Monday, 21 November 2016

Back from Crafts in the Pen

I'm back from Crafts in the Pen!
The weather was so foul, there were even a few cancellations from the exhibitors. And still at least 160+ pens were full of wonderful stuff. The quality of products on offer was much higher this year (means competition  😊) and  1300+ visitors on Saturday only. I believe that Sunday was a bit quieter but still it was a good flow of people.
 - I've met some nice people, old friend and made new ones;
 - There were quite a few customers who have already bought some stuff from me last year or at the other shows and they came to say hello, thanks, and buy more. I'm really touched!
 - I've been shown items I sold last year being very heavily used (like phone cases) and in perfect condition still! What a relief!
 - I've not been frozen to death, being better prepared;
 - We booked a double pen this year to have more space and let people to browse and it worked quite well;
 - The fish were the stars 😊!
 - I sold very well, even better than last year despite the more competitive market.
And we stayed with friends for two nights which was very nice.
Just a few pictures of my stand below:

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

What is a good fair?

Just before my largest craft fair of the year I started to ponder on the subject :) Why I need a fair at all and what is a good one?
At first it's of course fun and excitement! Meeting people, getting their reaction, making new acquaintances or friends (even better).
But from practical point of view? What's in it for me?
- I could sell things which I do not sell through Internet. They are bulky or heavy like pictures and cushions or I do not know how advertise them properly like fish. I still want to make them and the fairs provide opportunities of sales.
- Felt is difficult media, it's much easier to sell in real.
- Not only to sell but to attract attention of  "important" people like those who run shops, galleries and other craft events. You may not even know about them and it could be more difficult to get into uninvited.
- Spread the word about yourself especially if you make something unusual. I become known as "a fish lady" :)!
- Advertise your classes if you teach. I've got one fantastic student for the fish course!
All these points above may be hard to estimate in money equivalent so let's talk profit!
What fair is good in profits? How to calculate it?
1. Put all the expenses together. Everyone could get it different and it very much depends on the particular fair, but general points are: - the cost of the stand.
                               - if the fair is far away  - the traveling and accommodation cost. In my case I need to include the cost of my husband's day away of job because I do not drive and anyway I need his help for a large shows.
                               - comparing to Internet sale there are extra expenses for staging the stand. They could be one-off (table  covers) or regular like extra packaging.    
2. Put your sale profit together.
3. Now it's a tricky one. I know a lot of people consider a fair to be a successful one if  #2 is more than #1. Not exactly.
I do sell through Internet and in a real shop. If I was to sell there (not at fairs) I would avoid all expenses #1 but will lose 35-40% of commissions.  So I deduct say 30% of my profits #2, then deduct expenses of #1. If the result is more then zero I am in profit! How much it's to everyone to decide!

To finish on a lighter note I'll show one of a few cushions ready for the fair. Hope to sell it and make some profit :)!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Catching up...

Oh dear! I'm so behind, do not even know what to talk about... OK, what's gone is gone, I'd better tell you what's on and what is coming.
I'm in the third week of online course on Fantasy Fish. It's the final week so it's time for a brief summary:
- am I happy with the course - not exactly;
- do I know what should have been done differently - no;
- am I going to run another course, later - not sure.
Very positive, isn't it?

The second show of Crafts in the Pen is coming next month. I was quite happy how the last year it went and was looking forward for this one. Now it's close and we've got a brochure and I'm growing  more apprehensive as it nears. 
At first it's huge this year 176 participants instead of 105 last year, and many of them (myself included :( ) have double pens. It means vast space for visitors to cover and it's not indoor meaning a lot of customers will just give up before checking on the all stands.   
Then the selection of exhibitors is a little bit strange to my taste. I do admit that the last year show was a mixed bag, and the standards of this year is much higher but it's much closer to art show than to Xmas craft fair. I do agree that artistic quality of, say, paintings or prints, is much higher than, say again, of decorative candles, but we are there for Christmas! I'm sure people would prefer more festive staff which means - cheerful, cheaper, even slightly kitschy. I myself was exhibiting at art show earlier this year but at Crafts in the pen I'm to present very different stuff.
Anyway "happiness comes from having low expectations" and my expectations are really low!

To end on more optimistic note I'll show something cheerful! Sunflowers tea cosy, just finished:

Saturday, 3 September 2016

The first fish of the autumn

Summer - time for holiday, getting away, family time etc - is over. We are in September now, autumn is arrived. Back to work, and here is a new fish - the first fish of the autumn:

Silk laps on the top of the body and wool nepps with some silky staff on the bottom.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Art in the Pen -2016 Thirsk

It's been a while I wrote here in my blog... Holiday, family staying and most time and mind consuming event - my first Art in the Pen show. AITP is the well established art fair here in North. This year they expanded to a new venue in Thirsk.
It was my first exhibition as an fibre artist and I was very excited and a little bit scared. But it went well.
- I like the venue and the atmosphere. Despite being just a cattle auction market it has very light and airy feel. Some people with more experience than myself commented that it was one of the best venue of the kind. And the weather was a proper summer weather.
- Everyone was very friendly. The pen(stand) we've got at first was of a rather awkward shape not suitable to my kind of display and we were moved to another one with proper walls and corners, getting more light and located just in the centre of the action.
- I've met some people, textile artists, whom I knew by there work on Internet.
Public response was very good, I've got so many very complimentary comments from the visitors and professionals alike. I was thrilled to bits when Sheila Smith came to my stand and praised my work. We chatted with MarmaladeRose (Fiona Gill) about our professional "secrets" and she's bought my glasses case! I think I should put it in my CV :)
- What was very unexpected that some visitors (whom I've never seen in my life!) came to see my work, which were recommended by other felt artists. It was very nice to know!
 - I've sold two cushions to a lady who has already had my tea cosy. It's just great to have customers coming back.
- There were a lot of gallerists and markets organisers looking for new interesting exhibitors and I run out of my business cards by the end of the show. I've been already invited to a designer market next year!
 - And finally - I sold well.

Overall it was very good and exciting weekend and I hope to repeat it next year.
Here are some pictures to illustrate:
How everything started:

         My husband dealing with the fish display:

This side of the pen is finished:

"Panoramic view":

And myself in the middle:
My family came to support me at the end of the first day. Some fish and cushions have gone and a picture...
Some pictures of the other exhibitors' stands:


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

New Delivery

This scarf was made without a wool layer, just pre-yarn and silk fibre on the top. No good, too many holes and the holes are too large!
I tried to rescue it and added a very thin layer of carded merino on one side. Not the tops but carded one because I thought it would catch better with already felted pre-yarn. Here is a result:

It's more solid now which may be a disadvantage but adding another layer of dyed wool created more interesting play of colours.

 Anyway, I like it better now!

And see what I've got just delivered:

 There is nothing to stop me now!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Experiments with crazy wool technique

I continue my experiments with thin rovings and crazy wool technique. This time I used rainbow coloured ball (at the bottom of picture):
The roving/pre-yarn I work with is much thinner than standard pencil roving:

 The technique is the same as earlier: the layer of roving, very thin layer of matching merino, another layer of roving and generous layers of silk/viscose fibres in matching colours on both sides.
The result:

I'm quite happy with colours and the sheen:

This is how thin and holey the scarf is:

I'm still struggling to find a thickness I'm happy with, so you are to see more experiments!