Marji and I started showing the kinetic toys at local craft shows in 1975. It was a great way to get feed back from all types of people and to earn a little money. Unfortunately it was a very hard way to actually earn a living. So much time was devoted to travel, set up and break down that there wasn't enough time for me to design and build new ideas.
Luckily for us, the first wholesale craft market started at Rhinebeck, NY in 1973 and by the time we were starting out in 1975 the Northeast Craft Fair was a dynamic and growing show. We applied for the 1976 show in late 1975 using photos of the kinetic toys and we were rejected. This was one of those experiences that seemed bad at the time but was actually a good thing. Rather than being tied down to making hundreds of toys to fill wholesale orders, I had a breakthrough year, conceiving of and building 8 completely new wall mounted kinetic sculptures. We applied for the 1977 show the next year with the sculpture photos and were accepted. This was a major turning point in my career as an artist, or more correctly it is when I started having a career as an artist.
Up until this show I thought I’d have to eventually get a “real” job so I could earn a living. The Rhinebeck show completely changed that. This show introduced my work to hundreds of craft galleries that were part of the newly rejuvenated American craft movement. They were hungry for new creative work and we had something no one had seen before.
We had done quite a few local shows by the time Rhinebeck rolled around and thought we knew what we were doing. How wrong! Marji wasn't able to attend the first day of the show because school was still in session. My college roommate Larry volunteered to come and help until Marji could make it. Good thing he did. The first two days of the show was limited to wholesale customers only but even so they were lined up asking questions and placing orders. About an hour into the show Larry looked at me and asked, "How many sculptures can you make and when can you deliver them?" I made some guesses and Larry drew up the first production chart, a concept we still use today.
The weeks that followed were filled with setting up a "real" business. We bought a typewriter, a filing cabinet, bookkeeping paper, and enlisted family help in setting up accounting and filing systems. I had to figure out how to pack and ship the sculptures and we needed written directions so that anyone could set them up. Luckily Marji was on summer break from school but I think there were more hours in a day when we were younger!
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