Getting Ready for the Show

The doors to the Craft Show officially open tomorrow, though you can still get a sneak peak and meet the artists at tonight's Preview Party

Behind the scenes artists are busy preparing—setting up their booths and arranging their wares for display. We asked jewelry artist Liz Oppenheim what goes into preparing for a major craft show like this one:

 I grew up in Philadelphia, near the Art Museum in Fairmount, and attended the Craft Show almost every year when I was a kid. I loved seeing the artists standing next to the work they created, and listening to them talk about how they made it. And they were making art and objects for real people to actually take home to own! I've been living in California for 11 years now, but coming home to do this show is a childhood dream come true.

Preparation for a major show such as this begins before I even apply. As the application deadline approaches, I prepare and photograph the new work I'm most excited about to submit to the jurying process. As soon as I heard that I was accepted, about six months in advance, I began working on a series of one-of-a-kind brooches to support one of the pieces I used as part of my application. They explore the concepts of enfolding and opening, and I have five or six pieces in that series now. I've also developed a few large cuff bracelets so heavy they remind me of armour. Having the opportunity to show my work directly to customers is a great chance to work on new and unusual pieces, and to get direct feedback from the people who might one day own them. I've also been producing multiples of my best sellers, like earrings and rings.

But making the work is only a part of what goes into preparing for a show. Fortunately for me packing up my jewelry for a show is much easier than if I created larger, or more fragile work. I feel for the ceramicists! All the pieces I'm bringing to the show will fit in one box. There is also the booth to design and build, and that's an opportunity to create a space to welcome people, and to display the work in a compelling way. I have many sketchbook pages filled with booth layout ideas! For me, the most important thing is that people attending the show feel comfortable coming into the booth and interacting with me, and that means an inviting layout and good lighting.

We can't wait to see the final product of Oppenheim's booth as well as the work of all the other artists, finally on display in the Convention Center!

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