The Really Stressful Week – aka – Shipping Art

by Lisa Call on February 12, 2013

in News

Abstract Contemporary Textile Painting / Art Quilt - Portals #6 ©2013 Lisa Call
Portals #6
©2013 Lisa Call
12 x 12 inches
Fabric, paint, thread batting
Mounted on Stretched Canvas
Available in booth 1207 at the American Craft Council Baltimore show Feb 22-24, 2013

The Plan

In my last post about the Baltimore Craft Council show I wrote about shipping.

That was post was misnamed. It was really about getting ready to ship.

The shipping part came after UPS came to my home and picked up all of my boxes. And that is where the promised “really great UPS story” begins.

I shipped all the stuff for my booth vis UPS – lots of art, booth walls, tools, business cards, step ladder, etc etc in 11 big boxes weighing nearly 500 pounds.

Regular UPS ground shipping charges for all of this would be pretty cost prohibitive – but the folks at UPS agreed to give me a hundredweight contract without requiring that I switch my account to a daily pickup account (the usual requirement allowing one to ship with hundredweight rates).

What is hundredweight? Essentially I pay a flat fee for each 100 pounds of stuff. So the total charge for all of my boxes is a bit less than $300. Pretty reasonable. Combined with my choice to use Art in Motion (read about that in the previous post) I was pretty sure that I’d solved the shipping dilemma with a stress free solution.


The Reality is Not So Pretty

Due to some miscommunication from UPS and my naive “this is so cool it will all work out” attitude – my boxes entered the UPS system with no tracking labels.

Which, to give an analogy, is somewhat like throwing them off the golden gate bridge and hoping they will arrive safely. Essentially if you don’t have a tracking number, you don’t exist.

I was first alerted to this situation the morning after shipping when UPS called me to say “we have a box here and no idea what to do with it”. Great.

Or maybe not so great.

After many phone calls we managed to determine that they had rounded up 6 of my 11 boxes and had them on trucks, with tracking labels, headed towards VT and they were scheduled to be delivered on time.

Noone had any idea where the other 5 boxes might be but the guess was they were on the truck and that probably that truck was headed to Chicago. Where the boxes would be rejected and sent back to me.

There wasn’t much to do but sit and wait.

Which as you might well imagine, was pretty hard to do. I’ve just invested HUGE sums of money into this show and now I had a lot of artwork floating around untracked, not to mention my booth walls and all the stuff would need to set things up.

Did I just waste thousands of dollars?

Dealing with Uncertainty

I tried my best to not think about it and to just proceed as normal. I knew eventually the boxes would be found and I had to trust it would all work out one way or another.

I have to admit that some days I was more successful than others in dealing with this. I was able to catch up with my teaching tasks, make new art for the booth, do more preparation for the wholesale show, etc.

Other days I am sure I was unpleasant to be around. Yesterday being the worst of those days. Being a pair of loud and happy teenagers in my house yesterday didn’t work out well.

I thought for sure I’d hear something by monday, 6 days after the boxes were picked up, but no. All I knew for sure is that 3 of my boxes were in Massachusetts. The rest: a big unknown. Not even the folks at UPS could track down no more information.

Things felt bleak.

The Miracle

By some amazing fantastic alignment of the planets, this morning all 11 of my boxes arrived safely at Art in Motion. Everything was there. Not a single box unaccounted for.

Woohoo – the show will go on!!!

I received this news first from UPS, in a personal email from an employee here in Denver, minutes after all the boxes were delivered. Within the hour it was confirmed by the folks in Vermont.

While I say miracle, it wasn’t all miracle, some intervention and hard work and mostly just caring by the folks at UPS made this happen.

Once they discovered the 1 unlabeled box, they were able to track down 5 more based on the delivery address. They put tracking labels on these boxes and then a few employees here in Denver worked overtime hunting through the warehouse for the missing boxes. They really went above and beyond trying to find the boxes.

They also called ahead to the distribution center in Vermont and let them know that it was possible the boxes would show up there and if they did that they should label them and deliver them, which is what happened.

The miracle was the snow storm – I suspect they were so busy at the distribution in Massachusetts catching up from the delays resulting from the most resent storm that they just passed the boxes along without looking to scan them so they never noticed the missing tracking labels.

I put great big huge address labels on these boxes and that was all that was needed to get them there.

Lesson learned from this: everything I ship through UPS or Fedex will have a great big huge address label that can’t be missed.

And a tracking label – which is really a “well no, duh” sort of comment.

In retrospect I do wonder what the heck I was thinking. But it ended well – so hurray.

The Final Lesson

One thing I didn’t do the past week is tell people about the shipping mishap. I wanted to keep things as light as possible so I could sleep at night. I didn’t want to talk about it and I didn’t want to hear other people’s shipping dramas.

Sometimes we think we should share everything since it is so easy to do so now on facebook. But really, we don’t need to.

Instead I posted the following on facebook:

Here is my request today – please envision my booth set up as planned in Baltimore at the end of the month. The shipping and UPS gods all need to be aligned for this to work and you get to help by thinking about how lovely that booth is going to look :):)

I got lovely supportive comments in return.

And that was way more helpful than churning drama.



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.


Deidre February 13, 2013 at 5:14 am

OK, so that’s it then. When things are going too smoothly, you have a certain sense of foreboding that something simply has to go wrong. So there was your trauma, and it all ended up well. The stars are now aligned for everything to be smooth sailing from here on out. Much success!

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:18 am


Most excellent point. Glad the stress is over and everything will be awesomely easy from here on out!



pam morris February 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

I think your booth will be fantastic and now you have reason for that big smile plastered across your face to greet all the people stopping by.
I think people really like to connect with the artist so maybe put a little pic of you and the kids, or the cats or some such, near your money box.Or Colorado, whatever.
Great luck to you!

Pam in Sw Fl

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:19 am


You are most welcome and I love your idea of adding a few personal photos to my booth! Thank you for that!


Stella Belikiewicz February 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

I really appreciate your approach to how (and what) to share during a moment of trouble. I love that you actually came up with something that was far better than either spilling all the details or saying nothing. It is always nice to have an example of the way that considering how we present ourselves on social media (beyond simply what we choose to share) can have a massive impact on how we feel about life.

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:21 am


Thanks! It isn’t always easy because we get so caught up in our drama and I’m not always so clear about it. But it definitely felt good to try a more positive approach to the situation.


Barbara J Carter February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Wow Lisa, what a stressful time that must have been. Kudos to you for handling it so well. And let’s hear it for UPS for coming through! So professional, all around.

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:22 am

Thank Barbara,

I have to say UPS totally rocked. As did the folks at Art in Motion. I have no doubt had I been shipping directly to the show the folks would not have wanted to send me emails to confirm the arrival of my packages.

It’s good to have that drama behind me :)


patty February 14, 2013 at 6:36 am

I am so glad to hear all the boxes were found and delivered. I use UPS all the time at work because you can track them. I am suprised when the driver picked up the boxes that they didn’t put a tracking number on them then. Gosh, those UPS people scan everything! Let’s hope the rest of this great adventure goes a bit smoother!

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:23 am


Yeah – the driver was supposed to put on the tracking labels – or at least that is what I was told. But something got messed up in the translation somewhere.

And I’m with you – this adventure needs to go smoother from here on out!


Carol Trice February 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm


I don’t know if you thought about it this way. I checked out the fiber category and MOST of the vendors are recurring. So, they must be successful or why return another year!

Yes, eat lots of crab cakes. There are really good ones and also some pretty lousy ones (too much breading). I went to college in a suburb north of the city and my family still lives near the ocean.

Have fun and loads of success!


Lisa Call April 7, 2013 at 8:37 am


Very good point about the recurring vendors. As I am doing my posts on reviews of the show I’ll mention this!


PS – the crabcakes were definitely a highlight!

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