Gearing Up For Show Season

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Good morning, Wednesday readers! This is Kim, from Fantastical Menagerie. I know its winter still, but show season for crafters will be here before you know it! Whether you have been participating in shows for years, or are thinking about starting out, there are always things to learn. I do a combination of Sci Fi Conventions, Art Shows and Festivals throughout the year. All have different requirements. Most have applications that need to be in at least six months before the show is scheduled. When trying to decide if a show is right for you, its important to do some research.

  • Does your product fit the show? This should be the first thing to consider. If you sell Star Wars handbags, then the Pickle Festival might not be the best fit for your merchandise.
  • How long has the show been running? Is it a first year event or have they been in business for years? Shows that are established have worked out many of the issues with hosting or holding an event, and are, for the most part, running smoothly with set guidelines, a devoted fan base and regular customers.
  • Where is the event being held? Is it downtown on the main streets of your town or city? Is it at an event center with ample parking? A pop up shop in a well curated store, with a reputation for events like these? Or is it somewhere less reliable? I haven’t personally found shows in parking lots, gyms, country parks or farms (all examples) to bring out huge crowds with spending money. There is always an event that exceeds expectations, but event location can play a huge role in your success.
  • What is the purpose of the event? If it is a charity or church event, they might be more concerned with their side of making money instead of how vendors or crafters will fare. A family friendly festival might cater to a crowd that has a lower price point, and not necessarily care about whether things are handmade. If at a convention, the celebrity guests might be expensive and cut down on what people have to spend. Its always a good idea to attend an event the year before to see if your goods will fit, how things are run, and if there is competition for what you sell.
  • Is the show Juried? A juried event is one where you send in photographs, slides, or digital images of your work, display, and sometimes WIP pictures with your application. It is judged by category, level of art, and whether its a good fit for the show. If your goal is to do art shows, this means that all vendors at the event should be at similar levels, with a good variety of art represented, with no Direct Sale or commercial companies there. Some other events will ask to see your work, but mostly to make sure you are a good fit for the show. If you are looking at Conventions or local Festivals, this may not be something you need to worry about.
  • What is the expected attendance of the event? You can ask for previous year’s ticket sales, estimated counts, or presale for the current year’s events. Check their Facebook page to see how many ‘Likes’ they have, or how much effort they put into online marketing.
  • Cost vs. Profit. How much is the booth or table fee? Do you have to donate an item for an auction or charity? Make sure to estimate or research additional costs such as gas, hotel, all meals and snacks, and if you need to pay someone to help you with your booth. If it seems to high for what you are likely to sell, it may be an event to skip.

If you have done your research, you can make an educated decision on whether on event is right for you to participate in. Next Wednesday, I will be focusing more on Juried events, and the best way to get those photos taken. *Festival picture is Orange Beach Arts Festival*


DIY Crochet Owl Blanket

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Returning to my love of crocheting today, I’ve found a super cute and fairly simple pattern to share with you all!

It’s a super bulky Owl Imitation afghan! Designed by Ravelry user MJ, this afghan is one of many designs they’ve released but one of my absolute favorites. 😀 The pattern includes instructions for Child or Adult size for only $6. Besides looking super cute and comfy though, I love how it looks when it’s all folded up.

They’ve also included lots of info about hook and yarn yardage required to make, as well as estimation for yarn substitutions. Overall it’s designed to be worked up in about a day for an advanced/experienced crocheter, with some possible extra time for working on the owl hood part. If you’re intimidated by the hood, fear not! MJ has included a video tutorial for how to sew/attach it all together on her youtube account. I’m definitely considering making some of these as gifts for my nephews this Holiday season. ^_^


Learn to Knit

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Back when I was but a child, I was actually horrible at crocheting, but was able to pick up knitting. While I don’t find the medium as versatile since I’ve become proficient at crocheting, it’s still a great skill to learn if you’re looking to make clothing. I’ve always stood by that knitting is superior for several clothing items, most notably: socks, sweaters, gloves, and dresses. Crochet does alright in these areas, but man, the tubular nature of the weaving really lends it’s self to superior socks. Crochet is just way too thick.

With all that in mind, I’d like to point you in the direction of Instructables user Carleyy. She has free online guides on teaching yourself to crochet, as she also learned entirely from online sources and adds increased awareness of how to translate some terms/actions better others. There are currently 4 Beginner level, and 1 Intermediate level guides/classes available, but you can follow her on Instructables to get updates on her next lesson/guide. 🙂


Cute in the Kitchen

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Happy Sunday, all!

The unseasonable warmth continues here in the midwest US but that does not mean that I’m not spending time with a warm oven on! I do spend a great deal of time in my kitchen as I have an especial passion for baking. Creating comfort foods is one of my favorite activities for stress release. If you’ve followed the Sunday posts for a while, you may have also grasped that I love all things cute. So imagine my surprise and delight to come across many of the adorable Studio Ghibli oriented kitchen utensils in Zeniba’s Attic:

No Face, Catbus, and Totoro spoons for that geeky chef in your life!

Joanne, the artist, burns the images into the very functional pieces to create these wonderful and adorable items.

Some soot sprites to help scoop with the spatula?

I think many of them would make fantastic gifts for any Ghibli enthusiast.

Like this Totoro cutting/cheese/serving board!

She not only creates cute kitchen utensils but also paints ceramic items to match!

Maybe you shouldn’t have a Calcifer oil burner near your bacon, though.

Since she makes her items to order and they are shipping from the UK, it may take a while to receive your lovely pieces but it looks like all are well worth it! Zeniba’s Attic can be found on Etsy and Facebook.

Have a wonderful week, everyone – I’m off to bake!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Knowing Your Worth.

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Hello Thursday Crafthackers.

I do a great many things with my time, and realistically work a variety of very part time jobs so that I can be social while making my own business work from home. Just yesterday I had a conversation with someone very close to me that inspired me to write a post about it, since I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has ever had to have this type of conversation. I was talking about some private tutoring I was doing and about how much I was charging.  I told them the amount I decided to charge (since some of my costs were cut down from being able to do this from home), but I also told them the amount I should be charging for my time.

The reaction to this number was that I should not think so much of my skills to overshadow what people are willing to pay. Basically a “don’t be too big for your britches” scenario. I had to sit for a moment and think – was I really charging too much? Was the average price that I was quoting far more than anyone would realistically pay for my time? There’s a lot of ways to look at this, but perspective aside, it’s a strange thing for someone to tell you that your skills are not worth what you think they are. But the real question is this: Is that person right?

In my case, I had done a whole lot of research to come up with the price that I did, comparing education, types of degrees, methods of teaching, subjects taught and experience teaching within the field. All of this had pointed to my pricing being right, and this is what I explained to them. After I had a chance to mull over this conversation it got me to thinking that I suspect there are a lot of makers who get the same kind of feedback about their pricing or their time. And I suspect, like me, it is from people that we care about and are close to.

So, how do you find balanced pricing and how do you know how much your time is actually worth? Well. There aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules for this as if you have tried to sell your hand made item, it is a balance between what you are worth and what people are willing to spend. That being said, you can’t just throw a price that looks good on your work and your time and call it a day. One of the best things you can do is research your competition, both machine made and hand made. What are other people charging for something similar to what you’re doing? Are there differences in yours that will influence how much time you put into them? Are there things that you do that makes your product better or stronger?

When you have a good idea of what’s out there, you can reasonably look at what you’re doing and see if you’re charging what you should be. As I mentioned above, though, it’s not just what you produce that you need to think about, it’s your history and your quality. It’s your experience and your expertise. If you have a decade of crochet under your belt and you’ve been making and selling baby blankets at $50 dollars each, you are probably underselling both yourself and your product, charging barely enough to cover materials.  Where it may not be feasible to charge for every hour you put into your work -I know, it’s sometimes a hard balance between price resistance and fair pricing, you absolutely should be charging for your labour.

When you run into this problem, and you will at some point, know your market and know what ‘s out there already. Know how much time you put into your products and know what your experience means to your project. You shouldn’t have to justify the cost of your time so much as just explain why your time is as valuable as it is. Being confident in yourself and your value is one of the hardest things to do but is also an extremely important one. You will often find, as people learn about hand made and the specifics of the crafts they’re interested in, that there are many people out there who will pay market value or even a little bit extra for expertise, high quality craftmanship and for your hard work.

I think in the hand made market, many of us don’t charge what we should. It took me a long time to wrap my head around my time being valuable and charging for it. Those who I’m close to don’t always agree with what I charge, but ultimately, if they don’t understand the time and the skill that it takes to do what you’re doing, then they won’t understand why you’re charging what you are. So whether it’s a friend, a parent or a customer who makes a comment about your pricing, you should know why your prices are where they are. Though you are an artist, that does not mean that you will work for exposure or that your work is just something that you enjoy doing, and so shouldn’t charge for. Not only will this give you confidence in dealing with naysayers, but it will just help to make you more self assured about your work. After all, you’re a highly skilled individual, why shouldn’t you be paid a decent wage for your time like everyone else?

 

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Art for the tummy

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. When I snack, many times I am drawn to unusual flavors, rich, complex taste and something handmade. If I want something sweet, I head straight for Pamplemousse Sucre on Etsy. Based in New York State, Lisa Wolf of Pamplemousse loves to tempt with her confections. From her handmade rich caramels to rock candy geodes, each piece is made by her to very high standards. I usually get sucked in by the cinnamon pear caramels, and her marshamallows. Sinfully rich, and just as delightful to the eye.

Her food art has been featured in multiple magazines, shows and online  I don’t care where it is featured- I just want to eat it!

her rock candy geodes:

Small batch lollipop sampler:

Cherry cocoa nib caramels:

The Vanilla Caramel Marshmallows:

This a sweet treat best opened up when home alone, or you will be sharing with everyone. Order sizes are generous, and she cheerfully gives you little extras and special touches that come with the best of handmade goodies. You can find her here on Etsy


Retro Video Game Shadow Boxes

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My husband and I have started a collection of the games we grew up on (NES and SNES mostly), but this person blows our simple little plastic cases out of the water.

Designed and made by Glitch Artwork, these shadow boxes give a bit of art and style to your gaming collection. They layouts are well thought out and visually appealing; so much so that the gaming cart isn’t the first thing to grab you. Quite a feat when it takes up about 1/4 of the space.

If you’ve got your own collection, or maybe a few favorite games you’d like to keep, I’d recommend giving their shop a look. The frames range from $35-75 and are definitely a way to class up your home, while still showing your gaming love. 🙂


Sweet Messages

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Happy Sunday, all!

Only 2 more days until V-day and perhaps you or the child in your life still hasn’t made up their mind about cards to give their friends. I’ve found some great, quick ideas for DIY Valentine cards that leaves a lot of room for personalizing and creativity. First up is a throwback to one of my other posts dealing with peg dolls:

Make them as nerdy as you want!

I could just imagine making some Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter peg doll Valentines with sayings like “Be my precious” accompanying a Gollum or “I’m mad about you” with a Mad-eye Moody (find the tutorial here). No? Just me? Ok, then. How about something slightly simpler that could help you reduce your fiber stash? The saying could also be adjusted to the situation:

Perhaps you could go with “Why knot be my Valentine?’ or for closer friends “You make me feel knotty.”

These are definitely customizable to favorite colors and appropriate puns, tutorial found here. Or maybe you already had a little bit of a splurge and find yourself with a bunch of chocolates that would be better off going to new homes PLUS it could help reduce a stash of scrapbooking materials:

It’s like a mini piñata!

Small toys or (if you are actually sending an anti-Valentine) glitter would also fit well into it, tutorial found here. Finally, if you find yourself with a lot of time or want to make a really big impression, I highly recommend taking a look at the hexagon explosion box:

Adding quotes, pictures, and rose petals is highly recommended. Glitter is not.

These beautiful three dimensional cards are simply amazing! When you do peruse the tutorial, make sure to scroll down to examples of what others have made because there are some that create a tower when you pull on the center! Again, the geek in me is super excited to turn this into a Tower of Sauron with hearts and pictures of the ring all around it. I know, not for everyone. Well I hope I am leaving you with some great ideas to send to your friends/sweeties/worst enemy (that glitter thing I mentioned, seriously). Have a great week!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Giant Fluffy Slime

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Crafty Girls is one of the cute kids blogs I follow that provide a lot of DIY projects.  I especially like their Giant Fluffy Slime.

Learn how to make this GIANT FLUFFY SLIME with Annelise, Julia & Rachel. It makes perfect poking slime too! NO Borax, liquid starch or detergent needed for this slime! Happy Crafting!

You will need:
White school glue
Baking soda
Eyedrops or contact lens saline solution (see note below)
Shaving cream (get a scent you like!)
Foaming face or body wash – this is optional
Food dye – this is optional

*Note about eyedrops/saline solution: Make sure that you see either Boric Acid or Sodium Borate in the ingredients. If not, check for the words “Buffered Saline” on the package. If it says this, you can make slime!
Have fun making your Giant Fluffy Slime!

-Toni


New Quilt Pattern and Quilt Kits

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Yesterday Nicole and I launched the next quilt pattern in our series, Dark Mage.

 

We are excited for this latest addition to our pattern line.  The goal is to release one every 2-3 months.  You can see the entire pattern line on Craftsy.

I also started selling Quilt Kits!  These are kits that contain all of the fabric you need to make a quilt top just like my samples!

To see the quilt kits available, check out my Etsy shop.

The next pattern we have planned I am super excited about.  If you follow my Twitch you already know what it’s going to be!

-Toni