Well, technically the adventures were mostly had once I actually turned up at another craft event and started talking to people, but I have new photos of shiny things to share so I figure that counts for something. While my last attempt at running a craft stall was at an exhibition organised by an art and craft society I’ve been a member of for a while now, this one was at a local garden centre so I got to meet some new craftspeople as well as just talk to everyone who stopped by my table.
Things were also different for me specifically. While I came to the last one really hoping just to sell and advertise my books, with the jewellery as something of a sideline, this time it was all about the jewellery, and I made much more of an effort with the display.
While the hand above was bought from a craft shop–and I’m pretty sure is intended for just this kind of purpose–I also stumbled across a great way of displaying necklaces and earrings: anything that looks best dangling, rather than draped. The display stand below is actually a circle of black card fixed to a stainless steel chafing dish. The “dish” itself is in this case actually more like a thick wire frame, so it’s possible to either poke earrings through the card or to hang them from pins pushed into it.
Despite being at the kind of big retail venue you’d expect people to visit casually on a weekend–compared to the last sale, which was in a village hall–the craft fair wasn’t enormously busy. I sold enough jewellery to cover the cost of the table, which I figure is an automatic win for me, but didn’t make a whole lot beyond that. Still, the opportunity to talk to the other people running tables there made the day well worthwhile. The woman right next to me was selling small bags of interesting buttons alongside her handmade things, so I picked up a couple of choice wooden ones with the intention of working them into earrings.
Handily, the holes in these buttons were spaced exactly the right distance from the edge to provide a snug fit for the very largest of my bright aluminium rings. Matching the crazy design with an equally crazy weave of chain–Rhinos Snorting Drano–seemed like an obvious move, and it’s one that I think paid off. Apparently the woman selling the buttons thought so too, because she gave me a couple more to work with–of a style that, she explained, wasn’t selling all that well. She said she’d be interested in seeing if I could do anything with them.
I’ll be honest, my first thought was that I probably couldn’t. Not only were the buttons…well, not the sort of thing I’d usually think to bolt into jewellery (and seriously, I’ve considered using cows’ teeth), they weren’t even physically well suited to it. There was absolutely no way I’d be able to just hook a ring into these ones and get it to look right. But I fiddled around a bit, found myself a way of adding a wire loop to the top of each button, and–bizarrely–they also seem to work!
Though–in my opinion–these grumpy cat buttons don’t look like much as buttons, they really come to life when they’re dangling on the end of chain earrings. They’re pretty cute! The fact that “Persian” is both a weave of chain and a breed of cat is also quite amusing to me, though I can’t help but feel that the funniest thing is the amount of work that goes into turning them into earrings in the first place. The length of wire goes through both button holes (kind of like a staple), and the lower end hooks up and over the upper end, which in turn folds up to form the loop above the cat’s head. The result isn’t as neat as anything you’d expect from a purpose-made bead, but overall I think they have a lot of character.
Since these were actually the third pair of button earrings I ended up making that day, the woman at the other stall extremely kindly–and totally out of the blue–gave me a whole bunch more buttons. Including loads and loads of these little cats.
I really wasn’t expecting that. Given that a lot of the other craftspeople seemed to be doing this at least semi-professionally, I would have understood if they were just focused on doing their own thing, but actually everyone was really approachable and had lots of advice and anecdotes to share.
This seems like a good time to mention that this new earring stand allows me to take photos using a tripod, which makes them just so much clearer. Before I’d be happy as long as the chain looked reasonably crisp at a glance. Now you can zoom in to see teeny-tiny details. For example, did you spot that this second pair of cats have pupils while the first pair doesn’t? I’ve literally just noticed that myself. Didn’t even realise it while I was making the things.
Anyway, all in all I feel like this was another good event. It was a fun day, I made a bunch of totally unique earrings, and as an added bonus I heard about a couple more upcoming craft sales, so if all goes well I could be doing this again within the next few days.
In other news, I’m now totally enrolled on my Master’s Creative Writing course, I’ve been to a couple of welcome events–was pleased to find that some of the other students write in very similar genres–and am due to actually get started early next week. Beyond writing a ton of stuff for the course itself, I’m not sure how that’ll affect my creative output, but overall I’m expecting it to make a massive difference. I’m keen to build on what I already know, but at the same time to try some totally new things, so I’ll see how it goes. They gave each of us a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, so in the immediate future I’m hoping that’ll help me find an agent, since that was pretty much the main goal I walked away with at the end of the Winchester Writers’ Festival.
So, lots going on and lots still to come. At this point I’m not certain exactly what I’ll be doing even two weeks from now–it’ll largely depend what the course demands, and what I can manage to work around that–but it’s bound to be good and include lots of writing so that’s alright.
Flash Fiction Month may be over, but I’ve been busy ever since. I’m a member of a local arts and crafts society, and when one of the other members suggested that I sell my books at an upcoming tabletop sale, I thought “Why not?” But then it proved impractical to order in paperbacks, and I’m reluctant to encourage people to pay for my flash fiction collections since the ebooks are free, so it was pretty much just Face of Glass on disc. I actually feel like I’ve put together something really good–you get multiple ebook formats on the same disc as the audio of the three tales–but with a six foot table you really need to be selling more than just one thing.
So I dusted off my tools and put in a couple of orders for some shiny new materials and I spent a week or two weaving bracelets. If I’m honest, it really was more about making the table look good–and not just showing up at a craft sale with a bunch of identical (if carefully produced) CDs like some kind of weirdo–than it was about making something I actually expected to sell. Still, I was pretty happy with the results.
I’ve been focusing on writing for the last couple of years–the last five or so if you count academic work–but before that I actually did quite a bit of jewellery. I had some in a local shop for quite a while, but despite having my work (more or less) available on the high street it didn’t do tremendously well. I sold a handful of things, and it brought in a bit of money, but the jewellery was most useful as an option for unique Christmas and birthday presents. I hate getting people chocolate or anything else you have once and then it’s gone, but it’s a nightmare trying to find something else different year after year.
Long story short, I went in on Saturday morning thinking that if I made my money back on the table, I’d be happy. And I did! Plus a fair bit more. By the end of Saturday, as far as I was concerned, Saturday had been a roaring success. I’d made a little money, I’d got my books in front of a crowd for a whole day, and the jewellery had attracted a lot of attention. I was looking forward to more of the same the next day, but at that point Sunday was a bonus.
Sunday was not a bonus. Sunday was three times as busy. A lot more people stopped by my table and a lot more took an interest in the actual process of making the stuff. There were more kids around on Sunday, which definitely helped–they were really keen to find out more about how everything was put together and how long it took, and once I was talking to them more people came to listen. There was actually a bit of a crowd at one point!
But while the event was already a success just in terms of being a fun weekend with lots of interesting people, it turned out to be a very good move financially as well! It’s definitely not enough money to let me quit my day job, but since I don’t have a day job it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve got going on at the moment. It seems as though there are a lot of craft sales coming up nearby, and if this one is anything to go by then my main problem will be making things faster than people buy them! Admittedly that’s mostly down to the fact that these bracelets each take hours to make, but I feel like this is still a good position to be in. It’s got the added bonus of being something I can do in my own time, so I’ll be able to keep it up (or stop suddenly without seriously annoying an employer) while studying for my MA over the next year.
So it looks like I’ll be doing this again pretty soon, and I may even open up an online shop at some point. In the meantime, if you see anything you like then just let me know!