Tag Archives: selling jewelry

Antonito

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One year I went to the tiny (population 781) town of Antonito, Colorado for Labor Day weekend. The town was hosting a free music festival in the park and for a ridiculously small fee, I was able to sell my wares all weekend.

I arrived in town early Saturday morning and found the festival organizer among a group of men setting up the stage. The organizer showed me where I could put my tables. I unloaded the tables, my hemp jewelry, my shiny rocks. I arranged everything nicely on the tables and waited for the crowds of music fans to arrive.

The first band took the stage. A few of their friends stood around to listen. The next band took the stage. Fans from Santa Fe had made the drive to the festival, including the grandmother of one of the band members. At no point during the weekend were there more than a dozen people in the audience for any musician. I quickly understood why the vending fee was so low.

A family set up a table perpendicular to mine. They sold water and sodas cold from an ice chest and homemade burritos wrapped in foil. Otherwise, I was the only vendor at the festival.

I made a little bit of money, despite the lack of attendance. Mostly I sold shiny rocks to people living nowhere near a rock shop. I sold a few necklaces after I offered people great deals, and I sold some bracelets too. I suppose I paid for my gas to get out there and the breakfast I ate at a restaurant on Sunday morning.

One of Antonito’s claims to fame is being the childhood home of Indiana Jones from the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. Of course, Indiana Jones is a fictional character, so he never had a childhood, but in one of the movies, a young Indy is shown in front of a house. That house stands in Antonito, CO. I didn’t care enough to find it.

My favorite part of my two days in Antonito was Saturday morning’s Labor Day parade on the town’s main drag. The number of observers of the parade was slightly larger than that of the music festival. There weren’t any floats in a New Orleans sense, but some people stood in the back of slow-moving pickup trucks and waved to their neighbors. Someone from the Forest Service had dressed in a Smokey Bear costume and stood waving from the back of a government truck.

I stood on the sidewalk and watched the parade go by. It was pretty short. The whole thing passed in under ten minutes. But wait! There’s more, or at least the same thing all over again. When the parade got to its endpoint, all the vehicles turned around and came back down the main drag from the opposite direction. I guess when a parade’s that short, once isn’t enough.

I took this photo of Smokey the Bear,

Mean Lady

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When Mr. Carolina and I left Milton and his community, we really didn’t have anywhere to go. Mt. Shasta had been the light at the end of our tunnel of plans. Since neither of us wanted to spend a cold winter in Northern California, we knew we had to hit the road and head south.

After bidding adieu to friends old and new, our first order of business was to get some fuel in the van’s tank. The few dollars worth of gasoline Milton had put in two days before was nearly gone from the driving from the camping spot to the church with the community dinner, back to the camping spot, back to the church for the clothing giveaway, and to the camping spot again.

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I made these hemp bracelets with malachite stones. These are not the bracelets I was trying to sell in Mt. Shasta. These bracelets are no longer available because they have all been sold.

Since Mt. Shasta is a woo-woo little hippy town with shops selling crystals and new-age books and jewelry, I thought I might be able to sell some of the hemp bracelets with healing stones that I’d made. I decided to walk from store to store on the town’s short main drag of local businesses and try to make some money for us.

I went into several stores. Nobody was buying. Oh, the people in the shops liked my bracelets, but they all had reasons they couldn’t buy: the busy tourist seasons was over; the person authorized to buy wasn’t in; my jewelry didn’t fit with the other inventory in a particular store. Everyone was really nice, but I was getting discouraged.

I hadn’t given up, though, and I walked into yet another shop selling shiny rocks and angel figurines and books on spirituality. An older woman, plump with long grey hair, was sitting at a desk at the back of the store. I walked up to her and explained I wanted to sell bracelets I’d made so I could buy gas for my van and get out of town. I told her the bracelets were made from hemp and showed her that each one sported a healing stone. I told her the name of the stone on each bracelet and showed her how the slip knot clasps on the bracelets worked. She wasn’t super encouraging and didn’t even smile at me as I went through my spiel, but when I paused for breath, she asked how much I wanted for the bracelets, which was farther than I’d gotten with any of the other shopkeepers.

I explained I usually sold the bracelets for $4 each or three for $10, but since I really needed gas money, I’d sell them to her for $2 each. I felt a little sad to sell the bracelets off so cheaply, but I wanted to contribute to our getting out of town. Besides, I had more hemp and drilled stones, so I could make more bracelets.

The store owner’s attitude wasn’t making me feel any better. She acted as if she didn’t really like my bracelets much at all. She acted as if she were doing me a huge favor by taking the bracelets off my hands. In a way, she was doing me a favor, but I knew she was going to sell the fruits of my labor at a profit.

The shopkeeper picked out sixteen bracelets she wanted to buy. I was ecstatic! She asked me if she could write me a check. I explained again that I needed the money to put gas in the van, told her that I wasn’t from Mt. Shasta and didn’t have a bank account, so I really needed cash. She acted entirely put out, but rounded up $32 in paper currency for me.

I was feeling really good. Not only had I earned enough money to get us out of town, I’d found someone who liked my work enough to pay me for it and sell it in her shop. I was all smiles when I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of my business cards. (Yes, it’s true, I was living dirty and broke in my van, but I had business cards to hand out.) I want to give you this, I said to the woman as I thrust the card at her.

I don’t want that, she all but sneered at me. It’s not like I’m going to order anything from you.

My bubble was burst. It was all I could do not to cry as I took my money and left the shop.

I tried to sell the remaining bracelets at a few more stores, but no one was buying. We used some of my earnings to buy a fast food lunch and put the rest in the gas tank before we headed on out of town.

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I made these bracelets from hemp. The stones are turquoise. These are not the bracelets I tried to sell in Mt. Shasta. These bracelets are no longer available because they have all been sold.

 

I took all of the photos in this post.

Bead Angel

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I was homeless, living in a picnic pavilion at a busy tourist area. (Read about how I got there here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/11/hummingbird/.)

I started earning a little money by making sage sticks to sell to tourists. To my surprise, people actually bought them. I took the money I earned and bought a couple of balls of hemp, some glass beads, a pair of scissors, and a tape measure. I made bracelets and necklaces from the hemp and beads, and to my surprise, people bought the jewelry too. In fact, I sold so many bracelets, I ran out of supplies to make more.

I hitchhiked into town early one morning. I walked through town to Stuff-Mart to get glass beads. The store was out of the jumbo pack of the beads with large holes that I wanted. Grrr! I found a smaller pack of beads with large holes, and while I wasn’t crazy about them, I decided they would do. I brought them up to the cash register. The cashier scanned them, and the register gave her some sort of message. She told me the beads had been recalled, and she couldn’t sell them to me.

I was furious and worried. I needed those beads. My livelihood literally depended on those beads.

I stalked out of Stuff-Mart and stomped down to the nearby thrift store, thinking maybe I’d find something there I could use. When I walked in, the women working there noticed my backpack and asked if I were a traveler. I said I was (which was close enough to what was going on with me) and then told them the saga of my day. I told them I sold jewelry to tourists at the Bridge and needed beads that Stuff-Mart didn’t have. I was the only customer in the store, and the ladies listened sympathetically to me.

One of the women said she had a bunch of beads her daughter-in-law had left behind when she moved out. She said she wasn’t going to use them, so she’d give them to me.

What an angel! What a miracle!

Several days later the Jewelry Lady picked up a big plastic container from the Bead Angel. At the Jewelry Lady’s casita, we sorted through the contents. In addition to glass and metal beads, we found many beautiful stones. There were large aventurine and turquoise teardrops, bars of snowflake obsidian for making bracelets, and an absolutely gorgeous piece of rainbow obsidian.

It was such a wonderful gift. Those nice stone beads helped me make necklaces for which I could ask higher prices. I was incredibly grateful

Hard Times on the Highway

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I was back to selling jewelry on the side of the highway at a small arts and crafts market near a large natural tourist attraction. I’d missed the summer crowd, and this bunch of mostly old, mostly stuffy visitors was not my target audience. Most of these folks had no personality; the ones who did have a personality, well, their personality type was “asshole”.

One morning a man strolled up to my table. I saw him looking at the rocks, so I said to him (as I say to almost everyone who looks at my rocks), Let me know if you have any questions about my shiny rocks. Usually people chuckle or say thank you, but this guy said (in a snotty tone of voice), I have a rock business myself. I don’t know if he meant, Don’t try to hustle me because I know about rocks and their prices or if he was trying to tell me he wasn’t going to buy rocks because he already had a bunch, but he came across as a real jerk.

I just said (coldly), That’s nice. 

Then he picked up a piece of skeletal quartz and demanded, Where did you get this? 

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This is the piece of skeletal quartz the jerk man picked up. It may be difficult to see in this photos, but there are three clear quartz points that formed around a chunk of quartz.

I said sweetly, From my rock guy, even though I knew he wanted to know where on the earth the rock was originally found.

No. he said. Where did it come from?

I don’t know, I said (because I didn’t, although since then I’ve been told it came from Colorado).

By that point I was 97% sure the man was not going to buy anything from me, and I was 100% sure I didn’t want him to have that beautiful piece of quartz. If he had asked the price, I would have said $50, even though I usually ask $20 for it. I didn’t want him to have it , but I’d want $50 more than I’d want to keep the stone from him.

On another morning, two women and a man stopped at my table. The man was admiring the winter hats I’d made. He asked one of the women if she wanted one.

When have you ever known me to wear a hat? she snapped at him.

She stalked off, but the man and the other woman stayed at my table. The man asked the price of the hats, and I told him they were only $10.

Where are y’all from? I asked them. Due to his accent and the first woman’s attitude, I wasn’t surprised when he said Chicago.

I commented on how cold it gets in Chicago and said the lady must be really tough if she never wears a hat during a Chicago winter.

She’s tough as nails, the man said.

He asked me if men wear my hats. I said yes and told him about the man who’d bought one the day before.

He liked the hat my styrofoam model was wearing, so I told him he was welcome to try it on.

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The man from Chicago liked the hat the model is wearing.

He pulled it on while I got the mirror.

I told him the hat looked really good on him. I wasn’t only trying to make a sale; the hat did look really good on him. He said he wanted it so he could keep his ears warm while walking his dog this winter.

With the hat on his head, he called to the woman who’d walked away and was now three tables down the line of vendors, How do I look?

She replied immediately, after barely looking at him, Stupid!

Wow! I said. Is that your wife?

Yes, he said. We’ve been married 30 years.

Wow! I said again. “Y’all must really love each other.

He called out to his wife again. Should I get this hat?

She looked totally disgusted and said, You’re the one who’d have to wear it.

He didn’t buy the hat.

I thanked him for his admiration of my work, and he said, We haven’t left yet. He said if his wife bought something, he’s be back, tit for tat, but I didn’t see him again.

A few days later, a young man and woman stopped at my table. The woman was wearing a pink hoodie with “Vinton, Louisiana” printed on the chest. Since I have family in that area, I asked her if she was from Vinton, Louisiana. She said no, she wasn’t from there. But there’s a pit there, she said. She turned around and there was a rooster screen printed on the back of the hoodie.

Cockfighting, you mean? I asked her.

Yeh, she said. My dad made his way down there…

Whenever they asked me the price of something, I added a few dollars–let’s call it a cruelty to animals tax–but they didn’t buy anything. It wasn’t until after they walked away that I realized I should have said, That’s barbaric, as soon as she confirmed we were talking about cock fighting.

The most annoying jerk was a young guy. He was clean-cut and looked totally straight, but the young woman he was with had long dreadlocks. It was the end of the day, and I had all of my rocks and most of my jewelry packed up.

They expressed interest in my highest priced necklaces.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

These are the necklaces the couple was interested in.

I told them the pendants on the necklaces were made by a young local artist who charges $45 for them; I offered to let them have an entire necklace for $40.

The young guy said, They don’t charge that much at the expensive stores in town.

I replied (in a calm, neutral tone of voice), I don’t know where you’ve been shopping, but I know this guy charges $45 for his pendants.

The woman liked the lepidolite necklace, so I gave her the spiel.

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This is the lepidolite necklace the woman liked. In real life, the stone is a deeper purple. Please forgive my overexposed photo.

That’s lepidolite. It’s a local stone, mined in this county. It contains lithium, so it’s good for lifting depression and stabilizing mood, and it helps with insomnia.

The young man kind of snorted and said, I’ve never heard of it before, as if I were lying to them about a stone so they would buy it.

Sure, there are people who would lie about a stone to get someone to buy it, and the guy had no way of knowing that I’m not one of those unscrupulous people. But this guy was acting as if because he’d never heard of lepidolite, it couldn’t possibly exist. I hear about new rocks all the time. I never think a stone can’t be real just because I’ve never heard of it.

The couple wandered off, and I continued packing.

Soon they were back, and the woman was looking at the necklace with the ledpidolite pendant again. I hadn’t made much money that day, and one more sale before I left would have been nice, so I told her she could have it for $30. The man was standing next to her, and he asked, Would you take $20?

I flatly replied, No.

It was cold and windy, and the man left to get his coat.

I told the woman, For $30, you’re getting all my work for free and $15 off the pendant.

The woman also looked at a short necklace with a pendant made with a local amazonite. I’d done the pendant’s simple wrap and was asking only $15 for the necklace. I told her the price and said the rock had been found locally.

The man walked back up to the table, and the woman showed him the necklace with the amazonite pendant.

That looks like just a rock, he said,

That’s because it is a rock, you idiot, is what I wanted to say, but instead I said, It’s a natural stone. It hasn’t been polished.

The man told the woman she should only get it if it were the best necklace she’d ever seen and she was totally excited about it. She put down the necklace, and they were off again.

I finished packing quickly, hoping they’d come back wanting the $15 necklace so I could tell them they were too late and had missed their chance. If they’d wanted the lepidolite necklace for $30? Well, I guess I would have unpacked that one.

(I took all the photos in this post)

To read more about customers, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/05/we-feel-for-your-situation/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/10/red-letter-day-2/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/26/turtle-ass/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/17/how-much-are-these/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/ or here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/14/mean-daddy/

Turtle Ass

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I acquired four or five turtle pendants in repayment of a loan. As soon as I put one on a hemp necklace, it would go out on my table and sell for $20. No turtle necklace sat on my table for more than three days.

One day the newest turtle necklace was sitting on my table. A man came up to the table. He was alone. No buddies. No lady friend. All by himself.

I gave him my hemp jewelry spiel. I told him all of the pieces were handmade from hemp, handmade by me. I told him all my pieces open and close completely. I told him the starting price of necklaces was $10.

He was interested in the turtle necklace. I told him the price was $20. He asked what I had for $10. I pointed to the $10 pieces. He didn’t like any of those. He said he’d give me $15 for the turtle necklace. I told him no. Usually I’ll take less for a piece, but I knew I could sell the turtle necklace for twenty bucks.

He said he’d take the turtle necklace for $20. WIN!

He wanted to wear the necklace right away, and asked me to fasten it around his neck. I did. I fasten a lot of necklaces around a lot of customers’ necks.

Before he left, he turned his back to me and said, Look at this! I looked over, and he had pulled the back waistband of his shorts down and over so I could see his turtle tattoo. The tattoo was on the upper part of his ass. I didn’t see any crack, but the man definitely showed me his ass.

I guess it was worth it to put $20 in my pocket.

This is not the turtle necklace I sold to the man who showed me his ass. The turtle is not even made of the same material as the one in the story. This turtle necklace is for illustration purposes only. It may or may not be available for purchase when you read this.

This is not the turtle necklace I sold to the man who showed me his ass. The turtle is not even made of the same material as the one in the story. This turtle necklace is for illustration purposes only. It may or may not be available for purchase when you read this.

NeoTribal The Gathering Part 2

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Photo I took in the Healing Garden.

Photo I took in the Healing Garden.

Even before my tent was totally set up the way I wanted it, people were stopping by to chat and to buy things. Before the day was over, I’d paid my vending fee, plus a tiny profit. It’s nice to make enough to cover the vending fee on the first day of a multi-day event so I can quit worrying about my expenses and just bask in the profits.

I took this photo of my vending setup at NeoTribal The Gathering. I put up the curtain walls to block the sun, but they also gave me a tiny bit of privacy at night.

I took this photo of my vending setup at NeoTribal The Gathering. I put up the curtain walls to block the sun, but they also gave me a tiny bit of privacy when I slept in the tent at night.

I quit trying to sell as soon as the sun set. I don’t have a generator, and there were no electrical outlets nearby, so even if I had brought electric lights, I couldn’t have used them. I didn’t try make any sales by the light of my two small lanterns.By the time I closed up the tent and had some dinner (which consisted of mashed potatoes so I wouldn’t lose my crown which was held in with temporary adhesive), I was too tired to think about partying.

I wasn’t sure about where to sleep. I knew I’d probably be more physically comfortable in the van, but I wasn’t 100% confident that my merchandise would be safe if I left it alone. I decided to sleep in my vending tent, so I schlepped over Nolagirl’s plastic tarp and one of my layers of memory foam, my pillow, my sheet, and my new Ikea blanket. I folded the tarp in two, laid it on the ground, then put my memory foam on top. Such comfort!

I didn’t even have to go anywhere to hear music. I was situated between two stages, so I spent the night in the middle of a perpetual electronic dance music mashup. Both my body and mind were tired, and I slipped into something of a trance state between sleep and wakefulness. It was sort of like being high without any of the problems of being on drugs.

I can’t say I slept well. Sleeping on the ground would have been more comfortable with two layers of memory foam between it and me. I was a little bit too warm too. At some point after the music stopped, I woke up to some guy yelling. I don’t remember what nonsense he was shouting, but I sighed and rolled over, thinking what a relief it was to be unaffiliated with the man losing his shit and screaming in the darkness. Later, the wind picked up and the side curtains repeatedly blew in my face. I worried about the stability of the pop up, but it held up fine. All ended well, and I got a few more hours of sleep.

Saturday was much of the same, although I (thankfully) didn’t have to haul, unpack, and set up all of my merchandise again. Being able to stay set up was such a blessing.

I took this photo of my rock table at NeoTribal The Gathering.

My rock table at NeoTribal The Gathering.

No way were there 500 people at the event. I think an estimate of 200 would be a generous exaggeration of the actual head count. I did well for the number of people who passed by my booth (and most people who passed by did stop and take a look at least once), but I did not do as well as I expect I would have done with a crowd of 500. Actually, it’s probably a good thing 500 people didn’t attend the festival. I don’t know if the four flush toilets (two in the women’s restroom and–I presume– two in the men’s), plus the five portable toilets could have comfortablly accommodated 500 people.

I think because I was in my tent with curtains closed by 8pm on both nights, I didn’t see much drug use. A couple of ladies came into my tent early on Saturday afternoon, and they were acting just a little strangely, and I wondered if they were high.They might have been just a little socially awkward. On Friday night, I heard some guys right outside my tent talking about “molly,” and I don’t think they were discussing a female friend.

However, a woman I’d gotten friendly with over the weekend told me early on Sunday morning that she’d been woken up in the wee hours of the morning by a couple she was confident was high on ecstasy fucking (her word) right outside of her tent. She said their heads were hitting the side of her tent. She said another ecstasy couple was also fucking (her word again) very close to her tent. The ridiculousness of the whole situation was that there was so much open space nearby but not close to any tents where these couples could have gone and not bothered anyone.

On Sunday afternoon, a fellow did ask me if I traded for “herbal medicine.” I told him no, I don’t use it.  Then I felt I had to explain that although I don’t use it, I don’t think it’s wrong, but in fact I don’t use it, and no one in my immediate vicinity uses it, so I really have no desire to trade for it. He seemed to understand, even though my explanation felt really clumsy to me.

The one other time I knew drugs were around was when I went up to the amphitheater because I had been told the closing ceremony was about to happen there. When I got up there, a reggae band started playing instead. The band’s front man immediately started singing about Israel and I got a huge whiff of weed. I realized the closing ceremony was not about to happen up there, so I left to finish packing up to leave. I’m not surprised (or even offended) by smelling ganja or hearing about Israel at a reggae show, but it’s not what I wanted to be doing at that moment.

Sign in the Healing Garden. Photo by me.

Sign in the Healing Garden.

One thing that was really cool about the event was the age diversity of the folks who attended. There were families with babies and little kids, and much of the time, those kids were running around playing together. There were, of course, lots of young adult there for the music and dancing (and the sex and drugs too, for some of them.) I saw older couples and met a few women (probably in the 45 to 55 age range) going through divorces who had come for a day of healing away from their (soon to be) ex husbands. Several of my customers (including the young man who offered to trade for herbal medicine) were hanging out with their moms. Many festivals I’ve been to have been attended mostly by very young adults, so it was good to be somewhere with a wider range of ages. I think the age diversity was at least partially due to older folks coming to give and receive healing in the Healing Garden, as well as older folks coming for the drumming in the Heartbeat Village.

According the the NeoTribal The Gathering website information on Heartbeat Village (http://neotribalthegathering.com/heartbeat/),

It is said that the drum is the heartbeat of mother earth  and those that have lost their rhythm, have lost their connection to the planet…

For some there is a need to find that rhythm again for others there is a hunger to deepen that relationship to the earth  but for all there is a connection to each other and the planet through the Drum. Join us in the HEARTBEAT of Neotribal a space to create learn and experience healing through music dance and sharing. Instruments Drums and percussion will be provided by Neotribal free of charge for all that attend our workshops…

The ethnic diversity of NeoTribal The Gathering was a bit better than some of the festivals I’ve been to where all I saw were white people. As is typical in the Southwest, in addition to all the ostensibly white people, there were quite a few Latino/as. In addition there were some native Americans and a few African Americans in attendance. Again, I think it was the drumming circles and workshops that brought much of that diversity to the festival.

Overall, I’m glad I attended NeoTribal The Gathering, especially since I didn’t have to pay to park or camp. I made just about the amount of money I wanted to make. It’s always nice to meet my goal.

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When Ms. Reiki tried to give me postcards to hand out before the festival, I told her that I don’t really know people in the area. She told me I’d make 40 new friends at the gathering. That was an exaggeration too, although I did have some good conversations with people (and shared a couple of nice hugs). I gave me card to folks I suspect I’ll never hear from again (and no one have his/her card to me.)

I don’t pretend to understand how the Universe works or why I end up at any particular place at any particular time. Maybe I was at NeoTribal The Gathering just to give a guy with dreadlocks and tattoos a good price on a piece of danburite that I’d been hauling around and putting out on my table for months. Or maybe I was there to listen to the older Navajo women attending the event with her son; I suspect I might have been the only other person there she felt she could relate to. Maybe my role was to offer my ear to the woman who needed to vent about the couple fucking against her tent. Maybe I was needed simply to provide a bag of ice for the elders’ luncheon when the organizers forgot to buy some.

I can’t really say why I was there, but I hope I did my part.

Bracelets and necklaces decorated with beads, baubles, and trinkets.

Bracelets and necklaces decorated with beads, baubles, and trinkets.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

Necklace with pendant of skull carved from smoked yak bone and turquoise.

Necklace with pendant of skull carved from smoked yak bone with turquoise accent bead.

All photos in this post were taken by me.

NeoTribal The Gathering Part 1

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I was selling my hemp jewelry and a few shiny rocks at a weekday urban farmers’ market. A busload of junior high school kids on a field trip were deposited there for some reason, and I had several 8th grade ladies at my table. Suddenly, there was an energetic woman on my left, halfway behind my table with me, telling me she loved my work and handing me a postcard about an event she was coordinating. She said vending cost $235, but she’d give me a better deal. Cool, thanks, I said and assured her we’d talk soon. I didn’t want to be rude, but I wanted to get back to my customers. Eighth grade ladies are my bread and butter.

When I got back to the host family’s house (after visiting the local IRS office and then the drug store where I had to buy temporary dental adhesive for my crown that had fallen out again), I took a look at the postcard the woman had given me. The event was called NeoTribal The Gathering and was bill as “3 days of camping & ceremonial bliss surrounded by the transformative energy of art, music, and dance.”

After doing some poking around on the internet and looking at the gathering’s website and the website of the Reiki healing studio of the woman who’d approached me, I decided they both seemed on the up-and-up. I sent Ms. Reiki an email saying I was interested and asking to talk soon.

I didn’t hear from her Thursday, so I called her and left a message on Friday. When we finally talked, she said I could vend for the three days of the event for $75. Then it came out that camping would be extra, payable directly to the park where the event was being held upon arrival. But Ms. Reiki said I was welcome to camp in the Healing Garden, the area she was organizing. She told me I would sell there too.

According to the NeoTribal website (http://neotribalthegathering.com/healing-garden/)

Healing is the art of restoration. The “Neotribal” Healing Garden offers Holistic Health & Healing for all participants of the gathering! Experience natural healing in many different forms. Our healing energy is a vehicle that will bring positive transformation to our families and our planet at large. Join us for hands on healing, bodywork, energy balancing, yoga, meditation, prayer and wisdom talks. Experience positive self care through spiritual & holistic education and cultural development.

I wasn’t really satisfied with all of the answers Ms. Reiki was giving me. I felt like she just wasn’t answering all of the questions I asked, or at least wasn’t answering my questions in ways that left me feeling I understood what exactly was going on. I wasn’t sure if she was somewhat unorganized or simply blissfully sure the Universe would somehow take care of everything. In hindsight, I think she was sure of the Universe and a bit awkward with verbal communication.

Ms. Reiki invited me to go to her house on Saturday after four when folks would be over painting signs for the event. I told her I’d be working on Saturday maybe until 5pm, so I’d decide depending on how tired I was. I ended up working until almost seven o’clock and not making it back to where I was staying until after 7:30. I was too exhausted to contemplate keeping my eyes open, much less driving, then meeting new people.

I went to Ms. Reiki’s house Sunday evening to drop off my vending fee. Even after I paid my money, I still wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. By that point I was in, no turning back, but I wasn’t sure I’d make the right decision. But in some way I can’t explain, I felt as if I were supposed to be at the event.

I was a little nervous when Ms. Reiki said this was the first time NeoTribal The Gathering would be happening. She pointed out that over 600 people on Facebook said they’d be attending, with another 400 people saying maybe. She thought about 500 people would actually show.

I spent the next four days preparing for the weekend. After leaving Ms. Reiki’s house, I went to Nolagirl’s house and picked up her pop up tent. Of course, I also used the time to express all my concerns and doubts.

On Sunday, I also implemented my five necklace a day plan. 5 necklaces a day x 5 days = 25 new necklaces to sell at the event. I stayed up late and cranked out the five.

On Monday I went to the thriftiest of thrift stores to find colorful curtains to hang around the sides of the tent to block as much sun as possible.

Later in the week, I got The Lady and The Boy to help me set up the pop up tent so I’d have an idea of how to get it to work. I hung up the side curtains too, so I could get a feel for the whole setup.

I made my five necklaces every day (and some bracelets too), and I was well equipped for the festival.

I arrived at the venue, Estrella Mountain Regional Park (http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/estrella/) in Goodyear, Arizona, before 8am on Friday. When I stopped at the pay station at the park’s entrance, I told the woman working that I was a vendor, there for the NeoTribal gathering. (I don’t remember exactly how I phrased it.) She said, I can tell…, and I thought she meant I can tell by that hippie van you’re driving that you’re here for the event. What she really said was, I can tell you where to find them.

She did tell me where to find them, and she handed me a pass to hang from my (nonexistent) review mirror. She never asked for money, and I noticed she had written VOL (volunteer) on the pass. Score!

I found the Healing Garden and found a close-ish parking space. There were already several tents set up and a few people moving round. It seemed like people were just waking up.

Some of the tents in the NeoTribal The Gathering Healing Garden Photo by me.

Some of the tents in the NeoTribal The Gathering Healing Garden. Photo by me.

More tents in the Healing Garden. Another photo by me.

More tents in the Healing Garden. Photo by me.

I spotted Ms. Reiki, already busy, and walked up to say hello, good morning. We talked a bit about where I should set up. Then I was on my own to make trip after trip to and from the van  to unload the pop up tent and the side curtains and three tables and my chair and all of my merchandise. (I did ask for–and get–help to carry my large tub of rocks.)

I was mostly set up by 10:30, when everyone gathered for the ceremony honoring elders. The elders were a multicultural bunch: Latino/as, Native Americans, East Indians, people from Burundi and Bhutan, and white folks too. Little kids and adults joined together in singing “We’re a Rainbow Made of Children,” then people offered blankets to the elders.

There were way more blankets than elders, so several people were left holding blankets with no one to offer them to. A young woman (late teens or early 20s) came up to me and asked if I would accept a blanket. Awkward! I said, Oh Sweetie, I’m not that old, but thank you anyway. I think in that situation “elder” meant “person old enough to be your grandparent,” and I was NOT old enough to be that young lady’s granny.

The ceremony honoring the elders seemed very sincere, not about making the organizers look cool, but about giving love and respect to the older folks. I was moved to tear several times during the ceremony.

When the elders moved to their luncheon, I moved back to my booth to finish setting up my rocks.

To be continued at http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/08/17/neotribal-the-gathering-part-2/.