Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Overview

2011 has come and gone and now it’s time to look forward to 2012

I’ve never been one to look to much at the past but instead look toward the future.  Part of this is my nature and part is the nature of being an artist.  Artist is an interesting title and one that I’m not always comfortable with, but for many, it’s an important acknowledgement for what we’ve been able to create with our minds and hands.  I’m humbled when someone refers to me as such and work hard to ensure that their complements are justified.

January through March

We'd been getting a number of photos from folks of sculptures that they've adopted from us over the years, and we decided to add an adopted page to our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com/adopted.htm .  This latest submission is from William Woods of a planter he gave to his daughter.  We're humbled by the ongoing support and photos that everyone sends in.  Thank you.

Florida shows were in full swing during January through March.  I spent most weekends doing two-day weekend shows, and when I wasn’t there, I was at the St. Petersburg Saturday Market displaying my latest creations.  I was awarded the first place ribbon along with a check at the Orlando Art and Living Festival in Orlando, Florida.  This was  quite a surprise and honor and one that I will cherish my entire life.

The weather was great and we have many fans, but it’s tough to be a recycled artist when there isn’t very many sources for recycled metal; that was definitely the largest challenge about working that far south.  I had to travel as far north as Alabama and Tennessee to continue to find material, and that made it very difficult to have time to work and both due shows. 

Mackie and I love the weather during this time.  Sunny and 75 were pretty much the standard seven days a week with very little humidity.  The biggest challenge are insects nearly the size of the bugs from Starship Troopers! 

April Through June

I did four shows in Ohio and Michigan in May and June.  Two trips up and back each totaling about 3,000 miles round trip, but I did enjoy spending time with my brother and his family between and at these shows.  Weather has been one of our biggest challenges in doing eastern US shows versus the western states.  Every east coast show had some significant weather this year, and we were fortunate to not see the worst like in Pittsburgh, where an entire block of booths were ravaged in the wind.  This photos was our booth in Delaware, Ohio where my brother and two nephews came to help out.  Incredible driving rain but the crowds kept coming in between the cloud bursts.

My good friend, Bill Woods, caught up with me in Atlanta, Georgia, and we traveled across country for the second year in a row.  This has been a great time for both of us to spend talking about our lives and seeing our country from a different perspective.

We stopped in Nashville, Tennessee the next morning and went to the American Artisan Festival in Centennial Park. I love going to different art shows around the country and see the different work that’s available.  It’s always amazing to see things available in the south that one doesn’t see in the northwest, or the work that I saw in Ohio but have never seen in California.  This is Bill with his friend Superman in Metropolis, Illinois on our stop from Nashville to St. Louis.

The next morning we went through to Gates Barbeque in Kansas City.  The Food Network once did a special on barbeque around the country and this place got rave reviews.  It was ok and I think that says it all.  We headed west and spent the evening just east of Denver; it was an evening of great thunder and lightning storms.
I did the Vancouver Recycled Arts Show during the last week of June and started getting ready for the July art show crush.

July through September

July is our busiest month each year.  There’s usually several trips to California, a show in Oregon, and our annual Bellevue Art Show to keep us focused.  Everything was pretty routine and then I caught the shuttle back to Florida and my lovely wife.

Mackie and I spent August enjoying the Florida sunshine and deciding our next steps for the remainder of 2011.  We decided to head back to our Vancouver home and spend the winter west, and this was my second trip driving across the United States in 2011.  Below is a photo after the drive that I took of Mackie with our kids, Sophie and Sherman, and our dear friend Judy next to our truck and camper in Lafayette, California.

The Love Art Gallery contacted us and started selling our work.  Ruby and family are wonderful people and have done an incredible job in marketing our creations.  This has got me looking at galleries in a whole new light.  Several groups have contacted us and we'll be adding some new galleries this spring in the Portland-to-Seattle metro areas; I'll keep our website posted with the new locations.

October through December

We did a number of events through year’s end, and we picked up two additional art galleries.  It’s been busy and I’ve been able to create a number of new works.  I’m looking forward to 2012 and the new opportunities that await us.  We have two shows already booked in February in Seattle and Portland, and we'll be working like crazy over the next six weeks.  We have a lot of new creations that we've been working on this winter, and January is going to be here and gone before we know it. 

Our show schedule is updated on our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com , and we’ll keep it updated and we hear from shows as we’re accepted into them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Whew! Christmas Shows are Done

I know. I know.  My wife always tells me that cakes are done and I complete everything else.  But, it's been a long year that started in Florida, went through Georgia to Ohio and Michigan.  Then to the west coast for shows in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Just when I think that I get a little bit of rest, I've got at least three applications for next year that are due to turn in in the next five weeks.  Oh, an artist's work is never done.

For the past three weeks, I've been in Purdy and Gig Harbor, Washington, and we just finished at the Salem Holiday Market in Salem, Oregon.  Here's a little about each of the shows.

Winterfest in Purdy, Washington
Purdy is about 15-20 minutes north of Tacoma, Washington across the Narrows bridge.  For the history buffs, this was the third longest suspension bridge until November 7, 1940 when a gale wind came along and started a chain reaction that started the bridge bucking like a bronk and ended up falling into Puget Sound.  Here's a great video of the event on Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zczJXSxnw

The show is held at Peninsula High School and the stuff does a great job putting this charity event on. Great organization, mostly high-quality work and a loyal following.

Tidefest in Gig Harbor, Washington
Gig Harbor is the first city across the narrows bridge coming from Tacoma.  It's a beautiful setting and man what a great show!  This one is organized better than any show that I've ever been to.  And, that's just the start.  They treat artists like kings and queens.  It starts with coffee, cookies, vegies, and such about every 20-30 minutes during the show.  And the Sunday morning breakfast was incredible.  Never have I felt so wanted at a show.  Yes it was a great show too.  Well attended by the community and they really support the arts!  Both  this and Winterfest have the added bonus that I get to stay at my sun's home in Tacoma and we get to enjoy some great times together.

Salem Saturday Market Holiday Show
Salem, Oregon is the state capital and the Saturday Market holds their annual holiday show at the Ameriplex building at the Oregon state fairgrounds.  The show is well organized and attended with brisk sales on Saturday.  Sunday was more for a day for Mackie and I to get out and find gifts for our crowd.  Salem is also great because it's only an hour south from our home which allows us to spend time at home.

Well now I'm off to start seriously thinking about 2012.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hearts Galore

Many of you have seen a number of different hearts over the past years.  Twisted steel, glass, bike gears, and other recycled steel parts were welded into wonderful sculptures.  I was fortunate to discover a haul of various colors of recycled metal shelving.  Green, red, blue, and orange all in about 10 foot lengths.  What a find!

There's going to be a number of significant changes with my work that you'll see at some of this year's shows.  Many shows will feature the same work that I love to do that many of you have been enjoying for what is now decades, and the fine art shows will feature work similar to the hearts below and other new work that I'll be featuring here over the next few months getting ready for 2012.

This first heart features a three inch side with alternating horizontal green and red slats.  It's approximately 16 inches tall by about 12 inches wide.

The second heart is similar to the one featured above with the metal running vertical.  I like this one a lot.

Number three is my version of what's hanging around inside our hearts.  It's also about three inches thick, and I've created a variety of plumbing interconnected with bicycle gears.  Now that is some pacemaker!  Note the stitching across the front, and it's also all around the outside where the heart front meets the heart's sidewalls.

This is the fourth and last one for tonight! It has some serious plumbing work, and I've added the metal at different levels throughout the heart. Imagine as if the heart's skin is pealed back to reveal its inner workings. 

A lot of things are changing this year with my work.  You can keep up to date by subscribing to my blog for the latest additions.  See you soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Video

I discovered a great stop action film program for my Android, and it's great for making short videos to add to my youtube site.  I've embedded the video that I shot this morning and edited down to about one and a half minutes.  Windows Live Movie Maker on my laptop was used to edit the movie.  It's amazing how easy everything was.

This is going to really speed up the video making and editing process and will allow me to get the latest greatest videos for everyone's enjoyment!  Please let me know what you think.  Joe

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Our Adopted Page on our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com/adopted.htm is really starting to fill up.  Thank you everyone for all the great photos that you're emailing in.  Here's the latest addition to our growing family.

Teri's New Friend

William Woods adopted this young lady for his daughter and is in her backyard in Salem, Oregon.  She's really brought new life into what is already an exciting vibrant yard.

 Dr. Dave's Stork

I've created a number of works for Dr. Dave over the past few year's with this fellow being the first.  He commissioned this piece for his office and his staff and clients just love it.  It really breaks the ice when new folks come in!  Currently, I'm working on a new office piece that is being created of medical instruments that he provided last summer to me.  Hmm.  Wonder what they could be???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Way Back Home

I get tired of driving towards the end of each year after the shows and it's so especially this year.  Two trips back and forth from Florida to Michigan; two trips driving from Florida to Washington; and numerous trips from Washington to California.  Part of the exciting life of being an artist.  Along with all the driving comes the fuel bills, vehicle maintenance, and the unexpected things that can happen on the road.  And, so it went with last Monday.

Around midnight I stopped in Willows, California to catch a few z's before completing my return trip home.  After a few hours, I woke and headed north excited to make it home sometime around noon.  I stopped at the McDonald's just outside of Shasta, California (I actually like their coffee) for a brief rest-over and headed back north.  The weather was starting to turn nasty as I turned north onto Interstate 5.  Everything was going great until about 20 minutes north of Grants Pass, Oregon when a guy pulled up beside me and started waving at me.

It seemed that I lost a wheel about a mile back and never felt a thing.  The other tire blew as the guy was signaling me that I had a challenge.  This is the look beside the tow truck after the driver and I got the trailer loaded.  A few words of advice.  AAA RV Plus.  These guys are terrific and this membership will get your vehicle and trailer towed up to 100 miles for no cost to you other than your annual membership fee.  This has saved my back a few times over the last 20 years.

We headed back south down the freeway towards Les Schwab tires where I had already given them a head's up that we'd be coming in.  It was close to noon when I arrived and about five o'clock when they had me back on the road.  And, it was around 10 PM when I returned home.

The moral of this story is to be prepared and keep a positive attitude.  This is such a small event in the grand scheme of life.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Morning in San Carlos

San Carlos is our last California show for 2011, and I'm sitting here at 6:00AM with a fresh Starbucks Americano (no run for cream please).  It's kind of like a strong black coffee ( and again, no run for cream please)!  I could write a whole blog post on the number of times I ordered black coffee, and the clerk, barista, whoever was behind the counter asked me that question.

San Carlos is a nice town just south of San Francisco right off highway 101 and slightly below California state highway 92.  This week the show is on Laurel Avenue and runs approximately five blocks south, and then there are two blocks at San Carlos Avenue which intersects Laurel.  It's another town that seems to buck national trends where the downtown section is mostly intact with businesses, and even a large vacant building has a sold sign on it.

The weather is picture perfect California - sunny and low to mid seventies yesterday, and it's supposed to be mostly the same today.  "What's that in my picture"?  Dang aeroplane pulling the Geico gecko sign.  Only at an art faire in California would one see this. 

Yesterday morning started off with a bang with my latest fish going to this fine gentleman.  No, not the good looking guy in the Hawaiian shirt (that's me), it's the happy guy on the right.  As I always tell everyone I wake up better than average, and I'm happy to go to bed in an even better mood.  It's contagious and people really are happy to be around you!

 The sun is still low and I'm going to do some reading for now.  There's still a number of shows to think about over the next few months, and we have to get serious about planning shows for next year.  People are always amazed when they discover the whole process and logistics we artists go about to do the shows.  Most are thankful and often comment that maybe their job isn't so bad.  It takes a certain person to do these  shows and be successful at them.  A lot of persistence and self motivation are the key, but I really believe that anyone can do this.  I've been approached several times to teach a course, but I'm always so busy that it's hard to fit it in my current schedule.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Changes - Think of the David Bowie song while reading this

The last day of summer 2011 was a few days back and it only took one day for the weather to change to the "normal" northwest fall.  Blustery winds, grey skies, and rain.  Oh the normalcy of it all!  It's good to be back in our Vancouver house and see how our yard has changed over the past few years.  It's amazing how quickly things grow.

This red maple in our front yard started out around three feet tall nine years ago and here it is today.

It's also good to be around some old friends.  Last Saturday, our neighbors Dave and Floreen Clark, had a mystery welcome home dinner at their house.  This is a role playing who-done-it murder mystery that includes dinner, mayhem, and wine...of course.  Bill and Jackie Woods, and Shane and Duane Yokum rounded out the group.

Of course there are more changes occurring in our family.  Our oldest son, Nathan, graduated from nursing school last December and accepted a position at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma, Washington (about two hours north of our Vancouver house).  Here Nathan is driving a UHAUL truck with his family's belongings to their new home in Tacoma.

I'm reminded that Changes are always around us and is an important constant in our lives.  Just like the weather, growing things, and the good people around us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One, Two, Three, and More Art Shows To Go

 It's been roughly a month since we've returned from Florida, and last Thursday night we headed south to California on one of our many art fair excursions.  We stopped just south of Medford, Oregon to spend the night before heading into the Lafayette area for our next show.  I woke up about five AM and rousted Mackie and the schnauzers from bed and off we headed down Interstate 5 in search of our next adventure.

We topped Siskiyou Summit and headed into California.  Yep, that's the thermometer inside our Dodge Pickup reading 39 degrees - I love the fall in the northwest.  Crisp mornings and warm afternoons.  It's tough to beat!  On we go to the California Inspection station.

"Do you have any fresh fruit or plants" asked the state attendant?

"No" I replied.

"What's in the trailer?" she asked.

"Artwork" I replied.

She looked back down to her book and said, "move along".

The California inspection station has always been a mystery to me for over 25 years.  They pay state employees to sit in booths at every entry point that I've ever been on to ask those same questions.  I've never seen them stop someone.

Mackie, my lovely wife next to the truck, our good friend Judy, along with Sophie and Sherman by our truck.  It's all about the parking at any art show, and us professionals are always trying to jockey our rigs around to the closest possible spot to our booth.  The shorter the distance the easier to set up and tear down.  A few days later we were able to move our truck up the street and turn it around during the evening. This probably saved us about 30 minutes during our tear down Sunday evening.

One of my new creations bogarted Mackie's coffee and wouldn't give it back.  The brand shall remain nameless, but the white cup with the green mermaid should give it away!

One more show down and a million more to go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fall Shows Are Starting to Fall Into Place

The Florida shop is cleaned out, most of our house work is completed, and we just got word that we were accepted into three fall shows. 

The shop looks great, the power is off, and we've been finishing up work on the house.  Painting completed - check; lawn cut short - check; trees trimmed - check; round up sprayed - check; bug spray complete - check; and on and on and on.

So, we decided not to put our house here on the market.  The more we started fixing it up, the more we started thinking that we didn't need to be in such a hurry to get rid of it.  Our plan is to head west for fall and winter shows, and then we're going to be coming back to Florida after December and do art shows in Florida with Mackie's clay work.  I'm really excited about this.  She has an incredible technique with clay that no one has seen in the southeast.

Today we were accepted into the Mountain View Art and Wine Festival and the Los Altos Art and Wine Festival, and we're waiting to hear on three others.  Additionally, Mackie has scheduled the Holiday Food and Gift Festival in Tacoma to display her pottery.  We're both really excited about the future and looking forward to seeing you at our upcoming shows!

Monday, August 8, 2011

What to Do When One Doesn't Have a Pad of Paper.

I ran across this photo in my phone today while I was looking at some photos I'd taken earlier today.  Sure, it's not quite as interesting as the shots of the 70 - year old guy that had "Death Rider" sequined into his shirt tonight at Boomer's restaurant tonight but the picture has merit anyway.

This was my interpretation of a tiki commission sculpture that I'm doing for some folks in the California bay area.  Funny that I never thought of myself as much of a drawing artist but looking at the photo I don't think that it's too bad.  It will be a few months before I'll get this guy created and then I'll post some photos of it to my Website.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shop Sale

Lots of Florida happenings!  Mackie's been working on the house with painting, and I've been working in the shop sorting metal for the scrap yard - I can't even begin to tell you how it pains me to get rid of metal!  We worked together on a successful shop sale today getting rid of some unwanted tools and lots of art that we didn't have room for.

Here's three free form tables that I built last year that went in this morning's sale.  We ran several ads on Craigslist yesterday, and we were swamped when we opened at 10:00AM.  That's the first time that we had used Craigslist to advertise anything and wow, what a response!  We had over 100 people in that first hour and that did it for the sale! 

Here's a Jet bandsaw that's been sitting in the shop for about three years; it's one of those tools that I thought was going to save time and it never panned out.  My chop saw really cuts time and is ultimately safer to use. 

Mackie and I started working on the guest bathroom tonight.  She's pulling off the top layer of wallpaper while I'm focusing on the glue layer underneath.  It's great being together and working on projects.  Looks like we'll be here for a few weeks working on getting the house ready for the market.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moving the shop from Florida to Oregon

What a challenge to move artwork, metal, and tools 3,500 miles across country.  That's not a mis-print!  Florida has been interesting but the time for us to completely relocate back to the west coast is here.  Moving is the bad news, but the good news is that we'll be west in a few weeks.

Show news flash!  Looks like we'll have a number of California shows scheduled in September.  We'll be posting an update to our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com as soon as we get confirmation.  But things are looking good for Mountain View, Lafayette, Los Altos, and Beverly Hills. Nice.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tai Chi

Walking out of my shop last week, one of the other artists in my collective had lined up some of my work and was talking photos of my day's work.  I started laughing at my friends and it keeps me in line of why I do the things I do.  I'm the luckiest guy in the world.  I'm allowed to create art that people enjoy and makes them smile and laugh in the morning.  With so many choices in this world, I'm fortunate that so many people enjoy our work and want to be around us.
I'm in Bellevue this weekend and then taking the next month off to finish moving things from Florida back to our home in Vancouver, and then we'll be getting for our fall shows.  I'll have our website updated at http://www.cliftonmetalworks.com/ later in August, but right now, it appears that we'll be in the Mountain View, Lafayette, and Los Altos, California areas in September and towards the upper California Bay area in October. 
If you're going to be in the Portland, Oregon area, go visit the Love Art Gallery at 8036 SE 13th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.  Here's thier website http://www.loveartgallery.com/  We'll have new creations that we'll be featuring there begining August 3rd, 2011. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Boy and His Roots

This week I'm at the Connoisseures' Marketplace in downtown Menlo Park, California.  Menlo Park is about 10 miles or so north of San Jose and highway 101 (also known as the Bayshore Freeway here), and south of San Francisco by about 30-something miles.  The downtown core has somehow survived the overgrowth that has taken over a number of smaller communities in this area.  There's a quaintness that makes me feel good whenever I'm in and around one of these smaller towns.  It reminds me of spending time with my Grandfather in neighboring Sunnyvale before progress leveled all but one block of the Sunnyvale downtown core.

I've done a number of shows around this area but this is the first time that I've driven around this area since I was around 9 or 10 years old.  It's amazing the things that I remember and how I know how to get to so many places from 40 years long since past.  What do I remember...

I spent a lot of time at my grandparents home on East McKinley.  They adored me (very true) and much of my younger years were spent in their living room on one of those rope-style woven rugs.  It's the kind that was made from soft cotton and always seemed to be oval in shape and perfect for a young boy to lay on in front of the black and white television.  I recall my Grandmother making me oatmeal for breakfast and occasionally getting a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it; this is one of those weird sounding treats that is not to be knocked until it's tried.  Grandpa Joe worked as a janitor at Westinghouse and always brought me a treat each day at his shift's end; usually, it was a small bag of Planter's Peanuts or something along that line.

Saturday night I tracked down and had dinner at Vesuvio Pizzaria in Santa Clara.  I have no idea how I can remember this place from 43 years back, but the place is celebrating its 50th anniversary and it's still there!  Congratulations to them.  The place was much the way I recall.  Walking into the door and straight ahead is where I place my order; a quick glance onto the wall to see the menu and I order the spaghetti with meat sauce that I remember eating.  I take my number and walk over to the bar and order a "barley pop".  Walking over to my seat, they call my number before I even have a chance to find one.  Hey, I like quick service.

I just into my plate and ahh.  Old noodles briefly brought up to room temperature.  The bread was good.  I'm thinking that you have the picture here.

On to my next adventure.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

At the Show in Royal Oak, Michigan

It struck me Saturday morning as I was driving the final hour into Royal Oak, Michigan that it was only about 10 miles from downtown Detroit.  Unfortunately, I had a slight queasy moment in my stomach thinking what am I doing here.  Detroit is known for a mass exodus of people that has been going on for years, and the stark contrast of the city against the skyline wasn't doing my thoughts of this place any favors.

Signs of decay are littered around Interstate 75 as it winds through the central core, and the broken homes and dreams that line the interstate are harsh reminders of a city that was once a jewel of this mid-western city.  But, there is a strange beauty in this stark reminder of a city that once mass produced most of the automobiles used around the world and set the foundation of how we live in this country.

There are several magnificent churches standing tall amongst the broken homes and bombed-out looking building along my path.  Few lights can be seen from the freeway, and it appears that most of these structures are abandoned. 

As I round through the city and leave Wayne County and enter Oakland county the change is almost instantaneous.  The Interstate is missing the constant thumping sound that started when I hit the Detroit city limits and trash is missing from alongside the road (there's a terrible amount of paper trash all along through Detroit).  Instantly, I consciously think that I'm going to like this place.  I turn west onto Interstate 696 west and head to the first exit to turn into Royal Oak. Right at my turn is Cariobou Coffee on South Main street...Ah, life can now continue!

I stop for some Java and head the two blocks west to the art show and my booth space.  It's right on the corner of East Fourth and Washington streets.  The neighborhood has obviously been going through improvements over a number of years and most of the storefronts have operating businesses in them.  Even at 6:30AM there are other people other than us artists walking around.  Everyone is amazingly friendly and happy - I wonder what they put into the water around here? 

The policeman has me back right up to my booth to unload...Am I in Kansas I think to myself (somewhere I have to reference The Wizard of Oz in all this).  Then I head down to the show to check in.  They give me two special passes because I have a dual wheel truck and trailer which allows me to park about 10 feet from my booth instead of the three blocks they have reserved for the other artists - it pays to have one one ton dual wheel truck with a 16 foot long trailer!

10:00 AM rolls on and people start milling in to the show.  There's a glass blowing exhibit across the way, and my other neighbor is creates really cool sculptures from a high fire stoneware.  He creates these small dragons that are hatching from eggs, giraffes, and has one cool cowboy on a horse (www.ericevanssculpture.com), and he's a great neighbor.  The show had consistent sales until we closed at 7:00PM and then I headed out for some dinner.

BD's Mongolian grill was around the corner and I settled in for a few beers and some grub.  I like these type of restaurants.  I can get fresh chicken and vegetables cooked to order and relax for awhile.  It's a great way to wind down the day.  I'm heading off to the motel to crash, and the streets are packed with people.  Restaurants are full and I can barely walk across the street from all the traffic.  This is obviously the place to be on Friday night.  However, I needed sleep and not entertainment.

I of course headed to Caribou Coffee for my morning fix and get my thoughts written.  In about another hour there's an artist award's breakfast, and we'll see if I'm one of the lucky ones or just get fed.  I'll be happy either way.

This is my last mid-west show and then I'm back to Florida tonight.  Thursday, I'm heading to Vancouver, Washington, but I have an insane amount of work to get completed before I head west.  It's going to be a busy summer.

Friday, June 3, 2011

On the Road in Cleveland, Tennessee

This week I'm on the road back for shows in Ohio and Michigan, and I'm thinking about my exciting life as a traveling artist.

It's a few minutes after 7 AM and I've been driving for just over an hour this morning.  I pulled over and stopped in Cleveland, Tennessee for a few minutes of rest and breakfast at McDonald's - nothing but the finest for us!  Cleveland is a few minutes north of Chattanooga on Interstate 75 in a beautiful hilly wooded setting.  Unfortunately, that will be the extent of what I can share with you because I've got to get back on the road.  It's typical of what I know about so many cities that I visit as I criss-cross America. 

This trip is about a 1,000 mile drive from our Florida home and time is a consideration for this time of year.  It's show time and many people depend on me to get there dreams created, and I love to see happy people.  There are times where I'd really love to be able to print something out and display it, but I don't believe that it would cut it with many of you.

Driving and working with the road are part of the challenges in getting to the next show.  Last night, a truck through a tire some ways in front of me, and as I saved the truck from catching the tire, the passenger side trailer fender was not so lucky.  The tire smacked the fender and dropped in front of the trailer tire which in turn whipped it upwards and under the fender.  Next, the fender ripped off save for two bolts and shorted out the trailer lights.  Hmm.  About 30 minutes before dark and what to do.  Hey, I'm an artist.

I dug out the tool chest, we keep it right by the trailer side door, and took off the fender.  The fuse was blown under the truck hood, and there wasn't any 20 amp mini fuses left.  Fortunately, I was about an hour south of Atlanta and there are plenty of truck stops looking forward to selling me what I needed.  All together I was only down about 30 minutes and back on the road heading north of Atlanta - I like to get north to miss the morning traffic through the city.

It was about 11:45 when I rolled into the first rest stop north of Atlanta for a few hours rest.  I set my clock for 6 AM just in case I dozed too long, but my body clock woke me about 5:30 and here I am.  A few more sips of coffee, drop off my tray, and hit the road. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scrap Yards and Other Such Novelties

Here's the answer to a question that I hear at every show. “Do you just find the stuff that you work with on the road?” I go into the explanation but I find that a photo is really worth a thousand words. Here's some photos of a tractor graveyard that my brother tracked down in Ohio. 

What's trash to some is creative opportunity around every corner.  Tractors, plows, discs, gears, bearings, and bolts - oh my!  This is an incredible treasure trove of antique and modern farm equipment.  Fortunately for me, much of it is perfect for sculptures.

 I had my brother packing parts all over the place; hey I bought him a drink at the local Subway.  It's amazing how they've sprung up all over rural America. 

More great stuff! We filled up the back of my Dodge pick up, and I'm back in Florida cutting, grinding, and welding these parts into new sculptures that I'll have at the next three shows: the Troy Strawberry Festival in Troy, Ohio; the Glass, Clay, and Metal show in Royal Oak, Michigan; and the Recycled Arts Festival in Vancouver, Washington.

See you soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Delaware, Ohio Fine Arts Festival

It was a fun-filled weekend during my first Ohio art show and fortunately it turned out well.  My brother and one of my nephews rodied for me, but the weather was nasty. 

Delaware is about 15 miles north of Columbus and is one of those Ohio towns like so many others that I've ran across over the many times I've visited here - except with life.  There are numerous brick buildings from days gone by in need of love and repair.  They line the main highways and main street with windows lined with shadows.  There are no lights with window shades long gone, and no one seems to know these buildings or even towns still exist.

Delaware is different in that the local folks have put time and energy into rebuilding their downtown.  Many buildings have some professional businesses, and there are some retail spaces too.  There's a large volunteer force that's working hard to bring new life to the downtown area including sponsoring the town's annual art and craft show, and what a great job they do in putting on this event. 

The art is good to very good without any buy and sell!  Now that's one incredible accomplishment in itself, but they are also great at bringing in a knowledgeable art buying crowd in spite. of the challenging weather.  Freezing cold and it rained like cats and dogs - horizontally with the wind howling.  The place emptied out like fast, but folks did venture out after the downpour, but it kept coming back and back.  Sunday was much the same weather without the wind this time, but the sun started shining when they brought me an award ribbon for my art along with a check.  It's great to be recognized four times this past year for my work.  It's been a long road and a long time coming, and  it's going to continue for another lifetime. 

I'll be in East Lansing, Michigan at Michigan State University this weekend at their annual art and craft show.  Stop by and say hi if you're in the area.  Check out our show schedule on our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com.  The links are on the left.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Planning for Shows

Some artists want the world to acknowledge their great work; some artists just dream about displaying their work somewhere and maybe sell a few pieces; and their are some of us that are serious not only about making great art, but are willing to put the time in to sell it.  Our challenge is to find the best venues so that we may share our vision with those that are willing to make an investment for us so we can continue down our journey.

Planning for shows seems to be a daily chore.  It's funny when people ask me a shows, "do you just show up for this and sell what you have"?  I explain the process and most are pretty stunned at our process of paying money to apply, and get rejected by many, and then pay more money to exhibit.  I can see the delusions of grandeur disappear the more information that I share with them.  "It's all about the lifestyle", I explain to them. It's easy to understand why they have such a hard time with it.

Being an artist may be one of the last professions that allows one to be truly free with endless opportunities available to all depending on how hare one wants to work.  Be smart and work hard and the rewards are there. Pay attention to what people will spend their hard earned money on, and how much they will spend on it. Being an artist is as much about psychology as it is about making art.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Work, Work, Work

Logistics, logistics, logistics.  This is shaping up to be one of our busiest summers ever, at least the most traveled.  As you've seen in the earlier post, we'll be traveling in Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, and California through August.  Lots of miles :)  Then it's back to Florida to get ready for the next round.  This fall you'll find us in Washington, Utah, Colorado, and ending in Arizona before heading back to Florida.

The picture above is new work based on refrigerant tanks.  These pink and green tanks hold chemicals that are used in air conditioning systems and are strewn all around Florida.  I pick them up on a daily basis and they've served as the base for new animal planters,  pink pigs, and the chicken that you see in the above photo.  I'm blessed that recycled materials choose me to work with.  They offer endless opportunities to come up with incredible ideas.  Who knows what will turn up at shows this summer!

Please check the show schedule often as changes will be posting fast. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I have no idea when I started saying this, but it's the one word that describes my life and my work ethic.  No matter what I've done, I've given it my all and succeeded.  And, so it goes with art.  This is my life and I could imagine doing anything else.  It's an incredible feeling when someone walks into our booth and smiles.  Even better when they purchase a piece because, they'll be able to enjoy it every day for the rest of their lives.  And, they'll be able to pass it down to their children for them to enjoy.

North and south and then east and west, Mackie and I travel the country to bring our love for our work to share with art lovers across the country. Our upcoming show schedule for this summer is listed below.  Mackie and I look forward to visiting with you and sharing our work.  Stop by and say Hi.

May 14 and 15, 2011 Delaware Art and Craft Show Delaware, Ohio
May 21 and 22, 2011 Michigan State University Spring Art and Craft Show East Lansing, Michigan
June 4 and 5, 2011 Strawberry Festival Troy, Ohio
June 11 and 12, 2011 Clay, Glass, and Metal Show Royal Oak, Michigan
June 25 and 26, 2011 Vancouver Recycled Art Show Vancouver, Washington
July 9 and 10, 2011 Los Altos Art and Wine Festival Los Altos, California
July 16 and 17, 2011 Connoisseur's Marketplace Menlo Park, California
July 29 through 31, 2011 6th Street Art Festival Bellevue, Washington
August 6 through 10, 2011 Temtative - Amish Acres Napanee, Indiana
September 2 through 5, 2011 Tentative - Arts, Beats, and Eats Royal Oak, Michigan
September 9, 10, and 11, 2011 Tentative - Black Swamp Arts Festival Thornton, Ohio

Friday, April 15, 2011

On the Road Again! Port Orange, Florida

This week I'm off to Port Orange, Florida to exhibit in their annual Artfest.  Last year, it was the funnest shows that I attended in Florida, so I decided to give it another go.  It still sucks traveling without Mackie, but we've got to do what we've got to do.

I've set up at the Super 8 motel in Daytona Beach and what a treat that is.  I've stayed in some real flea bags over the years, and this one certainly rivals with some doozies.  Where shall I start :)???

It started with the door.  The electronic keys wouldn't work.  Turns out that they don't use them here but instead use a real key.  That really through the new desk clerk as the lobby was full of people that couldn't get into their room. 

Next is the room itself.  I decided to leave my socks on and I ran to Walmart and bought some pajamas.  Now I can honestly say that I have not had on a pair of pajamas in years, but this motel made a believer out of me.  The best part about this stay is that I have Netflix playing on another screen on my laptop.  Technology has sure made traveling a little easier on us artistic road warriors. 

As you can see by the above self portrait, I even keep a positive attitude no matter where I might be staying at the time! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rockstar or Artist. Hmm.

When I was in my early 20's,  having a few beers with my friend Randy Cox, and singing to Eddie Money, I knew that I wanted to be a rock star or an artist.  Randy told me that I didn't have any hope of being either, so I became a lineman.  Heck with peer pressure, beer and rock music makes the artist come out in all of us.  It's amazing to be blessed with so many good things and friends in life and enjoying this journey with my great family and good friends!  The above picture is of me driving in the early morning across New Mexico.  Below is a shot of my good friend Bill Woods taking a much needed nap along the road.  I believe that this was somewhere driving from New Orleans to Santa Fe.  We started that day in Daphne, Alabama and had a brief stop in New Orleans for breakfast, and then drove straight through to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Oh, the glamorous life of an artist!

As we move into 2011 I'm thankful for a number of things.  My family and I are healthy, we're all eating, and we're all pursuing our dreams in a fashion that suits us for this moment in time.  I'm grateful once again to be able to make my living as an artist, and I'm getting ready really hit the show road!  Once again, my good friend Bill Woods is joining me for a traveling east to west again.  But before that trip, I'll be doing a number of shows in Georgia, Ohio, and Michigan before heading west around June 16th.  Visit our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com and click on the show schedule link to see where we're going to be.

See you soon,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

I just walked in the door from the Englewood Fine Art Show in lovely downtown Englewood, Florida.  The weather was great and I came home with more money than I left with, so that's always a good way to end the show!  Also, it's around 30 minutes from home so I get to sleep in my own bed.  Another bonus.

The crowd was heavy on Saturday but sales were so so.  Actually, they were terrible, but as part of my new Florida revamp, I was committed to continue with my new madness.  This deserves some explanation.  Over the past year, I've been failing miserably in this market.  I was so used to being successful on the west coast, I just assumed that I would do the same here.  Can you say a big NO!  Anyway, I'm only going with the higher end work and leaving my normal slamming line home.  The results have been better but not great.  I've been able to make money at every show; it may not be a lot, but it is making money.  Nice.

 The local rotary club puts this event on and they do a great job.  They are organized, provide free beer and snacks on Saturday night, and bring in a decent crowd.  They estimated 5K on Saturday and I believe they were correct, and I'd say that there were probably around 3K today.  I believe they also spoke to the weather gods because we had a blue skies and around 85 degrees both days. It's why we're in Florida.

It's shaping up to be a very busy year for us.  We have another four shows in Florida in April, and then it's time to head north.  Our website is up to date, and we'll be adding a number of shows as we hear back from them.  See you in Florida or on the road!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Workin For A Livin'

Life is never boring for the us artist folks, especially those of us that do one-of-a-kind work.  It's either creating new work or even a new line, completing a commission from the gallery, reading endless articles to try and find that next great art show, maintenance on the truck or trailer, or doing some work around our house.  Truth is that I have a great life and I'm the luckiest guy in the world!

It's been slamming this winter at our gallery in Florida, and I'm getting ready for this summer's shows.  Looks like we'll be doing a lot in the upper midwest.  Check our website at www.cliftonmetalworks.com and click on the link for the show schedule.  Everything is current and there are a number of tentative dates and will be for the next few months while we wait to here back from shows and their decision on who gets in.

Back to the work.  Mackie and I have our gallery in Punta Gorda, Florida, and tourist season in full swing in southern Florida.  And, I'm doing an average of two art shows a month.  Eash.  Who the heck set this schedule?  If I find that person I'll...Ok lets go on.  You get the general idea.  The point is that you can be successful with your craft.  It's no quick rich scheme, but you can live comfortably if you're willing to put forth the effort.  Keep positive, get yourself around positive and creative people, and network.  Check out www.artfairinsiders.com for some great folks and good information.

The moral of today's story is to keep creating art and doing what you love!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Show Schedule

Woo Hoo!  We're starting to look at a full summer!  So let's talk about it.

Good news today.  We got into both the Crocker Park Art Show in Westlake, Ohio, and the Clay, Glass, and Metal Show in Royal Oak, Michigan.  Both shows are on June 11 and 12, 2011.  Looks like Mackie will be in one place and I'll be in the other.  They are both great shows and we're fortunate to get into both of them.http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=5287328090413027986

Crocker Park (a Cleveland, Ohio suburb) is managed by the Michigan Guild and their website is at www.theguild.org/artfairs.html .  These are the folks that put on one of the fine Ann Arbor Art Shows in July.  Some of the finest artists in America exhibit at their shows. 

The Royal Oak Clay, Glass, and Art Show (www.royaloakchamber.com/clay_glass.htm) is another great show that features artists focused on just those three mediums.  The show is in Royal Oak, Michigan near Detroit.  Again, competition is pretty high for this event and I'm looking forward to being their.  Here's some examples of the quality here.  www.royaloakchamber.com/PDFs/2010 CGM Atists.pdf

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Palm Trees

Living in Florida has advantages and disadvantages depending on one's point of view.  Earlier today, I worked in the shop and then headed off to a neighbor's home to dig up a free palm tree.  This was a Sago Palm that was about five feet tall and really nice. Free is a really good price but there's always a cost.  If not money then back pain.

John, one of my other neighbors, has lived here for 20 some years and thought that we could get it down in about an hour.  About three hours later we got the little fella out of the ground at Donna's house and into the ground at our house.  If it wasn't dark, I would have taken a photo.  But it's priceless!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Moo Cow!

Lots of folks started calling this week for some custom work.  I took an order for the cow below, a large Jobot that's going to Maryland, a three foot long dragonfly sculpture for a local family, and I'm meeting a new friend to plan out building two Jobot lamps.  "I didn't know you make lamps", you say.  Heck, I can make anything.  All I need is some inspiration. 

I'll start posting some additional pictures and update the website in the next few days. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Giving Back - Mentoring to High School Students

This is the one day that I don't get to go to the shop but instead donate my time to a group of high school students that are building a robot to enter the First Robotics Competion www.usfirst.org .  The organization was founded by Dean Kamen, the guy who invented the Segway, to get kids excited about math, science, and engineering. 

My role involves being a cheer leader and providing advice on construction, engineering, and Jack-of-all-trades know all that I've been able to store over the past half century.  The kids bring enthusiasm and the knuckle twisting skills to build these things. 

The group is doing pretty good, but we're having some trouble with the TI Jaguar controller.  Yeah.  Too much for too many of the artists in us.  But if someone has some experience with these, just drop me a line.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's the Begining of a New Year - Sort of - OR - Looking for Art Shows

Like many folks, I always have the idea that I'm going to share more information and write more every year, and as always, something gets in the way and I'll miss a day or six months. There are so many things pulling at us that it's tough to break old habits and start new ones. In my case, I always seem to question what to write about because somedays the shop appears to be routine, but hey, I'm thinking that people would like to hear more about my daily doings, because that's part of the magic of creating art, searching for shows, and in general just getting things done.

Many people have read about me creating art, or seen some videos while working in the shop, or visited Mackie and I at one of the many shows we do each year. But what does it take to even get to the shows? Good question.

Searching for The Gold
It's one thing to create art, but it's a whole other challenge in not becoming the greatest collector of your own work.  I didn't come up with that but I love it.  I recall when a store owner mentioned to me around 1995 when I was at a show displaying Mackie's pottery.

Searching for shows takes up almost as much time as creating, loading the vehicle, and actually doing the show.  It's not like I load up the truck and trailer, show up, and say, "here I am, where do I set up".  It takes finding as much information about the show, applying for it, paying a jury fee, and hopefully hearing something positive back.  Then it's sending them some more money and so on.

I mentioned the fees.  They've really gone up over past few years.  The average jury fee we pay is around $30.  That doesn't guarantee us a spot - only the chance to be considered.  Each year, we donate about $500 in jury fees for shows we don't get into.  The average booth is running about $350 for a 10' x 10' space.

 More Logistics
Now that we got into the show, what else could there be.  On yeah.  There's materials in both the recycled metals we use and consumables.  Each show at least a dozen people ask me, don't you just drive around and find things by the road.  Hmm.  Try doing 28-30 shows a year and driving around to look for things.  Fortunately, I have my wife that reminds me how uncommon "common sense" is.  I figure that about 20% of my selling price is tied up in materials and consumables.  Consumables are things like welding gloves, welding gases, welding wire, you get the picture.  I go through one pair of gloves a week at $10 per pair.  That's $520 per year in just gloves!

How about travel costs?  We drive a one ton dual wheel truck and pull a trailer.  Fortunately, we get around 11 miles per gallon.  That's real good for a rig this size and hauling all the steel we do.  I'm going to round this to 10 miles per gallon to make the math easy on me.  If we drive 300 miles to do a show, that's six hundred miles round trip, we'll use about 60 gallons of diesel.  I'm anticipating spending about $4 per gallon this summer.  That comes out to $240 for fuel for that show.  How about some place to stay.  Let's say we're gone for two nights and lucky enough to find a room that runs $50 for a total of another $100.

Now we'll add it all up.  Booth fee and jury fee come to $380, fuel is $240, and room is $100 for a grand total of $720 to do an average show.  That means we need to make about $1,000 to break even.

That's my post for day one.  Tomorrow, I'm heading to Mariner High School in Cape Coral where I'm mentoring some high school students on building a robot for the First Robotics competition.  More on this later.