Creative Entrepreneurship

Posts tagged ‘Sara Senour’

5th Maplewood Y Artisan Craft Show – Oct 17

2015 Poster

This is my 4th year of involvement in helping potter Sara Senour produce this fundraising art & craft show to benefit the Maplewood YMCA. It is a juried event and in years past I’ve been pleased to hear people say to me, not knowing I was involved, how much they liked the diversity of high quality handmade pieces of art.

Maplewood Building
The first time I visited the Y, I fell in love with the ornate old building. Inside, thanks a major renovation, the facility is beautifully modern and family friendly. That building has the best of all worlds if you ask me.

You can visit the Facebook event page here, the show’s Facebook page here and the website here, for a taste of what you can expect to find.

Rock Candles

In addition to the artist booth fees, the Y makes money from the raffle of smaller items and a drawing for the bigger items. Here’s just a smidge or what will be available to win:

Artisans participating the show each give an item valued at $15
Red Wings signed item
Seneca Park Zoo year membership
Amerks – 4 tickets
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra – 4 tickets
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra – 4 tickets
Rochester Museum & Science Center and Strasenburg Planetarium family package
George Eastman Museum – 2 passes
Dan’s Crafts & Things – 2 gift certificates
YMCA Family & Adult Memberships

Square of photos

October 17
9:00 – 3:00
Maplewood Y Artisan Craft Show

Maplewood YMCA
25 Driving Park
Rochester, NY

Artful Creations by Deb
Artistry by Lisa Marie
At My Whim
Berke’s Beads and Art
Bethany’s Blossoms
Buck’s Scroll Saw Creations
Cabbages & Kings Stationery
Crimson Iris Kusudamas
Dragonfly Jewelry
HawkMoon Soaps
Jackie’s Jams and Jellies
Laurie Dirkx Photography
Michele Kurpisz Designs
Noelle Boone
Pam B Designs
Patricia Overmoyer
Purple Hippo Crafts
Pysanky by MiaWinner, Christkindl Market 2014
qq creations
Roberta Childers
Sage Studios
Shampain’s Baubles
Tattered Pearls
Wilhelminas Wee Woolies
Wood’s Edge Studio

Fancy Pants Fox

Four Days Left

2014 Maplewood Button

Hi. It’s me again, pimping the Maplewood Y Craft Show. As many of you know, I help organizer Sara Senour with this show. The deadline for applications is June 30 so I wanted to give it one more mention here.

This has nothing to do with the prediction that I made saying we’ll have 100 applicants this year. (Okay, maybe a little.) But seriously folks, it has everything to do with making a great show. This will be our 4th year for the show, 2nd year for it being a juried show.

Albums for Jury

Here’s the cool thing. Sara puts all the photos (unless instructed otherwise by an applicant) in category-specific albums on the show’s Facebook page. That is how the jury reviews the photos, right there on Facebook. She uploads them as she gets them so you can go scroll through them right now and check out your competition. Are you thinking, “Oh yeah, I can smoke the competition!”? Then please scoot on over to the show’s information page and follow the link to the online application. You pay when accepted. Then email your five photos, according to the instructions. It could not be easier, I promise. Presuming you already have your jury photos ready to go, the whole process will take you 10 minutes, tops.

Whether I’m accepted into the show or not, I’ll be there working alongside Sara and the entire team of volunteers to make this another spectacular show. I’ll see you there!

Jury Photos, a Necessary Evil

Photograph: Mark Strozier/Alamy

Photograph: Mark Strozier/Alamy

Evil is a bit strong, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone, even professional photographers, not stressing over photographs of their work to be submitted for acceptance into an art fair. Photographers have the technicalities down, but I’m guessing they still worry about content.

My modus operandi the last couple of years has been to assemble a fresh set of photos for that year’s jury photos. It helps me look at what I submitted the previous year, so I can be sure to show new work, to show growth as an artist.

This is my Sticky Notes jury photo from 2013. I like everything about this piece, the colors, the complexity of the pattern.

This is my Sticky Notes jury photo from 2013. I like everything about this piece, the colors, the complexity of the pattern.

This is my Sticky Notes jury photo for this year. The stitching isn't very complex at all but  it's different from last year and I know people love the songbird motif, it's been a good seller for me.

This is my Sticky Notes jury photo for this year. The stitching isn’t very complex at all but it’s different from last year and I know people love the songbird motif, it’s been a good seller for me.

What I am newly working on is trying to make sure the entire photo looks good. I tend to focus on the subject only. That’s how stuff like this happens.

See that brown shadow on the right? Yeah, I know. Guess what happens when that gets blown up to poster size? It's ALL I can see. :::cringe:::

See that brown shadow on the right? Yeah, I know. Guess what happens when that gets blown up to poster size? It’s ALL I can see. :::cringe:::

At least I can say I'm learning a little. I spotted that dark shadow at the top of the 1st photo and got rid of it. Of course, that was after I sent it to two shows. Baby steps, people.

At least I can say I’m learning a little. I spotted that dark shadow at the top of the 1st photo and got rid of it. Of course, that was after I sent it to two shows. Baby steps, people.

As many of you know, I help organize the Maplewood Y Craft Show, held each October. (Applications are online and due June 30.) Last year was the first year the show was juried. Organizer Sara Senour and I pretended to be jurors, just for the experience. It was eye-opening and Sara wrote a guest post about it.

Based on that experience of seeing a wide range of photos, good and bad, I decided to try something new this year. I included one very close-up photo of my stitching, so the jury can see the stitches individually and really grasp the technique used. The stitching fills the photo, you can’t even tell what the piece is (though I explain in the caption, where possible).

Good or bad idea - remains to be seen. I'm hoping the visible detail outweighs the fact that there's no context. (This piece is 9" in diameter and will be framed in a 12" x 12" frame. It's a gift.)

Good or bad idea – remains to be seen. I’m hoping the visible detail outweighs the fact that there’s no context. (This piece is 9″ in diameter and will be framed in a 12″ x 12″ frame. It’s a gift.)

The photos in this post were resized to appear correctly on Facebook. The images I send to shows are much larger. I’m not a pro, not by a long-shot, but I’ve become much more familiar with a free online photo editing program, PicMonkey. (I actually use the paid version now, you get a few more features and options.)

The other upside to sending clear, large photos is that shows are always looking for photos to use in their advertising of the show. Kind of a nice ego-boost when that happens – and makes it even more fun to promote shows you’re in.

And yes, I’m still nervous every time I apply to a juried show. Heck, I’m even nervous putting these photos “out there” on this blog post!

Please share any good tips & trick you’ve had success with, in the comments.

The Science of Art

2013 Show Layout 404

Maplewood Y Craft Show organizer Sara Senour invited me to her house yesterday to help her determine the layout of the October 12 3rd Annual Maplewood Y Craft Show.

As you can see from the photo above, we went old-school cut & paste, so to speak. We wrote each artist’s name and space requirement on a Post-It Note, color coded by discipline. (We used blue for a variety of the non-major disciplines so don’t be concerned by the number of blues next to each other.)

There’s a real science to laying out a show. You want to make sure it’s high impact and visually appealing from the entrance. That’s nothing against any artist not in the front, not at all, but some pieces are more eye-catching and just display better. We know a lot of the artists that were juried into this show (by 3 independent artists not associated with the show). We know what their “booth” looks like. That stuff comes from experience – on the part of the artist who has been tweaking and improving their “booth” space over time. And it comes from the experience Sara and I have had, being artists ourselves and participating in and visiting lots of shows.

As an artist who has been near the entrance on occasion, I can tell you that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk for high sales. I’ve had many people tell me they like my work but they want to look around more and get the lay of the land before making any purchases. Of course I wish they’d buy on the spot, but I understand, – that’s how I like to explore when I’m a customer at a show!

So working from Sara’s floor plan of the gym at the Y, which included doors, emergency exits and electrical outlets, we laid out the “knowns” first – as in who wanted a corner spot. Then we filled in artists around the perimeter, just alternating colors. Then we filled in the 2 islands, putting the people who requested (and would pay a little extra for) the 2-sided ends of each island. Then we filled in the rest of the islands.

Then we got down to the most important task in laying out an art & craft show – making sure “like” artists are not near each other. For example, two jewelers should not be next to each other, even if their styles and techniques are completely different.

This took some serious thinking and shuffling! We also offer half-spaces so we had to make sure those worked out correctly.

We were pretty sure we had the final version but decided to take a break and then take a look at it one more time with fresh eyes.

When I arrived at Sara’s house, she gave me a little tour (she has amazing flower gardens). Then I asked to see her studio space so she took me downstairs to see where she makes her gorgeous pottery.

As she showed me around she showed me a pot she’d thrown that morning that was drying in front of a fan. “That’s for you”, she told me.

“For the Pharmacy?” We sell Sara’s pottery at the Fairport Pharmacy Gift Shop.

It turns out she meant for me personally! I’d forgotten all about this but a couple of months ago I gave Sara a bag of rubber stamps that I thought would be good for embossing pottery. These came from my dad’s downsizing his craft supplies and a few from me. I wouldn’t let Sara pay me so she offered to make me a vase. Perfect!

She had been drying this vase to the perfect greenware stage for my arrival and wanted me to do the embossing, using the stamps I’d given her. I hesitated and then agreed to give it a go.

Sara Senour Studio

So when we took a break from working on the show, we headed down to Sara’s studio and I got busy!

I had a potter’s wheel and kiln many years ago so I had a little experience. Sara let me practice on another piece of clay to get a feel for how much pressure I should use. I used 4 different stamps and created bands of designs. In a matter of minutes I was having fun and barking orders at my assistant, “Do you have that tool that’s for cutting noodles – you know, like a pizza cutter but wiggly?” “Where are your carving tools?”

The designs aren’t perfectly executed, but it’s definitely me. Sara was very patient and helped me rub out mistakes and start over. She promised to do a little clean up, like where the sides of the stamp made a slight impression.

Then came glaze decision time. Sara is the master of glazing! I should have taken a picture of her wall of glaze ingredients – it’s a perfect grid, so you know I was diggin’ that! It seemed a shame to bypass all her wonderful color combinations, but the embossed design is so delicate that it would have gotten lost with too much color. So we decided on a clear white glaze. When I asked if Sara could “antique” it with an underglaze that would define the design a little bit, she said that’s just what she was thinking. She said she’ll experiment on some practice pieces first.

Then we went back upstairs and reviewed our Post-It Note layout. We were still happy with it!

After taking a tour of Tom and Patty Zachman’s studios last week (he works with fused glass and she does enameling and cloisonne), I feel like I’m the host of a TV show, visiting artists in their natural habitat. One of my goals has been to organize a studio tour, where customers would get a map with a variety of Rochester Artisan studios marked and spend the day visiting whoever interested them. And of course, making purchases from us! If other artist studios look anything like mine, I should warn them 6 months in advance – start clearing a path now!

Guest Post: Anatomy of a Juried Art Show

I can't resist pointing out that all 5 photos on this postcard show the work of Rochester Artisans, (a decision made unknowingly by the YMCA public relations team). ~ Stefani ~

I can’t resist pointing out that all 5 photos on this postcard show the work of Rochester Artisans, (a decision made unknowingly by the YMCA public relations team). ~ Stefani ~


Many of you may know my name from Stefani mentioning me in some of her blogs. I am Sara Senour, a potter, who is also the Show Coordinator for the Maplewood Y Craft Show (MWYCS). Stef and I have been working together for the last 2 years to organize and improve the show. I can’t say enough about how much Stefani brings to this process. She is a dynamo!

So, why this guest blog? This year the team decided to do a blind juried show with the goal of creating a quality, upscale one day show for the greater Rochester area. I personally feel this is a niche that the MWYCS can fill. This will be the third year for the show, and each year the quality has improved, but doing a blind jury sets the show up to move it to a more upscale level.

A juried show keeps the show fresh and gives everyone an equal opportunity to be in the show. It allows the show to evolve and grow while elevating the quality of the show each year.

We have had a lot of questions about the jury process, and since so many of the applicants are Rochester Artisan members, we thought a guest RA blog was a good way to respond to those questions and to share what we have learned going through the jury process.

So what exactly is a “blind juried” show?

Well, in the case of the MWYCS, this means that knowledgeable jurors who are artists and who will not be part of the show, evaluate photos of the artist’s work using specific criteria without knowing who the artist is. The only inputs into this process are the photos and the judge’s perception of them.

This is why photos sent into any show are so important!

For instance, from a juror’s standpoint, what should be done when the pictures of the artist’s work are poor quality and the technique, quality, texture, details of the work can’t be determined? Is it fair to guess at the rating and maybe penalize someone who sent a really high quality picture but their work was not of exceptional quality?

Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes

Don’t diminish your work with poor photos. Send in sharp, well-lit, high pixel photographs that clearly show your craftsmanship. The pictures need to sell you as an artist! And send in pictures of your current work, not something you did several years ago. These photos are often used to promote the show. People will see the photo of your work and go to the show expecting to see it or something similar for sale. They can get “turned off” if it is not there, which hurts both you and the show.

I will admit that until I went through the exercise of evaluating and ranking the artists’ work for the show, I did not appreciate how difficult the judging would be. (And no, I am not an official judge. I have applied to the show and will be evaluated just like everyone else.) Initially, I thought, well you like it, so just rank it high. But when you are into the process, you think, well how does it compare to the overall body of work submitted? Does it stand out from other similar work? Have I seen this type of work at other shows?

Now it becomes difficult! If you don’t believe this, I challenge you to do an evaluation of the photos yourself. Rank them 1-5 in each of the categories and see for yourselves.

The application photos are on the MWYCS Facebook page in 9 photo albums labeled “2013 Application Photos”.

    Technical – What is the quality of the work? Is the work clean, precise and well constructed? Is the technique up to standards for that craft?

    Design – Is the design solid with a strong pattern? Dynamic? Has flow and movement?

    Color/Texture – Do the colors and textures “wow” you? Do they compliment the work and design?

    Originality – Is this something you have never seen before? A truly different type of work?

    Inventiveness – Is the work a different “twist” on something you have seen before? A truly different way of working with a traditional method?

    Artistic Merit – Overall, how does the work “hit” you? Does it appeal to your aesthetics?

Then there is the issue that the work itself ranges from really good to not so much. How does one rate that? The solution seems to be to add a comment that says, “Accept this part of their work but not the rest”. The jurors don’t want to degrade the quality of the show by accepting the artist rather than their work. So if you are into multiple types of work, don’t be upset if you are asked to only bring part of your work. It is the level of the show coming through.

There is also the issue of “I know this person.” As much as you try to have objective jurors, this is going to happen. To be truly objective is not an easy thing. The juror really has to try to not be too easy or too hard when evaluating the person. And, if the photos are bad, they have to evaluate what is there, not what they know about the artist.

Not all jurors judge equally. Some jurors are really hard in their evaluations while others are very generous. I believe this goes back to the goal of the show. What are you trying to achieve, a straight forward craft show, an upscale high quality show, or somewhere in-between. The goal needs to the first thing on the juror’s instruction sheet. This way the judges are evaluating to the same goal.

My “hat is off” to anyone who takes on being a juror. It is a time-consuming, tedious and challenging process. It is also interesting, rewarding and instructive.

I can’t thank the people who volunteered to be judges for the Maplewood Y Craft Show enough.

Craft-show-banner-ad 2013

Maplewood YMCA Craft Show – Apps Due by 6/30

I can't resist pointing out that 4 out of 5 photos on this postcard show the work of Rochester Artisans. (And I'm working on the 5th to join!)

I can’t resist pointing out that 5 out of 5 photos on this postcard show the work of Rochester Artisans.

I’m working with the tireless Sara Senour to encourage artists to apply to the 3rd Annual Maplewood Y Craft Show, being held October 12 this year. The 3-person jury has been chosen and they are eagerly awaiting the deadline for applications, this Sunday, June 30, so they can begin their selection process.

I just wanted to hit you with a few facts to highlight some of the positive additions made to the show this year, in addition to the many good things already in place. Sara is an accomplished potter so she has all kinds of experience on both sides of the application – as a vendor and as a show producer.

This is a 100% handcrafted goods show. No buy/sell allowed.

Apply and submit photos online, with no application fee. Pay only if selected. Booths range from $30 – $90. Limited electric is available – free.

There will be a Meet & Greet for the artists prior to the show to hand out postcards, flyers, WiFi instructions, show info, etc.

Set up is available Friday night for this Saturday show, with lots of volunteers to help you. (Last year the kids brought my entire set-up into the building in one load on a big flatbed dolly.)

Door prizes are YMCA memberships. Silent Auction is for items donated by the 40 artists.

During the show there will be boothsitters available and lunch available for artists to purchase.

There is complimentary childcare provided for the customers, by the stupendous Y staff.

The Irondequoit Art Club will be holding their show the same day, at the Lily Cafe, which is right next to the gym where the craft show is held so there will be all kinds of cross-promotion.

As a non-profit, the Maplewood Y will have a presence at the Clothesline, representing the craft show along with their other fine Y initiatives. Postcards-a-plenty will be passed out.

Sara wrote the book on advertising opportunities. She’s also one of the most meticulously organized people I’ve ever met.

Pre-registration will be available online for customers, which will earn them entrance 30 minutes earlier than the public, along with a free tote bag and raffle tickets.

The show program will serve as a Passport, which includes a map of where each artist is located. Customers will have the artists stamp (or initial) their Passport. Those with a specific number or higher (can’t remember the exact number but it’s over half) of stamps are eligible for a drawing for a Kindle.

Plenty of free parking available.

The show’s website is here – including the application and photos of previous years. Our show’s Facebook page is very active and in fact, currently holds albums of photos of current applicants. The show’s event page on Facebook has been up since April and we share and post like crazy on it, once we know which artists have been accepted into the show.


This is our 3rd year and each year gets better and better. Last year’s attendance doubled the attendance of the previous year. We’re on a roll, people – join us!

3rd Annual Maplewood Y Craft Show

I can't resist pointing out that 4 out of 5 photos on this postcard show the work of Rochester Artisans. (And I'm working on the 5th to join!)

I can’t resist pointing out that 4 out of 5 photos on this postcard show the work of Rochester Artisans. (And I’m working on the 5th to join!)

Rocking Horse by Wayne Marks.
Pottery by Marsha King.
Pop-Up Card by Karin Marlett Choi.
Hand Stitched Tin by Stefani Tadio.
Lampwork Pendant by Francesca DeCaire.

Sara Senour has been running this Maplewood Y Craft Show for 3 years now. (It was called Creations with a Heart the first two years.) I’ve never met anyone more meticulously organized and on-task than Sara – she’s amazing!

In the interest of full disclosure – Sara invited me to assist her, mostly in the role of what I like to call Artisan Representative. Sara is a potter so she fully understands both sides of craft show production. Neither Sara nor I receive preferential treatment – we have both applied and will be juried along with everyone else.

I know it looks fishy, but I swear the graphic designer hired by the Y to design this postcard chose my work based on color. She doesn’t know me from Adam.

Rochester Artisans has been discussing recently how we can help show directors attract quality artisans and valuable customers. So when Sara’s recent email to her distribution list came through, I felt it was something I had to share here. My intention is to compel quality artists to apply and to perhaps give other show directors ideas they can use.

We are down to 6 weeks until the June 30 application deadline for the Maplewood Y Craft Show. The team however is as busy as ever promoting the show.

The show is now posted on over 40 websites. Closer to the show date, the show will be listed on the community and news media calendars and event listings.

We are looking into various publications to see if they will do an article on show and the artisans. This is in the hands of our very capable marketing person.

We are also working on getting some awesome prizes for 3 drawings to help promote the show and draw in customers. These promotions will pull in customers and have them stopping by everyone’s booth!!

“Passport” Drawing: This drawing’s prize is a Kindle Fire Tablet. It can only be entered by customers that have visited at least 30 booths at the show. They will have a form that the artisans will stamp or initial to prove they were there. The forms will then be placed in the drawing box on the way out.

“Door Prize” Drawing: This will be open to anyone who comes to the show. One of the prizes will be a 12 month adult “Y” membership. There will be several other prizes as we get sponsors for the show.

“Customer Sweepstakes” package: This requires the customer pre-register on-line. The benefits will be free raffle tickets, tote bags and an earlier exclusive shopping time. This will be up and running on the websites shortly.

The deadline to apply is June 30 and you don’t pay a dime until you are accepted. I recommend you check out the super cool website that Sara set up for the show, which includes all the nitty gritty. The application is online and could not be easier. Sara and I are both admins of the show’s Facebook page and the Facebook event page. We share like crazy and invite you to do the same.

Finally, I’ve been debating whether to mention this. In the 2 years I’ve been involved in this show, I occasionally hear concerns about the location of the Maplewood Y on Driving Park. I’ve been going to many meetings throughout both years and was a selling artist at last year’s show. I have never felt unsafe for one minute. There is ample parking at the Y and across the street at Maplewood Park.

The YMCA is a very family oriented place and as one who has spent considerable time with the staff there, I can’t say enough of the place. They provide fabulous volunteers throughout the show by the way. Last year, the kids loaded my booth into the building on a big dolly in one trip! I thought that was outstanding.

Enough of my blather. Go apply please.

2012 Show Photo

Education Never Stops

Last week I attended a day long conference on social media that I found most valuable. It was presented by the Rochester Professional Consultants Network – and each attendee chose 2 sessions in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. The ones I attended were about LinkedIn; how & when to use which social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.); how to create social media buzz for an event and how to make videos “that don’t suck”.

The highlight of my day was that fellow Rochester Artisan Karin Marlett-Choi was also in attendance – and thank goodness she happened to see me, because we got to pal around all day because we had 3 out of 4 sessions in common. She’s a paper artist too – so it was extra cool to hang with her.

In perusing the Rochester Professional Consultants Network, I’d seen that they offer 90 minute sessions on different topics from time to time – and on July 13, there is one called, “Pinterest –What Is It and How Are Businesses Using it?”. It’s from 8:00-9:00 on a Friday, for $8.00, at the Brighton Town Hall. This was a month or two ago when I saw it, when I was still working and I signed up on the spot – because you know how I love Pinterest! And I know it can be valuable sales tool. Turns out Karin is a fellow addict so she registered for it too.

Presented by:Barbara Moore

Bring a cup of your favorite brew and enjoy cookies, networking, and our program.

Called a virtual bulletin board or scrapbook, Pinterest is a site where users collect and organize images and ideas from the Internet. It’s now the third most used social site after Facebook and Twitter. During this presentation you will learn how Pinterest works and see how some businesses are using it to gain exposure.

In order to promote a professional atmosphere, attire is business casual for all attendees .

Open to the public. No charge for RPCN members. $8.00 for non-members.

Here are more details.


Tonight I was looking over other offerings by the RPCN, including another one I signed up for tonight –

This one is lead by Rochester Artisan Robin Taney (she of the tutu wearing variety, who participated in the Shriners show last Saturday, with her mom). It was my first time meeting her in person – LOVE her!

Get R.E.A.L: Unleashing Your Passion with PRsonality
31 Aug 2012 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Location: Brighton Town Hall – Downstairs Meeting Room

An overview of what an entrepreneur needs to know to generate PR for their business. Topics include:

The difference between advertising/PR
The Top 11 PR Mistakes Most Businesses Make
The Steps for Creating a G.O.T.C.H.A (Getting Out There Captures Hot Attention) Plan for his/her business.

In order to promote a professional atmosphere, attire is business casual for all attendees.

Open to the public. No charge for RPCN members. $8.00 for non-members.


I owe a giant thanks to Sara Senour, who sent me information about the socia media conference in the first place! Look what it’s lead to!?

My point, and I do have one, is we should never stop learning. And learning with friends is even more fun!

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