Okay, I gotta write this all down before I forget what I want to say! This was my second year visiting the Firearms Engravers Guild of America convention in Reno. I had hoped to be an exhibitor this year. That didn't pan out, long story, won't get into it, but I went anyway and took samples of my work and a portfolio and did the nomadic wandering thing. Which by the way is totally acceptable, lots of people do it. I'd met a fair number of people last year and was eager to see them all again. I'm an active member of a couple of online engraving forums which has been a great way to "meet" people and a lot of those people were there.
I took a bus again this year. Not Greyhound, that was just a little too weird and scary last year, so I opted for an All West casino tour bus. Sweet deal! Costs less than a tank of gas, they give you cash and a meal coupon on arrival, and the bus was half empty and mostly populated by old people. The weather turned out pretty good, I actually could have driven, but it was so convenient to take the bus. I'd totally do that again. It was snowy in the mountains and did snow in Reno while I was there. Strangely, between Saturday morning and Monday late afternoon I did not step outdoors. It's kind of weird that you can exist entirely within a casino.
A view out the window on the way there:
View out my room on arrival:
View out my room at night:
The "mining machine" inside the dome at the Silver Legacy:
I was so tired when I got there (because I'd been up til almost 1am finishing the tiger, and then got up at 5:30 for the bus) I ended up napping for almost two hours before I went down to the show. I knew I'd be totally useless if I didn't! Pretty much as soon as I walked in the convention hall I was greeted heartily by a couple of people I didn't know but who recognized me from the forums. How awesome. After about three hours I finally made it from one end of the building to the other, meeting and greeting all around along the way. It's just the most amazing bunch of people, so much incredible talent all in one place and people are SO nice and friendly and helpful! I did lots of good networking, and everyone is more than happy to introduce a newbie around to all the pertinent folks. I love these people. Seriously. I don't say that lightly. I showed my work to a lot of people and got a lot of compliments (mind you I'm totally star stuck by some of these engravers, so you could just knock me over with a feather when some of them compliment my work) and a lot of really helpful advice on marketing and engraving.
Saturday night was the big banquet. I did not have a ticket, as it cost a small fortune, so I got a table for one in a nice restaurant in the casino (I think that's the first time I've ever eaten alone at anything other than a fast food joint, it was kinda weird but also kind of empowering). And I was served my food while the rest of the engravers were still in line! Ha! I goofed around my hotel room on the internet for a while before heading back downstairs, as I'd been encouraged to come into the banquet hall after dinner to watch a bit of the auction. I was mortifying underdressed and slunk over to an empty seat for a while before heading back down to the convention area to watch a little jam session put on by some of the engravers who are talented musicians. Dang these guys are amazing. I'm about as unmusical as it gets. They played old cowboy songs and a little rock and roll and some old Scottish tunes I and I was just enthralled. I faded out around 11pm and headed back upstairs for some much needed sleep.
Sunday was another convention day. I hadn't been sure what I'd do all day but no sooner was I in the door then I ended up chatting with various people and time flew, I made a bunch more good connections and also got to just sit and catch up with some friends I haven't seen for a year. And before I knew it, 5pm rolled around and people packed up and left. I was kinda sad to see it end. Lacking dinner plans, I decided to experience room service. A little pricey, but convenient.
Oh, I have to throw in here that I think hotels are weird because they are so incredibly wasteful. For one thing, who actually uses an entire bar of soap while they are there? And for crying out loud, I'm ONE person with a room for TWO nights, I do NOT need a fresh bar of soap every day. Why on earth would they throw out the barely used one and give me a new one if I'm staying another night? And same with washing towels. The little "save the environment" card says if you hang the towel on the rack they won't wash it. So I did. They washed it anyway.
But I digress...
I headed back downstairs that night to see if there was another musical jam session to be found (and was terribly tempted to stop in one of the many bars, the place was populated by rugged looking dudes from the Safari show. However, good judgement once again won out, thank goodness). And sure enough, a jam session was just getting underway! So I enjoyed good company and good music for a few hours before I went to bed.
I had originally toyed with the idea of going home Sunday afternoon, but wanted to catch the seminars on Monday so I stuck around for those and I'm glad I did. While none of them applied directly to the work that I'm doing now, it was great to catch a glimpse into some other forms of engraving. I gotta say though, 8am is a tad early. Three cups of tea later, I was still barely functioning. I went to lunch with some of the guys and had a great time, then headed back down for an informal "show and tell" session.
Now I have to say something about the demographic of this world. I'm an oddball. Good thing I'm used to hanging out with old guys in the chicken world, I feel like I fit right in with the engravers too. ;-) There are exceptions, of course. They're great company. So for a few more hours people just sat around and visited and looked at each others work and asked questions, offered advice, etc. We were kicked out around 3pm, and I had an hour and a half to kill til the bus got there. I searched unsuccessfully for a wireless network (apparently available only in the rooms, those sneaky buggers), gambled $5 and won $0.50 (which I didn't bother to cash in, and I really don't know a darn thing about how to use those machines, I just put in a dollar and pulled the handle), finally caved in and had a tasty green beverage (DW it's just not the same without you!) and headed outside to catch the bus for the ride home. It was so beautiful, the sun was going down over the mountains and the clouds were pink and gold, but the bus windows were too dirty for a photo.
And I couldn't stop smiling, because it's this feeling again of that is exactly where I need to be. Engraving. Scrimshaw. That's it, that's right for me, I fit, and if I can toot my own horn just a smidge I'm darn good at it! And I love it. Now if I only I could find this feeling with a man, sigh. But I digress. ;-)
So I have a lot of ideas and suggestions to put into play. This week however I am focused on getting my sales taxes done since they are due on Saturday and I don't really feel like going to jail. Priorities, you know.
Clearly nobody had let me write anything lately, geez.