One of the artists buys leather jackets from thrift stores and "upscales" them into leather wallets.
Q&A with Branches founder Marian Cutler
What is Branches?
Our show is an annual weekend event where we invite local artists and artisans, both novice and professional, to sell their stuff along with a blend of vintage items that my business partner and I have gathered throughout the year. Our focus is to help develop new talent, people who are doing high-quality work, but don't have the time or ability to quit their day jobs, either as moms, students or professionals. We have a heavy focus on quality and originality. We want people to say, "I've never seen that before." We also encourage our artists to use old things in a new way, to "upcycle" if possible. My business partner Sharon Salazar, of Fairfax Station, and I both like to refinish old furniture in way that makes it more current and appealing, as well as finding new purposes for things like old frames or coaster boxes. These get turned into items like shadowboxes and bud vases.
Branches: The Barn Sale without a Barn
This year's "upscale tag sale," as barn sales are called, will be held Friday, Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 6209 Garden Road in Springfield.
For more information about artist Marian Cutler (who goes by the professional name of CM Shaw), check out her website at http://www.cmshaw..., check Facebook for Branches or CM Shaw, or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did Branches start?
A year ago, I read an article about this new phenomenon called "Barn Sales." These various groups of women in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia would put all this beautiful antique and vintage furniture for sale in differently-styled vignettes. The kicker was that these vignettes were set up in different stalls of a barn. Each had a different look: Victorian here, retro there, Hollywood regency there, farmhouse chic there, with antiques throughout. As I watched all these people waiting in line eagerly to buy all these vintage and antique and "freshened" goodies, two things occurred to me. 1. The art I was making at the time would look amazing in this venue. 2. Between me and Sharon, we knew where to find or how to make almost everything in the show. On the way home I looked at her and said, "Sharon, let's have a barn sale this fall." and she said, "Where are we going to find a barn in Burke?" And we just decided we didn't need a barn. Hence the tag "Branches: the Barn Sale Without a Barn."
What do you enjoy most about the barn sales?
First of all, the show itself is a blast! Talking with people and explaining all the neat details of the cool stuff we are selling is a total rush. There is this happy escapist energy that comes with the environment. We try really hard to stage things in a way that will help people leave their troubles behind. So just for those minutes they are at the show, they are in a fantasy world. That's also why we have the event catered. We think everyone needs a little treat now and again.
It is so cool to look at my younger or less experienced artists' faces when they get their paycheck and they realize that people just paid for something they made.
How is this different than a craft show?
First of all, all the artist products are mixed together, as opposed to being sold by a vendor. This helps us to create a more boutique-like environment. Plus we try really hard to find cool, unique ways to display things. Another difference is the variety of products. We offer vintage stuff, antiques, original art and hand-made items all under the same roof. There is one payment location for everything, so you can just do it all in one shot, rather than having to schlep stuff from vendor to vendor. Plus it's in a house. And we give you cupcakes. Really good cupcakes.
What can people expect to see in your show this year?
We have 21 different artists participating this time. There is an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist and artist coming to sell paints and waxes and give advice on how to use them. There are several different jewelers, with stock at various price points, all of it handmade. There will be handmade wooden signs, original stained glass pieces, burlap wreaths, fabric teddy bears, painted furniture, vintage home decor, a few pieces of architectural salvage like old windows, fused glass paintings, Christmas ornaments and original water colors. One of our artists buys leather jackets at thrift shops and upcycles them into purses and wallets. Another does lace painting on serving pieces like cheese trays and goblets. We have artists ranging from nine years old to 70 years old, all of them different and excited about the show.
What is the price range for the items?
The prices are all over the place. I think the cheapest thing is $3. I think the most expensive will be around $500. Lots and lots of variety.