Almost three weeks ago I participated in the Gaslight Holiday Celebration for the third time. This is such a special show for me: it’s right here where we live, our local library puts it on (and as I’m on the board, I get to help plan and prepare), and it marks the anniversary of my first show.
As much as I love this show (it’s my favorite one I do!), I was feeling a little let down at the end of the day. Part of that could have been that it was a very rough morning even before getting to the show, but it just felt different this year. I thought crowds were down (but I’m one of the only people who felt that way, so who knows?), and out of the three years I’ve participated, this was the lowest sales I’d ever had.
However, there were a lot of wonderful stories, and a lot of things were different after this show:
***This post originally published December 7, 2014***
Yesterday I had the privilege of being a vendor at a local Christmas event!
It was my first arts and crafts show that I’ve sold my art at, and there was a lot of stress, tears, and fun getting prepared for the show. In just a couple short months, I had to design all of my displays, buy supplies for products, and most importantly, make the products! There were a lot of hiccups along the way, such as buying a new printer and having to run out the night before for bags because the ones I ordered are lost in shipping, but I think all the hard work paid off:
I had such a blast doing this show. I got to know some of the other vendors, meet other community members, and visit with customers.
It was an honor to hear that some of my products were being sent to family members for Christmas. One woman and her daughters picked out a few things to send to another sister who lives out of state. This is her first Christmas away from them, and they chose a handful of my things to send to her as a Christmas care package!
Another woman bought a set of my Reindeer note cards. Her sister or daughter (I talked to so many people it’s hard to keep all the stories straight…) is very picky about what Christmas card she is sent. She likes home made, original cards. The woman saw the Reindeer cards and was so happy to have finally found something to send! She was thrilled that they were blank on the inside as it meant more room to write a personal note.
I’m really happy with how the show went. I made a bunch of sales (including four custom orders!) and made some great contacts. My husband and I are seriously considering having me do a handful of shows a year, but right now I need to concentrate on getting some other projects finished up before I sign up for shows next year. The vendor next to me lives in town and offered to let me set up to sell at a big event our town has every fall, free of charge!
If I continue doing shows, I have some things I want to change, as well as a lot more to learn about how to sell successfully at events. I think that for starting out, this show was the perfect way to go!
Thank you all for your support and prayers while I was preparing; I couldn’t do this without my support system!
What is your favorite arts and crafts show to attend?
Medium: Mixed media; primarily acrylic paint, but there is some marker and colored pencil.
Size: The main mural is 64 square feet and the Wyoming mural is 20 square feet.
When: July and August 2014
Purpose: To brighten up the library and to promote my art.
Time to complete: Preparing the wall was about 10 hours. Painting the mural was between 30-35 hours.
Thought process: Once I had the library board’s approval for doing this mural and which wall they wanted it on, I began browsing the internet to see what other libraries had done for murals. I knew I wanted something with books and various characters, but couldn’t exactly use licensed characters due to copyright infringement. One mural I saw had various sections, and dividing two of the sections was this really cool swirly design. It made me think of book pages flipping, which is how the big book part of the mural came to be.
Originally I had four sections of the mural: children’s books, nonfiction, and classics, but the fourth section was blank and I couldn’t think of anything else to go in there. Nothing seemed right, so I changed the design to the three sections that you see today.
Also, in the first concept design for the children’s section, I had a lamp post in there for the Chronicles of Narnia. I was afraid that people may confuse that with the gaslights in the Wyoming village (we’re known for our gaslights, which have been retrofitted for electricity). I sadly had to take that part out, but when I was measuring the wall for dimensions, the librarian said I could use the little patch of wall next to the big wall if I wanted. I mentioned the gaslight to her, and then all these other ideas started popping into my head: what about an owl as our library is part of the OWWL system? Oh, and the AppleUmpkin festival every September! We’re known for that! I have to include that somehow! And that’s how the Wyoming mural was born 🙂 I was afraid that no one would make the connections between the apples and pumpkins or even the owl, but when I took the kids in this morning for story hour and to finish touch ups, there was a group of people admiring the mural who knew what everything stood for right away 🙂
In the children’s section, we have the fox and gingerbread man from The Gingerbread Man, Humpty Dumpty, a caterpillar referring to The Hungry Caterpillar, a hidden garden door for The Secret Garden, a tree house for The Magic Treehouse series, the beanstalk and castle in the clouds for Jack and the Beanstalk, Mary Poppins sitting in the clouds, and Peter Pan with the Darling children.
In the nonfiction section we have a dinosaur, the Titanic, the Eiffel tower, a NASA space shuttle, a toucan, and a biplane.
In the classics section, there is Sherlock Holmes, a deserted island for Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, or any of the many classics that have a deserted island), Gandalf riding an eagle from The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings books, a hot air balloon from Around the World in 80 Days, Moby Dick, and a windmill from Don Quixote.
Problems I encountered: The original design called for a wall wider than it was tall; there were more characters in each section as I could make the book bigger, but unfortunately the wall is a square. I had to go back to the drawing board and rework the design.
Another problem was getting enough light into the space. The overhead light isn’t reliable, so I ended up having to bring in my own light and move it around as needed.
Overall, I’m really happy with how little difficulties I had. For a piece this size, a lot could have gone wrong, especially as I worked a lot while patrons were coming in and out of the library. It was pretty smooth sailing!
Fun tidbits: I am in need of a new tiny tiny tiny paintbrush, so all the tiny lines (on the biplane, the fox’s whiskers, the ropes on the hot air balloon) are all done in colored pencil. The caterpillar’s eyes are done in paint and permanent marker!
Favorite part: Everyone’s excitement about the piece! I’ve had people almost in tears seeing their favorite characters on the wall, I’ve had kids jumping up and down excited about the dinosaur and space shuttle, and one library patron almost begged me to do murals around the rest of the library. Everyone loves it, and just seeing people get excited about these characters from their books is exactly what I was looking for.
Least favorite part: There are some parts that I wish turned out better, but I don’t think there’s any part I really hate. I do wish the pumpkins and grass weren’t so flat looking, but I spent over an hour trying to fix them with no success.
Where is Jack? You have the beanstalk and castle, but no Jack!
I think I’ve lost count as to how many times I was asked this question! I honestly didn’t feel like the mural needed Jack for viewers to understand what the beanstalk and castle were from. However, because I’ve been asked so much, Jack is inside the castle, hiding from the giant 🙂
Did you design this yourself, or are you copying someone else’s idea/art/mural?
I did design this myself. Most of the murals/designs online are characters all interacting together or coming up out of a single closed or open book, almost like a genie coming out of his magic lamp, but from what I can tell, this take on the characters in a book is unique 🙂
I did not include all the pictures of each individual character here. The post would have been too long. I will be posting a link later to my Facebook album where the more in depth pictures will be 🙂
And we can’t forget the before and after shots!
What would you have included in the mural? What do you think of the before and after shots?
If you’re new to this project, Part 1 can be viewed here 🙂
Once we had the furniture moved to other parts of the library, it was time to take the shelf down. I needed my husband for that project, and let’s just say it wasn’t easy. We basically destroyed part of the shelf and a good couple chunks of the wall (unintentionally!) because in order to take the shelf off the wall, you had to dismantle the shelf brackets. We didn’t know that, so we basically had to pry and eventually rip the brackets off the wall, and as they were lag bolted in, huge holes were made in the wall. I knew it would be a pain to patch, but we found some awesome self-stick drywall patches at Home Depot that worked amazingly!
I’m crazy, and love to patch walls. I like taking things that look awful and make them look pretty again. However, the whole sanding the patches are not my favorite. I always think they’re smooth like the wall, but they aren’t. Thankfully, the parts that aren’t super smooth are going to be covered with various parts of the mural and it won’t be super easy to see them (or at least I can hope!).
Priming the wall was super easy, and painting was pretty uneventful. However, it’s important when you go to paint a wall that you remember to bring your roller covers. If you happen to forget them, you’ll have to go back home, search for them, find them where they fell off and behind table where they were supposed to be, and then drive back to the library, wasting a good 30 minutes of painting time. Also, it was humid that day, so the paint was taking forever to dry between coats.
Problems I’m encountering:
The lighting doesn’t exactly work very well in the entryway of the library. The overhead light will be on for about 15 minutes, and then it’ll shut off for 15. It makes seeing what I’m sanding, painting, or drawing pretty difficult. Thankfully there’s a floor lamp that I can move over to help, and I’ll be bringing in another lamp when I go to paint.
I don’t know about you, but so far I think the change in the entryway is huge! I love how big the space feels. Now I just hope this mural turns out as well as I hope it will!
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have noticed a lot of pictures over the past few weeks of a mural that I’ve been working on. I’ve been putting in a lot of hours patching, sanding, washing, painting, and sketching, all to get ready for this upcoming week when I finally get to start painting the actual mural. Yay!
A couple days ago I was thinking about how frustrated I was that I have all these projects going on, but I haven’t been able to post any blog posts on them as they’re all very time consuming pieces. That’s when an idea popped into my head: if DIY blogs post in progress posts when they’re redoing a room or a big project, then why can’t I do the same thing for this mural piece?
How did this project come to be?
I love our local library. It’s small, but wonderful. I remember the first time we went to it, the librarian, Cheryl, was getting ready to close up, but she stayed open for us. She was extremely helpful, was willing to place holds on books through other libraries for us, and even said if there was a specific author we loved and she didn’t have it there, she’d actually order their books so we could take them out whenever we wanted. We left feeling awesome, and she was so personable that we knew we’d love our new library.
Fast forward a bit, and it’s January of 2012. We’d been getting to know Cheryl for a couple years now, and I was asked to join the library board. It was scary and intimidating and so exciting to be asked! My mom used to be a librarian’s assistant in my home town’s elementary school library, so I grew up volunteering there. When I went to college, I worked at the circulation desk or shelving at the campus’s library. Getting involved in a library again felt like I was coming home.
Like I mentioned before, our library is small. It has an even smaller budget. How our treasurer can pay all the bills on our tiny budget is a miracle. We’ve mentioned over the past couple years that we wanted to spruce up the library so it’s more up to date, has more color, and is just more welcoming to the public. We haven’t had the money to do that, so all those projects have just been set to the side.
When I started the process of making Back to the Drawing Board a business, I was on Pinterest one day looking at things, and I saw a quote hanging in a library. It was cute, colorful, and just awesome. Then it was almost like someone whispered in my ear “You should design and paint a mural for the library! For free! Donate your time!” And I was all like, noooooo, I don’t think so.
But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. So I pitched it to the librarian and the library board in such a way that they didn’t know I was going to do the painting. I didn’t want to be dishonest, but I wanted them to make sure they wanted it for the library, not just because I was going to do the mural.
They all seemed really excited about it, and here I am, working on a mural.
What is the mural going to look like? How big is it?
The two walls combined will be a total of 84 square feet. The big wall is 64 square feet, and that will have a big book opening up to children’s book characters, classical book characters, and some nonfiction items. The smaller wall is 20 square feet, and will have some objects important to either our town or the library. It’s going to be so colorful, and people are all ready getting excited about it, just from the drawings!