Festival of Glass

A very exhausting weekend.

Yesterday I helped mum out at the annual Festival of Glass. The event started four years ago and I love it. So many beautiful glass pieces. I had to resist the urge to spend my money away, particularly since I need that money for tree removal and fences. There’s always next year.

It is our best event of the year but not as good as the first year. Times are tough for everyone. Still, there were plenty of people and some were willing to part with their money. Looking back on our first events, I’m really proud at how far we’ve come. We have gotten so much better setting up our stalls and mum’s work is beautiful.

The funny thing is that the first thing I saw when I walked in was a bowl on the competition table that looked almost identical to a bowl that mum entered (and won an award for) last year. What was that person thinking?

To market!

While my mum is in the country doing a weekend craft expo, I ran our regular winter stall yesterday. It’s only the second time I’ve ran a stall on my own, but the first that I’ve travelled and set up by myself.

I travelled via public transport and was limited by what I could take. No glass plates or big display stands. So I spread out the alpaca beanies, which turned out to be very popular. It has been really chilly the past week.

The market started slow but it turned into a very good day. I ended up selling more than my mum did. I win!

Between customers, I occupied my time by stitching sky. I decided not to do clouds but then I ended up forgetting the powerline! Now I’ll have to go back and unpick a lot of it. Maybe an hour’s worth of work? At least it’s only half-stitch…

Cold and wet

I’ve been helping mum run her market stall for several years now. I like doing it but it also really sucks. On the one hand, it’s nice hanging out with mum and I love selling mum’s (and occasionally my) stuff to people. It’s a really great feeling when you get return customers. On the other hand, getting up early in the morning, having to deal with the weather, and having days when few people are buying really sucks.

We don’t normally do winter markets but our local market has extended into the winter months. And we found an indoor market that isn’t overpriced/too far away where people are actually willing to part with their money. It’s good timing because my mum got a spinning wheel for christmas and has been making lots of beanies from our alpacas. So soft and such pretty natural colours too. They’re proving quite popular.

Yesterday’s market was terrible. It is really hard to get out of bed before sunrise, especially when your dogs are tighly curled up on the couch because it’s so dark and cold. The sun still hadn’t risen when we started to set up the stall. My fingers and feet were frozen (my toes are also covered in chilblains, thanks to a previous market). I just wanted to go back to bed.

8am: finished setting up. My feet are frozen.

People were smart enough to stay in bed so it was a very slow start. But then things started to pick up and it was looking to be a really good day…until it rained at lunchtime. And didn’t stop. All the smart people went home. We were stuck there trying to pack everything up and try to get the car in. I spent the rest of the day at home cocooned in doona in front of the fire, trying to warm up. I think I might get a new round of chilblains.

I hate winter markets.

The day wasn’t a total disaster. We made more sales then some of our bad days. I got a free jar of lime curd because I made some sales at our neighbour’s stall while she had gone to get her car. The sourdough bread people across from us gave us free bread. Last month I got heavily discounted bread from them and the potato people in the yellow marquee next to us gave me a massive bag of potatoes.
I am a sucker for freebies and discounts.

Bead Expo

This weekend was the annual Melbourne Bead Expo. Last year was our first time. This year it was at a new location. We did better than last year.
It’s lucky that we pin our bead sets down, the stall next to us had a $180 bracelet stolen.

The plates were also made by mum. We fill them up with rice. People seem to really like it and it helps them to recognise us.

There were quite a few other lampworkers there. It’s great that they all seem to like each other and there’s no competition, unlike some scientists…*grumble*
But despite them learning from pretty much the same person, they each have their own style and prefer to make different things. I got some very pretty beads from some of them. I don’t really plan on making anything, just admire them.

Trials and Tribulations

Ah the life of a market stallholder…

You have to be really careful how you set up your stall. Hey, it’s an artform in itself.
If you have a walk-in layout then you can maximise the use of your stall space but run the risk of losing customers who don’t want to commit themselves to actually walking inside (I’m like that). If you position your tables parallel to the path people walk then don’t have as much display space but you can often attract the people who see things out of the corner of their eyes while blindly walking past.
While it might seem logical to stuff as much as possible on the tables, it is actually detrimental. If the table to too cluttered and noisy then people won’t look. If there are less things then those things stand out more. If you have less then you may not have what someone walking by wants but if you have too much then people will be so overwhelmed with choice that they’ll choose to leave with nothing. We get that a lot. Someone will spend forever trying to pick out one pendant, narrow it down to three or four and then leave, saying they’ll be back later (or ask if you’ll be there next month). And then you never see them again. I do that to heaps of people. Sometimes I’ll go back and get something but more often than not, I’ll decide that it’s not worth it.
There’s also trying to predict where people look. If people are coming from this direction then they’ll first look here so we’ll put this board up, because it’s shiny and attracts attention, and they’ll look ahead to the next stall once they reach this point so there’s no point putting our best stuff there. But if people are coming from the other direction then they’ll first look at (and ignore) different spots.
Man, psychologists should hang out at markets.

The markets we go to finish around early afternoon. Crowds have normally died 30-60 minutes before the official end time. But still, it’s amazing how many sales you can make while packing up. I feel so awkward around those people. Should I stop packing up while they’re looking? There have also been the odd person complain about the markets ending so early. I can understand where they’re coming from. But there’s no need to be rude about it. We didn’t get a sleep-in, we’ve been here since before 8am. Screw you.

No matter what you do, you can’t satisfy everyone. The amount of requests people have made…do you make rings? Cufflinks? Do you have this exact same thing in a different colour?
And then there are the people who tell you what you should be making…well, why don’t you make it then?

There’s also the issue of price. Sure, you can get something else that’s cheaper. It’s probably made overseas under cheap labour but look at that price and the sign does say handmade. Everyone and their mum advertise their stuff as handmade, which makes life difficult for the genuine handmade sellers. The amount of people who are surprised that our stuff is actually made by my mum, despite all the signs saying “handmade” (although, people commonly fail to read signs and price tags at markets). We can’t exactly put on our signs “Yes we did actually make this. No, the people a few stalls down did not make their pendants. They are trying to get you to pay $10 but you can easily get them for $1. By the way, do you even know how much our raw materials cost?”
Actually, another nice little gimmick some stallholders do that draws buyers is sticking up huge red signs saying SALE. I have joked to mum that instead of having signs saying “Pendants – $20”, we should have signs saying “SALE!! Was $25, now $20!!” I bet it would work.

At least at our best market we’re next to a nice person selling sauces and stuff. It’s good to talk to her and if she breaks something without smashing it, she’ll give it to us (since she can’t sell it). This time round I got a pumpkin chutney and she also gave me a discount on a jar of lemon butter 🙂

Melbourne Bead Expo

This was mum’s first year at the Melb Bead Expo. It went for three days so I missed out on the Friday. We were in the corner where the lights weren’t so good.
Mum did pretty damn good considering that it was our first bead-specific expo. Not as well as one person, who sold out on the first day, but mum is the new kid on the block in lampworking. Once she’s made a name for herself, things should get pretty good.
But this is likely to be the only bead-specific expo that we go to. All the other ones are way too expensive. But one a year is better than none.

The only thing now is that I have to update the bead page on the website, since lots of people took cards and the bead page is pretty pitiful. Actually, I’ve been neglecting most of the site and really need to get my act into gear.