Valerie set her business card on a small table under a blue tent. This was in her instruction booklet when she signed up for the Art Fair. She couldn’t believe she was finally entering her work. She molded her clay for months, coming up with many designs, in hopes to sell.
The man at the small table took her card and studied it. “You’re Valerie T. Estrella?”
She was nervous. “Yes, that’s me.”
“What’s your age?” He said sternly.
“Uh, 32.” The words almost didn’t come out, almost as if she had forgotten her age.
“From Pontiac, Eh?” A smile grew on the man’s face. “I’ve got cousins there.”
Valerie wasn’t sure what to say. She stood there quietly as he entered more information from her card into his computer.
“Pottery, huh?” He looked up at her.
“Yes, a small hobby. Hoping to do more with it.”
“Well this is the perfect place to drum up some business. Now, here’s a map. You’re in row 8. Perfect I think, you’re more towards the front of the rows so people won’t be so tired. Super hot for Michigan this year. Anyway, this booth right here.” He highlighted the booth in row 8 and handed her the map. “You can use your car or whatever to unload, but it must be moved to the parking area before 10 A.M.”
“Got it.” Valerie thought for a moment. That was three hours away, she wasn’t sure what do in the mean time. “That’s when people show up to look at stuff right?”
He could tell she was new. “When you get your stuff all set up, you can walk around the booths. Pretty friendly crowd, these artists. And it’s a great way to make some friends out there, buy some stuff early, won’t have to worry about your own booth for a while.”
“Thanks, so much!’ Valerie got back in her little SUV and followed the signs for her row. After setting up her booth and taking her car to the parking area she perused the other artists as the man had suggested.
The had two hours to kill before customers started showing up. The first few rows that she walked down seemed to be all photography. She saw many stunning images, but nothing that caught her eye in a way that she needed to purchase anything. The next few rows were paintings of all kinds followed by charcoal drawings and mixed media. The middle of row seven is where the clay started. There were a few potters that concentrated on only pots or only sculptures, but most were mixed products like the ones Valerie made herself. She saw many techniques she’d like to try, one in particular was called horse hair raku.
“Excuse me sir, those vases there are beautiful.” She pointed to the white vases with smoke-like marbling.
“You’re early. Must be competition.” The man said without turning to face her. He was still setting out his cup collection.
“I’m afraid I am.” Her nervousness came back, maybe looking at the other artists was a bad idea after all.
The man still didn’t turn to look at her. “Let me guess. Pottery.”
“Oh, you’re good.”
“Come to steal ideas.” He still had his back towards her.
“I think we’ve started off on the wrong foot. I’m so sorry to bother you.”
“Well you’re here now.” He finally turned. “Valerie?”
She stood there perplexed. “You know me?”
“She looked around his booth then back at him, not sure how he knew her name. “But, you said my name.”
He threw a thumbs up behind his shoulder.
“Oh. We’re booth neighbors.” She laughed.
A grin appeared on his face and he didn’t seem so agitated. “Yup. I saw you just as you were leaving to park your car. You’ve got some real talent there, but not a whole lot of product.”
“It’s mostly a hobby. You do this full time?” She looked again at all of his work.
“Yeah, I’m a traveling pottery peddler. Well mostly. I also teach some classes in Pontiac.”
“Wow, small world. I’m from Pontiac.”
“Not so small really, we haven’t even left Michigan.” He chuckled.
“I’d love to learn Raku, do you teach that?” Valerie picked up one of the vases with the black swirls.
“Not professionally.” He went back to placing the clay mugs on his display.
There was disappointment in her eyes and she placed the vase back down. “Oh.”
The man reached into his back pocket and pulled out his business card to hand to her. “I make a few exceptions. Here, this has my personal number on it.”