Craft Fairs

I have visited lots of craft fairs, I find them full of inspiration, and buzzing with creativity, I tend to associate them with tea and cake, being a summer time affair generally, but obviously there are the Christmas versions (still with tea and cake), the Easter ones (tea and chocolate cake) but I do find them frustratingly difficult to sell at.

So, the basics of a craft fair are that the seller is registered with HMRC, if not then there could be undeclared income issues to deal with, and trust me its really worth registering as Self Employed if you are looking to make money because the fines simply weigh the meagre amount of tax you would be paying ten, twenty fold.

You need Insurance, public liability, you don’t want anyone to trip up and fall on your table leg, break a finger nail & then put in a claim against you.

Contents / Stock insurance, sadly there are people in the world not as honest as others, not to mention should the heavens open and it rains on your parade, or the Earth develops a huge fault and your table vanishes in a crater before your very eyes!

Table layout needs to be eye-catching, multi layered and not cluttered. Pricing should be clear, as should a little information about the items you are selling, its pointless selling Genuine gemstones if the potential customers don’t know they are genuine, they could just think they are overpriced plastic or glass beads.  Or perhaps its a hand crafted lampwork bead design, exquisite and totally unique.

Packaging should be simple, elegant or beautiful also, especially if the items are to be gifts, but not excessive – there is also the small chance you could charge for gift wrapping or you could throw that in as a deal clincher!

I am a huge advocate of the personal approach, smile, greet people, engage in banter and chit-chat, stand at the front of your stall proudly displaying your wares, have a story to tell about them so that a passing potential customer can form an association with the item to the point that they simply must buy it – whether it be the stone of their birth month, or that it matches the colours of their jacket. The story can include a tale of how the feature gem is only mined 2 months of the year, in freezing conditions where the miners struggle to mine enough stone to make them enough money to survive the sub-zero temperatures for the remainder of the year. How the stone is only mined from one mine in the entire world and that its drying up, or the story could be something as simple as how the design was featured in Tatler, or Tiffany’s blue book or its inspired by the necklace worn by the Mona Lisa – the physical item is only half the story in clinching the sale the balance is about the memories you can create around the piece. I can waffle forever if I need to, its easy because I am passionate about the Gems I own & collect, and the pieces I am inspired to make whether they be out of gemstones or seed beads.

I also find that a stallholder can have a huge amount of interaction with potential customers by demonstrating at their stall, but also by allowing the customer to have a go themselves, or request a custom piece. It’s truly satisfying to teach someone a new skill, I love demonstrating techniques, and discovering new techniques, stitches what works and what doesn’t with different types of beads and stringing material.

I found last year that loom band craze lent itself really well to this, and at spare table a couple of children soon had a crowd around them ooo’ing and aaaah’ing at their looming skills!

But now we come of to my big big huge massive bug bare, the big issue I have with craft fairs is that people love to look, touch, hold, gossip, but rarely part with any money.

Lets face it, the real draw of doing a fair is to make some money, now whether that be to reinvest in stock or treats for yourself at the fair or the sole source of your income without money is there any real point to exhibiting at a craft fair ?

I get constantly frustrated with guest designers on JM and the presenters when I hear the constant oooh ahhhh ooooh at the fantastic designs demonstrated on the inspiration (and the other shows) there is absolutely no doubt they are amazing, beautiful pieces of jewellery, but oooh that necklace could be sold for at least (with real emphasis on the “at least” part of that sentence) £50 what a bargain, or the banter where each piece of agate on a strand could be sold for at least £20 each making a profit of £160 come on buy them, why wouldn’t you its ridiculous not to purchase them …but seriously would you, go a craft fair and buy a necklace or any piece of jewellery from a stall holder for that kind of money?? I wouldn’t and I can see the value in the gemstones and the time taken to create the piece.

My point is not to be negative at all, it’s just that I have visited as buyer, and as a seller a variety of craft stalls, I have made many friends whilst at these fairs but each time I have done them I have barely covered my costs, certainly not if you factor in my time or effort involved in setting up, paying for the stall, paying the insurance, petrol, food / drink at the fair and asking around most sellers I have met do it for the social side, and rarely make money. I am sure they all have really good days, but in truth I think anyone who believes you can make a good consistent reliable living selling at craft fairs must be living in a cardboard box or on fantasy island, however if you do manage it please do share your selling secrets and best stall locations!

Beadweaving – Relic Pendant

So I have drifted back to Beadweaving, I always do as I find stringing beads or gemstones on a piece of wire or beading thread fairly mundane and basic, but sometimes you need basic mind numbing threading (stringing) and other times you need an intricate skilful challenge.

So I decided to pick up a kit (given to my for my birthday from my mummy), and using a few stud beads (York Beads NY) delicious delicas and tiny size 15 seed beads I re-acquainted myself with Albion Stitch (Heather Kingsley-Heath) and whipped up a case for each, I have to say Albion Stitch is an easy stitch to get your head around, once I have completed the pendant I am going to use to bead around some Cabs I purchased from Jewellery Maker. I was pleased that it only took Saturday evening, and Sunday Evening to produce 6 beaded stud beads.

I find bead weaving so relaxing, but bizarrely the seed beads are as expensive if not more expensive than genuine gemstones! The beauty of working with them, isn’t in the value for me, its detail, you can spend hours working on a piece and it will be tiny.

Heather Kingsley-Heath Relic Pendant
Heather Kingsley-Heath Relic Pendant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To put this some perspective, I spent an entire day at a bead weaving class in London last March and created a couple of the beaded 14mm’s with the dagger beads attached, the bracelet took 8 pieces to create using size 15 charlottes (tinier than size 15 seed beads) and some size 15 seed beads so I spent an entire day completing just a couple of these, I then spent hours in the evenings following the class to complete the bracelet. In this same time I could of created an entire suite of beaded necklaces, bracelets, earrings,tiaras and wire wrapped hair pieces the simple fact is that the smaller the beads, the more intricate the work involved, and the more time required to make a piece of jewellery.

This sadly is most probably the reason you won’t see this art demonstrated on Jewellery Maker, they simply don’t have the time to demo it, but also the tiny beads would I imagine be so intricate to cut, as many of the beads I believe are cut by hand in India it simply wouldn’t be feasible or economical to produce them.

Beadworkers guild workshop
Beadworkers guild workshop

Christmas Presents from Mummy :)

For Christmas my lovely mummy got me a selection box, now these are I know, very common around the festive season but, my mummy didn’t get me a chocolate selection box she got me a Jewellery Maker Selection box, which she selected herself! #jewellerymaker

Here are a few examples of my treats ….

165cts Black Onyx Nuggets #jewellerymaker
165cts Black Onyx Nuggets #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amethyst & Citrine Nuggets
Amethyst & Citrine Nuggets #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prehnite 310cts
Prehnite 310cts #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnt Orange Agate Carved Flowers
Burnt Orange Agate Carved Flowers #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amethyst Rondelles
Amethyst Rondelles #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Onyx
Green Onyx #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elongated Amethyst Pears 130cts
Elongated Amethyst Pears 130cts #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

80cts Bi Colour Opal Graduated Rondelles
80cts Bi Colour Opal Graduated Rondelles #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Opal Rondelles
Blue Opal Rondelles #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi Dyed Agate Rounds
Multi Dyed Agate Rounds #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

Wall of Fame!

Wow, on Sunday morning I was just experimenting in the kitchen with a Davina McColl reduced sugar cupcake recipe, using Spelt Flour, Ground Almonds and Maple syrup …. I added cocoa powder, and coated the finished product in 85% chocolate …taste well I was apprehensive at the start but they taste amazing …. well worth the effort

So whilst I was whipping my butter, adding the eggs and flour I put Ed (Jewellery maker) on the iPad and my necklace appeared on the wall of fame!!!! It was shown at 11am, the video is on YouTube, but I can’t upload as the file size is too large for wordpress, so here is the picture again :)

Garnet Necklace
Garnet Necklace

Christmas Presents ….

Fabulous Kit - treat to myself
Fabulous Kit – treat to myself

Christmas is all about giving and receiving, but lets face it we don’t always receive everything we really wanted ….sometimes its worth taking out a little “insurance” and getting yourself a little pre-Christmas treat.

Well I did just that, and this was the result, I ended with a kit from Jewellery Maker, I got around 7 reels of wire in various autumnal colours (browns, oranges and gold) in various gauges, 0.25mm, 0.40mm, 0.60mm, 0.80mm, 1.00mm and 4 Cabochons. I can’t remember the exact price I paid but am certain it was under £20 delivered to my door :)

One of these Cabochons is Amber! Not strictly a gemstone in my humble opinion as Amber is clearly created from tree sap, over many  many years, often with micro creatures embedded in the centre, still very pretty and quite small, I have yet to decide what to do with it, but I may have a play around with some Silver PMC (Precious Metal Clay) perhaps make a pendant or a ring for myself, and then with the  other pieces of Jasper which are quite sizeable I may get my seed beads out and peyote stitch a nice band around the edges.

I know the concept of the kit is to wire wrap the cabochons, but I do feel that when I have a go at wire wrapping it always looks a touch messy, I do like neat & tidy, thats why beadweaving is my staple I find the stitches organised, structural, am not a fan of freeform peyote!

Christmas Gifts

Well, we are well in to January now, traditionally quite a depressing month really. Its cold, wet, windy, foggy outside, the days are short and worst of all I am back at work with no days off to look forward too for literally months.

On the bright side, I did receive some amazing gem stones as gifts this Christmas from my amazing Mummy.  (she is a home shopping addict)

Before I share my ever growing collection, I thought I would share my latest beading mat. On JMtv all of the guest designers seem to use a macrame board to work off, now I do love my macrame board but I find it virtually impossible to use the macrame board with small gems as they tend to roll off in all directions for me! I use a thin flexible foam mat, the issue with the foam mat is that it isn’t very sturdy nor very portable.

So to resolve my tiny problem I invested in a kindle / tablet case, a nice multi-coloured leather case, with a zip around 3 sides. Inside I fitted a bead mat, which means that I have a stable, none roll work surface to work off, and I don’t need to pack my designs away as the bead mat holds the gems & findings securely in place.

Tula Jewellery Design Case
Tula Jewellery Design Case
Beading Mat in Kindle case
Beading Mat in Kindle case with a headpin wrapped Cabochon I have been working on. 

The great thing about this case is that my work is totally transportable, so I can take it out to the cafe @ Belton House whilst my children play, on train when having a day out, or simply to fold away projects at home waiting to be finished, but keeping all the component parts in one place.

The kindle case has elastic attached to each corner internally, so it has been easy to secure the foam beading mat inside the leather bound zip case.

Christmas Makes

What do you make a man? Especially a man who has everything,  one who never wears jewellery as a Christmas present?

Well the answer is you don’t make them anything! but I was completely  surprised when I was asked to make a pair of cufflinks because the new shirt, purchased for the formal night on the 10 night cruise required them.

Cubed Agate Cuff Links
Cubed Agate Cuff Links

Using some rose gold-plated findings (the toggle clasp ones, but obviously just using the bar portion) a few jump rings, a flower headed headpin and a couple of cubed black agate gemstones from Jewellery Maker and within 10mins they were completed.

 

 

 

Now, pre-Christmas I whipped up a pair of earrings for my Grans hairdresser, and rather excitingly they appeared on JM tv wall of fame on the TV! I do have a clip but sadly I can’t seem to post the link   as the file is too large, so a picture will have to do instead.

Amethyst Earrings
Amethyst Earrings

So, I took a piece of silver plated chain from a JM findings pack, snipped it in to 6 pieces, attached a Amethyst from a JM bead scoop and a couple of silver plated earring findings and hey presto another quick 10 minute make.

 

 

 

Other makes include;

Bead Scoop Charm Bracelet
Bead Scoop Charm Bracelet

This bracelet was again whipped up using a bead scoop from JM, I have said it many times, the bead scoops of a mixture of gems stones are my absolute favourite buy at the moment, the sheer excitement of seeing what is in each bag, it so much fun! So for my friend in Canada I made a charm style bracelet, using 6 gems, of different cuts & colours but perfectly toned just by adding a few headpins, chain and clasp.

Memory Wire with Daggers!
Memory Wire with Daggers!

Using memory wire I threaded on some dagger gems similar to these on JM to again make a necklace in less than 30 minutes, the longest time was taken threading the gems on the wire!

 

 

Leather Effect Macrame Bracelet - Mens Make!
Leather Effect Macrame Bracelet – Mens Make!
Mulberry Pearl Drop Earrings
Mulberry Pearl Drop Earrings on Rose Gold Plated findings from a JM findings pack

 

 

 

 

So these are my other makes, hopefully they were well received!

Opal & Pearls
The opal bracelet is uber chunky, I added the chain because the internet is full of next seasons trends this piece is definitely on trend! 

 

Christmas Excitement

So, after all the excitement of Christmas, the post big day always feels a little flat to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely not to work, as this period is technically the only 2 weeks holiday I take a year, running your own business is challenging but I do find it harder to entertain the children, and get some me time in.

Before Christmas we did so much, my children went to a Panto (Aladdin @ The Guildhall) with school, performed in the school Wiggly Nativity in the beautiful St Wulframs church, we visited Santa on a boat trip at Gunthorpe which was lovely, played in the snow globe at Downtown Garden Centre, and finally visited the winter wonderland and Santa again on Christmas Eve at Downtown Garden Centre, we spotted the Reindeer at Belton Garden Centre, delivered Christmas cards for the Scouts, as my eldest is a Beaver – actually that was probably the most fun they both had one Saturday afternoon, running up and down the local streets for 4 hours in the cold, pushing cards through doors and getting some really lovely elderly people come to the door or window and wave a thank you at us – really heart warming.

Christmas Eve is my night out with a best friend, this year “Santa” got home the latest she has ever managed 4am (oops good job my mum can’t read this) but still managed to drop all the presents under the tree safely, sneak in to bed, and be up at 7.30am to open them all with the monkeys! Christmas day we ate out, at the Farrier its easy as it has a play area then some peace and quiet as I volunteer to feed my friends cat, an hour to myself!

Boxing day sales, can’t beat Downtown I have to say, one new coat later and I am a happy bunny.

So, I am in the process of compiling a post of my Christmas makes, watch this space……it may also include some of my Christmas presents :)

 

Newark Antiques Centre

Its been years since I visited the Newark Antiques Centre, located in the thriving busy bustling market town of Newark this centre has been trading for years. The building has many independent retailers inside, each with their own little cubby hole or booth to display their wares. The most exciting thing is that you never know what you might find.

I used to frequent to purchase vintage haberdashery material, so that I could recover chairs, seat covers, make cushions or practise upholstery on various ottomans that I had picked up from either Horncastle (a small market town with a disproportional number of junk and antique shops) or the local auction house, Golding & Young.

Upstairs I discovered a world of vintage photographs, threads, jars of buttons, bags of beads and glass cabinets full of vintage jewellery.

Vintage beaded necklace, and simulated pearl necklace from the 1950's
Vintage beaded necklace, and simulated pearl necklace from the 1950’s

Just look at these, a 1950’s pearl (simulated) necklace £2, yes £2 in its original box too  suspect. The black and green necklace in the next box is a mass of strung seed beads and I bet they wouldn’t have had a bead spinner in those days!

 

 

Moving on to another cabinet, I spotted these old beaded balls, or beady beads as the lovely Lynn Davy would call them, in fact these aren’t too dissimilar to some of her designs, which can be seen on Pinterest.

Vintage Beaded Beads
Vintage Beaded Beads

I am shocked that a bag of beaded beads are marked up at just £1, the time and effort that would have gone in to stitching these is outstanding – some look to be strung together, and tied about a wooden central bead, others look to be peyote stitch either way, someone took a great deal of care to create them .

 

Am guessing this was created on a loom, as it’s perfectly straight, and the pattern is quite intricate.

The colours are quite vibrant too, given the obvious age of the piece.

Beadwork Lariat
Beadwork Lariat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out those bears, the shot was taken from the upstairs looking down on the cubicle style sales pitches below. Paddington Bears in various outfits! There was even a Basil Brush tucked away in the corner of the display  BOOM BOOM :)

Bears
Paddington Bears

 

 

 

 

Beaded Geometric evening clutch bag
Beaded Geometric evening clutch bag

 

This evening bag, £7, seriously!! The beadwork is outstanding on it, probably not that old really, I personally don’t consider anything from the 1980’s vintage (after all I lived through the 80’s and I am NOT vintage :)) The geometric design appeals to my sense of order, I am not a mishmash kind of girl, the bag itself could be almost 1920’s in style, somehow I just can’t see the original owner dancing around her bag to Come On Eileen, or Love Shack!

Finally, I discovered a cabinet full of brooches, a sea of gems, poorly displayed but visual eye candy, obviously the other interesting thing was the “risqué” small pictures in the rear of the cabinet, somehow with all the freely available porn, the infamous page three pages to me they seem more “saucy” more “carry on” than a picture of a topless woman in a daily newspaper.

Brooches and Risque Photos
Brooches and Risque Photos

I guess it’s the knowledge that in those days these were risqué shots, designed for titillation, a gentleman’s afternoon delight to provoke sensual thoughts in your mind instead of the more modern-day, in your face openly vulgar bra-less images freely available on the net or on the top shelf of a newspaper shop shelf!