Christmas · Crafts

Beaded Christmas Star

With Christmas approaching fast, my thoughts are going to my Christmas decorations. Every year, I am trying to add something new to the tree.  My theme is quite classic with gold tones and warm white lights. So when I am looking at things to add, they need to match the theme I already have (no mix and match here).

My friend Susanne, who lives in Germany, came last year for a visit and in her suitcase she had some great goodies, including a pack of wired star shapes. We mixed some beads and sequins together and started wrapping beaded wire around the star shapes. The result was stunning. Susanne uses her on her tree but I tend to use mine as napkin rings.

Word of warning tho – it is tricky getting the beads etc. onto the wire and you might loose the will to live. Either watch telly while doing it, or better, do what I did, have your friends arounds for a craft session.

I got these star shapes from Germany (Susanne sent me a care package) but you can easily shape strong wire yourself to use.

Beads, sequins etc, are available in Vibes & Scribes in Bridge Street as well as the Cork Craft Supply shop in Paul Street Shopping Centre.

Enjoy x

Craft Business · Uncategorized

Craft Fairs – The Display

Going to craft fairs is one of my favourite activities. I love seeing new trends, talents and get some inspiration for myself. I also try to make connections with crafters to invite them to my Christmas Craft Fair that I organise every year in Blarney. I love introducing new crafters to the visitors at the fair.

As I see crafting as a business, I always look at how people display and sell their ware. Some items are harder to display then others. For example, hand-knitted baby clothes, cards and jewellery can be very difficult to arrange nicely.

Below are some of my thoughts on a good display.

  • Don’t overcrowd

    • You want to get as much on the table as possible – but keep in mind that too many items can be confusing to potential buyers. Can each item be seen properly? Do people have space to pick up things without anything collapsing? You have space under the table, store your items there until you have space again. You don’t need five of the same – if people are interested but want it in a different colour – they will ask.
  • Build up

    • Laying everything flat on the table doesn’t look very attractive and it will look more like a carboot sale than a special craft stall. There are different ways of displaying your items. Below are some examples for different items. (Photos taken from the web)
  • Display Prices

    • Ensure that your prices are visible as not everybody will ask you. Most people have a price point they won’t overstep and having to ask for prices might lead to an embarrassing experience for both sides. Seeing the price ensures that people who stay will consider buying. Displaying your prices also ensures that there is no need for you to know all your prices by heart. It has happened more than once that I was quoted a price for an item while my friend a few moments later was given a different one for the same item. That can offend some people and they will avoid your stall in future.
  • Business Cards/Leaflets

    • I have mentioned this already in my previous posts about craft business – some craft fair visitors might just browse and won’t make a decision on the spot but would like to ponder about a purchase. If you don’t have leaflets or business cards displayed with your contact details, you are loosing a potential customer right away. Stallholders have come back to me, saying that they were contacted after the fair for a purchase. So, make it easy to be found and contacted.
  • It’s handmade – Proof it!

    • One of my favourite things to do at craft fairs is to watch crafters making things at their stall (saying that, always be aware when visitors are at your stall). It is firstly proof that the items are really handmade but it also opens communications up as people might feel more relaxed watching you and asking questions etc that can lead to a sale. Secondly, it also shows that items can be personalised.
  • Smile – The Best Display

    • You are part of the display – an extension of your craft. And your smile and openness is the best advertising for your stall. In case you are having a bad day – leave that at home. It has nothing to do at the fair – just think how you feel when you are going shopping and have a grumpy sale/shop person ruining your day. Same applies here. This is your business – and your smile is your sales agent.

Most of all – have fun and enjoy the experience

Maker's Profiles

Maker’s Profile: Wild Atlantic Waves

It was Culture Night in Cork City and I went to the County Hall for their advertised craft market. My friend Sabrina works in the County Hall and it is always a great way of meeting up. She had already done her round around the craft fair and pointed out Linda O’Callghan to me.

My friend Sabrina is a potterer and of course, she is always on the lookout for other clay-based crafts but she couldn’t believe her ears when she heard that Linda was using polymer clay for her beautiful creations. 30725469_296914664174832_3338589808460038144_n.jpg

Wild Atlantic Waves are beautiful pictures featuring the Wild Atlantic Coast with a golden sunset and little gems of pebbles, seashells, and sea glass. She is a seriously talented woman with a lot of patience.

But she doesn’t just make beach scenes, her miniatures are just as stunning – she makes mini cakes and you would have to look twice to see that it wasn’t edible. I can’t wait to see what Linda is coming up with next.

You can follow Linda on Facebook – she also sells her creation on Etsy.

Christmas

Blarney Christmas Fair 2018

It is that time of year again, autumn has set in and we are thinking already of Christmas.

Applications for the 2018 Blarney Christmas Fair are now open. The fair will take place on Sunday, 25th November from 11am – 5pm in the Blarney Golf Resort. We have booked a beautiful room in the clubhouse upstairs (lift is available). The room has good light and is spacious. The stalls will be limited to 30 to give people space to move around.

As we have already a few jewellery stalls, we decided to limit the number of stalls to three. But we are still looking for awesome crafters – so far we have handmade soap, macrame, textile, ornaments, personalised gifts, handmade chocolates, handmade cheese hampers and much more. We would love to have other crafts & arts included such as paintings, ceramics, glass etc.

Please email elke@biasasta.ie for details on the Blarney Christmas Fair. Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 15.30.31

DIY · Uncategorized

Command Centre

 

A lot of my work is done at home – I write a lot for the local newspaper, my food blog and some of the clients I have. I have a lovely office and I have my diary (a real one as I don’t like online/computer calendars – it’s a personal thing). Very often, I get a phone call asking me if I would be free to attend this or that event or would I be free to MC an event. I then have to look for my diary, flip the pages quickly to see if I have any commitment on that day.

After a while, I grew tired of this and I considered ways of making access to this type of information more accessible. Looking through Pinterest (and losing hours over this), I found several ideas of so-called Command Centres. This is what I needed. As my desk is towards a wall and I have a shelving unit on the other wall, I wasn’t able to just screw something to the wall so needed to think outside the box. And here is what I came up with – rather than having individual items on a wall, I decided to create a board on which everything is placed, hanging on a rail on my shelving unit so that I can move the command centre along the shelf when I needed something from behind. All the measurements below are based on my needs – you might need different ones.

Command Centre

You need:

  • 1 sheet plywood 1cm thick measuring 50cm x 70cm
  • Sanding paper, different grade from rough to fine
  • Satinwood paint black (you don’t need much)
  • A brush
  • A blackboard measuring 21cm x 29cm (got it from a discount store and painted the frame in copper-gold)
  • A pinboard measuring 24.5cm x 24.5cm (also from a discount store)
  • A pad of monthly planner measuring A4 size (I got mine from Sostrene Grene in Cork)
  • A strip of magnet
  • 3 magnets
  • 3 pegs (I got mine in Tiger Store in Cork)
  • 2 hook screws
  • nails
  • hammer
  • 1 rail measuring longer than your board with hanging hooks (I got mine from Ikea)

I took the sheet of plywood and drilled a hole on either side of the top sheet large enough so that the hooks from the rail fit through and sanded it down with a rough sanding paper first before using the fine grade one. I didn’t need it to be perfectly smooth. I then painted it with black satinwood paint (I added two coats to make sure it was all nicely covered), covering also the sides.

 

Measuring the items that needed to go on the board, I nailed the balckboard directly onto the black plywood. Next to it, I added the pinboard (I drilled a hole in the middle and used a hookscrew to fix the board to the plywood.

I then drilled a hole on either side of the planner pad, large enough to hang on the hookscrew. I held the pad in position on the board, marked the holes and srew in a hookscrew so that I was able to hang the planner pad in position.

I then added three pegs (I used first doublesided tape but that didn’t last long after I added a photo to the pegs, so used hot glue in the end) and glued the magnet strip and added the three magnets.

I had a craft magazine that had pop-out bunting (it’s a few years old actually), so I used the triangles to complete the bunting and hung in on top of the command centre.

And et voila, when someone calls now, I just have to turn around to check if I am free on a certain day. I use the blackboard to keep track of my projects and the pinboard for anything that might float around the desk otherwise.

Christmas · Craft Business

Craft Fairs – The Business

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 09.09.30Over the last few years, I have been organising craft fairs in Blarney, near where I live. We are short in Blarney of places with space so I tend to go to the same hotel all the time although support from that hotel is minimal in promoting the craft fairs. The job falls on me anyway as the organiser.

I am always blown away by the sheer talent and creativity the crafters and artists bring to these fairs. Not only their products but also the way they decorate their stalls. When going from stall to stall, I find so much inspiration myself and I am in utter awe on what people are able to make. I also noticed that talent and creativity don’t always translate into sales and that can be heartbreaking if you have to pay for the stall and spend a whole day trying to make a living. So, I looked a bit deeper into the situation and compared crafters who seem to sell at every fair and crafters who don’t and here is what I learned:

  • Be visible

    • No matter how beautiful your stall is, if you can’t be seen, people will pass by. They might look at your offerings but if they can’t ask questions or see who made the items, they will leave. A lot of crafters are building their stalls high to present their products  – and there is nothing wrong with that – but make sure you stand beside your stall and not behind if you are covered by the display. At one of my fairs, a girl had beautiful handmade accessories but she sat on a chair behind the tall stall and made hardly any sales.
  • Smile

    • You don’t believe how shy some of the crafters and artists are. No matter how introvert you are, you are the ambassador of your brand. Think how you feel when you go into a shop and no one looks at you. The same applies to fairs. People want to know about your product, want to ask questions. A smile also opens up, invites people to stop by and have a look at your offerings.
  • Know your prices

    • If you don’t display your prices (and I recommend that you do), know your prices. Don’t hesitate and make sure you quote the same price for an item (you never know if two friends compare notes). The best is to have prices on your products as some people might hesitate to ask. You will get people commenting that the price is too high – no matter what you will answer, these people will not buy as they are going for price point rather than quality. So don’t fret over it.
  • Business Cards/Leaflets

    • Not everyone will buy straight away. A lot of people are searching for a special gift but might be hesitant to buy straight away (maybe the husbands stands next to her etc.). Make sure to hand out business cards or leaflets with your contact details. I have seen cards and leaflets with just a Facebook page mentioned. Make it easy for potential customers to get in touch with you by adding at least your email address.
  • Have change

    • Handling money is always akward but needs to be done (that’s the reason you are at a craft fair after all). I have seen people using a little plastic bag for their money – that looks unprofessional and takes away from your business. How can someone take you serious with a plastic bag of coins? Having to look for change costs time and you might loose an inpatient potential customer while searching for the right change. Money boxes are quite inexpensive and worth the investment. Make sure it has a tray with sections where you can sort your money, making it easy and quick to return proper change.
  • Your Display

    • I mentioned already that some people use high displays for their stalls and that is great as it draws the eye up (making sure you are still visible). As storage space is always limited at these fairs, crafters tend to pile their products up high as well and get as much products on the table as possible. Now imagine yourself looking for a certain person on a crowd – difficult, isn’t it? Look from a customer’s point and decide how much should be on the table, keeping in mind that an overcrowded table can also invite thieves as you might only notice later that something is missing from your table.
  • Engage

    • That goes hand in hand with smile. At a lot of fairs, I can see crafters chatting away to each other and almost ignoring their customers to the point that they are leaving. We are all attached to our phones these days – you head down will prevent you from smiling at potential buyers. We are all programmed so that we don’t disturb people who look busy. You look busy when you talk to your neighbouring crafter or browse the phone. Yes, sometimes it can be boring waiting for your customers but you will miss them when you don’t pay attention.
  • Showcase your skills

    • You spent so much time creating these amazing items – don’t think that people know that (many times stallholders are selling things they bought themselves). While having downtime, why not do something with your hands? If you are a knitter- knit. If you are a painter – paint. It doesn’t have to be the next masterpiece but showcase your skills to others. People will stop to watch you, giving you the perfect opportunity to start a conversation. Some crafts are not suitable to be done at craft fairs, that is fair enough but if you can – do.

I will be posting more on the subject, so watch this space. If you like to take part in any upcoming craft fair I am organising, please contact me at elke@make-ire.com