Today was a beautiful day in craftland.
Annie and I hit the "garage sale" at Scrapbook Corner the minute it opened. Kimberly was a vendor. Yes! It was tempting to just scrape all of her beautiful rubber stamps off the table and into my basket; but I reined in my greed and picked just a few favorites--three large Zettiology stamps (ala Teesha Moore) and several cool, smaller texture stamps. I got several other satisfying bargains, too, including a divided shadowbox (still bearing a $32.95 price tag) for $3.00. Annie beat me, though. She got more stuff for less money. Curses!
After a little flurry of cooking and hygiene, we then headed to Conway for the first AREtsy meet-and-greet at the home of our street team's organizer, Cyndi aka Twisted Purl. It was so much fun to put real names and faces with shop names and avatars. And the work! No matter how skillful or beautiful the photographs, they just don't compare to seeing a work of art live and being able to touch it. Cyndi's (divaschmiva's) paintings are richer. Deb's (dyzart's) goddesses are deeper and more glowing. Brandy's (Ekioart's) wire jewelry is more intricate and touchable. Cyndi's (Twisted Purl's) handspun yarns are more luxurious. Sally's (dogwoodlane's) sewing is crisper and her fabrics more vibrant. I shouldn't have started this list, because I know I saw lots of other work that excited me, too, and that I'm omitting. Just take it from me: It was a thrill.
But the coolest moment of the day came in the midst of the garage sale. I'd stepped out into the main store, where it was less crowded, for a breather. A young woman came up to me and said, "Is your name Denise?" I said yes and started scanning my memory for that face--one of my daughter's friends, maybe?
She said, "I'm Sarah."
"From AREtsy," she said.
Oh. My. Gawd.
"Scrap-a-dot?" I said.
"Yes!!" she said. "I thought that was you. I recognized you from your avatar."
Sarah said she had planned to come to the party in Conway, but she'd found herself suddenly having to help her parents move from Louisiana, so she was going to have to skip it. I dragged her back into the garage sale.
"C'mon," I said, "Come meet Anne Weaver."
"Who?" she said.
"Casserole!" I said.
It became a funny little reunion. AREtsies and YaYas were all over the place. (Janna and Leigh YaYas were there, too.)
Some time back, I got into a forum discussion where folks were complaining about the Etsy vendors who use photos of their children or pets as their avatars. A few people believed strongly that the avatar should be an image of the artist's work. While I understood their rationales, I said I see each avatar as a representation of a person, not a shop. And, personally, I'm drawn to avatars that are photos of the shop owners. I like knowing who I'm talking to. That's pretty much why I use my own name as my shop name and my own mug shot as my avatar. I got a lot of guff about that.
Today's experience proved to me that I'm right. Maybe not for anybody else, but for me. I want to be able to connect with my Etsy customers and other artists. If I were using a different avatar, Sarah and I would have walked right past one another without even realizing it.
So here's another mug shot. If you see me walking around in Kroger or Michaels, please stop me. I want to meet you!