Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reno recap, and a mind full of stuff

I'm never sure how to begin trying to recap the adventures of a weekend in Reno at an engraving show, but words that come to mind are: amazing, inspiring, friendship, competition, determination, and intimidation. There is some of each of those things.

Every year I stay longer, for one reason or another. This year I was there for four days. I thought it might be overkill, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made the trip feel relaxing, like I didn't have to rush around to see everything but could take my time perusing the items on display and chat with people in a more leisurely fashion. And of course it helps that I had a very sweet roommate, big shout out here to Emily from Tennessee who said she would read this... so I won't say anything embarrassing about her other than I got a kick of her accent (or "ack-see-uh-int" as she says). Emily, "we are here." ;-)

I took the bus again this year, not the greyhound but the casino bus that picks up in Elk Grove. Love it! Can't beat a $32 round trip ticket, plus it's warm and comfy and I can take a nap and let the driver mess around with tire chains! Plus I had some company on the bus, as fellow engraver Rod C caught it in Auburn to avoid having to drive Donner Pass.

Pretty pic from the ride to Reno:

Baby it's cold outside! There was snow on the ground the whole time:

You can't tell from this pic, but it was snowing when I took it. Emily and I were walking back from In N Out burger. They don't have those back east, so I had to introduce her to it. As a person who doesn't live in snow and has nearly no snow experience, I'm completely enthralled with it and had to resist the urge to run and jump and roll around in it. I know that in much of the country they get rather tired of it though...

So what did I do for four days? Well, three of those were the show itself, so I talked to a LOT of people, enjoyed catching up with old friends, enjoyed meeting new ones, and spent a lot of time ogling the amazing guns, knives, jewelry, and other items on display. I wish I could take some of those things home to study (note to self, forgetting to buy castings was really stupid). The fourth day was seminars and show-and-tell, and that's one of my favorite things, educational and enlightening!

If I could, I would exhibit there in a heartbeat, but unfortunately under the rules of the organization I cannot do that. Best not get me started on that subject. I had a great time anyway. ;-)

Mirrors mirrors everywhere! It actually got a little confusing with all these mirrors...

I finally got to meet Mike D! We've done a couple of collaborations on Colts in the last year but had never met, so this was a real treat and honor:

Carl B, me, and Roger B. These are two of the nicest and most helpful guys ever. They rock my little world:

On Saturday I had the surprise opportunity to go see the Safari Club Internation show over at the convention center. Oh. My. Gosh. I have wanted to see this show soooo much so it's pretty awesome that I had the chance to go there, even though it was a scant three hour tour and I didn't manage to see everything. I tried, but it is sooooo big. There are guns, knives, fine art, amazing taxidermy (how are there any animals left in Africa? I think they were all stuffed in Reno!) and of course LOTS of people selling safari trips all over the world. It was seriously amazing, the kind of place I could have explored for days and still not seen everything. The art was pretty impressive. And the prices blew me away. Man I'd love to show in a place like that! Thank you Scott for the chance to check it out. :-)

This is the sort of thing you see at SCI:

Okay yeah I'd like a few of those...:

I actually went to the banquet this year. That was definitely the most expensive dinner I've ever had, but it was really good, I haven't had steak for ages. I didn't stay for the auction afterwards though, because evenings at the show are all about the jam session. I'm musically inept, but I sure enjoy hanging out with the crowd and admiring the musical talents of others.

One of the important parts of this show for me is getting to talk to people who are experienced engravers, who have been doing this since before I was born, and asking them for advice. Sometimes it's hard to hear it, not because it's bad in some way, but because it's hard for me to believe in my own abilities. That's why it always feels so important for me to attend these sorts of things, it inspires me, and I seem to need those pep talks, even if the pep talks make me feel a little bad at first. The big question at these things is always when will I engrave metal, and my answer always seems to be that I will, but this, but that... I have a lot of excuses, some of which are better than others. My bench was not set up right. Now it is. I didn't have sharpening equipment. I kind of still don't. The old bench grinder is in bad shape and won't do the job, so I will get a new one very soon (how many women want bench grinders for their birthdays?! Lol).

I think the big hangup comes down to some sort of intimidation, like there's a million miles of distance between where my abilities are (with metal engraving) versus where they need to be, and it feels like an unreachable distance. People are so confident that it will be an easy transition for me, but I have a hard time feeling that confidence myself. I am really really bad at engraving metal right now, I have practically no tool control and get very discouraged. Now the bulino dot thing, that's a different story. I can do that. But I don't like the Italian style, where you can only see the engraving if it's angled just so, in just the right light. I don't want to do that, even though I can. I want my work to be visible, and that is something I have yet to figure out how to do, though I have things to try and new tools on the way. There just seems to be this giant mountain of tool control that I need to get over, and I have to plow through it without getting discouraged by it. This'll sound weird or snotty probably, but I'm not used to being bad at art stuff. I pick things up easily most of the time. There was one time, one thing I never could do... throw pottery. I tried and tried, it shouldn't have been that hard, I knew how to do it but it just didn't work and I'm not sure it ever would have. That is what I'm afraid of. But... I have to keep trying, otherwise I'll never find out if I can get through that mountain. :-)

I DO want to engrave metal, if I can get it to look how I want it to look, I really do. I love the scrim, and I don't want to give that up, but I definitely see the need to do the metal work. It commands a better price than scrim, and an increase in income would be a very good thing! That's unfortunate that there's such a discrepancy, but it seems to be the way of the world and the perception of scrim. Why do I pick the hard things? You know, it's like colored pencil versus oil paint. Galleries want oil paintings, some of them won't even look at colored pencil.

I digress. :-)

I have the potential. I know it, and a whole lot of people reminded me of that this weekend. Thank you to those people, I needed to hear it and I need to get to work so that I have the confidence to do the work that people want expect me to do. I'm sure I'm going to ruin a lot of practice plates before I get there.

Determination will beat intimidation.

To my friends in the engraving world, you are awesome. I wish this happened more than once a year!

Now, I know you want to see more pics than this, so check out Rod's photos here.

And Sam's photos here.


Granny Annie said...

If I could pick someone to live through vicariously it would be you.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I saw one of the pendants in the first guys photo collection and all I can say is when do I start saving up for an engraved chicken. I think it was photo 91 in his collection. Lots of different colored metals. I bet you would make the most beautiful chicken brooches, pendant, and other jewelry! What an amazing show! I now have a better understanding of why you like to attend. -BMc.

dougzilla said...

Dude, you said "tool". (Snigger...) ;-)


What I wanted to say was to remind you of the time, umpteen thousand years ago, when I bought you Sculpie (don't know how to spell that), specifically b/c I know you'd never worked with it, and I wanted something that would be a huge challenge for you. And, what do you do, but you whip out a miniature version of me, which still exists somewhere, though I'm not sure where exactly. You're good at what you do - you pick up art skills (it seems, to me, anyway), like other people change clothes. Try the metal engraving - if you suck at it to start, so what? I have complete confidence that you could be amazing at it.

I may be challenged to draw a stick figure, but I do know artistic skill when I see it, and you've got it - you just have to not doubt yourself so much.

Yur brudder. :-)

Jan Blawat said...

Your brother knows best, kid. With your work mentality and skills, the best thing in the world is to give you a challenge. And BMc is right, too, when you get your engraving skills and your art ability in synch, we're going to see some wonderful things. The only hard part is figuring out how to make a living until you get there. Well, and how to keep squeezing heavy-duty equipment into a living room.

Katherine Plumer said...

Thanks y'all.

Brudder- yes, I'm afraid your little sis is lacking in tool control. Snork! ;-) And I totally forgot I made that sculpture of you! I have this feeling you were wearing a flannel shirt, red or blue. Wow.

Jan- power tools are banished to the barn! The airgraver is in here, of course, and the little quiet compressor. But the biggest "power tool" in the studio is the dremel, and if I have to use that for anything other than polishing ivory (like cutting ivory, or sanding ivory) I take it out to the barn. The grinder will not be in the house. Even I have my limits of what I want in here. ;-)

dougzilla said...

I had to look up 'dremel' on Google. I thought perhaps it was an electric dreidel or something. But I was proven wrong - fortuntely... ;-)

Emily Dale said...

We were there!
You've got the "ack-see-unt" not me!

I will definatly try to keep up with your blog now.