Sunday, February 05, 2006

On the Road . . .

The only problem with having a woodworker for a husband is not being able to keep all of the lovely items he produces for myself.

I see him make so many of them that I feel somewhat attached to each one. I know almost every blow from his adze by heart, and prior to his having the large shop here on the hill, I had sanding dust and chip trails through my kitchen where he did fine knife work under the window. To keep from being inundated with bowls I can never hope to use, I take his carvings on the road to sell at living history events and rendezvous.

Most events are "juried," meaning my clothing and goods must be preauthorized--I cannot just show up and put down a trade blanket from which to sell. I look in Smoke & Fire trade newspaper or check living history chat groups for dates at the beginning of the year and then apply by sending pictures of Homer carving and myself in period dress (varies with the event timeline) and our tradegoods. And then I sit back and wait. I have only been excluded from one event and our treenware has been appreciated by event personnel, reenactors and the public from Old Fort Niagara, NY to Fort Hall, Pocatello, ID.

Because I do not sell on the Sabbath, I usually arrive early Sunday morning to set up. I spread out a blanket and arrange the goods and then take up a period craft (idle hands are the devil's workshop--an 18thC axiom) and a woman would never have just sat around without being busy.

I do knitting (crocheting wasn't invented until the 19thC), or make a cord with a lucet, hand rolled hems on scarves (mouchoirs), hemstitching on linen towels, embroidery (even towels were marked with initials as most laundry was done communally) and someday I would like to learn to do bobbin lace. Then I sit back and wait.

As living history customers come by and the public begins to drift in I pause in my craft to answer questions or to "hawk my wares." I've been known to sell out by 11 a.m. and at other times I sat in wind, rain or blazing hot sun until the traditional "take down" time of 4 p.m. and barely sell enough to pay my gas. Regardless of the sales, the camaraderie enjoyed with the other reenactors and traders and the public interaction is worth the journey and as we all pack to leave, I can hardly wait to go home for another load of goods so I can hit the road again another weekend.

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