In Praise of Overweight


No, I’m not giving you carte blanche to order that Bloomin’ Onion with a side of Frappucino.  I was going to title this post “What the %$@&!?”, as the Art Fair Gods seem to be messing with us again, but good taste and decorum prevented me.  For once.  Here’s what happened:

We arrived at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival on Friday afternoon to perfect weather and a trouble-free set-up.  Well, almost trouble-free–the street we were on was about 6″ too narrow for fire regulations, forcing us all to hike the back end of the tent up onto the curb.  But we got it all up without too much drama, checked into our hotel, showered, and then went out for a walk to see if any artist friends were still setting up.  We’d barely left the hotel when it started to sprinkle, and then…WHAMMO!   A thunderstorm with gale force winds, made worse by the tall buildings and narrow streets through which they were funneled, hit the fair.  I watched in horror as tents collapsed, twisted, and went sailing down the street.  It was all over in a few minutes, when we raced to check on our booth.  Aside from one poster which had blown off of it’s hooks, absolutely nothing out of place.  Two tents away, an EZ-Up’s roof had caved in, and about a half dozen others were mangled heaps of metal.  We tried to help out wherever we could, and then we had dinner.  Where it took me two Long Island Ice Teas just to cut the adrenalin to a manageable level and stop shaking.  Long Island Ice Teas, people!  That’s like eight normal drinks!  Yes, I was upset.

Which brings us to the title of this post.  I’d like to shamelessly plug the makers of our tent and the weights we use for getting us through this–AGAIN!  I’ve started calling our Trimline Canopy “The Hummer of Tents”.  Sure, it’s heavy to lug around and takes longer to set up and break down than, say, an EZ-Up, but that puppy is rock solid in bad weather.  The poles are steel, as opposed to the aluminum poles you see mangled in the pictures (my abject apologies if that’s your tent in the photos).  I must have said “Thank you thank you thank you” to Phil a few hundred times for making us get the Trimline.

And then there’s the tent weights we recently purchased from a little company called “Happifeet”.  They’re essentially steel plates totalling 48 pounds per set on each corner of the tent.  They take up hardly any room, and have handles for easy transport.  You screw the feet of your tent into them, and can attach cables from the top of the tent to them as well, for additional stability.  Some of the tents we saw blown over had PVC pipe weights attached (or broken and unattached) swinging from the rafters, but the low center of gravity of the Happifeet proved far superior.  I swear I’m not getting kickbacks from either of these companies–I’m just grateful to have survived two horriffic storms now thanks to them.

As for the show itself–weather was picture-perfect Saturday and Sunday, and fair-goers, who had been stymied by bad weather the last few years, came out to shop.  Saturday was our best single day ever for sales, while Sunday was merely average.  It proved to be our second-best show ever (in our VAST experience of five shows now).  And we continue to meet the nicest artists, who have not yet realized that we have angered the weather gods, and bring their curse with us to every show.  Ssshhh, don’t tell them… 

BTW, that tent in the middle of the picture didn’t start out in the middle of the intersection–it started out under the theatre marquee…

2 Responses to “In Praise of Overweight”

  1. 1 gerry wallace
    June 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hi Amy, I hope you remember me…because I sure remember you. Your mother happened into a show I was doing at the local bookstore and introduced herself and her dog to me. What a treat to find out all about you and your creative activities…good for you…love the new creations. I just celebrated my 75th birthday and still work everyday, but haven’t taught for many years…same old studio which is pretty much devoted to clay work now. I have a small following of loyal clients and have three or four shows a year….do not do the on the road shows any more…actually I really only did one in Palo Alto every year…they are so much work. I had a whole gallery show in Davis this past spring…way too much work…I learned a lot.

    my children are all grown…a married grandson. Tia my oldest is an art director at Pixar…so someone is doing the same stuff. My oldest grand daughter graduates from high school Friday…seems like you were the one who just graduated.

    Just wanted you to know that I still remember being your teacher and am proud that you are so creative.

    fondly, gerry

  2. June 27, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Ahh yes the dangers of outdoor shows. I have been in some storms like the one you talk about and it was very very scary. Doing any kind of “craft” show opens you up to all kinds of things — small children shaking your tent, dogs with long tails knocking things over, and nasty comments from people strolling around. Your work is great and you may want to be keep in mind wholesale saves you from most of the fodder of retail shows.

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May 2010

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