Shipping: Decoding another Mystery of the Fine Craft Tradeshow Circuit

by Lisa Call on February 7, 2013

in News

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
What Can Brown Do For You?

Getting it There

Last week I shared my decision around the construction of my booth for the upcoming American Craft Council Fine Craft Show. That was the first overwhelming question I had to answer to get ready for the show.

The second, and even more daunting, question I had to answer was “how am I going to get all of this stuff to Baltimore”.

Driving was immediately eliminated from my options because I simply don’t want to drive 1663 miles from Denver to Baltimore in the middle of winter.

Not to mention that logistically this was not an option. I don’t have enough vacation time from the day job for 6 days of travel on top of the 5 days for the show and 2 days for the setup.

And those big propanel walls I bought? There isn’t a chance they will fit into my little car or that this precious vintage 1996 Honda Accord is interested in such an excursion.

Yeah – not happening.

Ship It

So this left me with shipping. One would think this is easy. You put things in boxes – you send it to the convention center – it magically gets to your booth and then when you are done you ship it back to yourself.

Haha. I wish.

Not so easy. You can’t just UPS your stuff in and out of the show. Nope – they’ve got an advance warehouse and drayage charges (paying them money to carry your stuff to your square of concrete) and unions and rules about minimum weights. Shipping directly to the show is possible but only a crazy person would try it because UPS would have to wait in line and UPS doesn’t really wait in line.

The form with all this information hurt my head.

So I made phone calls, wrote emails and deciphered it all.

Eventually it seemed manageable – I UPS my stuff to the advance warehouse – for a fee, they get it to my booth. All is good.

But getting it back home – not so easy.

The show is over sunday evening. UPS isn’t going to come driving by Sunday evening to pick up my stuff. Nor is the company in charge of all the boxes during the show going to UPS it back to me monday morning.

My flight leaves Baltimore at 7am monday so I will be back at work late morning the day after the show is over. There is no time for me to deal with shipping logistics.

So what are my choices to get my stuff home?

I could ship it with their very own freight company at a rate that gave me a headache.


Art in Motion

Days of trying to sort this out went by when fortunately someone on facebook tipped me off to Art in Motion. They get your stuff from their warehouse in Vermont to your booth and then UPS it back to you when it is over. They deal with the hassle.

Yes there is a fee and it isn’t cheap but the fee for art in motion + the return shipping through UPS is about the same rate quoted to me by the official freight company that is the only option if I ship direct from the show.  So it was an obvious choice – work with real people and skip the headaches.

So in what seems like a rather counter intuitive move (Vermont isn’t exactly on the Route from Denver to Baltimore) – this weekend I packed up all the things needed for my booth into 11 big boxes. On tuesday UPS picked it up and shipped it to Vermont where it will then be loaded onto another truck and head down to Baltimore.

I’ve got a great UPS story for you next but first I need to see how the story ends so I’ll save my experience with them for later.


For today I’ll close with some photos of the stuff I packed up for the booth.

I haven’t had time to get to yoga or go for a bike ride in a while, but that’s okay as I’ve been wrestling with all this junk – 500 pounds of stuff in 11 big boxes. Who needs a gym?

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Yes of course the cats helped with this part also.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Artwork for the booth not quite ready to go. I was testing out how to hang it on the walls (solution? T-Pins).

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Stack of more artwork ready to be packed.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Cat testing out cute positions to lure people into my booth.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Oh yes – lights – I didn’t mention lights yet. Another expensive investment for a booth.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Especially when you buy 18 of them.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Almost all packed into boxes.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Waiting for UPS.

Packing up a booth and shipping it to the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Hurray – I can have my studio back!

PS – American Craft Council show details are here.

Retail days – please come say hello in booth 1207!

Friday, Feb. 22: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 23: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 24: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Baltimore Convention Center is at One West Pratt Street in Baltimore, Maryland.


Candy from Candied Fabrics February 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm

You are one brave, tenacious woman! Kudos to your stick-to-it-ivness! :-)

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:43 am

Candy – :):) it’s actually pretty fun learning how all of this works. It’s a very steep learning curve!


liza myers February 8, 2013 at 12:45 am

OMG! So complicated! I drove from VT to Scottsdale AZ to do a show a few years ago. Hauling a trailer full of paintings. I like your system much better than ours.
And you work looks GORGEOUS on the pro-panel walls.
I’d say break a leg but that phrase has a new meaning to me since I did exactly that last fall.

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:43 am


I heard about your broken leg – that is a bummer!! I hope you have healed and are back running around!

Thank you thank you :):)


paula February 8, 2013 at 5:15 am

dear god in heaven. i’m serious. this is INSANE. i hope this pays off for you in every way imaginable. when i use you as a yardstick i am so small. so very very small.

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:45 am


thank you – right now I have one goal “prove to myself I can do this”. Next year, I’ll worry about making money from it! So much to learn.

And you my dear are not small. You are one brave amazing artist living off of your creative talents!


paula February 8, 2013 at 5:15 am

ps your work looks FANTASTIC!!!!

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:45 am

:) thanks.

Daniel Sroka February 8, 2013 at 5:41 am

Wow, what a crazy endeavor! This is why I have only done shows that are driving distance so far, and where I can fit all my art and supplies in my little Subaru. Maybe one day I’ll venture further afield….

P.s. those lights look awesome. Where’d you get them?

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:52 am


Yes – this is one of those things that I didn’t actually think through when I signed up to do it. Because had it, I’m pretty sure I would have never tried. But it is just work like everything else – you figure it out, you do it and in this case you also pay a lot of money :)


These are the lights MR16 Halogen Flexible Display Light. They also make them with longer arms that I would have bought instead but they were another $26 each and I was beginning to think my credit card would sink so I went with these smaller ones. They seem like they will be just fine.

Angeline Marie February 8, 2013 at 6:32 am

Oh, my gosh.

Now I hold you to even higher esteem.

As you may remember, I understand about the day job thing.

Next time someone asks me why I don’t do the art circuit, I’ll simply point them to your blog, lol….

Still. GREAT JOB and GOOD GOING and SUPER AWESOME that you are doing this! (Yes, you can read a little envy, too…lol).

Let me concentrate on Be-Do-Have…my online stuff…and more importantly making art
-Angeline Marie

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm


I’ve always loved your writing. This definitely put a smile on my face. The art circuit is definitely not for those that don’t like lifting a lot of stuff :)

thank you thank you!

Now back to your be-do-having!


Catherine Whall Smith February 8, 2013 at 7:29 am

Lisa, Thanks for sharing – you are truly a dedicated artist and professional. May all good things happen at your show!!!!

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Thanks you Catherine! I’m getting pretty excited about it!


Gail Baar February 8, 2013 at 7:47 am

Lisa, your artwork looks wonderful on those walls! But what a lot of work. Last year I did the One of a Kind Show in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart, which looks to be the same type of thing. But they already have walls set up-you can choose wall colors, and they have lights too-of course only the union guys can touch them. All you have to do is worry about what is in your booth. It is quite expensive, however, and I felt I needed to do more to figure out what would sell to recover the cost of the show. There are over 600 artists, and a lot of people come to the 4 day show.

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm


The lack of walls had me stuck for a long time. I was thinking “how the heck am I going to hang my art?” – I think I thought that for about 2 months before taking action.

And yes – the cost to be in this show is pretty remarkable. It can certainly be done for less than what it is costing me – but it’s still not a cheap endeavor. The booth alone was something like $2000.

But I’m looking forward to it and learning all that I can. Currently my only goal is to prove to myself I can really pull this off.


Deidre February 8, 2013 at 8:13 am

The logistics of this boggles the mind. I would have been in tears trying to figure it out. Major kudos to you, and wishes for much success at the show.

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm


Thank you.


PS I suspect tears might have been involved a few times here also…

glennis February 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

i saw on FB that you were doing this show- i hadn’t realized it was your first big show. welcome to my world(30 + years of doing shows of this nature). there are some tricks that can help minimize costs. if you decide to continue and would like to explore them with me next time, let me know.
hope the weather holds for the show-shipping to VT at the moment looks a little dicey. there might be delays due to weather. I am not too familiar with your work but if it is soft goods (ie-you can fold and or pack them in a suitcase) you might consider keeping them with you in luggage in case…at least you will have the work if the booth itself is delayed. but perhaps you have already shipped them or you have allowed for this. Good luck!

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for the info Glennis,

I had a mentor from ACC and she was hugely helpful for understanding general ground rules the wholesale side of things but she had never ships so didn’t have much advice there.

There is some leeway built into my shipping timeline so if it’s a few days late to VT – I’ll still be fine – given it is winter that seemed like a good plan :)

My art doesn’t fold and much of it is mounted on canvas so it is bulky (just not breakable or heavy)- I will indeed bring some with me but it’s not cheaper on the plane ($50 per suitcase) and nor is it any safer (I’m sure everyone has an airline luggage nightmare story). Basically it feels like all options I had involved rolling the dice.

I’d love to talk with you about shipping ideas and how to make it cheaper. UPS hundredweight shipping is actually pretty darn reasonable and I have an awesome sales rep that helps me out – so I’ve found the UPS side of things pretty reasonable but if there is another alternative I’d love to chat with you about it sometime – thank you!


Morna Crites-Moore February 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Your booth will look fabulous – your quilts are gorgeous – the colorways are magnificent – and you are going to have to make so much money before you start making a profit, it boggles my mind! :-) If anyone can do it, I’m pretty sure YOU CAN!

Morna xo

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm


You are so awesomely kind – I really appreciate your positive vibes!!



Susan Walen February 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I’m overwhelmed just READING about this adventure, but you sure have done a great job of describing and photographing your process.
I can’t believe you do this AND have a day job AND a cat AND a LOVE and your ONLINE CLASSES. Bravo!
I hope to get to the Baltimore show, and I’m going to find you, if I do.

Lisa Call February 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm


yeah – I am a bit crazy sometimes. And yes yes – definitely stop by – booth 1207. Love to have a chat!


Maggie February 10, 2013 at 3:15 am

Lisa,Your booth looks fabulous! The good people of Baltimore are in for such a treat. I saw your work at the Color Improvisations exhibition in London last year and it was stunning. Meeting some of the artists really enhanced the experience, good luck and enjoy!

Lisa Call February 11, 2013 at 10:40 am

Thank you Maggie. I sure hope to see that Color Improvisations show some day. I was one of few who didn’t make it to Germany for the opening.


Kathleen Probst February 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm

What an adventure you have gotten yourself into. Your colors really pop on those grey walls. I think you picked a great set up.

I am curious about how you package a large textile painting for a buyer. Do you wrap it on a swim noodle and then cover it with something? Or just hand it over and let them deal?

Best of luck!

Lisa Call February 11, 2013 at 10:42 am

Thanks Kathleen – I was worried the gray would look dark but I’m quite happy with them and glad I didn’t go with the oatmeal looking ones.

I have made cloth bags for the large textile paintings and will wrap them on foam. And when I say made what I mean is “that is on my list :)”


Lisa Flowers Ross February 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I hope it is all worth it in the end.

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:24 am

Lisa – thanks! I am sure it will be because I’m loving learning a new thing!


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