Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What I've Learned in My First Year of Craft Shows

Craft shows in North Carolina have been a bit tricky in my first year. There are busy periods of time that I had to decide which to choose and other times when there was none. My personal life keeps me from traveling to other metropolitan areas so my lessons are based on shows in the Raleigh-Durham area of NC.

Craft shows are seasonal. Many patrons of craft shows tend to visit during the spring and fall. Our summer weather is usually in the 90's, a temperature that keeps people inside or by a pool. Right after Christmas there is a 3 month lull that coincides with the winter weather. There is a lack of interest and of sheltered venues.

Between spring and fall, fall is the best season for craft shows for products like mine. Customers are interested in Holiday gifts. If you have garden related items such as yard art and birdhouses I would imagine that spring would be a stronger season for craft shows.

Advertising is everything. I remember being involved with a show that was the first show for a local group. The venue wasn't the best. We were in an environment that didn't have a lot of passerby traffic; some of us were inside and some were suppose to be outside. I decided to be outside so I could use a standard space of 10x10 instead of one 6' table. I also felt that being outside would draw more attention to the show and bring more customers to us all.

We barely had any traffic and by 1:00 I packed up.  On my way out, I looked for the signs that directed traffic to us. I was very disappointed when I saw how my application fee was applied. There were signs alright. Little 18x24 signs with curly Q lettering in pink. The signs looked like it was directing people to a private party for a little girl, not for a shop-worthy show.

You can advertise like crazy in local papers and social networks, but if you don't have signs that screams "here we are" all that previous talk is for naught. People who are interested in you will drive right pass if the sign is not an eye-catcher, especially when its a new show. Looking back I'm not sure if it would have been better if I had been more involved and educated about what steps the coordinators took or to stay away from start up shows and visit them instead for future shows.

Big shows don't necessarily mean better. Everyone who vends at craft shows has asked themselves at one time or another whether its better to choose a church or small town show or a larger city show. Many of the larger shows are juried which means you have to adhere to the category that they accept you in.

I applied to one that was a really large show that I knew would bring crowds. I was accepted in the Fiber Art Non-Wearable category only. For someone who likes to make what I like, this was a hard category to fill but I felt I was up to the task and was soon producing products that I thought would work. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene had other ideas for that particular weekend. Subsequent shows proved that some of my items were on target, others were way off base. Interestingly the more popular items were the most wearable. My Kitty Cat Kindle Case is now widely regarded as a purse. And purses are considered outside of the category I was accepted in.

Would I apply to this show in the future? I’m not sure, honestly. It was a great learning experience as it was. It forced me to grow in ways I hadn’t thought of before. But the enforceable limitations makes me consider not applying again.

The alternative to this setting is working with shows in smaller towns and churches. These are usually associated with themes. Here in NC there are a lot of farm related theme shows and churches have shows associated with community yard sales and child-friendly events. You have a smaller amount of participants and potential customers. But, word of mouth is a great way to advertise.

People are excited about the opportunity of doing something outside the norm at their small town festivals. The church’s congregation is openly supportive and many times this support applies to extended family members and friends. I’m not sure how this venue would be for other types of craft but for me, it’s a wonderful way to meet new people who would never drive to the big city for the larger shows.

This coming year I will push the limits on the seasons. I want to involve myself with a farmers market. There are several in the area and they inherently run through the whole summer. This is one event that does bring people out in the summer and many close as the pavement heats up. I can successfully set dates in advance when other types of shows are in hiatus. It’s going to be a great year of growth and I’m really looking forward to it.

What have you learned? I'd love to hear from you if you have any advice you would like to pass along.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

WIN! Just in time for Christmas

Just as it happens I have two giveaways going on at the same time. That's two, 2, two chances to win! I'd love for you to get one of my items for free or nearly free so don't miss out.

Indiespotting is offering a $20 gift certificate. The offer only last 3 days so what are you waiting for?

All Things Handmade is offering a purse charm of your choice. The deadline is December 19th.  Going by USPS's shipping schedule this give you a small window to receive before Christmas.

Here's a few of the items you can win depending on the giveaway you enter.

I suggest you enter both to better your odds.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Have You Walked Your Art Today?

This Sunday there is a art and craft show in historic Boylan Heights area in downtown Raleigh.  This is an unusual concept; there will be 'stalls' on the porches of these grand southern homes. This is their 19th year hosting this show.

Imagine being able to stroll down the sidewalk under giant oak trees visiting all the bungalow houses and shopping on their large porches. Fascinating. I'm really excited about being there.

It will be from noon to 5pm on Sunday December 4th, 2011. Here's a photo album of who will be a part of the show. For more information, please visit their site. Lastly here's a map to help you get there.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NC Country Christmas Updated Classics

This is an ode to Christmas past. Historically awesome gifts with new twists and applications.

BDS Authentic North Carolina Red Dirt Shirts. From the mountains to the coast you can enjoy playing in the dirt!  David and Cindy Bennett create this wonderful line of shirts. I have bought three myself. You can find more information and order from them at their website

These are baskets made by Jane Murray Robertson of Raleigh, NC.  She decorates baskets -and who doesn't love baskets? with decoupaged designs with festive flair for decorating.

You can find out where Jane will be next or order from her via email.

Crafts by mama and me confirms that most mothers and daughters bond but some are crazy glued. A great mother daughter team with a wonder selection of baby clothing and accessories, and crochet accessories.

You can visit them on Etsy for quick online shopping, or if you want to know where they will be next I'm sure you'll find an answer contacting them through their shop.

Friday, November 18, 2011

NC Artists of Precision and Detail

I'd like for you to meet some artisans and crafters I met at NC Farmer's Market Fall Craft Fair. It was so fun to meet new friends and visit with old ones and share in the joy of what we recent made. Seeing what others do inspires me to do the same. All this week I've been having new ideas run through my mind.  Here is a small selection of who I met.

This little boy's portrait was watercolor painted by Andrea Wilson in Holly Springs, NC. She has also recreated it in pencil.

In addition Andrea is a fabulous acrylic painter. When my daughter saw I bought a small one of a flounder, she immediately took ownership. We are currently in negotiations. Andrea also makes polymer clay jewelry in wonderfully fun shapes and colors.

For more information on custom portraits or where you find her next, you can find Andrea Wilson by email.

Richard Coates of Holly Ridge Woodcrafting combines photography with woodworking and his end results are stunning in detail. This year he introduced revolving pen containers. So cool! Holly Ridge Woodcrafting is located in Rougemont, NC.  For more information about where to find Richard next or to place an order, you can email him.

 Pens and Banks is a family affair with Frank and Clint Johnson of Raleigh and Clayton, NC. I love the antique feel of the coin banks made with vintage post office box doors that Frank makes.

Clint lathes beautiful pens from exotic woods and other materials like corian and deer antlers. He says his wife insists the manufacture of the antler pens to be done far from the house. I can understand why. The end result from all of his hard work is a great gift for your father, boss or mentor.

You can find more information by emailing them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Feel Pretty from NC Crafters

Gorgeously girlie bows of all styles and color. Great stocking stuffers and an easy way to get little girls to dress up for the holidays.

Victoria Jones' business, Bethie Bows specialized in hair bows in Disney Princess designs as well as flowers and butterflies. There are some seriously sweet creations in her line of grosgrain ribbon hair barrettes.

Email Bethie Bows for information on her next craft show or to order from her.

Bella Grace Bows is run by Cheryl Davis. She has a wide variety of classic ribbon bows, hair bands and other hair accessories. She also has fabric handbags for little girls. She can custom make your order and ship it to your door.

Find Bella Grace on her website or you can reach her by email or on Facebook.

Christy Kenyon of the Bow-Tique and Gift Shop has children hair accessories and other unique items. She has a permanent location at the Raleigh Flea Market.  Her bows include feathers and over-sized flower hair pins.

In addition to hair bows, Christy works with glass. She has some elegant, hang-able, upcycled glass trays perfect for cheese and appetizers and modern glass votive candle holders in gorgeous color combinations.

You can find more information on Bow-Tique and Gift Shop on their Facebook page or by email.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NC Farmers Market Fall Craft Fair 2011

The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is holding a three day fall craft fair on November 11, 12 and 13, 2011.  It's a great time to get your apples, sweet potatoes and Christmas gifts.

Usually the Farmers Market is the best place in the state to get fresh fruit and vegetables. An excerpt from their website explains:

 Farmers Building
30,000 square feet for North Carolina farmers to sell fresh produce, plants, and other specialty items produced on local farms.  Plants are available starting in March and local fruits and vegetables are sold throughout the growing season.  This is where you can find the freshest and widest variety of produce and plants in the area.
Market Shoppes
There is plenty of room to shop in this 15,600 square foot enclosed climate controlled building.  You can expect to find fresh produce from around the country here as well as meats, cheeses, crafts, bakery items, custom picture framing, a market grill, and N.C. wines.  There is a wide variety of specialty shops with old-fashioned candies, N.C. gifts, soaps, and lotions.

This weekend, the extra space in the Farmers Building will be filled with all kinds of handcrafted goodies. They will range from jewelry and accessories to home decor and goods. The show is so large that it overflows throughout the whole parking lot between the two buildings.

 And as usual, a plug for myself:  I'll be there and I can't wait to see you! It's something you should check out this weekend.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Felted Wool Purses for Winter 2011

I've started felting. It was dubious. I wasn't sure in the beginning but it was actually easy to pick up. I've got a few done now and they are in my Etsy shop.  I started with crochet since I that's where my skill lies.  After a couple, I decided to try knitting. The knitting was a disaster.

I practiced for a few days before I started my project. Since I don't know any fancy knit stitches, I kept to the simple knit and purl stitches.  I kept in mind what a knitter had recently told me about knitting a  swath and sewing it into a finished product.

I knitted for three days.  Then I felted in the washing machine three times. This is what I ended up with.
Oh, boy, what can I do with this?  You can't really tell in the picture but it's rhombus shaped.  The opposing sides are parallel to each other; just not in a rectangle shape.  I also have reservations about the color choices the manufacturer of the wool yarn used.  What is up with the single stripe of dark red being mixed in with purple and turquoise? In the end, I think I'll cut this into flower brooches -or a really expensive business card holder.

I think I'll stick with crochet.  I can create a complete purse and felt it in two days opposed to the 4 day project the knitted piece has already accrued.   So, here are some of my finished crochet felted purses.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hollyfest 2011 is This Weekend

If you are looking for something to do on Halloween weekend, may I suggest you take a look at Hollyfest in Holly Springs, NC.  There's free children entertainment including rides and bouncy houses plus so much more including:

  • Robinson's Racing Pigs
  • Hollyfest 5K, 1-Mile Fun Run & Tot Trot
  • Pirates
  • Costume Parade
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest
  • Fire Truck & Police Cars on Display
I will be there, of course, and I'm really looking forward to the day's events. Here's a quick glace of my market bags, kindle cases and purse charms I'll have with me.

If you want more information about this weekend's festival in Holly Springs, NC, please visit their website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How I Make Polymer Clay Eyes

One of the distinguishing traits of my amigurumi crochet charms are their eyes. As far as I know  mine are the only plushes with handmade eyes.  Here's a quick overview of how I make them. I'm not use to writing tutorials, so bear with me.

Here's a snapshot of my tools and supplies. It includes liquid clay which I don't use in this technique but I can't live without it. I bake them in a pyrex pie plate. And the tools you see on the top right is my Sculpey Etch n Pearl set.

And if you care anything at all about your working surface, cover it in wax paper.

 I select the color that want for the iris of the eyes. Here, I'm using a tan color. I knead and roll it out into a pencil size log.  To cut I use an exacto knife. There are special cutting tools for polymer clay but what I work with is so small that an exacto fits the bill very well. After a bit of finger rolling into a ball, I place the bits of clay onto the pyrex dish.

Then I press them into a button shape. Meanwhile I knead black polymer clay and use that special tool to cut the black clay.

You can see how the clay is stuffed into the concave pearl end of the tool. Now carefully, center the tool onto the colored clay and press. Not too light or it won't stick. Not too hard or you'll cut, smush or otherwise distort the roundness of the eyes.

Then I press the black irises to finish forming the button. After that, its a matter of the holes. The other end of the tool is a really nice point. I poke through the clay and make sure I get the "ting" sound of the tool hitting the glass plate. If you don't go far enough, you end up with a hole that will close up on the back side. If that happens you can use your exacto blade to ream out the hole after baking.

I bake them for about 15 minutes at 325 degrees.  Now that you see how I do it, what's your trick?
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