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My Journey From Building Furniture To Creating Art

My Bailey Builds journey started out as a dream and a calling.  I believed that I was to “do what I love to do.”  All I knew was to step out in faith and start doing just that.  One of the ways I loved to create was through building with reclaimed wood.  The journey started through creating unique pieces of furniture.  I realized, after my first craft show, that this joy of mine could actually bring a profit, and I was determined to take it to the next level.

Building furniture and working with customers to create in-home installations had grown into a full time commitment.  I began to realize that there were aspects of furniture building that weren’t for me.  What I loved about the creation process was the artistry and aesthetic design, rather than the pressure of a solid structural design.  I also realized that working on location for clients wasn’t something that worked for me and my family.  It was time for me to start thinking about how I could innovate, and come up with new ideas.

In those beginning days, I wouldn’t have referred to myself as an entrepreneur. I always thought that working for myself would mean the stress of long days and crunching numbers, and it sounded like so much responsibility.  It’s funny, because six years later, while those aspects might be true, being an entrepreneur is so much more than that!  What makes it a game changer is when all those things become worth it, because you’re doing something you love, something you believe in!  And one of the first attributes I would use to describe a successful entrepreneur is the ability to innovate.  

Innovation is something that comes natural for me.  I love to come up with new solutions and new ideas to break through convention and limitations.  This skill has become an integral part of our business model, and I believe it started building the foundation back in our home garage during that first year.

I remember staring at the piles of scrap wood that was accumulating in my garage.  There was only so much kindling I could use, and I hated the idea of discarding it.  After all, part of my work was to take discarded material and give it new life.  I started working with those smaller pieces, cutting them and placing them in patterns.  I had already been incorporating chevron and herringbone designs into my furniture.  Why not just create a piece on it’s own?  Through trial and error, I worked with the wood and honed in on my technique and build process.  I felt this creative charge that a songwriter feels when the words and melody begin to coincide, and you become enveloped by the process of your creation.  I was finding my niche, my passion.

I remember working many hours in the garage.  I would take breaks to be with the family, but would find myself plugging away until I felt like it was getting too late to be running my saws in our neighborhood.  After several finished pieces, I stepped back to look at my work.  I remember being stuck on what it should be called.  It was no longer furniture.  And they weren’t really signs.  I decided on wood wall art; Wood Mosaic Art.  And if I were to call it art, then I realized that It was time for me to claim the title “Artist.”  It felt bold, yet I believed I had created something that was different, and I was both nervous and excited to share it with the world… or at least the next local craft fair.

I shared my new art with friends and family.  Their reaction and encouragement helped motivate me to prepare for the next big Art event in our area.  Nathanael helped me create a booth that would be able to display my work, and his support during that time was so empowering.  I’m so thankful to have a spouse that is truly my partner in all things.  His belief in me helped me to believe in myself.

It was such a surreal experience, waiting in nervous anticipation to see how the world would react to my Wood Mosaic Art.  I remember waiting for the doors to open to the event, hoping that people would like what they saw when they came to my booth.  I knew that I was in the midst of living out that calling on my life, “to do what I love to do.”  I believed that as long as I was trying my best to work and respond through that lens, that the outcome of that day wouldn’t be the defining factor of success or failure.

The response was overwhelming.  I had given the audience something different and new.  Something that appealed across age brackets.  The beauty and warmth of reclaimed wood, and the patterns and added earthy tones were something that could find its home in any space.  People were buying my art.  I realized that day that the innovation that took place in my garage had moved me beyond furniture and into the world of art.  I was overwhelmed.  I was thrilled.  And most of all, I was so thankful.  It was such a confirmation that I was carving out my place, and had found a way to contribute to my family while doing something that brought me so much joy.

Thanks for celebrating our 6th Birthday this month of October, as I look back on this amazing journey.  Next week, I’ll share about our business growing pains, and the need to expand our workspace and step out in another leap of faith.

Make sure to follow along on Instagram for all the fun opportunities we have during our Birthday month of October.

The Birth Of Bailey Builds: A Call To Do What I Love

It’s hard to believe that we are entering our sixth year living the clear calling that I felt in my life: to do what I love.  In the beginning, I wasn’t even totally sure exactly what that would mean for me.  All I knew was that I had reached the T in the road, and I knew it was time for me to head in a new direction.

After 13 years working at the same job, I realized that what had first drawn me in was no longer present.  I realized that I was going through the motions, but the passion and purpose wasn’t fulfilling me like it once did.  It was hard to think of switching gears without a clear path, yet I knew deep inside that the time for closing one door to explore another door was at hand, and I needed to walk in faith, trusting that the right door would open.

I can remember the night I felt clearly that God was telling me to do what I love to do. 

That was my starting point.  I began making a list of the things that brought joy and purpose to my life.  I loved being a mother and a wife.  I had a passion for music and writing.  I was just starting to get a real itch for building things out of recycled wood.  I decided that, through the creation of a blog, I would focus on these things.  I was writing.  I was playing music for pleasure at local coffee shops.  And I was tinkering in our garage, building lawn furniture and furniture for my home.  All the while, I would share these pieces of my life on my new blog.

As I poured my time into these pockets of life that brought joy, a rhythm and order began to settle in.  Friends started noticing my craft for building, which sparked the opportunity to create custom furniture.  I realized that building things tapped into a new faucet of my creativity that I wanted more of.  During those beginning months, I spent countless hours in our family garage honing in on my skill, experimenting with design and function.

As I made myself available to the idea that building things could be the answer to the income I hoped to replace, I took custom orders through word of mouth, and even took on some bigger projects that required me to build on site.  I was building benches and coffee tables, laundry sorters and dining tables.  I even built floating bunk beds and desks for a friend.  I was putting in many more hours than I was recouping in money, but I was finding my way.

It wasn’t until I signed up for a craft fair, that  I truly realized that the potential to make a profit was a reality.  I had no idea what to expect at my first real show, which was the Duluth Junk Hunt.  I just built as many pieces as I could and went with lots of hope, but little expectations.  The warm and enthusiastic response I received was motivational.  It was hard to believe that people loved my work.  I didn’t even really know what to call myself at that point.  Was I a crafter? Builder? Artist? Whatever the case, that craft fair was the first time I went home with a profit, albeit small.  After figuring all of the time I invested and the supplies that needed to be purchased, I estimated I made about five dollars an hour.  It was less than minimum wage, but it was a start!  It was enough to inspire me to keep going.

At this point, I was still experimenting with my style.  I loved the way lines created interest and movement.  In my early work, I incorporated a lot of chevron and herringbone elements to my furniture.  I also loved working with recycled wood.  Originally, my favorite part about utilizing recycled wood was that I could usually find it for free.  It may have taken a little elbow grease to pry apart pallets and remove nails and screws from old boards, but the profit was higher than with buying new lumber.  Moreso, I realized just how beautiful and unique old, weathered lumber could be. 

And there is such beautiful symbolism with taking something old and discarded and giving it new life.

Probably the craziest story I could share from those beginnings, is the laundry sorter I made that went viral on Pinterest.  I had found the building design through a tutorial online.  Once I posted my version, I had countless requests for orders from people who found my post.  I made so many hand-crafted laundry sorters for people, juggling the shipping of large, bulky items.  It was through this experience that I began to realize that furniture building wasn’t my destination.  Yet, I knew it was leading me somewhere. 

I just hadn’t discovered quite where.

I can’t wait to share with you next week, how furniture building evolved into what Bailey Builds is known for today!  Make sure to follow along on Instagram for all the fun opportunities we have during our Birthday month of October.

What Life Looks Like Before An Art Show And What’s Coming Up

The bags under our eyes have not fully dissipated from the Minnesota State Fair, but the show must go on!  As entrepreneurs in the art world, Art Fairs are an important opportunity to get our work out there to the public.  We love when we are given opportunities to head to events that are new for us, such as the “Art Fair On The Square” in Madison WI this weekend.  If this isn’t your world, you might not realize what it takes for artists like us to prepare ourselves for these events, so I thought I’d take a little time to share what a week before an art show looks like for us..

This weekend we are at “Art Fair On The Square” in Madison WI.  Madison Museum of Contemporary Art puts this show on.  I have actually applied for a few years for this show, as with these higher end art fairs there is an application process.  The first year I applied, we didn’t get in.  Then, in 2020 I was wait-listed, which ended up being canceled.  This year I was on the wait-list again, but was eventually invited to join this year’s event, so we are so excited for this opportunity.

It’s always a guessing game going into a show when it comes to what products we should bring to an event like this.  We look at the context of the event and aspects of the area that might help influence our choices.

Not only do we need to think about our collection offerings, we also need to think about the format of these offerings.  How many pieces should we bring?  How many of each piece?  What sizes do we bring?  What colors?  We’ve discovered that what might be super successful for one show isn’t a big hit at a different show.  We’ve really had to find ways to interpret our audience as best we can before we get there.  A perfect example would be of our mini moderns.  At a smaller fair we sold 50 of these pieces.  Yet, at the massive Minnesota State Fair, we only sold a few of these pieces.  Instead, other items were the big hitters.  It’s a bit of a crap shoot, honestly.

Once we have everything built and ready, the task of packing and traveling to an event is the next step.  We have learned a lot about this through trial and error.  We have learned to pack efficiently, and the way we present ourselves at these events has evolved over time.  Our drive this weekend is seven hours one way.  However, the most challenging aspect of the fair this weekend is it’s location.  Due to being downtown and surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol, we are given a mere 15 minutes to unload everything we need for the fair.  This is something we have never done!  We have to unload a six by twelve trailer and the back of our truck, including our booth walls in that minuscule amount of time.  It sounds impossible, but we are just going for it, hoping that Nathanael and I, as well as our sons Isaac and Lincoln can work together to make it happen!

Art Fairs are integral to a successful year as artists.  We have high hopes for the “Art Fair On The Square” this weekend, as we’ve heard really great things about this event.  We met another artist at the Ann Arbor Art Fair who got into this fair one year and sold out on day 1!  We know that won’t be the case for us, as we always overpack for these events.  But hopefully we will have the right amount of variety that will successfully engage our audience.

The exciting news regarding our decisions for this event is that we are launching more Gatsbys at very large sizes with a more affordable price point.  These pieces will be up to 5 feet long.  We are bringing 4 large originals that are very tedious to create at the higher price point.  We will also be bringing replicas at a much more affordable price point, offered online as well, starting today!  We will have color choices available to choose from, so make sure to check those out at the fair and online.

The “Art Fair On The Square” in Madison is our last art fair until our final one of the year taking place locally.  The Duluth Winter Village will take place in December. I have to admit, I was feeling a little bummed when I thought about the fact that we’re leaving home again for long days at the fair, after having been gone so many days for the Minnesota State Fair.  In that month, we slept only 4 days in our own bed.  Traveling can take a toll on you, especially with family.   Yet, it’s our choice and part of the reality of being in the business we are in.

And there is a great amount of excitement and satisfaction that we get to experience because of it.  In the end, we love what we do and take all the aspects of our business in stride.

When we get home, we’ll be just a few days away from one of our favorite months!  October is the Birthday of our Business and we love celebrating all month long!  We have some really exciting things that we have brainstormed in celebration of our 6th Birthday this year.  We have a limited edition, 11” round Bailey Buildable which we have created, and will be free with a purchase price of $250 or more, in store and online.  We will also have a fun deal when shopping locally at our storefront.  We have created Bailey Builds Mosaic Cash tokens that you can collect the more you spend, and use them as cash towards a Bailey Builds art purchase in Nov. and Dec.  We can’t wait to share and celebrate our journey so far with you!

Thanks for being a part of making our year amazing!

Bringing you the best at Art Fair On The Square

Art Fair On The Square will be celebrating its 63rd year next weekend, September 25th and 26th, and we’ll be there!  Located around the picturesque state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, Art Fair On The Square is an event that fuels the arts in Madison, making it accessible to the community.  This event is an extension of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which offers experiences to educate and inspire.  They offer free admission year round, providing exhibitions and educational programs.  The museum is toured by over 200,000 guests each year.

As one of the most highly regarded outdoor celebrations of the midwest, Art Fair On The Square will have something for everyone.  While normally taking place in the month of July, we think this free event will be a beautiful time of year to make the trip to Wisconsin’s Capitol.  You can expect nearly 500 artists of all genres, and nearly 200,000 visitors.  Along with paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, jewelry, handmade clothing and accessories, and fine craft, you will find a fun mix of food, entertainment, and music.  This will be our first year at the event, and we are so excited to be there.

With almost six years under our tool belt, we have been able to glean from the many fairs we have had the privilege to be a part of, our  biggest to date being the Minnesota State Fair this month.  We are so thankful for the helpful feedback from all of you and look forward to bringing you more of your favorite collections in the sizes you crave.  We will be bringing you a variety of sizes, from statement pieces as well as many accessible sizes in your favorite styles and colors.

Throughout our business we have continually pursued, explored, and experimented with the medium of new and reclaimed wood as the vehicle to express our artistic design and inspiration. Our rustic and classic wood mosaic art forged the way as the foundation of our work.  This past year we have been developing a new style that is taking the contemporary art world by storm, and is nothing like the wood mosaic art world has experienced.  We are marrying our traditional design elements with bold clean lines, adding intriguing spherical elements and creating a refreshing Americana feel.

This coming weekend at the Art Fair On The Square we will be bringing you a wide variety of size and color options in the designs you love.  We will have larger pieces added to our Arches Collection.  We will also be bringing you more from the Gatsby Collection, in more of your favorite colors and in all shapes and sizes.

We know that not everyone will be able to make the trip to Wisconsin’s capitol in the heart of downtown Madison.  That is why we will be releasing a limited amount of pieces from these collections online and at our local shop on the opening day of Art On The Square, Saturday morning, September 25th.  As always, we want to thank you for supporting our small business, locally handcrafting all of our artwork in our beautiful port city of Duluth, MN.

THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR: LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

The crowds have gone home.  The faint smell of deep fried cheese curds still wafts in the air.  The electricity of so many moving parts and sights have subsided.   Minnesota has gone  back to its normal rhythm, as the reunion of the Great Minnesota Get Together has come to an end for the year of 2021.  Those of us who proudly staked down our tents and our businesses now have the task of breaking down camp and setting forth homeward.

Bailey Builds, as you know, has a bit more of a job to do than merely breaking down a tent.  We will head back down to St. Paul and deconstruct our beautifully designed and executed art studio that housed our art and our livelihood.  As the saying goes, it’s much more fun to pack for a trip than unpack, but we look forward to being akin to the sawdust again, as we fulfill our made to orders and prepare for the rest of the year.

As we set forth to the task ahead, I can’t help but reminisce about the last few weeks of the Bailey Builds adventure.  We did it!  We accomplished something big and new!  We set out to create a true extension of who we are as a business, and represent the true craftsmanship and passion of the Bailey Builds name.

Preparing for such a big and long lasting event was something we had never done.  A lot of it is hoping that your research and  strategy is near the mark, and then going for it in faith that it will all work out.  With the State Fair facing the aftermath of a missed fair in 2020, and the residual intrusion of the pandemic, fair going numbers were markedly down.  Long time fair vendors experienced drastic declines in their revenue as a result.  Yet, the show must go on!  And within the fairground walls, there was this sense of solidarity among us that truly expressed the fighting passion of America’s entrepreneurial spirit.

As a first time Minnesota State Fair vendor, we had no history to go by.  Instead, we put our very best feet forward and embraced the experience as an opportunity to learn, and hopefully grow as a business.  Our team put in countless hours preparing for the event.  We put in overtime crafting our art and carefully boxing it up to make it’s trip to the fairgrounds.  We all spent time working outside our normal positions to create and assemble a beautiful Bailey Builds Art Studio on location, that would be on brand and reflect our detail in design and craftsmanship.  We created a space that fairgoers could enjoy, and would be able to use as a tool to envision our art in their homes.  We put on our brand new Bailey Builds Staff T-shirts and crisp aprons, and met our customers with genuine enthusiasm, ready to be of service.

The result was more than we could have imagined.  We are so honored that we have had the opportunity to be a part of such a great event, which is a capstone of Minnesota tradition.  We are thrilled to be a recipient of a “Best of 2021 Minnesota State Fair” award.  And we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and helping you find the perfect piece of art to compliment your space.  We are excited that many of you have joined our email list, so that you can stay up to date on our next adventures, as well as take advantage of early art collection releases and monthly giveaways offered exclusively to our email subscribers.

Anytime you open a new door, whether on a personal level or business level, it most often brings new opportunities and experiences your way.  There are always risks involved, but more often than not, you discover the benefits of exploring new terrain.  Investing in the opportunity to participate in the Minnesota State Fair definitely felt like a risk at times, but we are seeing the benefits unfolding.  Around 50% of the people we met at the fair had never heard of Bailey Builds, and we are so excited to win new customers and friends of Bailey Builds.  We hope that you share pictures of your new art in your space!  We love to see the different ways our handcrafted modern and classic mosaics compliment your homes and businesses.  Share them with us on instagram at #friendsofbaileybuilds.

We are also excited for possible opportunities through the connections and networking that were a result of being fair vendors.  One such fun encounter was meeting a distinguished designer who purchased art, and plans on showing one of his prominent musician clients.  Another is a possible opportunity to create art for a well-known Minnesota brewing company.  While we hope these opportunities come to fruition, we feel blessed to have the privilege to do what we love, and make a living doing it, while supporting our amazing team.  We thank all of you for making this possible!

As the Bailey Builds journey continues on, we exchange our new, crisp fair aprons for our sawdust and spray paint splattered work aprons, while we get on with doing what we love.  Instead of the grandstand music playing in the background, we will work to the rhythm of our chop saws chopping and our nail guns nailing.  We are excited to create your made-to-orders and bring you new collections as we head into fall.  We also look forward to celebrating our 6th Birthday of Bailey Builds in October, with fun things in store as we look back on this epic journey.

What it means to win a Best of 2021 Minnesota State Fair Award

You guys!  We are blown away and so thankful for the great honor of being chosen as a Best of 2021 Minnesota State Fair Award recipient.  This is such a great confirmation that all of our hard work and effort paid off.  We have put countless hours into putting our mark on  the Great Minnesota Get Together experience, and we are thrilled at the amazing response from all of you!

We are risk takers.  We dream big!  We work hard.  We are “all in” kind of people.  These characteristics have always extended into our entrepreneurial spirit.  We are constantly pushing ourselves to problem solve and move beyond any obstacles that come our way. Our preparation for the Minnesota State Fair is a prime example of diving in and giving it our best.

We didn’t want our booth to be ordinary and fleeting.  We wanted it to be on brand, and represent the detail of craftsmanship and design that we strive for in our art work.  This is why we constructed a seemingly permanent residence to house the art that represents  the heart and soul of our business.

For many years, the fair has recognized its most outstanding vendors, and winning a Best of 2021 Minnesota State Fair Award is such an honor.  This accomplishment is a meaningful encouragement that we are meeting our personal goals as entrepreneurs and as a business.  In order to be selected as winners of this esteemed award, we needed to:

1. Provide exceptional, efficient customer service and an outstanding experience for fair guests

2. Provide knowledgeable staff with positive attitudes who are courteous, thoughtful and professional

3. Provide an amazing visual presentation and positive image

4. Present a premium quality product or service

5. Offer great value

These requirements are important and integral components that we strive for as a business outside of the state fair.  We couldn’t begin to accomplish this without the truly amazing team that has come together to embody the Bailey Builds identity and mission as a company who seeks to inspire community through the arts.  Our team’s passion really shines through as they interact with guests and represent Bailey Builds through their talents and investment into our business.

We will carry the memories of this amazing experience with us, as a fuel to keep creating and bringing our guests and customers the unique and personal experience we strive for, through great customer service and fine craftsmanship.  We are thankful for all of our new friends of Bailey Builds, and look forward to sharing our latest news and special offers.  If you haven’t joined our email list yet, make sure to do so!  Each week you’ll have a chance to put your name into a monthly drawing for a special giveaway, only available to our email subscribers.  We would love for you to post your new artwork displayed in your home at #friendsofbaileybuilds on instagram.  We love seeing our vision and hard work displayed beautifully in your space.

The fun is not over yet!  You can still join us at the Great Minnesota Get together through Labor Day, Monday September 6.  Don’t forget to take a picture with our Bailey Builds Art on Stick and get put into a drawing to win a copy of this piece of art.  Our Bailey Builds Minnesota State Fair Studio is located on the South side of Judson Avenue between Liggett and Clough streets, outside the Warner Coliseum.

Monumental Build, Mighty Team: Reflections on Preparing for the Minnesota State Fair

It was Thursday night after one day down, and a week of nearly round the clock preparation for our debut at the Minnesota State Fair.  Nathanael and I, sunburned and exhausted, retreated to my parents couch in the cities.   Trying to keep our eyes open for a few more moments to reflect on this crazy week, we sat amazed at the monumental task we accomplished with our dedicated team.

This year is The snippets on social media don’t come close to representing the exorbitant amount of work it took to get ready for this event.  The spunky reels and playful clips on instagram showcase the genuine camaraderie we have formed with our team.  Yet, they can not begin to tell the story of the long hours of building, problem solving, and  working together to accomplish a goal that was our largest build in the least amount of time.

Many have wondered why we would put so much time and effort into creating a fair booth of its caliber.  It definitely would have been easier to assemble a tent.  Yet, most of you who have been following along on our journey know that the Bailey way of doing things is “all in.”  Presentation is an integral part of any successful product.  Think of our Bailey Builds Studio on location as a beautifully articulated  box, intriguing the beholder to  explore what’s inside.  We believe in the craftsmanship and artistic detail in our art, and we wanted our space to reflect and support our passion and attention to detail, as a backdrop to the art that we daily pour our efforts into creating.

The kind of effort needed to pull this build off in a matter of four days could never have been accomplished without our extraordinary team.  They have poured in their energy and creativity, as well as many extended hours, because they believe in the vision of Bailey Builds.  Our gratitude for them is beyond measure.  We know that we have been blessed to have such dedicated and hard working team members.  We have also been blessed to have our family pull together till the starlight hours to wrap things up.  Our kids have been there to hammer down the last stray nail, and assemble the doorknobs and locks on the beautiful french doors that  will draw you in upon your arrival.  Even Nathanael’s father was there, lending his expertise as a retired contractor.

What has transpired is a space that reflects our value of putting our best feet forward, while showcasing the work that has become our livelihood.  When you enter the Bailey Builds Minnesota State Fair Art Studio, you will be greeted by our awesome team members, and be enveloped in the visual experience of our signature mosaics, both classic and modern, in all shapes and sizes.  We have created a cozy, yet clean lined focal space with our double sided fireplace display.  Both sides give you a great example of displaying our wood mosaic art in your home or business.  We also have a station dedicated to our very popular Bailey Buildables.  There are a plethora of designs and sizes available to purchase and take with you, with our larger pieces to be purchased as made to orders.  You get the satisfaction of picking out your statement piece, with the convenience of having it shipped to your doorstep, all with a special State Fair discount.

We would also like to thank you for supporting our small business.  Without you, we wouldn’t be able to support our family by doing what we love to do!  We can’t wait to meet you at the Great Minnesota Get Together!  Rain or shine, we’ll be here!  Our location is  on the South side of Judson Avenue between Liggett and Clough streets, outside the Warner Coliseum.  For the latest news, check out our stories and feed on Instagram, where you can see a lot of the action and behind the scenes caught on tape.  

See you at the fair!

Join us at the “Great Minnesota Get Together”

I can almost smell the sweet and savory delectables soon to be wafting throughout the MN State Fairgrounds.  The classic indulgence of those melt-in-your-mouth mini donuts.  The larger than life corndogs, or anything fried and on a stick, for that matter!  Ahh, there is so much to see, to experience, and to taste at the fair!  For some of us, it’s a yearly celebration we wouldn’t think of missing!

This year is extra special because it will be the first time that we will be vendors, and we are still pinching ourselves over it!  Instead of just one day of fair-going, we will soak up the whole shabang!  Our team is excited to saturate ourselves with the culture around us, getting to meet you, and also taking moments to enjoy what makes the Minnesota State Fair the largest in the Country.*

It has been quite the adventure assembling our “booth” on location, which is more of a life-sized studio than pop-up.  We’re going with the “all in” approach, and have plans to utilize our design in the future.  We are so thankful for our team member, Matt, who deployed his design skills and vast marketing experience to sketch out and design our booth.  We have spent the whole week assembling the structure and watching it come to life.  Many of our team members have been hard at work in construction mode, while others of us are holding down the fort in Duluth.  I can’t say enough how blessed we are to have such a great team!

Even our family has come to pitch in!  We have had three generations of Bailey men working side by side.  Our sons, Nathanael, and his father have been quite the team, and the memories of this time will be tagged in the catalog of special moments in my heart!  It’s fun to see the cumulation of our skills and experience coming together, complimenting each other.

The Minnesota State Fair is affectionately and famously known as “The Great Minnesota Get Together.”  It marry’s the years and years of history and tradition with the new and out of the ordinary.  -And it’s safe to say that there is truly something for everyone who comes.  I could list all of the events and attractions, but that is something you can easily find on the Minnesota State Fair website.  Instead, I’ll share just a few of my favorites that I’ll be sure to experience while attending the fair this year.

The food is always a staple attraction when going to the fair!  You arrive empty so you can fill up on those calorie extravagant,  guilty pleasures that only come around once a year!  And no matter how many interesting items I choose to eat on a stick, I’ll always make room for Sweet Martha’s Cookies and all you can drink milk.  There’s something magical about a cold cup of milk, washing down a perfectly textured cookie after hours of perusing the fairgrounds.  Is it possible that the milk at the fair is just a little bit sweeter and creamier than normal?  -It sure seems like it!

As a city girl, I love to swing by the Warner Coliseum and Livestock Complex to soak in a little country to balance me out!  It’s fun to cheer on the 4-H  members who have worked so hard to make it to the Fair, and see the horses and other farm animals.  There’s nothing like the soft little snouts of baby lambs and calves, or the shiny feathered hens doing their strut for onlookers.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll catch some of the Western Saddle Club Horse Show.

Another experience that goes hand in hand with a trip to the Minnesota State Fair is enjoying an ice cold craft beer flight, and catching a free concert or two.  With over 900 shows and 100 plus acts, I can’t imagine not finding some to enjoy.  And since I’ll be spending a lot of time at the fair this year, I may have to enjoy another round or two!

As fun as the fair truly is, it can also be overwhelming for many.  For those of us traveling with children and adults that require quiet breaks, I discovered a new attraction for 2021 that I think is an awesome addition.  The Fraser Sensory Building is the perfect place to take a break in a calming atmosphere with Frasier-trained sensory support volunteers.  They will provide guests with tools and techniques to calm their sensory systems, so they can rejoin the fun.  They are located on the west side of Cosgrove Street, south of the Home Improvement Bldg.

Others of us might not be able to get enough action!  To fill your adrenaline rush, the new Riptide is a spectacular roller coaster reaching 55’ high.  With all the ups and downs, twists and turns, it just might make up for the wild rides you missed out on last year.

You could spend countless hours scanning through all the events on the Fair’s website, meticulously planning your route to catch as many sites as possible.  Or, you could show up and let serendipity guide you.  Whatever your style may be, we hope to get the pleasure of meeting you at the Great Minnesota Get Together!  Come visit us at the Bailey Builds booth on the South side of Judson Avenue between Liggett and Clough streets, outside the Warner Coliseum.  For the latest news, check out our stories and feed on Instagram.

*The MN State Fair is the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance and the second-largest state fair in the United States by total attendance, second to the State Fair of Texas.

Artisan Highlight: Sass and Solder

Cass, one of our favorite people and team member, is the artist behind Sass and Solder.  She makes beautiful and unique stained glass art, and has taken the plunge to launch a business around her passion.

Growing up, Cass remembers wishing she could express herself artistically at the same level as her older sister.  Rather than feeling inferior, it gave her the determination to continue to practice  her skills at drawing.  The real change for her, however, came through her experience in her high school art curriculum.

In 10th grade, Cass felt like the door of art opened through the mentorship of her high school art teacher.  He helped Cass see art as a creative tool to express and process emotions, finding purpose in art as a healing tool.  She learned to let her emotions out and translate that into her work.

Cass started down her art path with the medium of watercolor painting.  She took advantage of all the opportunities at school, experimenting with jewelry making, ceramics, acrylic painting and independent study.  Her entrance into stained glass work started as a Covid Hobby, about a year ago.  It was something she had always wanted to  pursue, but the start-up cost always held her back, as well as a dedicated work space.  Living with the motto that “sometimes you have to make sacrifices to do what you love,” Cass modified her 8×10 bedroom to accommodate her stained glass studio.

Looking back on her beginnings as an artist, there is one piece that stands out to her that became a defining moment of her work and her process.  After an elderly relative of hers was taken advantage of and manipulated into selling drugs, he was arrested, and the news was shocking for her.  In response, and as a way to process the event, Cass painted his mugshot.  It depicted her relative, with hands reaching towards him and text in the background.  And though it was a dark piece, it ended up getting a lot of attention by those who viewed it.  As a result, her piece was displayed at a local coffee shop, which sparked her reputation as a serious artist.

After high school, she had plans to be a vet tech, but the community school she was taking classes with ended up shutting down, resulting in the loss of her credits.  She has also had aspirations to study interior design, but she is taking this time to pursue her other passions and see where they take her.

We have had the great privilege of having Cass on the Bailey Builds Team.  After following along on social media for a couple years, she knew she wanted to do something more fulfilling than her job at the time, and jumped on the opportunity to apply for our internship last summer.  Of course we loved her, and so she joined our team, working with marketing, social media, and store presentation.  Looking to compliment the creative work she was doing with us, she took a job as a logistics manager with another artisan company, Bad Axe Tool Works, which makes custom handcrafted saws.

Ready to turn her love of stained glass into more than just a covid hobby, Cass launched her artisan company “Sass and Solder.”  Her angle with stained glass is to offer pieces of art that move beyond what you traditionally think of, like birds and flowers.  She wants to create pieces that reflect her style and skill, creating designs with a twist, while attracting a new kind of audience to the world of stained glass.

To check out Cass and the work of “Sass and Solder,” visit her instagram account @sassandsolder, which also has a link to her etsy account.  She will also be attending the “Art At The Market” event on September 16th in Duluth.  Cass is also open to custom work and custom colors of her designs, just send her a direct message on her Instagram account.