Western Design Conference...What A Ride!

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 09-16-2007 06:56 PM 3265 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My head is still spinning. Just getting to the show has been a trial. This was my third try to get past the jury process. I’ve heard about how hard it is just to get accepted into the show. So in my innocence I figured I’d go all out and bring everything. That meant getting a booth. Hauling everything up there. Setting it all up. A good bit of time and money involved.
Part of getting ready was getting all new tires on my “good” truck, a 96 GMC with just about 100,000 miles. It made it two hours down the road before the radiator blew and I had to turn around and nurse it home. This all happened on labor day so everyone is closed. I ended up hooking my trailer up to my other truck. The 95 Ford with 180,000 miles, old motor, bad transmission, horrible brakes, bald tires, broken window. Did I say you smell gas if you drive it too slow. Half way there we stop and I find a nail in the tire. A little further down the road at a gas station I come out to find a large green pile of fluid under the radiator! I’d just over filled the reservoir …thank God!
Tuesday was set up day. I had to get proof we had a Lumberjock in attendance.

Wednesday the judges did their thing. That evening we had a reception for the artist at the National Museum Of Wildlife Art. I started out building picture frames for my wildlife art so this was just up my cup of tea.
The next three days the show was open to the public. My juried pieces set out in front of my booth. I’d never even done a local show so I didn’t know how people would respond.

It was real hard to not just walk around in awe of the great work! Wow it was amazing. What a great place to be a “mediocre” craftsman.
Thursday night they had a fashion show. Drug kicking and screaming…well I knew my wife wanted to go so I graciously accompanied her. I guess I was expecting that urban dress up anorexic girls in weird Halloween rejects and call it high art type show. This old construction worker loved it. Girls in cowboy hats and leather are hard to beat!
The artisans I met and the inspiration of the collective creativity made it all worth the effort. I don’t know if I have a single sale. Bad business decision…maybe. You will see the effect of the show in my work. If this show doesnt improve my level of art I’ll be shocked.
Monday back installing cabinets just sucked. My heart just wanted to start a “real” woodworking project. I’m thinking a small box…

20 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#1 posted 09-16-2007 07:24 PM

Dennis Glad to have you back. Good luck on your next commissions.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4136 days

#2 posted 09-16-2007 07:26 PM

Dennis -

First off congratulations! WOW, what a great experiene. Very cool to see phoos of our work and booth. I am sure this will effect your work and I am excited to see what is in the future. Thanks so much for sharing your exoerience.


View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

656 posts in 4130 days

#3 posted 09-16-2007 10:53 PM


I will have to say you jumped in with both feet for the first time. Your adventure sure sounds like my first carving show I participated in, you’re just not sure what to expect right from the get go. Your pieces look GREAT set up in your booth. Good luck in the future.

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4083 days

#4 posted 09-16-2007 10:54 PM

I’ve been waiting to hear how you made out. Congrats on getting there….sounds like a trial by fire.

I can’t believe it will be a bad business decision. It had to be very inspiring. Maybe your next piece needs a carving of girls in cowboy boots…:)

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4018 days

#5 posted 09-16-2007 11:12 PM

No one that tries that hard will ever be denied.
Best of luck to you whatever you choose.
The world needs more folks like you.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4050 days

#6 posted 09-17-2007 12:26 AM

Those are awesome pieces to put it simply. You’d never know if you didn’t go. Great job!

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4066 days

#7 posted 09-17-2007 06:06 AM

Glad you made it there!!!Just give it time on the sales end I just now finalized a large order from a customer I met at that show three years ago.You just never know when they will call.Your booth looked good .Any other pictures from the show?

-- Scott NM,

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 3985 days

#8 posted 09-17-2007 06:47 AM

It sounds like you travel like I do… never a dull moment. I hope you enjoyed your trip and it looks like you put a great foot forward. It takes time and who knows you may end up busier than you want. Good luck!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4157 days

#9 posted 09-17-2007 12:54 PM

Congratulations!!!—on going; on taking the opportunity; on all that it has inspired you to do/become…
what a wonderful experience!

(cool shirt. Made me smile).

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3959 days

#10 posted 09-17-2007 01:30 PM


I thought I posted this yesterday. You deserve congratulations for getting in and getting there. Whether it was profitable or not , you did it! The experience alone is worth a lot. I wanted to come over for a day but the boss told me I was too busy and we needed the money for something else. I was there in my thoughts. It will make a great memory and wll look great on your website. Well done, my friend.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4243 days

#11 posted 09-17-2007 08:41 PM

Dennis, what guts it takes to put it all out there like you’ve done. But your wood art is worthy so you should be proud, it’s as good as any I’ve ever seen. Great experience for you though, glad you made it there and back safely. Beautiful things you made. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4122 days

#12 posted 09-18-2007 02:46 AM

Way cool Dennis-looking forward to seeing how your work changes – thanks for the blog! (wish I coulda been there)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4311 days

#13 posted 09-18-2007 05:13 AM

Thanks everyone! To add to the story you will now find me riding around in a red 2005 F-150…So that pushes the show over the $25,000.00 budget. Now I will have to raise my prices.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4157 days

#14 posted 09-18-2007 09:03 PM

you know what they say, if you want to BE rich you have to ACT rich :)

Let’s see a picture of your new tool (the truck)

And… did you meet any LJ’s at the show??

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4270 days

#15 posted 09-18-2007 09:23 PM


I would like to add my congratulations on you getting into and too the show. I would call you a “mediocre” craftsman. Far from it….. The proof is your booth at the Western Design Conference…. You should be very proud of yourself, just like all of us Lumberjocks are of you…... GREAT WORK AND A GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

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