|Dale's Rustic bLOG
|January 24, 2009
I have been reading about blogging and wondered how it could relate to the Rustic Show that I sponsor,
and the first thought I had was that it had to be a Rustic bLOGGING.
Finding good material for rustic furniture requires a dedicated spirit. That and good hiking boots, a
sharp, fueled chainsaw and a strong back. It also helps to have a good eye to find that twist, turn, burl or
quirk that will translate into the creations of dreams made real. Two good eyes are even better.
Stalking the wild white birch requires years of study that can only be generated in the field. This canny
species will appear to be totally eradicated in an area only to appear to spring up overnight again in only a
few years, more plentiful than before. The migration patterns of the Northern River Birch are very erratic
and that has been a major factor in the species not being listed as endangered. In the times of low
population, birch jacking can become prevalent with night hunters approaching a resting stand of birch,
snoozing in a starlit meadow, their young gathered around the parents in slender, gleaming trust. Then a
bright light is shined on the hapless herd causing them to enter into a state devoid of movement known as
a birch stand and leaving them totally vulnerable to the saws of the gatherers.
Birch tend to hibernate in the open, drifting to a complete halt wherever the freezing cold came upon
them. Birch jacking is practiced in daylight in deep winter during the coldest temperatures for in
hibernation there is no sap running, keeping the skin tight to the birch wood. The carcasses store well
because of this, and the Birch Patrol has nothing to go on with no trail of sap left for the Birch Hounds to
The DEC does issue permits every year for the taking of birch though there is no specific restriction on
the male or female of the species.
|Mark and Dale Sears live, work and rusticate in the St. Lawrence River Valley of New York State.
The Thousand Islands region is in Northern New York (PLEASE do not call us "Upstate". We are North of
"Upstate" and do not identify with that term.) We occupy the hinterlands*, a region that has a zone that registers
as -3 for planting anything. Even Siberian rootstock does not fare well here.
We know - we've tried, it died.
*Hinterland definition: Actually trying to produce the word "winterland" but the skin of the face and lips are
contending with a large wind chill factor, do not move well and if one is smart are not moved at all when
pronouncing certain words, ergo (w)hinterland.
Mark Sears is a master cabinet maker and a website containing a smattering of his work may be found at
Dale Rexford Sears is an artist who was taught that one must join the real world to Make A Living. Finally
realizing that the real world for her was to be an artist, she spends her time producing the St. Lawrence River
Rustic Show and assisting her husband whenever needed. ("Hmmm. Move the couch over there. Hmmm. No,
move it back.")
|“Why do I do this?” I say it is the pleasing compulsion of creation, partly what prompted me to bring about this
show to gather excellent work together in one place. Possibly this show itself is not considered a work of art,
but I hope it is a congenial destination where, at some point, it will take your breath away. And then make you
want to visit again.
I wanted to have this show come into being very strongly. After about 10 years of actually wondering why no
one was putting together a show like this in my area, I realized a few things. One was that this type of show
was happening in other areas but they were so far flung that the grand majority of people living here had
never had the experience. They literally had no idea of what they were missing, and Pier 1 was the place to
go for cool stuff. Another thing I realized was that if I wanted it, I’d have to make it come about. A third thing
was that quality artisans were getting lumped into the “ArtS and CraftS Bazaar” category, a very untrue
I set out one day to find a place that would hold this event, and everything happened after that with what
seemed like an inevitable process. Before I had even started, it laid itself out and came into existence,
planned and ready to go.
Personal story: Upon coming home on that early fall day, I greeted my husband (a cabinet maker who totally
prefers to build rustic furniture) with the news that there was going to be a rustic furniture show in Alexandria
Bay, just 12 miles away, in August of the next year. He came part way out of his chair, electrified.
“Yes, really,” I replied.
“Where’s it going to be?”
“At the ice arena in the village.”
“Wow! Who’s putting it on?”
That was when I knew it would be a success. It left him speechless, and that is the definition of perfection.
Why? No, I am not being mean about my husband, making wife jokes at his expense. If Mark can think of any
counter comment, what-if scenario or probable cause for something to not work, he will state it immediately
and emphatically. I have always been able to trust him on that point. That, and he’s always wanted a rustic
furniture show close to home. (Why am I doing this? To make my husband happy, of course. See him
smile? Yes, that is a smile, not a grimace. I think.)
I finally saw a quote one day during one of my continual searches on the internet:
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
That applies well to why I am doing this. I wanted to see a specific show come together that would both give
the dedicated artisan a place that was designed to showcase their work and, at the same time, be the
destination where quality work would be found. There would be no cookie-cutter work, no plastics, no imports
and nothing coming from a factory. There would only be work by the person who made it.
“Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be a part of.” - Geri Weitzman
After I read that one I felt I was on the right track. I had taken every element of every show I had ever
attended as a participant that made the show good for me and said -I Will Do These Things-. I looked at what
made a show unacceptable to me and said -I Will Not Do These Things-. I look at the show and say: “If I was
doing this show, could I afford to spend the money, make the product, truck it there, stay, eat, not sell
anything and feel it was not a total waste of my time and effort and money?”
Yes. The seasoned artisan knows well that a show can never be planned for income, that no one can
guarantee you income at a show. You have to know that as a truth or you should never step foot out the
door. Sales will happen, but you have to realize that sales are not guaranteed.
Well, I will not ask anyone to excuse me on this point. Any show you go to cannot guarantee you sales.
Ever. (Please, PLEASE prove me wrong - I want to go to the show that guarantees sales!) They can tell you
how many people attended the previous year. That’s it. It’s up to you to find the right venue for your product,
and you are the one who makes the sales. And here is where a main point of show creation is stated. 20-30
years ago, shows where people made and sold their work provided a steady, dependable income business.
Then economics changed, trends swung in different directions. Many shows found that there was an attrition
rate they could not control, but they needed to continue the show as it was the one way their group could
raise money. And so began the changes, the acceptance of craft that varied from the original stated
standard. A show that I attended as a young artist in college accepted me because not only did I do pen and
ink work using a quill pen that showed a style of over 100 years prior, I would demonstrate the craft. This was
important to the show concept as it was a historical society. That show is still in existence, but it has changed
drastically. As it grew, it became a major money maker for the historical group, but in growing, the show
changed. At this date, many shown crafts have no historical significance whatsoever, booths employ plastic
and glued together product with parts bought wholesale, and there is no demonstration of historic craft.
The show I wanted to create would be the type of show I would want to be in. There needed to be a very
specific stated purpose and statement of craft type. Why? Don’t all shows have that? Yes, they do, and I
have experienced some varieties.
Type one: “We take anyone. Outdoors, any weather. $10.00. Hang it on the fence over there.”
Type two: “We will accept your quality work after you pay us a nonrefundable $75.00 fee just to look at your
application, accept or decline your application, and then you will pay $1,200.00 for your space at our 2 day
show at the Massive Dome in Big City, USA. 100,000 attended the show last year.”
Type three: “We would be pleased to have you attend our Quality Show. You will be placed between the
Quality Jacuzzi display and the Quality Floating Dock display. Thank you for coming to be Quality Eye Candy
. That will be $1,000.00 for a 10' X 10' space. No one attended last year as this is a new show, but we‘re
advertising like crazy.”
Type four: “This is a Mall show. It’s some type of holiday and a lot of people will be going through. You
should feel lucky to get in because the stores in the mall really don‘t like to have you craftsters in here taking
business away from them.”
Type five: “This is a Museum Quality show. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” *snif*
I am totally positive that anyone reading this who has done a few shows has wonderful definitions also.
So what am I saying? Basically, no matter what type they are, they NEVER GUARANTEE SALES. Pick the
show that you attend wisely. Think what you can do to help yourself. Is it a new show or are you going to an
area you have never shown your work in? Try this: Consider taking out an ad in a local paper to that area
about yourself attending the show and what you have to offer. Much to my husband’s disgust I did just that
one year. Nothing more was said after the deed was done until the woman showed up, newspaper in hand,
and said “I found you! I saw your ad in the paper and had to come see what you made!” Don’t be afraid to go
ahead and help yourself. Show promoters work for everyone, but that is an effort to promote the group, the
show, the big thing. If you shoot out your own twig from the big show tree, you might catch a little extra
Another Definition: Show Participant: A Natural Resource
Good Advice: Never strain your natural resources.
What is the biggest strain in doing a show for a participant? Money. Outlay as opposed to income, not per
show but overall. I am presenting a show that states it will charge a moderate fee, provide free camping (with
showers and flush facilities) and I’m feeding you a really decent meal on Saturday night after the public goes
out the door. I will have water, coffee and hot tea at all times available at no charge. How can I afford this? I
decided first how much I wanted to charge per unit for a space at an indoor show. Then I sat down and added
up the cost of every important factor and asked myself “What is the minimum number of participants that will
support a bare bones show?” My magic number for that first show was 6. The important thing I knew was that
the potential participant would look at that fee number and say, “Hey! Good Price! I can afford that. (As in: I
can afford to risk that amount.) Hmmm. Maybe I’d better ask her how she can charge so little to get a show off
the ground first.” And this is what I tell them: I am not paying myself to organize the show for the 362 days
prior to the show’s opening date. The money I collect is for space rental, advertising, printing and postage,
basically. I will make my money at the door. I am asking participants to take a chance with me that their craft
will build the show. It has a 5 year start up plan: It will happen for 5 years whether it is win, lose or draw
financially for me. At that time the decision will be made to continue or stop. Something like this does not
spring forth as a total success at the first show, success equaling huge numbers at the door and many
buyers. I praise the participants who saw this, who understood the plan at my end and said Yes, we will do
this with you. We understand and we want this too.
Why do artisans create?
I think need started the whole thing. Someone needed a container, and pots became the answer. A spoon, a
fork, a knife, clothing, shelter, and all available to work with were natural materials. Quality became and
inherent part of the process because lack of quality could equal lack of survival.
Why do artisans still do this in spite of the uncertainties and adversity facing the prospect of making an
income when offering this type of work for sale? The creative artisan is beset on all sides by factory
reproduction, goods offered that are less expensive, reproductions in plastic and more. I believe that people
continue to create because it is a survival trait, a tendency to seek and strive for quality because quality
equals survival. Possibly humans cannot be bored and healthy. In a stable society, artistic pursuits have
always flourished. In an unstable one, creative energies go into surviving.
The same question is one I have been applying to myself. Just like doing a show, creating one has no
guarantee of success, but I am doing it anyhow because I seek quality in what surrounds me in life.
--- --- --- ---
One thing I experienced that has never let me down in my observations through many years of going to shows
either as participant or paying a fee at the gate to enter. There are always people out there who have the
touch. They have the extra gift of expression, of making. They have found that connection within themselves
and let it flow into being. In the end when their product ends up with the final owner, there is still going to be
the Ooooh Factor. C’mon, you’ve heard it. Someone sees an article for the first time and the only sound they
make is “Ooooh!” It can be quick and short or full and long, but the expression says it all. In all the searching
I have done, of all the people I have added to my database with notes, every one has ended up there
because they have an Ooooh Factor at some level. Then there is the OMG Factor, and that one is bestowed
wistfully, for I am aware that they produce museum quality product and only attend High Falutin’ Shows (see
Type five), but boy do they have it.
What is “It”? OK, here’s my definition of “IT”: IT is when something has been created that has had
Everything, More, And Then Some bringing it along the path into being. The person who made it already
knows what they are doing, but they so thoroughly tuned in to their creativity in that area that they produce
something that cannot be ignored or criticized, and nothing can be taken away from that effort. It can never
be produced on command.
I base this show on the thing that has never let me down: There are people who are quality creators.
As to why I am doing this, I think I’ve finally answered my own question. If you can render people (and
spouses) speechless, stand in the arena of a show and hear people pronouncing “Ooooh!“ with both the
short and long versions, if you can take their breath away, you’ve got a good show. To the one question
there are many responses, and all of them are good answers. Somewhat prosy, maybe, but then their
authors were trying to define “Oooooh!“ When possible, quotes are credited to their source. (And I have to
admit that I do not exactly agree with Ralph, but I understand what he’s getting at.)
"Imagination is the eye of the soul" - from the website of a very creative person
“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Picasso
“Artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thinking the world should entertain you leads to boredom and sloth. Thinking you should entertain the world
leads to bright clothes, odd graffiti, and amazing grace in running for the bus. - Maugham
Easter Egg Reward
Because you found this Easter Egg on the website, here is your reward.
1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony
wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.
2. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you,
but don't start anything."
3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.
4. A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A
beer please, and one for the road."
6. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this
taste funny to you?"
7. "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.'"
"That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome."
"Is it common?"
"Well, It's Not Unusual"."
8. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to
Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe
you," says Dolly.
"It's true, no bull!" exclaims Daisy.
9. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to
look at either.
10. DejaMoo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.
11. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find
12. A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted,
"Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!"
The doctor replied, "I know you can't - I've cut off your arms!"
13. I went to a seafood disco last week...and pulled a mussel.
14. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.
15. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says
16. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the
craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your
kayak and heat it too.
17. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in
the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an
hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But
why?," they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand
chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."
18. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a
family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain;
they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his
birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she
wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal.
Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen
19. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which
produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very
little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from
bad breath. This made him. (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good).....
A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
20. And finally, there was the person who sent twenty different puns to
his/her friends, with the hope that at least ten of the puns would make them
laugh. No pun in ten did.