Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Lady in the Green Hat

I was done helping Bobbi get her booth set up. All the displays set in place and all 40 hundred baskets hung out for sale. My job was done. I had 8 hours to kill before we had to pack it all up and head for home. Hopefully with some extra jingle to reinforce all that hand labor and love she poured into her basket making business.

Bobbi wove a beautiful basket. But so did many others. These craft fairs she had decided to jump into were not those church bazaars and local flea markets she cut her crafting teeth on. She was in a bigger pond now. Juried fairs. She had to be accepted by her peers. She had to be more than good with her hands. It was another clique. Talent opened the door. Playing well with others mattered more. How she related and interacted with the head honchos of the guilds probably carried more weight. It always comes down to egos, politics and butt kissing. Intangibles like jealousy and envy often closing the door instead of opening it.

So here I am wandering the aisles early before the doors open to the public checking out the handmade efforts of aging hippies, talented grandmas, and crusty old boat carvers chewing on unlit pipes. With only a couple of crumpled singles and some change in my pockets I cruise by quickly. I am not buying, I am on a re-con mission. A multifaceted re-con mission. First priority is to spot and count all other basket makers and make a quick assessment of their work and prices. Next to see if some of her crafting friends are there and where they are. And finally, I am on the lookout for something to bring home. Some handcrafted item we cannot live without. Hopefully cheap, bought as the crafters are closing and tearing down their displays. That's always the best time to hit them up.

Returning from my scouting trip, I report in. Does she need to hit the head before the madness begins? Can I get her a drink? No? Okay, I'm going for a ride.

I head out to the Dodge Caravan and untie my bike from the roof rack. Find my helmet, gloves and shoes. Give the tires a squeeze. And then I ride. I have no clue about where just know I need to check back in by 10 AM. Not because I was told to, but I know it's the right thing to do. So with a 2 hour limit, I head down the road, the street or down the trail off the back of the parking lot. If I have been here before, I find a new direction to go. If I haven't, I pick a direction and go there.

Countless crafting events passed in this manner. For 12 years my wife plied her weaving trade. Now she weaves numbers. But that's another tale.

One of the few trinkets we picked up was a stained glass piece by some crafter I cannot remember. I fell in love with this piece of art the moment I saw it. Was it the Hat? The tasteful treatment of nudity or the pose the subject exchanged against the light from outside? I am never sure. My senses always get a lift though when I look at the Lady in the Green Hat on a sunny winter day.

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