An Exposition of an Exposition.
I thought I might share a bit, perhaps an exposition, about my journey to prepare for a wedding exposition -with a smaller-sized car as a limiting factor for transport. Everything must work around this for all of my on-site photography work too, so it seemed natural that we could find a creative fit for a cool wedding expo presentation too.
My first order of business was to find a way to present images vertically. I searched the Internet for this one. I was sure someone would have encountered the travel issue before. I found this great system from a photographer with a company called Amanda Beside Eric who posted in detail how she constructed the wall. This gave me just the base I needed. I paid a super-talented friend to make the wall for me. I envisioned that the wall might have more potential than just for a wedding expo and I thought that it should be quite sturdy. He also had some great ideas about using knobs on the back boards for support for quick set-up and tear down without using a drill each time. These knobs were indeed "Hard To Find" resulting in asking several people for help and then the store being out of them. But - they are so handy!
From there, I sanded & pre-conditioned each board. Then, mixed my own cocktail of stains and did 2 coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats.
In The Meantime...
In between coats of stain or poly, I was heading to Michaels Craft store with my coupons in tow every few days with measurements and pieces to test out. I took over their framing counter a few times. One day, I was by myself to check out frames and test lay-outs. I got so much done. I came home though and realized how much length I lost when the wall was assembled and several frames had to be returned - but that really meant starting at square one for layout to be a full space maximization.
On those other errands, I had my three-year old son with whom I was playing lots of counting games, racing to mommy, not getting lost sorts of games while doing frame layout. :) Not as easy!
I opted for frames rather than canvases for 3 main reasons:
1. I don't want to be married to the images I have displayed and I will for sure want to change them. Frames and images can be updated, painted, etc. for flexibility.
2. I found it more useful to put more money into sample albums (that people spend more time viewing and can imagine in their own homes because they're in their own hands) than on a wall that is visually attractive but a bit harder to connect with because it's clearly an expo wall and not a wall in a home.
3. Reducing waste is so important to me and to how I run my business. What would happen to canvases for a display in the future? Some could be given to couples at cost perhaps but some images, couples might not choose to display in their home the way I would for an expo.
Preparing for an expo is a little bit like throwing a fancy party. Every detail needs to coordinate and speak to the theme. My theme is consistent with my brand. My brand is all about the personal and the tender. My wall is intentionally meant to feel earthy and warm and a bit closer to home. The frames echo that. Everything was sort of roughed-up after finishing to feel consistent with that concept of life. Here is a partial frame-hanging image.
What Else Was Going On?
Because the handmade which is connected to the personal is so important for my brand, I was thrilled to find this lovely lady as a source for making hand-sewn envelopes. I was nearly there - I had my seals ordered and was playing with something tiny for my pricing guide (which speaks to my desire to not be wasteful even with paper) - when I found this really neat photographer and artist: Joy Lyn who had made hand-sewn info packets for a wedding expo. She was also helpful with thoughts for me as we emailed before I began sewing.
Then, my sewing machine broke after 40 envelopes. Isn't that always the way with sewing machines? So, I got my antique machine out of its cabinet and got it roaring to life. I finished the rest with not quiet as much sewing control as my more modern machine, but learned so much about the old one's workings in the process, which was fun.
I was also simultaneously working on making several new albums to show potential clients. This is my favorite and this photo was taken the day it came in the mail - you can see the packaging below it and see that it is still in its plastic shrink wrap. It was everyone's favorite at the expo too!
I was project hopping for weeks - maybe months. Here is a photo of me trimming all of the thread ends off of the hand-sewn envelopes.
And my desk started to look like this. It has basically never looked like this before. I have a philosophy about mise en place being really important for an artist's work space as it is in its usual culinary examples. This is nearly embarrassing to share for me and is so unusual for how I typically work. However, my usual places to calmly spread out have been overtaken by other projects unrelated to my bridal expo. (For example, I was simultaneously melting down old crayons in the kitchen to make new crayons for my kids' Halloween favors at school - so that took up the kitchen island.)
Just know, if you ever are interested in working with me, this image is not indicative of how I work! :)
After hand-signing each card in my pricing guide, I began to stuff each envelope and seal it with a specially-made seal. Yes! It felt like things were moving!
Pulling It All Together
Like throwing any good party, there is a day that you get to near the end that is just filled to the brim with finishing little details that you might have been procrastinating about - but the best thing about that day is that it starts to all feel like its possible - like you're going to get to that finish line. Its my favorite day. :)
For me, it involved digging into my old teaching bins for extra frames that I could destroy with paint; it involved lots of time in Adobe Illustrator making signs and forms for people to fill out as well as labels for jars and special pens and pencils that went with my brand too. Luckily here, I'm a secret hoarder (A secret hoarder is the kind of hoarder that keeps things neatly tucked away in bins in the basement or in a closet for just the right time to use them. A.K.A. ...an artist.), etc. etc. etc. Lots of paper-cutter use, etc. etc. etc.
I decided it would be best to get a feel for my layout to set up a mock-display in the garage. I got out the closest thing to 2 round high-top tables that I had and cleaned my garage floor and then laid everything out. That gave me a chance to measure the lace for a tiny table that I had and mark it to sew it later that evening. I was able to get a feel for what items I already had would fit in with my theme/brand like my handmade brown/aqua pots as well as some photo stands and benches that I could use.
Because we had to travel to another town for the expo, I knew I couldn't forget anything. Putting it all together in my garage helped me make sure that my checklist was complete and that everything I needed could fit in the car.
The ladder and snow shovel go so well, right? :)
The night before the exposition, we drove to the site and set up most things. Everything fit into the car beautifully. We drove to a few stores for a couple of last-minute items and were back to pick up our children and tuck them into bed. My husband was such a big help and I was so thankful for his encouragement.
I'm thankful that I tried this. I don't think every wedding exposition is a good system. This one was more of a boutique-style. That meant it limited each type of vendor so that the experience wasn't overwhelming for both brides and vendors and it could become more of a personal discussion rather than a circus or a maze. However, this one was so tiny that I think it didn't attract as many potential brides as it could have, which might always get better in the future.
For now though, I'm thankful for the experience; thankful for all of the hands that helped me, for the voices that gave me encouragement and assurance; for the time that my in-laws gave up to help me with watching my kids while Brady and I set up, do and tear down the whole thing. Thanks so much!