorrow!
Fight less and love more

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