Metal Clay by the Bay was exhausting for me as a vendor, and the first week of a 3-week stint driving around the country from San Diego to Jewelry Television in Knoxville, TN, to a Senior Certification near Buffalo, NY where I was born and raised. But MCBTB was also great fun. I got to see a bunch of people that I rarely hear from outside of social media, and got to talk with bunches more. People seemed happy with the conference, though I know the numbers were lower than Louise had wanted. Not the first time I have heard that. I know Lis-el Crowley wanted better numbers as well. And in the 3 times we did Metal Clay World Conference, I was always disappointed in the registration numbers.
I understand, totally. There aren’t a lot of people who have that kind of disposable income these days. There’s the flight or gas cost to the conference, the cost of the conference itself, and then the hotel, not to mention meals.
I’m mentioning this now because if you are a metal clay artist, I’m asking you in all sincerity to start saving your dollars for the Artisan Craft Expo, next July 9-11, 2015. That’s not to say I don’t want you to go to Metal Clay Mojo. Lis-el’s putting together a wonderful program and I know she needs numbers as well. But we have the opportunity to begin attending a conference that will be financed, not by us money-strapped artists, but by a professional convention management company. This is HUGE for us, as a medium. None of us who have held metal clay conferences in the past have succeeded in breaking even. We just haven’t had either the clout, advertising or money to organize something on the scale that we would hope to have for ourselves.
Las Vegas Management, who is taking all the risk, has been holding Glass Craft and Bead Expo for over 20 years, now. I’ve gone nearly every one of those years, and it’s a well-oiled machine, with great instructors, great classes and great exhibitors. They are trying this metal clay and polymer clay conference because I (and others) have been nagging them for years. But more than that, they must see the possibilities, or else they wouldn’t attempt it.
But, if we don’t show them that we are interested, and that we are willing to support events like this, then Artisan Craft Expo 2015 will be the first and last of its kind. And no one, not Louise, not Lis-el and not either of the past Guilds and Societies, should ever have to lose their shirts again because we need a place to learn, meet and work in the medium we love. The only way this Expo is going to work and return annually is for us as metal clay artists and those involved in the medium to participate. To make it worth Las Vegas Management’s time, effort and money to repeat this year after year we need ALL of us!! Yes, it’s West, for all you Easterners, but I guarantee you that there were over 100 flights to Vegas today on all manner of carriers. There’s a shuttle from the airport to the hotel and once you are there, there’s no reason to leave. Food is plentiful and varied, and you will all be in one section of the Conference Center. No walking all over the place. Exhibitors and classes will be near each other and the hotel rooms are not far away. It’s only 3 days, but it’s a start, and we need to show the Show Organizers a level of involvement that will prove that we are willing to invest in our medium next year, and the year after that.
So, please watch for the website, which will be coming soon. I’ll be announcing things as they become available. And, if you’re wondering, I have no vested interest in this Conference. I’m not part of the management team, I’m not getting any remuneration. I’m just an excited metal clay artist and business owner thrilled to have an organization willing to take a chance on us. Will I be teaching there? Probably not, if Art Clay is going to be a vendor, which I want us to be. Will I be working for Las Vegas Management at the Expo, like I do for Glass Craft Expo? If I’m asked, for sure, because I know the Management is not experienced in all things metal clay or polymer clay.
Think about it, plan for it, and talk to those who are hesitant. I got a survey from Lis-el today about an international metal clay organization. Wouldn’t it be great to have our first “official” meeting in Vegas next year?
Again, I would never want anyone to have to choose Vegas over Metal Clay Mojo. But if you weren’t or couldn’t go to Connecticut in August, think about Vegas in July.
My only other thoughts are that I observed at Metal Clay By the Bay that the quality of metal clay work in the last couple of years has increased significantly, and I’m so excited by what I’m seeing. By artists all over the world!! I had the good fortune to meet Anna Mazon from Poland and was floored not only by the beauty of her work, but by the expertise. The detail, the finishing. The list of preeminent metal clay artists is growing, and it gives the rest of us something to aspire to, to work towards. Don’t settle for almost, or nearly. Go the extra step that you know will push your metal clay work into the next level. Use those files, use that sanding pad, or power tool. Show all the people who have said that metal clay is just a “wannabe” that they just don’t know what they are talking about. The only thing we should “wannabe” is EXCELLENT!