Monday, June 21, 2010

Fort Bragg Festival - Part Three

The sea glass festival started on Saturday with the hours of 10-5. We already knew where the sea glass museum was so we headed over there about nine to set up our tables and little canopy. (Note - the museum is only 1 mile from center of Fort Bragg. In an earlier post I'd said 11 miles which was my mistake.) My sister, Shirley was still sick as a dog and couldn't get out of the bed so we left her at the motel. Her husband, Pat, came with us to help set up. When there are three people helping set up it goes pretty quickly. First, the canopy has to be unfurled and erected. You have to watch out for fingers when pushing the poles up into position. When I've seen others erect their tents it always looks so easy, but for some reason I always find it clumsy and difficult - ditto with the tables that have those fold out legs that can be treacherous - at least to me, anyway. Okay, so I'm not mechanically inclined, all right. I couldn't go do a show by myself unless I just threw out a cloth and laid the treasures on the ground. Moving on, after the tables, we put on the cloths then set out the jewelry. Every time, the display changes as we haven't finalized a "look," not that I'm sure you can have an elegant "look" when you need to put lots of pieces on display. This is an area that Shirley and I go round on because she wants elegant and I want everything to be out so people have a bigger selection. So far, no one has prevailed in this argument. I understand what Shirley wants, but we're in a canopy with folding tables and I just want to sell our jewelry. Anyone with ideas is welcome to comment with suggestions.
So here is the table display at Fort Bragg. Note the front table higher than the sides, this was one of Shirley's additions as she'd bought table leg extenders to raise the front table. Hmmm? What do you think? Personally, I think the table cloth on the front table looks a bit big and messy. Here are some other shots of the display area.

We already knew that there would only be three of us vendors. We were the first to arrive and Captain Cass, who owns the museum, showed us where to park and place our display. As we were laying out the jewelry the other two vendors arrived. First to show up was Kira and Gary Ruvo. They were friends of Capt. Cass and have some of their jewelry in the museum. Gary is a silversmith and his work is really awesome. His wife, Kira, sells the jewelry and finds the sea glass on the beaches in Northern California. You can find Gary's website at Here are a few shots of their display area -

Gary and Kira's display involved using glass boxes that hold their jewelry. The boxes look elegant and show off the pieces of sea glass jewelry, but Kira would have to open each glass box everytime someone wanted to see a piece of sea glass jewelry. On one hand, this sort of display really draws in the customer and enables the seller to deal really closely with the buyer. The downside is that customers can't handle the sea glass at will. The cases at a busy festival are great because they discourage stealing when you can't watch all your customers at the same time. Pros and cons to our set up and theirs. I really like the look of their displays and of course, my sister Shirley likes that the displays were elegant looking.

The third vendor was Tammy Davis. She lives in Fort Bragg and sells sea glass jewelry, jewelry grade sea glass in bulk, and sun catchers and more. You can find her website at Here are a few shots of her display area:

Tammy didn't use a canopy and her approach to display is more casual and it works. Note, the wooden box holding earrings and pendants and also the rack. Tammy had an array of items displaying sea glass and I loved her little basket necklaces with sea glass inside and her fun leather and sea glass animal collars.

As you can see there were three very different approaches to displaying our sea glass jewelry and they all worked. We all sold pieces to the customers who arrived throughout the day. Captain Cass was also selling sea glass jewelry and art inside the museum. To see his work, please go to his website at

We had a lot of fun at the festival, met some nice people, collected sea glass on the beach and ate some great meals in local restaurants. Did we get rich? No, we didn't break even, but hey, it was a mini vacation where we made a bit of money, spent time with family and had a whole lot of fun. And looking at the photos now of the displays while writing this blog, I see that we still are on the learning curve of what kind of display is best.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fort Bragg Sea Glass Festival - Part Two

In the last post, we left off as we were walking the path to the beach in Fort Bragg. The path forked and not knowing which path led to the famous Glass Beach we decided to go right. This path ended in a patch of pink blooming ice plant and a glorious view of the coastline. You will note the rocky landscape in the above picture. I was surprised as most of the beaches I'd been to were easily accessible.
There was nothing to do but hike on down to the beach.

Here I am looking a bit unsure of the climb. But it turned out to be a gentle hike down through sand and rocks to the beach.

I don't know what I'm thinking here, except that my husband can stop taking my picture so I can look for sea glass. It was a negative tide so I started off toward the water. Almost immediately, I found sea glass. I was in heaven. It seemed that everywhere I looked there was sea glass. Most of the glass was tiny, but I didn't care. I lost track of time, as I looked for pieces of glass. There was a lot of white, green and brown glass which is natural as they are the most common colors. What was unusual about Fort Bragg sea glass as compared to Mazatlan sea glass is that Bragg's glass is much thicker and I'd guess older. The texture and frosting was delightful. As I moved closer to the water I found larger deposits of sea glass. As you can see in the next picture the glass was as thick as gravel on a road. Later, when I talked to Captain Cass, who owns the Sea Glass Museum, I'd learn that I wasn't even on Glass Beach - I was north of Glass Beach because I'd gone right instead of straight on the path. Oh, well, at that moment, I didn't know any better and I was happy as a clam to do my beachcombing. Steve and I stayed on the beach for a couple of hours then we had to return to the motel where my sister Julia and her husband Gary were waiting for us. Julia and Gary had come to Fort Bragg to spend time with us all and Friday was the only day we could do things together. I wanted to stay on the beach all day, but hey, sometimes you have to be a team player, right? My other sister, Shirley, partner in Sisters Jewelry Design, had arrived the night before with her husband Pat and become suddenly ill with the stomach flu. She loves beachcombing as much as I and for her not to get out of bed, I knew she was really sick. I was hoping it would be a one day illness as this was a free day, but tomorrow we'd be selling our jewelry at the Sea Glass Festival. I had my fingers crossed that Shirley would recover.

This is a picture of Julia and Gary at a restaurant, we'd gone to the night before down at the wharf.

Anyway, we went back to the motel, checked on Shirley, she was sick, sick, sick. Pat was going for a two hour bike ride and we decided to go with Julia and Gary first to a botanical garden, then we planned on locating the sea glass museum so we'd know where to set up our tent for the festival.
At 18220 North Highway One, is the Mendocino-Coast Botanical Gardens. They are really magnificent and worth a visit if you are in the area. You can visist their website to learn more about the gardens. There are incredible rhododendrums twenty feet tall and amazing sculptures by California artists. There are 46 acres of trails and gardens so you can spend a lot of time just wandering around. Here are some of the pictures we took of garden as we walked out toward to the coastline.

First view of entering the gardens. Following are all pictures taken in the botanical garden.

Julia and my husband Steve stand by one of the many garden sculptures. Here is another shot of the glass sculpture. Some amazing photos of flowers in the park taken by my sister Julia.

As we walked through the park and walked and walked, I coughed and blew my nose constantly. My headached and I wished I was back at the motel in the bed, but I hadn't seen my sister Julia in a long time and I wanted to spend time with her so I gutted it out. I must say when we reached the end of the gardens at the ocean it was well worth the walk as the view was gorgeous - inspiring to say the least.

After we left the botanical gardens we drove a few blocks south on Highway 1 and turned into the spacious driveway of the Sea Glass Gallery & Museum. The exact address of the museum is 17801 N. Hwy 1, just 11 miles south of Fort Bragg. The museum is open daily from 10 to 5 with free admission. Be sure to talk to Captain Cass who owns the museum. His website can be found at

Cass is a wealth of information on sea glass and the beaches surrounding Fort Bragg. You can also pick up one of Capt. Cass' Glass Beach Guides and Map. I was beginning to love maps after the fiasco in San Francisco. From Cass and his map, I learned that I'd gone to one of the newer glass beaches I should have gone straight on the path then left. Fort Bragg has three glass beaches - each site was once a dumping area for the town. The oldest site, 1906-1943, is hard to reach without a kayak. When a dump area filled up, the townspeople would move further down the coast. The second oldest site, 1943-1947, is off the Old GP Mill Site and it has a "No Trespassing warning" - people still climb down the rocks and kayak around to this site. Not me, as I don't have a wet suit and I don't kayak. You can contact Captain Cass as he offers ocean kayak tours to this site weather permitting. Then there is Slag Pile Cove, 1949-1967 and Glass Beach 1949-1967. Suddenly, I couldn't wait to get back to the beach and find the older site.

After getting the information about where to set up for the festival the next day, we headed off for lunch down at the wharf. A quick sandwich, then a stop at a bakery for cookies. At the motel, Shirley was still sick as a dog. Julia and Gary wanted to go up the coast to see the seals lying on rocks.

I wanted to go to the beach, but the tide was coming in and my head was pounding so I went to lie down. Took some aspirin, but couldn't relax, the beach was calling my name. Finally, I got up, coaxed Steve into going and stopped to get Shirley's husband Pat. We drove down, parked and walked the path to the end where land dropped off to rocky cliffs. Then we had to follow a narrow path to where we could drop down into the rocks. (the path was like a ledge of dirt over hanging a cliff!) Yikes, I was glad I was wearing tennis shoes. Finally, we made it down onto the sand - well, you really couldn't see much sand it was all sea glass. Sea glass in layers and layers. We'd hit the "mother lode." We stayed until it was dusk picking up sea glass. I found some beautiful pieces. When they finally dragged me away from the beach I thought I'd go collapse on the bed as I was still sick and coughing like a maniac, but when we got to the motel, my brother Marty was there. Marty had ridden his Harley down from Oregon to see us all. A family reunion, so of course, I stayed up and talked with my brother. We went to dinner and then all talked some more. Poor Shirley couldn't even leave the bed she was still so sick. Here's a shot of my brother Marty on the left, my husband Steve and my brother-in-law Pat. I think they were having a "happy hour." We made an early night of it as we had to set up our jewelry booth at eight in the morning at the Sea Glass Festival. Cass had told me when I'd talked to him that some of the vendors weren't coming - in fact, there would only be three of us. I went to bed worrying about the festival - would anyone come? Would we sell any jewelry? Would Shirley still be sick and not able to help me?

Find out in Part Three what happens.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fort Bragg Sea Glass Festival - Part One

On May 26, a Wednesday night, we started our Fort Bragg adventure. We were going to a festival as vendors and we were going to find sea glas on the glass beach at Fort Bragg. At least, I hoped we'd find sea glass. Living in Palm Springs and hours from Fort Bragg, we decided to drive first to Los Angeles and leave our standard Poodle Dylan Thomas with Steve's parents and stay over night to get an early start Thursday morning.

Dylan Thomas was not happy the next morning when we got up at 4:30 and started packing up. He could tell he wasn't going when his food bag wasn't carried out to the car. He knows our routines - who says poodles aren't smart? I told him we'd be back, but he refused to look at me and curled up in the back bedroom to pout. I felt horrible as I do whenever we can't take him, but I knew there would be no place to keep him at the show.

Feeling like a guilty parent going off on a vacation, we headed north out of Los Angeles on I-5. My sister Julia and her husband Gary, who would be meeting us in Fort Bragg had given my husband Steve copious notes on how to get to Fort Bragg - something like take I-5 then cut over and go to San Francisco and then up the 101 highway to highway 20 which ends in Fort Bragg. I suggested to Steve that he study the route on Google maps, but he said he had it down. Yeah, right, how many women have heard that before. We moved right along. Not much traffic as the Memorial Day rush out of town hadn't started yet. I was excited to see my sister Julia and also my sister Shirley, my jewelry business partner, as she and her husband would be coming down from Medford, Oregon. A family reunion, sea glass hunting, and selling our sea glass jewelry at a Seaglass Festival what could be more fun?

Sea Glass Eye Glass Holder

Six hours of driving and we reach San Francisco - now here is where we needed a map. Instead of going straight, I think this is where the mistake was made, we veered to the right and suddenly we were in downtown San Francisco - 6th street, 8th street, Geary Street all whizzed by. Steve was grousing that driving in the city was his worst nightmare. It got tense in the car. I suggested we stop and ask someone. No, couldn't do that. Finally, at a red light, I got the attention of a cabbie and he pointed to the right and said something unintelligible and we were off again - still lost. Suddenly we were on Van Ness, then Lombard Street near the top where the zig zag street is located. Steve's jaw was clenched and he was muttering. I yelled head for the water. At Fisherman's wharf we found a sign pointing the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. As we crossed the bridge I tried pointing out Alcatraz and other sights, but Steve wasn't really into sight seeing at this point. Later, I'd joke that our detour had given him a quick tour of the city. We'd laugh later but at that moment, Steve had lost his sense of humor. Needless to say, I didn't mention the fact that we didn't bring a map.

Steve thought Fort Bragg was maybe an hour out of San Francisco. It isn't. We had four more hours to go. Beautiful scenery, especially when you turn onto highway 20 and drive 33 miles of curvy roads through the giant Redwood forest. We were both tired and cranky when Hwy 20 deadended in Fort Bragg. Oh, did I mention that I was fighting a sinus infection and chest cold?

We drive to the Travel Lodge where we have reservations. Julia and Gary come out to meet us. Julia is a little upset that the motel doesn't have a view. I tell her that it doesn't have a view because it is cheap and that's why I picked it. Like I said I was a bit cranky.

We settle in and head off for the famous glass beach. Yeah, I'm tired and sick, but, hey, I'm in Fort Bragg, California, home of the famous Glass Beach. Also, there is a negative tide happening and I'm sure we'll find better glass in the tide pools. Little did I know that there is sea glass everywhere. I'm not sure where Glass Beach is so I call Captain Cass who owns the Sea Glass museum in Fort Bragg. He isn't in, but my sister tells me that she knows where it is as she asked around before we got there. Also, the desk man at the motel gives us a MAP.

Our motel is situated right on Highway 1 that goes through the town. Two blocks north down on Elm Street is a Denny's restaurant. You make a left on Elm past Denny's, then head toward the water and come to stretch of grass and a path. Park where you can and take the path, which is what we did. We follow the path, carrying out bags, and it is really pretty. A short walk and we come to a fork in the road. Now what? Do we go right or go straight. The map doesn't show the fork in the road. We go right, but is it the way to Glass beach? Did we find the Glass beach? Find out in part two of our adventure.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Art Shows - Are We Making Money Yet?

As I've written in earlier posts we started doing some arts and crafts shows. Mainly, in our neck of the woods - meaning Palm Springs and out to San Diego. As total novices we didn't know how to get connected to the shows so I subscribed to the "Craftmaster News," - yes, you have to buy a subscription, nothing is free, but I digress. I'd read the shows listed by month and of course, noted the price of shows which has so far determined whether we go or not as we don't want to put out the big bucks for shows until we know what we are doing. One of the art shows that caught my attention was "Recycled Treasure," in Paso Robles, California. Reasons for applying to this particular show: 1. entry fee $40 (price is right), 2. sea glass is definitely recycled treasure and 3. the clincher - my sister Julia, who doesn't do jewelry lives in Solvang so we can stay with her, get in a visit, then do the show. Perfect. Well, not quite.

I applied to the show, sent in pictures of our sea glass jewelry. Got accepted, then learned that sister Julia and her husband were going to be in Key West, Florida that weekend. So we'd get in a dinner and stay at her place alone on the way back. Disappointing, but hey, I'd committed to do the show. We left Palm Springs in the morning drove to Los Angeles and left our black poodle, Dylan Thomas, with Steve's parents then headed up to Solvang. We had a great dinner with my sister, then drove another two hours up to Paso Robles. I'd booked us into Motel 6 - hey, I have to save money where I can. It was late when we arrived. We got lost and then finally found the motel. Now it was really late in the evening and we were exhausted. First lesson of the road trip - don't save money on a motel if you don't know where the motel is located. And you know of course, that Motel 6 is no longer $6 if it ever was - "They leave the light On," but that is about it for amenities. This particular motel was $79 a night with tax. Once in the room, I noticed that there was no coffee pot, so much for bringing tea and apple cider drinks, and no shampoo. I hadn't brought any as I'm used to hotels having shampoo. Anyway, I went up to the desk and asked for shampoo - nope, they don't provide it nor do they have any to buy. So bring your own shampoo if you stay in a Motel 6, (must be one of their cost cutting schemes). My husband suggested we go out and find an all night drug store, but we'd gotten lost once and I didn't want to get in the truck again. The room was clean and the shower hot so that was good. The bad was that the Paso Robles Motel 6 is situated right next to the freeway about two feet away. I could swear that if a semi-truck pulled over to rest it would be in our room. The freeway noise was loud and all night long. So be careful of where you book your stay before a show.

We got up early, found out how to get to the Paso Robles park, then headed off to Starbucks for coffee (remember there was not pot in the room). The Recycled Treasure Show was held in the downtown park. We found our allotted space, unpacked, then Steve went to park the pickup. Now, you'd think I'd be setting up while he is parking. No. I wait for him to return because our tent/gazebo is like stiff and hard to erect. I see other people putting up their tents and it looks easy. Believe me, for me it's not. I could maybe do it if I had all day - I'm not mechanical and I hate contraptions that can pinch fingers and crash on my head. I couldn't put up the tables either because instead of buying light weight folding tables at say WalMart, we were using our old banquet tables that weight about 500 pounds (a little exaggeration) and they too have folding legs that pinch fingers. Finally, Steve gets back and we start setting up our space. First, we erect the tent and I have to drag the sand bags over to secure to the legs so the darn thing doesn't fly away, then we do the tables, then the table cloths, then the display boards, then we have to take all the jewelry out of plastic bags and display it prettily on the tables. Oh and the earrings, hundreds of them, it seems like hundreds, have to all come out of tiny plastic bags and be placed on earring boards (something we've just designed and are trying out for the first time. These boards are all heavy too - made out of plywood and not the thin plywood.)

(Here is a picture of one of the earring boards. The board works, but I'm not in love with the way it looks so we're still on the hunt for an attractive way to display the earrings. ) When we are finally set up it is about 8:00 and the show doesn't start until 9, but people were walking in the park and started to stop by the booths so it worked out fine.

Angles of booth. Sorry, didn't get a straight on shot.

While we waited for customers, Steve started leaving the booth to get food. He was hungry. He started with a hot dog and then went back for tamales and sodas. Then later, he made a run to a nearby coffee shop for frozen coffee drinks and scones. This is another expense, you have to consider when doing shows. Either bring your lunch or plan on spending your profits at the food vendors who always seem to have the most customers of all. Hmmm, what does that tell you?

We made a few sales and that always makes me happy. One of the biggest sales was my sister Shirley's gray sea glass pendant necklace, but that money would go in her pocket not mine. She had split the $40 entry fee and I was in charge of selling at this event. Anyway, when I started to add up my expenses in my head, I knew we were in the red big time. First, we had gas expense, not cheap when your husband owns a 1 ton pickup truck, 2. dinner in Solvang with my sister at restaurant, 3. Motel 6 at $79 for the night, 4. Food vendors, - and I knew there were more expenses to come for the trip home. On the bright side, I saw my sister Julia which was a treat, we got to see a little bit of Paso Robles which is a really lovely little town with old time square and shops and we got a little more show experience.