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Old 09-07-2004, 12:00 AM   #1
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any other craftspeople out there?

I make a living selling my metalwork/jewelry at art and craft shows, (this year I'm doing approx. 30 shows around the country),now hopefully taking my Argosy to many.

My question is - are any others out there making a living in a similar fashion (or starting to, or interested in, or attempting...), that read this forum? I'm somewhat interested in trying to set up a separate forum/website like this for artists/craftspeople doing shows. This is just such a great format. More of my friends are spread throughout the country, than are in my "home"town.

Airstreams being built the way they are, i have it form other artists that there really aren't many(any?) other trailers that hold up to this lifestyle.
And, of course, Airstreams are simply cool. and metal.
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Old 09-07-2004, 08:43 AM   #2
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Craft shows

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Originally Posted by Matthew&Gigi
I make a living selling my metalwork/jewelry at art and craft shows, (this year I'm doing approx. 30 shows around the country),now hopefully taking my Argosy to many.
Is there a list of the craft shows dates and locations available?
Dan
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Old 09-07-2004, 02:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brawner
Is there a list of the craft shows dates and locations available?
Dan
There's a lot of lists - I just did a google of "craft show list" and came up with a number I'm familiar with. I mainly use word-of-mouth from other exhibitors, as well as a publication called "Art Fair SourceBook" (they do have a website) for info. Another is the magizine "sunshine artist" - a bit cheesy, but lots of info if you're just starting. You're also welcome to email me and I can go into more detail (have to ship some things out today, so running a bit...)

I need to update it , but my website has the list of shows I've done for part of this past year. I'm leaving Thursday morning for a string of 9 shows in a row, but not coming home in-between. So - I do stay busy. There's a lot of ways to skin a cat (but I wouldn't) - some do the occasional show, some do more shows than I but only in a 100 mile radius.

I'm on my wife's computer at the moment, so I don't have some of the other sites on hand, but can come up with some later.

Matthew
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Old 09-07-2004, 06:29 PM   #4
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Hi Matthew,

I do scrollsaw and woodburning crafts. I've tinkered with the idea of getting into selling the stuff, but so far I've only made stuff to give away. It's always gotten great response when I do, and I got a lot of complements from some plaques I made specially for a local animal rescue benefit auction last year. Making it in enough quantity to make it worth doing a show seems like a BIG step.

My husband and I have a business selling collectible toys, and often do toy shows in the NW. We have considered what it would take to do shows further out of town, filling up the van with merchandise and hooking the AS onto the back, and then go as far as we want. Of course even when we do shows locally we often take two trucks full of merchandise and fill three tables. It's quite a lot of work!
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Old 09-07-2004, 07:59 PM   #5
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I sell my quilts, mostly wall-size ones that start at $145, but once I got about $8500 for a huge bed-size one (the one that was in Architectural Digest). The problem for me with selling things at art fairs is that I can't quite wean myself from the newspaper business. Unless you're willing to dive wholeheartedly into it, the art fair circuit can be a tough business, and my full-time artist friends say that sales have been down about 30% both of the last two years. That's a chunk of change to be missing. Inevitably, to ensure income, you start doing quicker, crappier work that you know will sell, and something you once did for the sheer love of it becomes stressful.

My option--working full time, doing (and enjoying) my quilting at night, then loading up friday night for an overnight drive & dawn setup on Saturday, dealing with idiotic customers for 2 solid days, carting everything home and then heading right back to work Monday morning--can be physically wracking & leave you with no other life during the summer. It put me in the hospital once. For all that work, my take for a weekend has varied from $0 to $9,000. How many people can deal with that kind of unpredictability.

Of course, if you're selling ugly little dough sculptures with stupid sayings on them like "Grandmas are oldies but goodies," well, you'll make out like a bandit. Meanwhile, the budding Picasso next to you will get a lot of stubby-looking people in ugly shorts huffing, "My 3rd-grader does better stuff than that."

This summer I bailed out of the whole selling thing & gardened. It's been blissful. But I'd be happy to participate in a forum--my first post would be "Top 10 things NOT to say to the artist." And I also heartily recommend the Art Fair Sourcebook. It's unbeatable for comparisons & for scheduling.
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Old 09-07-2004, 08:04 PM   #6
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P.S.: There are upsides too. I never gave any of my quilts away in the early days because I was afraid they weren't good enough & perhaps the recipient would think, "Uh, wow. Where the hell are we going to hang THIS mishmash?" But I figured that if someone PAID for the quilt, then that meant they really liked it. And in 10 years of doing art fairs I have made friends & received inestimable gratification & feedback from awestruck customers.
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Old 09-07-2004, 10:55 PM   #7
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It's funny - I love being on the road. Setting up the booth, watching this gypsy market grow from a city street/park/convention center, learning a bit about people in different cities.... I love being at home, too, though - possibly I need a clone I could exchange experience with!

Doing with another job is extremely hard - I did do that for quite awhile. I'm so much happier just doing the shows. It is scary - not much (if any) financial security, so many things up to the whims and fancies of the world and mother nature. And yes, it is a huge amount of work.

Yet - I haven't taken the route of making crappy things just so people will buy them. I agree, summerkid - so many do exactly that. I went full time three years ago - possibly the worst time to have done so, not that I knew it then. Just starting out, i figured I may as well make what i like first, and adapt from there. I don't know what everyone wants - but I know what i like, and what I like to make. I'm terribly stubborn - it means I work a lot, and that I don't make as much $$ as I could, but - I am happy, and as a business it's continued to grow.

$8500!! Wow. That is incredible. And, at the same time, it just seems like it should be so much more. My jewelry doesn't command huge prices - but I'm hoping to slowly move over to larger work as I move along. We'll see! It's all about process - life and art. (at least for me.)

Anyone have any good knowledge of how or where to start such a forum?
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Old 09-07-2004, 11:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts

My husband and I have a business selling collectible toys, and often do toy shows in the NW. We have considered what it would take to do shows further out of town, filling up the van with merchandise and hooking the AS onto the back, and then go as far as we want. Of course even when we do shows locally we often take two trucks full of merchandise and fill three tables. It's quite a lot of work!
Hi Stephanie!
Funny question, but do you ever come across any of the toys that Alexander Calder designed? Are they horribly out of reach? I've always wanted to collect those!

About space - (errrr - storage space. Not all-time-and-space space ) that's why I drive a 16' box truck as a show vehicle. It's been my hotel (I'll phase that out once I get the Argosy ready & a hitch on the truck!), storage for all my display, and my studio while on the road. You wouldn't need a studio space, so you'd have a lot of storage.

Geez - I don't mean to sound funny. It is hard work - but I just feel like life and the possibilites of everything really opens up with this kind of life. It's not always easy, but it is definately alive.
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Old 09-10-2004, 03:14 AM   #9
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Great Ideas...

Hi Guys.....
Well, it's Nice 2 read U once agn, been a little busy, 2 say the least...., Now, jus a few words from THIS side of the pond....4 wot it's worth...( NOT a lot LOL )....
I GO CAR-BOOTIN every sunday morning for abt the last 6 weeks, & funnily enough I made around $465 in those total weeks...abt $ 65 a visit, now I KN it AINT the bestest earner 4 workin on a SUNDAY...LOL, but for abt5 hrs of jus standin, doin almost NOTHING...& gettin SUN-TANNED , well it aint all that bad...LOL, With being 6 of us in the Family....SORRY...TOBY the PUP makes 7...LOL, Wife & 3 DAUGHTERS...YES 4 WOMEN in the house at ONCE...Makes ME GLAD 2 have our SON, MARK...whom 2gether we kinda GO L@@K at CARS...or summat always need 2B fixed down the shed...LOL...
I notice there a quite a FEW speciality stalls, like yrs...some folk jus sell one type of thing, Now our youngest D/D, lisa, LUVS jewelery..& rite across from our stall was this Lady sellin HOME made stuff.....at very reasonable prices, the type of things one don't C in the shops...kinda DIFFERENT, is certainly ONE word I would class her wares as...LMAO...
Lisa spent a few £££'s there, & she told Me of this RING she had seen, silver with a blue stone, priced at £8...( $12 apx )....I went over 2 C it, Yep sure was nice....so I bought it 4 her, ALL day She was kicking Herself 'cos it had bn SOLD when She went back 2 buy it....BUT wen She went 2 BED & found it on her pillow....MAGIC...JUS MAGIC...
However the stall Lady was tellin ME that She could NOT make the stuff quick enough....as with it bein different / unusual / special one off items...the demand from the " Gothic " followers was so very demandin that she gave up her full time JOB, took a gamble & jus went 4 it...& luckily 4 her it is payin off, as she is now puttin 2gether a catalogue of her wares & is hopin 2 set up a full time stall in the local Town's market....SO very GOOD LUCK Suzanne....GO4IT...
SO, there U R....SO Matthew & Gigi, go 4 it, also whilst WE were in BOSTON ( WOW ) in Jan this year...( WOW-WOW what a place WOW )...LOL I saw a few street CARTS sellin also hand made wares, & at Fannieale Hall Market...agn WOW...LOL...it's a dream town for traders....
Mark & Myself go 2 a LOT of OLD CAR / Farm / Bike shows, & there R ALWAYS a few sellin stalls there, & yes the DO sell a LOT of stuff, & some of it is quite EXPENSIVE....but being a " One Off ", makes it Unique, So If U gonna do it, I wish U all the best, anyhow, what U gotta loose ??, U there In Yr A/S, & U'll only B sittin down readin or playin checkers...LOL, so why not make a few Bucks whilst U enjoy yr selfs...GOOD LUCK...Chris.....
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Old 09-10-2004, 08:36 AM   #10
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Hi, I do stained glass and would like to figure a way to take it on the road but that would be hard to do for an extended period of time. We are going to be traveling a lot next year. I just got a scroll saw this year and was going to give that a try but it is harder than I thought, not giving up yet though. Marvin
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Old 09-10-2004, 11:32 AM   #11
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Nope, never heard of Alexander Calder toys. The toys we sell are ones you can buy at Walmart, but we have them long after they're off the shelves everywhere else. Mostly sci-fi movie toys - Star Wars, Star Trek. We have to be careful not to get caught up in junk that has no lasting power - Pokemon being one good example!

I had a friend who made wooden toys and make a good income selling them to a little yuppie toyshop in downtown Portland. Same thing with a friend who made beautiful glazed ceramic beads which she turned into really neat necklaces. She caught the eye of a Nordstroms buyer with them and did pretty well for a while. I haven't talked to her for a long time. So there are lots of ways to sell your wares without having to set up a stall and do it yourself.

My favorite story is a very good friend who lives up the hill on the river. She made cabinet pulls out of river rocks. She went through quite a bit of experimenting to figure out how to assemble them, and then they took off. She was selling them through a website I helped her set up. Finally she decided it was a lot of work to make knobs when you have a good day job. It was fun for a while though, hearing her tales of selling rocks to people back east who wanted those authentic northwest river stones in their kitchen!

Still, I think that's a great way to go. Especially true crafts where you create stuff out of hand. Our business is truely reselling merchandise, so we're at the mercy of our suppliers.

I agree, making a living on the road sounds very adventurous. Every day would be new sights and faces. I think a life like that keeps you young at heart. Pretty cool.
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