Friday, 20 January 2017

Poppy Picture

Have felted large panel with poppies. The first picture shows just a layout, the second one - felted.


 Interesting to compare, obviously the sharpness of some lines is gone and some shapes changed. But in general, it's OK. If I make it a cushion cover (haven't decided yet) I'll felt it more.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

2017 plans

After 2016 sum up it's just logical to write plans for the next year - 2017. I have plenty 😊 ! And make some resolutions as well.
They may be divided in a few groups:
 
ETSY - try new products for sale - cushions. Traditional, with floral front panels and whimsical fish shaped.
           - look after the shop better than the last year, keep it well stocked. It's a tricky part, actually.
 
Fairs/Exhibitions - This requires a careful planning. I do not drive so I need to fit any fair outside York in my husband busy schedule.  Had to drop idea of applying to a few just because of this reason. Anyway I'm going to try two new fairs/exhibitions still. Hope they will be OK. Also I'll stay with two-three ones I took part last year and they were good. But some of applications will have to get through selection panel and so it could be problematic.
So  - ask some friend with experience to help me to write good artist's statement.
      -  I do need a good website of my own as an artist . Blog and Facebook is not enough, I think. 

Shop/Gallery - still unfamiliar territory, a lot of ups and downs. Need to do smth about it, just do not know what exactly.

I want to do something new - try more new techniques or learn how to paint properly or ... or...!

Not all is hard work, here is a fun part coming: I'm going to Italy in early May for the next Feltrosa festival. This year it will be in some lovely place just 40-50 km from Rome. Spend a week in spring Italy - it's something to look forward to!

This is my new fish, just to keep spirits high!



Monday, 12 December 2016

2016 Summary?

I'm usually very late with summing up the year gone (or close to it) but this year I'm doing it on time! The last fair is done, the ETSY shop got the last Christmas delivery date (not many items there anyway) and I do not do any felting at the moment and in the nearest future. Getting ready for the family coming to spend holiday time with us...
So let's talk a year 2016!
What was new:
         - I started framing my wool watercolours as pictures;
         - I exhibited at the art level the first time;
         - I applied and took part in many (too many?) craft events/fair/shows, most of them new;
         - I started to teach online;
         - My fish are on display in the art gallery (the magic word "gallery"!);
         - ETSY sales were down comparing to the last year. Quite unpleasant surprise!
         - I've tried a couple of new techniques - crazy wool scarves and "wool stencilling" in cushions; 
         - something else I've forgotten!..
I'm quite pleased with so interesting and intense year, but every of these new developments has positive and negative points and definitely space for improvement!
Try to talk through those above and make some resolutions or even plans for a future year.
         - exhibiting as an artist with my felted pictures was a great achievement for me! At least I felt that way at the moment :) ! I was thrilled by kind comments of  MarmaladeRose and Sheila Smith, people picked a lot of my business cards, I'd been invited to another event and was asked to give my fish to a local gallery to exhibit there. Fantastic! It was really great to get some recognition from masters who are at such high level of achievements and from just general public. That was July event and I cooled down a little bit since. It seems that being an artist is even more demanding than being just a crafter! And more difficult to sell as well :)!  One of the tricky points is that I'm rather confident that I'm a good crafter (OK, reasonable), but I'm quite unsure about myself as an artist. I'm still thinking whether to apply to next year Art in the Pen event, not sure, but there is time to decide still.
        - I need to sort through the list of the craft events I took part this year and some which I wanted to do but was not accepted. It'll be Crafts in the Pen definitely, I did well there this year, Masham sheep festival as well, I liked it, but need to work on display more.
        - I'm still looking for a local shop to sale those my items which are tricky to sell through ETSY. It's my main priority for the upcoming year. 
        - ETSY! I was sure that the third year was going to be as good as previous one if not better, but in November and December sales were much slower. Was it Brexit, weak pound, presidential election in USA or just me being busy and neglecting ETSY a little bit? No idea, but I need to sort it out!
All in all I worked really hard. I can't make more than I made this year and I know that all my most popular things such as fish and "watercolour" cases are always in demand, so I need to rethink the priorities and focus on new events and ideas.

Sorry for such a long post without a single picture! I do not expect my readers to get to the end of it, it was mainly thinking aloud for my own benefit!      

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.
Summary:
 - 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.