Monday, September 26, 2016

Craft Fair 101... Craft Fair SOS... I Can't Decide

Now that I have more than a few craft fairs under my belt I know one thing for sure: they are not my favorite.

It's not that I don't like selling my work, or that I don't enjoy meeting the people who bring it into their lives (without whom I wouldn't be able to do what I do), or even that smiling all day makes my face hurt. It's more about that good old Murphy's law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

In the hopes that anyone thinking about selling their work at craft fairs will be able to avert disaster I'm sharing my short list of  do's, don'ts, and must haves, because the long list might break the internet.

Use tiers to raise items up to eye level. 


Do: READ. Read all the things. They are written down for a reason.

Don't: Be inflexible. Remember those things you just read? Half of the other people involved did not read them and it's a good bet that the organizers have taken on way more than is humanly possible.

Do: Have a good attitude. Figure out how to laugh off the little things and present yourself as though you are having a great time to anyone that enters your booth. No one wants to hang around a Grumpy Gus. I think I've got this down to 80% Positive Polly, 20% Grumpy Gus. What can I say. I'm a work in progress.

Don't: Let people walk all over you. Confrontation is hard/horrible/yucky, but so is putting in a bunch of time and energy only to allow buyers to haggle away your profit, or a booth neighbor/partner to sprawl into your real estate. This is a business after all.

Do: Be prepared to talk about your work (repeatedly). Compile a short list of selling points that you can work into conversations naturally.

Don't: Be overbearing. Not everyone wants to hear the conception story for every piece, or even talk to you at all. This takes practice, but reading the room is a great skill to have.

Do: Stay organized. Have everything priced and inventoried before the fair starts. Make sure you have all necessary permits, licences, and insurances well in advance. Keep good sales records, you'll need them for tax time!

Don't: Think you can do it all alone. Fair days are long. Ask a friend to help out for a few hours, or to swing by with a snack. Ask the event coordinator if anyone is available to cover short breaks. If all else fails ask a neighboring vendor to keep an eye out while you make a run for the restroom.


Secure items to displays whenever possible to avoid theft. 

Must haves:

Water. Bring more than you think you will need. Nothing works up a thirst like talking and showing those pearly whites all day.

Weights (if the fair is outside). Bring more than you think you will need. Weigh down the tent, weigh down the table cloths, weigh down the displays. Wind is a powerful thing.

Pain relievers. A headache can really ruin a good time.

Snacks. Quick bites make it easy to stay in the booth and still look professional.

Change! Bring more than you think you will need.

Credit card reader and back up battery or solar charger.

Note pad. So you can write down all the things you want to do differently next time. You wont remember later. Write them down.

Alternates. Displays don't always work out the way you envision them. Cell phones don't always get great service. Run through your list and fit in a plan B wherever possible.


Alright. I think that covers the bare basics of preparing for a craft fair. There are a ton of great check lists out there that pretty much cover everything else, so get your Google on and good luck!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Something Nostalgic: From Other Jewelry Artists

On a recent trip to the SFMOMA I was struck by a piece by Jim Dine entitled "The Yellow Painting", a mixed media piece consisting of various hand tools on a thin wooden shelf, mounted to a canvas bathed in yellow paint, each of their places numbered by hand. The placard below indicated that his grandfathers tools had had a steady presence in his youth and influenced the work. 

Two of my Grandfathers tools: screw driver and light meter.

This piece stuck a cord with me because of my love for tools and old objects, but also because of the mystery in the numbers. Were they a reminder from a strict craftsman that tools are to be respected and returned to their rightful place? Are they markers of specific memories bound to each tool that is safely mounted in a sort of reliquary on an almost dingy yellow field that is surely reminiscent of garage and basement walls across America? Each one tempting the viewer to reach out and grab hold of a time and a place lost to the past. And what of the missing tools? Where they removed by the artist? Walled into the house as the last of the sheet rock was installed only to resurface again years later during a remodel to remove the tired old fireplace? Or are these tools simply what the placard implied, tangible reminders of a childhood. 

Ted, the first toy I ever received.

After writing about the childhood influences on my current work here, and wrestling with Dine's mysterious numbers, I began to look for other jewelry artists whose work was also influenced by their childhoods. A quick google search resulted in artist statement after artist statement referencing childhood past times, struggles, and influences as artists attempted to reconnect with their youth or make sense of its bearing on their adult lives. I hope you'll also enjoy some of my favorites both old and new. 

Margaux Lange. Her Etsy shop, while on a break, is titled "Re-Membering Barbie Fondly". Could there be a better tag line for a collection composed of Re-purposed Dis-membered barbie parts? So good. 

Nathan Dube. His statement on the Houston Metal Arts Guild website says his work "uses childhood pranks and toys, reinterpreted as high-end adult objects, to highlight the aggressive and sometimes violent ways in which men interact" and this interview from the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft highlights some of his more irritating and inspired pieces. 

Isabella Liu. Scar is No More a Scar, is a collection that transforms a childhood injury which resulted in a scar into an opportunity for growth and courage. 

Amy Tavern. I Live Here Now, a body of work completed during her residency at California College of Arts and Crafts, focuses on the nature of home and whether or not it is a physical place, something we hold with in ourselves, or perhaps a bit of both. 

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Motivation After Vacation

The Monday after a vacation is the worst! Who wants to go back to work after lounging at the pool or hiking in the woods far far away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind? Even a long weekend getaway can have the best of us thinking about calling in sick, or for those of us that work from home, crawling back into bed and pretending Monday just doesn't exist. I love my job, I mean, I really LOVE it, and I still hate the Monday after a vacation!



I recently returned from a week of camping at the beach. Not only did I play more paddle ball and do more swimming than I've done in 20 years, I began and ended the trip with a 10 hour drive. Needless to say I was stiff, tired, a little sun burned, and not into Monday at all.

Luckily, I had a three step plan that was so strategic I didn't even know I planned it!

Step One: Order something fun and work related that will arrive while you're away (don't forget to ask someone to pick up the mail or have it delivered to a P.O. Box so it doesn't get swiped). Big or small, this should be something that will make you want to pull yourself together and get back to work. A new coffee mug, that pair of shoes you've been eyeing, or a new CD (CD? who listens to CD's anymore!? I know. I really need to up my media game.) to jam out to during the commute should do the trick.


I was lucky enough to have some new cabochons from some of my favorite Etsy suppliers waiting for me that had me anxious to get back to the bench. But before I could start sketching I needed to take care of something I started before I left.

Step Two: Schedule something for the Monday you return that is still in need of a couple of tweaks. Keep this simple. We want to ease back into a routine not stress ourselves out!



In this case the bulk of my post on stacking rings was complete all I needed to do was complete a few new listings in the Etsy shop and add the links to the blog post. Boom! I updated my shop and had something new to share on social media.

Step three: Share a photo of your trip. Not only will this put you back in a relaxed state of mind, the idea of returning will be a great motivator to get back to work and make it happen. Bonus points for using a new program to create/share the photo. I made this collage with Layout for Instagram.


Even though I didn't actually formulate this plan as a way to beat the Monday blues ahead of time, it worked so well I'll be putting it into practice for all future vacations!

Thanks for reading!