Tuesday, 2 July 2013

End of Year Show Evaluation

Our final shows - the exhibition, rather than the fashion show - opened on Friday 15th June.
We went in on the Wednesday to set up, and I wasn't happy with my display by the end of the day.  Admittedly, I didn't have all of my hats (I was two short), and I didn't have all my stands (two short again), because I couldn't carry everything in one load on the train, (though it's more the mile walk at either end of the train journey :)  ).  I also didn't have the book stand at college at that point.

But I still wasn't happy.  I'm not sure why, but I did melt down slightly, and dissolve into tears several (hundred) times.  It may have simply been tiredness, or general depression (I went to the doctor shortly before because I thought I was a bit down over the non-paying client issue, and he seems to think I may have some sort of 'undealt with trauma' over a fairground accident I witnessed when I was a child, and I think hearing that may have upset me more than I realised).

I also hadn't finished two of the hats I needed to display.  They both only really had finishing to do - there was never any danger of not getting them done, but it was another worry.

I hadn't had time to get any cards printed (I had intended to get some printed using the photos that Jessie and Lauren had taken, but I just ran out of time), so instead I printed off some transparent labels, with my contact info on them, and stuck them on the cards.  Worked quite well, actually.

I'd printed off some pictures to put on the wall, and on the plinth - as well as a few extras for my portfolio.  I picked ones for the wall that weren't part of my final display - the ones I had ready at the photo shoot, that I'm using as part of this collection on the website, (including the James Brindley one), but that I wasn't handing in as part of my final project (plus the little leather one from last year that I haven't been able to get a decent picture of myself, because it really needs to be on a person's head, to show it at its best, not on a dummy head).

Sharon took a couple of us down to one of the other department's rooms to have a look at some different ways of displaying pictures, without frames, (because there was no way I could have afforded to buy big frames (although I've now discovered that the place in the market does some fairly big wooden ones quite cheaply, so I may consider that if I do the same sort of set-up again).  There were various ways of pinning, and of clipping things up.  I really liked the bulldog clip idea - a single bulldog clip, at the top of the picture, holding the pic, hanging from a nail.  So I went off up to the library shop to see what they had.  There were some coloured ones, but they were in colours that would have clashed, and they were the fold down kind, anyway, not proper bulldog ones - in the end I went for quite large ones, in chrome.  It occurred to me that the chrome didn't really go with the wooden stands, but I thought I'd worry about that later.

I still wasn't happy - I think I didn't really like my stands, and I wasn't sure about the height of the plinth, or the fact I'd laid it on its side, and I thought my stand just looked a bit bare....

Anyway, I went home on Wednesday night, and really wasn't terribly happy about the whole thing.  It just didn't feel right.

I ended up being a bit later than I'd intended on Friday, when I was finishing the setting up.  i'd finished my hats, and made the couple of stands that were left to sort out (I'd also commandeered two of the really tall stands that belonged to college, leaving them wood coloured, instead of painting them white, as it went with the canes better).  And I had the book stand for the portfolio book to go on.

When I was packing, I chucked some extra ribbon into my bag, and I came across what was left of the shimmery silver / pink / green dance fabric that I used in a couple of pieces, and threw that in.

When I got there, I set to tying all my hats onto their stands using fishing wire, and putting up pictures.  I'd already put up the nails, so all I had to do was to clip and hang.  I still wasn't happy about the plain white lying-down plinth, or the chrome clips.  So I covered the plinth with the dance fabric (as it turned out, the piece was just the perfect size, so it was clearly meant to be :)  ), and I used some of the extra ribbon on the bulldog clips, just tying a bow of ribbon around each one.  that hadn't been my plan initially - I took the ribbon to tie some around the stands that didn't have any yet (the uprights from college, and the taller cane ones that I'd just made).

I felt it was still lacking something, though, so I asked Sharon about my one of the big pictures she'd had printed by the digital print room.  She'd said she'd leave hanging mine till last, because we'd already talked (on Weds) about it needing something in the middle.  Unfortunately, because I was late, and the  chaps doing the hanging had needed to get on, it was already on the wall (I missed this, as I came up the wrong stairs).  sharon very kindly said she'd see if the print room could do another copy (I said it would be really good if they could, but not to worry if they couldn't - Sharon was far too frazzled for a tantrum over it, and it was my own fault for being late!).

Thankfully, they could do it, although it was going to be a while, and Sharon told me at about 3-ish that it was going to be about 15 minutes.  I'd pretty much finished everything else, so I pulled out the plinths, so that I could get to the wall with the ladder, and got all the bits (nails, hammer, clips) that I needed to hang it ready to go.  Then I went off on a little adventure, to find the digital print room, in a part of college I didn't even know existed, behind the lecture theatre (which later drew the classic comment from one of my classmates "there's a lecture theatre??!!"), and came back and hung it (measuring down from the top of the flat to make it level - a trick learned when I was building sets).

And I was finally ready to go, and happy with things.  The rest of the time till we opened I spent with everybody else, doing things like tidying up, and sweeping the floor.

I spent a fair bit of time during the evening, because I was on my own, sitting at the side of the room, by the door, watching and noting people's reactions as they came in.  Mine was the first stand that people got to, and about half of the people came in and looked at things properly, and about half of them glanced and walked on to the next stand.  A small handful of people picked up cards.  From previous experience at other shows, I think that's actually a really, really good 'look at' rate, so I was quite happy at that.  I restocked the cards that were out three times in all, (I'd left a pile behind the bookstand), on Friday night before I left, on Monday morning when I went in for the photo shoot, and on monday afternoon when I was back from the photo shoot.  That surprised me too, as I only had postcards, and normally business cards are much more popular, as they're easier to slip into a bag or a pocket.

The only slightly sour moment was provided by some slightly mean fashion students (I think, from the way they were talking), who made some bitchy comments and said about a couple of pieces things like 'why would you put *that* on your head', and 'what kind of moron would ever wear *that*'.  That did upset me for a few minutes.  But then, when they'd left the room, I went over to look at which pieces they were talking about specifically, and it was exclusively the pieces that have had the best feedback from people - both from Sharon, from classmates, from strangers on facebook etc when I've shared pictures, from strangers when I've shown them at markets and at Wetherby, and from the nice lady from The Hat magazine (the particularly nasty comments were regarding the black leather & magpie feather headpiece in a photo, and the red felt cloche on the stand).   At that point I realised that fashion students or not, their opinions (while still as valid as anybody else's) may not be as - um - aware of millinery as I'm sure they'd like to consider...

I eventually decide to head back home when I spotted that a couple of classmates had got their cases out ready to go and get a cab.  Having nearly dozed off a second before, I jumped up to get my own bags, and went off with them to get the second-last train home (I hadn't wanted to be too late home anyway, as hub was away that night).  Normally I don't really sleep when he's away, but I fell asleep at about 10.30, and slept for something like 11 hours, when I got up to go and meet friends in Leeds to go round the shows.

Most friends' opinions were that the best shows were the millinery and the furniture.

As far as the actual set-up of the shows goes, I don't think I'd do anything differently - possibly try to impose a deadline on myself of the week before to get everything prepped, so it's a bit less of a stress out, but at the same time, I'm not really sure that's very 'me'.  I tend to do much better at things like this when I have a vague plan, and wing it, and go with the flow a bit.  If I try to plan things rigidly I tend to get upset when things don't go to plan (which they never do), and that causes more stress than being more loose with my planning.  Drives hub mad :)  .

I think the only thing I'd do really differently would be to work out a way to weight down the stands - maybe little sandbags, or some sort of feet, or some sort of base into which the legs fit.  Or maybe something like a golf ball, drilled into, with the legs slotted into them...  They were a bit unstable - I sent them all flying once as I was leaving, (MUCH thanks to Sharon and Sue for putting them back up, as I rushed off to get my train), and a friend managed to catch his jacket on one on the Saturday and knock a couple over.  Though it has struck me that this kind of stand is going to be very good for outdoor shows on grass, though maybe with longer sticks, because the ends can just be poked into the ground, and they'll be quite stable then.

I also realised I'd forgotten completely about wearing a hat myself.  (Duh.)  Probably because the only other time I'd worn the dress I picked for the night, I had worn the leather beret with the red flowers, that was on the stand!

Oh, and I'd make sure to have some proper little business cards, as well as the postcards.  And I think I'm going to do some proper postcard type postcards (like you get in museums, with more or less blank backs, so they can be used as postcards).  Either to give away, or to sell, possibly in packs.  That could be a nice little add-on thing to stock if you're doing fairs - obviously, a hat at the level I'm going to be selling them is a considered purchase, and the actual fair will be more about publicity than sales, so having something that isn't such a considered sale will help to cover the costs a bit.  They could also be sold online - another income stream, even if a teeny one - it all helps.

All in all, though, I was happy with my display in the end.

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