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    « Work Begins | Main | Changing all the Time »

    Selling My Stuff

    Inventory, inventory, inventory, how does anyone ever get ahead of the game when you manufacture and sell your own stuff? Everything I sell goes into restocking, expanding, adding new items, tooling for new items...I guess I need to reach a critical mass of  sales to "get ahead" on this game. Meanwhile, I am always in my "sweatshop" making new items.

    My original idea was just to stock my own pieces but as time went on I saw the benefit to filling in the gaps with other people's work. Not everyone likes my style or choice of materials so it's nice to have a variety. I put in Liz Smith's glittery glass earrings and sold 7 pair...then added some costume jewelry from Wednesday's mom's estate and people continue to buy those necklaces, too.  I put Flo Rosenstock's miniature vases  in too since their dear wee scale fit so well there on my little shelves.

    When I pulled a bunch of work to hang my show in Beckett this summer, I invited Ariel Jones to put her photo paintings up instead. When I got my work back from Becket (where, mysteriously, they were wild about my cloth bead necklaces and I sold 10 of them) I didn't want to get rid of hers because it added such quality and color and life to the Nook. We edited them down to mostly local scenes and released it again as a new exhibit, "Scenes of Turners Falls", and were lucky enough to catch a reporter on the hunt for an arts feature for the Greenfield paper. 

    More than anything else, that story has brought people through my door. I couldn't possibly have paid for more effective advertising than that. The little business opening announcement that ran in June hadn't nearly the same effect as this feature did. Then following it with the "Wonderful Wonderful Night in Turners Falls" event on Dec 9 was perfect timing in getting people over to shop in Turners before the holiday.( At least from my perspective, I know there are some who thought it was a dismal event and disappointing. Perhaps their expectations were out of line with Turners Falls. Who knows!) I credit Ariel for the idea for the shopping event.

    I can move from idea to action quickly if there is support and encouragement. Otherwise i am prone to second guessing myself and seeking support in the wrong places. It is surprising that the store idea survived my process of doubt. I kept asking Caleb if it was a crazy insane idea or not, and he kept rooting for it to happen, so I never fell off my horse after all. When I saw that the ceiling was leaking I knew that was the moment I could can the idea or go forth fully committed with a larger investment than I had anticipated. 

    I would like my work to appeal to strangers, but a fair amount of sales are to people I already know. My best new item for the GP has been stuffie slugs in polar fleece. "Slimy Sam and Slippery Sally". Kids love them immediately. Their form is simple and direct and their eye stalks are cute.  At 7 bucks the parent doesn't have to debate it too much. Seven dollars is a great price for stuff. My buddy Ed L always prices his used chairs at 7 bucks. Terrific number! I did four craft fairs and these stuffies outsold everything else. 

    There is something rather humiliating to me about doing a craft fair.  I can't help thinking like this. Perhaps because I am not creating the environment, but sitting out in the marketplace with my wares, like a beggar, not a shop keeper.  I just don't care for vending this way, but accept it as sort of a necessary evil. Maybe being "passed over" is sort of like a speed dating snub of some sort. There's the attempted engagement, the feint at upbeat sales pitching, outside of my element. I love it when people come into the store and "get" that a special, happy place has been created out of nothing. Whether or not they buy anything, I have gotten something from them. 

     I really do enjoy free-forming the Sams and Sally's. I came up with "Stepped on Steve and Stunted Stella" slugs as well, just as a joke but people seem to like them too.  I am trusting the nature inside me which is the same as it ever was from as far back as I can remember, the grade school cartoons and the crafts I made as a kid. Slug maker. Last night my bother reminded me of a cat I had made when I was a kid, a cartoon like stuffie I made to look like our big fat black and white cat, Julius. I sewed a handle on the back of the stuffie so we could make it "walk" around and scare Julius with it, since he was a fearful type of cat. I had forgotton about that project.

    I also used to make "July-baby" cartoons featuring Julius and Jemand our two cats. I was about 10 or 12, something like that. These were created to amuse my sister. Some of the content was surprisingly, uh, mature. Like the episode where July-baby wants to have sex with this other cat and the other cat uses a diaphragm and steals his wallet, presumably thwarting his scheme to impregnate and imprison her (I think that's how it goes). Basically a you-use-me, I'll-use-you scenario. Interesting how I saw the situation as a power play. Perhaps from listening to dinner conversation from my feminist mother? THeres no good side to it though, both male and female are behaving badly. 

    I liked to have a bold, no bullshit point of view. That's what I strove for. At the same age, I created cloth dolls with embroidered vaginas that were acceptedin a shop at Cross Keys called Uniquities.( It was my favorite shop that sold new items. There was a used clothing and oddities shop on Falls Rd that I frequented more often. It was there that I purchased bits and pieces of victorian furniture, wrought iron fence sections, indian wall hangings and other cool things.I was a very materialistic girl. ) Sometimes I would fake my boldness and pose as a hippie with Moa's little red book and a big straw sombrero, refusing to do the pledge of alliegiance in school and having to stand in the hall instead. Making giant dildoes out of paper and hanging them inside the door of my locker.

    Perhaps I was just a "wack job"..that could be. It sure started early though. Way before the stitched vaginal cleft and the dildo cutouts, I created a fuck room attached to my dollhouse where a priest doll had sex with his wife. The dolls were anatomically modified with a hot wire to have a prick and a hole. (Actually, the priest started life as woman, because this little plastic party favor doll didn't have a male version. The molded beehive hairdo and the tits could be filed down though.) I've often thought about how this would occur to me as a second or third grader.

    I had the whole sex thing pretty mixed up though. THe fuck room was covered in gauze and sanitary napkins like a hospital room or something. A bit of confusion about menstruation and -maybe, because of dinner table conversation--abortion, and doing it. The priest had to be influenced byt he presence of Father Greeley doming to our house because he was a student of my fathers at the time. And very handsome and mysterious in his special garb. I know there was something sexual about his garment because it meant something about sex. I am not sure if I understood that priests didn't have sex--correction, took vows of celibacy. Interesting to note that Father Greeley later went on to write a lot of novels that featured some very realistic sex scenes.  Also a cue on how seriously I considered context=environment as part of my expression of ideas. Should I have been an interior designer perhaps? 

    The dollhouses progressed from the early fuck room bookcase style dollhouse to a sprawling ranch house of cardboard rooms. I occupied about a yard and a half in front of the steam radiator on the floor of my room in Baltimore. I made much of the furniture in the house as well as the house. I made books and paintings and chairs and a full wardrobe for each doll. Anya and Phoebe I think were the names. I never "played" with the dolls, just built stuff and made fashions for them. This gave me intense, piercing joy. THere weren't as many dollhouse accessories available then so the attempts involved both creating a desire and fulfilling it. 

    At one point in junior high before we left Baltimore I became very depressed. Part of my recovery from this was to build another dollhouse, this one out of plywood, which involved using some hand tools like a jig saw and a drill. THis was a very empowering project for me and an important discovery that the road out of hell for me was in making things. That i could keep myself company in the realm of the workshop/studio. 

    The dollhouse was three floors, so I built a staircase which I was quite proud of! I cut the stringers out of plywood and used cut up paint stirrers for the stairs. I painted all the wallpaper, and used black emery sand paper for the shingles. The floors were stained. THe lid of the roof was hinged to open up on the attic. 

    The only kind of bad thing was that I was not really into the doll thing anymore after I made it. When I got to high school the following year, it looked pretty retarded to be interested in that anymore. Within two years I was to have my own real life dollhouse apartment to live in but by that point my life was in the grip of alcohol addiction and out of control. I no longer made things and reveled in the hell I found with other people bent on self destruction. Talk about a 180 degree turn. 



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