A review of Porter Flea, plus favorite vendors

Hello everyone, my name is Shannon Rutherford and I am back again today with another guest post here on the linenlaid&felt blog. As part of my bookbinding internship, Katie invited me to come along with her to the 2016 Porter Flea Summer Market this past weekend. Today I’ll be telling you all about my experience with helping Katie at her booth at Porter Flea, as well as my overall impressions of the event and images of my favorite vendors.

porter flea wall photo

Since I recently moved to Tennessee, this was my first time ever attending a Porter Flea event. I was very excited for the opportunity to get to help Katie and see the process of how she prepares for an upcoming show.

I started out by helping Katie promote her handmade books on social media through her Instagram account. In the days leading up to the event, I helped Katie resize photos and write captions for posts to get the word out about her booth using the hashtags #pfsummer16 and #porterflea.

On the day of the event, we loaded up her car and drove over to the venue. This year the event took place at Skyway Studios in East Nashville. Upon arriving, we entered through a long hallway that split off in either direction. The first thing I noticed was a giant green floor in the center of the room. I later learned that it is used in combination with a green screen for TV production and filming projects.

Soon we began setting up Katie’s display and arranging her books on the table in the booth area. I quickly noticed and appreciated how much attention to detail and effort Katie puts into her booth display. She had lovely photographs of her work on display behind the booth, and her branding and signage was very clearly laid out and labeled neatly. Once the setup was complete, all of her handmade books looked so bright and colorful when presented as a whole.

Here are some photos of the final booth display before the event began. I was really impressed with how everything came together and it was fun to see an ordinary table be transformed into such a unique and eye-catching display.

As the preview night began, I was able to see the procedure of how one makes a purchase of Katie’s books and how Katie collects payment using an app called Register. It is a really quick way to process payments and has many great features including the ability to upload images of your products right into the app. I couldn’t believe how easy the technology was to use!

Once the setup was complete, we went into the vendor lounge for pizza. I got to meet some really lovely artists and hear all about their work. It was such a supportive environment where all the vendors were really friendly, rooting for each other’s success and wishing each other good luck.

Other vendors began trickling in one by one and also completing their booth setup for the day. At 6 p.m. the preview party began. It was a great concept to allow people to be the first to enjoy the show without having to wait in a long line. Many people showed up and wandered through the venue, which was very spacious. I helped Katie greet people as they approached the booth, as well as answering questions about her products and handing out information about her upcoming classes.

porter flea crowd.jpg
booth at porter flea

It was really fun to interact with people and see their faces light up when they saw Katie’s books and to see their appreciation when they learned that she made all of them by hand. I had a great time meeting some of the other vendors that Katie introduced me to as well. It was a great place to network and meet other artists and ask them more in depth questions about their artistic process and inspiration.

Throughout the day, Katie and I both had the opportunity to walk around and see the other booths in the show. I was very impressed with all of the work and really loved seeing the variety in the work displayed. It was by far the best show I have been to since moving to Nashville and I will definitely be attending in the future.

Below are just some of my favorite booths and vendors, in no particular order:

Bean & Bailey Ceramics 

Bean & Bailey Ceramics was the booth across from ours and it immediately caught my eye. I love all of the pastel colors and simple shapes. I also really enjoyed speaking with the vendor about his process.


This Loves That

This Loves That was one of my favorites! I really loved the non-traditional materials she used in her jewelry. She used fun, clean geometric shapes in her wooden jewelry and her work was very colorful and playful. She also had these neat little pouches with simple designs featured below.

Camp Nevernice

I really loved how Porter Flea highlighted printmaking and illustration. I bought this print from Camp Nevernice as an early birthday present for my twin sister who loves typography, music and singing. I learned later the next day that she had picked out the exact same print to show me.

Amaranthus Paper & Flora

I was lucky to have met the owners of Amaranthus Paper & Flora, a mother and daughter team. Their work is so intricate and stunning; it had me doing a double take as I initially thought their flowers were real and not paper. What a wonderful idea to bring joy to people, especially to those who are sick and may not be able to receive real flowers due to risk of infection in hospitals. They are spreading joy and I love that concept.

Peppered Paper

The Peppered Paper booth was filled with detailed, beautiful prints. I really loved how she had a framed original so you could see her process. The finished prints contain very delicate, fine lines but catch your eye with their bold color. The attention to detail is just amazing!

My overall impression of the event was great and I loved seeing the unique works of each artist. I really enjoyed collecting all of the business cards from the show. It was a good learning experience and introduction into how to market and sell your products to people and engage with your buying audience. Katie is a pro at it and is always very helpful to others. You can walk away from Katie’s booth having learned something new and her passion for her work is evident in how she carries herself and expresses her creativity. I can't wait to attend another Porter Flea event in the future!

Learn to bind a book during Maker's Month

The Skillery is planning to kick off the new year with a full schedule of creative classes. As part of their mission to shine a spotlight on Nashville’s creative entrepreneurs and the brands they’re building, The Skillery is designating January as Makers' Month. 

You can take a look at the class offerings here, and you'll be sure to spot some gems. Teaching artist extraordinaire Allison Jarrett of Precious America will be teaching an Intro to Hand Embroidery class. Chris Cheney and Nieves Uhl of Sawtooth Printhouse will be teaching a Letterpress Poster class.  I took a screenprinting class taught by Chris earlier this year and had a blast, so I'm sure the letterpress class is a can't-miss experience.  I will be leading a bookbinding workshop as part of Makers' Month, I'm thrilled to be teaching alongside such a talented bunch of Nashville creatives. 

 Bookbinding workshop taught by Katie Gonzalez

Learn to create a handbound journal

When: Saturday January 25, 2014; 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Dandelion Salon, 1117 Porter Road, Nashville, TN 37206
Cost: $38 (or $30 for Skillery members)

Description: Start your new year with a creative project: learn the basics of bookbinding while creating a one-of-a-kind handbound blank book. Then use your book this year as a practical day planner to get organized, or as a sketchbook to stoke your creativity. We'll be making a book bound with the French link stitch. The stitching will be exposed on the spine of the book, allowing you to see and show off your handiwork. This class is appropriate for all skill levels, including beginners. Katie Gonzalez, a professional book artist who has taught bookbinding to more than 200 students, will guide you through the process in this one-night workshop. You will leave the class with one completed journal, and the skills to create more books in the future. The class will also include an introduction to the world of handmade books, and the opportunity to handle a collection of professionally made examples.

PULP paper goods shop opens in East Nashville

PULP paper store Nashville
When your awesome new store brings out all your friends and a bunch of local book artists and printmakers for an opening night party and your store is 200 square feet it makes for a shoulder-to-shoulder party where almost everyone knows everybody's name.

That's how Jessica Maloan opened PULP on Friday, the first paper goods, prints, cards, and handmade books shop in East Nashville. Jessica, who prints as Pine Street Makery and helps organize Porter Flea shows, has become a close friend. Her knew store, about a mile from my home, shows her eclectic tastes and curator's eye. The opening is the latest good news for the neighborhood, and a nice complement to other new openings nearby, like Hey Rooster General Store.

Leading up to the opening, my own excitement grew as I shuttled some of my books, prints, and paper scrap packs to Jessica during the week. I got to see the final touches come together. Bright paint on the wall, followed by prints hung with care. There's great work here by Little Things Studio (recent transplant to Nashville), Camp Nevernice, and Sawtooth Printhouse.

For PULP updates, visit the shop on Facebook and then stop by at 729 Porter Road.

PULP paper store East Nashville
PULP store Nashville
PULP paper cards prints Nashville

UGA alumni connections

I've recently had a few opportunities to reconnect with my alma mater, the University of Georgia, where I first took bookbinding classes, both on campus and while studying abroad in Cortona, Italy.

And, to my surprise, two brand new UGA connections that I've had, thanks to the UGA Alumni Association, prompted little blog posts about my work!

A couple weeks ago, I went to an alumni event at South, a restaurant owned by a UGA grad. I hit it off with Daryan, an energetic alum in the middle of a cross-country road trip. Having dabbled in bookbinding one time himself (while pursuing a girl) he took a lot of interest in my work. Later, he blogged about my work and Nashville, and you can read his post here.

This week, the alumni association followed up with a post too. Although I know other study abroad students have gone on to art careers, I don't know if many students or alumni know much about the Cortona program, so I'm always happy to talk about the impact it had on me.

The Skillery hosts weekend conference to inspire creative entrepreneurs in Nashville

The Skillery Nashville Creativity Summit logo

It's an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in Nashville, and an event coming up in a few weeks will celebrate all that we've got going on here, as well as helping artists like me to push forward in the new year. I'll be attending the Nashville Creativity Summit, hosted by The Skillery, which includes one day of workshops to empower the creative community, and a second day for those creators to share their skills through hands-on classes across the city.

The lineup of speakers on Saturday is impressive (and includes some friends!) and on Sunday I'll be leading a (sold out) bookbinding workshop in which we'll be making handbound journals with upcycled vintage book covers. There will also be classes about letterpress, green business practices, freelance writing, and more.

In advance of the event, The Skillery interviewed me for a write-up on the company blog, which really got me thinking more about how far I've come as an entrepreneur. Here's a little bit of what I had to say:

"... If someone would have told me in college that I'd own my own business one day, I would not have believed them. The whole process just came about so organically. It began with a dream of having a more fulfilling, creative career. I quickly found myself spending hours poring over business blogs, and loving it. I actually enjoy branding, marketing, self-promotion, and product development ... "

You can read the full interview here.

This isn't the only time I've been on The Skillery blog lately. I was excited to read a first-hand account of the bookbinding passion that one of my classes inspired. Right before Christmas, I taught a class on binding miniature book ornaments. My student wrote:

"That class, quite unexpectedly, launched a new passion in me. I spent the next few days making books that were slightly less mini, based on Gonzalez's tutelage. Then I set out to learn other binding methods ..."

Find the full story here.

I feel like The Skillery has come a long way since launching in November 2011 — and so has my business since I came to Nashville. In some ways, these go hand-in-hand. I actually taught the first class that The Skillery ever hosted, and I've happily sold out four more classes since then.

So I'm looking forward to the Nashville Creativity Summit on Feb. 9 and 10. If you're here in town, consider signing up.

What: Nashville Creativity Summit presented by The Skillery
When: Saturday, Feb. 9 and Sunday, Feb. 10
Where: The Emma Bistro, 9 Lea Ave, Nashville, TN 37210; and locations throughout Nashville
Admission: Conference registration $180; workshops priced individually