Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thoughts on Craft Shows

As I searched today for shows to do this fall, I wondered what the economy is going to be like later on. Will people be spending again or still fearful? This affects the type of shows that I'll try to get into and of course the products that I'll bring.

Scenario A: I focus on small, inexpensive shows - like elementary schools and church bazaars. When I've done these in the past, I've only sold the very least expensive of the items that I make, something in the $10 - $40 range. The entry fees are usually around $25 - $35 so you aren't out much if you don't sell much. But then you don't get the traffic, these shows usually only pull in the most local of customers. No traffic = no sales.

Scenario B: I go ahead with my normal show activity - focusing on large, juried shows. The booth fees are much higher, in the $200 - $350 range, so you stand to lose a great deal if you don't make enough to cover your costs. But these shows generally have much higher traffic, with regular customers. And these people can spend the money when they want to, I've done well at these types of shows with the $60 - $75 pieces.

But with the economy the way it is, do we know what will happen in the fall? You have to decide now if you want to get into the larger shows as they generally have application deadlines months prior to the actual show. I also have to ask off from work - meaning that I don't get paid because I work at an hourly position. If I have a good day at the show, it more than makes up for the lost hours at my job. But take too many Saturdays off and I'm likely to get fired so I have to pick and choose my shows carefully.

This would be an easier decision to make if I wasn't working. I could schedule my larger shows now and then pick up some of the smaller shows at the last minute - and if I don't have a good day at a small show, all I'm out is the small cost of the booth and my time.

When I started doing craft shows 12 years ago, you could still make a good living at it...but it was starting the downturn already. Vendors traveled from show to show, their products were well made and it showed. People came to get the unique because they valued the handmade aspect of the arts and crafts.

Today, there are so many people selling at craft shows, its really hard for anyone to make a living at it. Handmade used to mean something. Now, just about anyone can put something together and sell it at their local craft show or flea market. I see such poorly made things at shows now, it makes me sad. It makes it harder for those of us who do it for a living.

I understand where they are coming from, people need another way to make money in this horrible economy. They've lost their job and can't find another one, or they've had to take a lower paying one. I understand that, and I feel bad for them, but by flooding the market with poorly made crafts, they detract value from what everyone is doing - and everyone loses.

Sorry for the rant. Started this post about choosing shows and ended up on my soap box. That seems to happen alot lately, lol. Sometimes you just have to let it out.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Featured Artist!!

Wow, I'm the featured artist of the day on the Friendly Plastic blog! Check it out,

Thanks, Linda, for your kind comments and for featuring me on the FP blog. I haven't been doing the FP for very long but already I love it and all the many things that you can do with it.

I hope I get a good response when I feature it during my fall shows. Whenever I wear it to work (and I work at a bead store), I get lots of compliments - people think it is dichroic glass! And they want to know how to do it! I'm selfish in that I want it to be something unique as few people are using it in my area. But then again, I am a teacher and I love to share my ideas. I really do think I will be teaching it next year, I have to get better at it first though.

This is the piece that everyone loves. One of my coworkers said it reminds him of the stained glass windows in a church in the city where he comes from, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. I've done several pieces in this style and it really is fun!

And easy too! Best of all, you use up your scraps. Want to know how to do it?

1. Lay the empty metal blank on the non-stick baking sheet, making sure the metal is clean and lint free. I usually set my griddle between 180 and 200. You can start with either a cold blank or let it heat up first. If you start with a warm one, there is no moving the pieces once you lay them down.

2. Lay scrap pieces of friendly plastic, metallic side up, in the blank and let them soften. I like to use tweezers to get exact placement.

3. Start to layer the pieces, overlaping them slightly, to fill in the gaps. Be sure to get them close to the edge. Let one layer soften before adding the next. The scraps will melt into each other to form the stained glass look.

The longer you let it melt, the more it becomes one smooth piece. I've done pieces where I've not let it melt so much and you get a nice texture, but it doesn't look so much like stained glass. Be careful not to get it too hot or the plastic will bubble.

4. When all the gaps have been filled (be sure to notice the edges), carefully remove from the heat and let it cool by itself.

5. Use envirotex lite to glaze the piece, it really looks like glass once you've done that. Be careful not to run it over the edge of the blank.

You can alter the look by using larger pieces rather than smaller. The backing color also makes a difference as it tends to wrap around from the back as it melts - look closely at the photo and you'll see this effect. This is what gives it that stained glass look - the backing acts as the 'leading' between the colors. You can use that to your advantage while designing - you could use only FP with black backing, for example. I did one with all white backing and it was awesome!

Hope you try out the technique and see what wonderful things you can make!


Friday, August 7, 2009

More show application photos

As promised, a couple more photos. This has been a productive afternoon for me!

These are the Kumihimo necklaces, showing three different textures in the braiding. The orange one is smooth, made only from chenile yarn. It has a fire agate pendant. The green one is medium texture, it too is only one fiber that had a short eyelash to it. The pendant was hand painted in Russia. The brown one has several different fibers, including a yarn with a very long eyelash, giving it that extra hairiness. The pendant is a llanite heart. They actually are pretty soft and very light weight.

These are silk fusion pieces. Silk fusion - how to explain? LOL You take hand dyed silk fibers, like you use to spin for yarn, and fuse them together into something that is between a paper and a fiber. This is fusion that is dried flat (you can also mold it into 3-D pieces). I use it as the base for the composite - on top of the fusion is a stitched layer of fiber (left over pieces from the kumihimo, nothing goes to waste). One bracelet has a wire frame with wire wrapped beads and the other one is just the fabric with a toggle clasp. The pendant has tiny beads hand sewn on, its backed with velvet and strung on a wire necklace.

That's probably all I'm going to get done today. Still need one more photo of my 'plain' strung jewelry. It will take me a while to figure out which pieces to use. Look for it on Sunday - I have to work tomorrow so won't have time to play again until then.

Photo for craft show applications

The fall craft show season is creeping up quickly. Deadlines are fast approaching so I'm shooting photos for the applications. I like doing juried shows rather than open shows - there are always way too many jewelry artists at the open shows, so too much competition.

It's so hard to pick out just a few things to showcase. Even harder to get good photos, I'm not that good a photographer. I'm sure they are probably ok, I'm just hard on myself. Isn't everyone a perfectionist? LOL Maybe that is why I can never get anything done, I want them to be perfect. Excuses, excuses!

Here's a photo of my friendly plastic. The pendant is my stained glass technique, using scraps which I melt right into the metal frame and then coat with envirotex lite. Love it! Then a marblized bracelet and earrings. The fracture / fusion bracelet (thanks, Jana, for sharing the technique with us!) was my first attempt at a bracelet - don't look too close!

I'll post more later as I take more photos. Since I had to drag out the lights and everything, I might as well take more pics this afternoon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My First Ever Post!

Welcome to my blog. This is my first post!

I'm hoping that this blog will be the incentive I need to get my behiney in gear and make some jewelry. Sometimes we all need a little motivation, right?

I'll be sharing photos of work in progress and finished jewelry. Maybe a random idea or thought that pops into my head during the day. A cool site that I find while surfing the web, or some new product that just makes my day. You never know! I can be random that way, ha ha.

Please feel free to leave comments on any post, I'd love to get feedback on my pieces - or just say hi!