Guest blog by Nancy Shafee
We have taken a brief initial look at selling on line, but what about ways of putting your craft in front of the public in person?
A while ago charity fairs were a rarity and craft shows even more so. Now they are ten-a-penny and you really do have to look at what they offer very carefully. If you’ve not done one before, it pays to wait a year and go as a visitor first – is this the right event for you? Are there a lot of bought-in products (usual with charity fairs) or are they all handmade (craft fairs)? Even some craft fairs now allow items designed by the stallholder but outsourced, which again can mean you are not going to be competing on an even playing field. You also need to take account of the size of the event. Some, like the Craft in Focus events are extremely ‘professional’ and may be daunting for the newcomer, while small village events may be largely homemade cakes and jams. See what I mean? You really have to pick your place!
yards of bunting – read on to find out why!
You will find it helpful to be extremely nosey when booking – ask the organisers where they advertise, how many times they have run the event, how many people are usually expected, whether there is nearby parking and also whether stairs are involved. The number of times I have expected to be able to trolley my things in and start setting up only to find a mini lift is involved or two flights of stairs……! Needless to say unless it was a mega-brill event, I have not returned a second time!
Over the years I have done a few ‘dogs’ – we all have, I am sure. I can remember taking just £3.50 at one event that was badly publicised, yet running out of stock at another which turned out to be amazing. Sadly it was a one-off!
Even if you find a really good annual event and make it a ‘regular’, watch your takings and compare them year to year. I find that after two or three people are saying ‘ooh, lovely to see you, I bought….last year from you’ which actually should be finished with ‘so don’t be surprised I am not buying from you again this year’!
I’ve decided this year to bite the bullet with a biggy! I am teaming up with fellow International Feltmaking Association member Carol Crowdy to run workshops and demonstrate our work at the second Wisley Arts Fest (July 18th & 19th) – a weekend of both visual and performing arts. I can’t believe I missed this last year, as Wisley is only ‘round the corner’ for me!
One of our workshops will be to make a rose similar to this one
We have no idea what we have let ourselves in really. We’ve been manically making banners and miles of bunting to decorate our marquee as well as making sure we have prepared our workshops and have enough stock and cards for the enthusiastic buyers (we hope). And there I was thinking the most important thing was to decide what to call ourselves – incidentally, this was the easy bit – find us as FELT HAPPY!
Just as I thought I was getting on top of my end of things, the organisers asked us for
(a) our insurance
(b) our risk assessment
and (c) our PATS test certificates.
Now I am mentioning all this because if you aren’t used to doing big events (and I am not) you will find a lot more paperwork is involved! As well as your usual little list of float, calculator, notepad, publicity material, mirror (if relevant), shelves, tablecovers, lunch, snacks, water, teabags (if you are fussy about your tea) and all the hundreds of other little things like safety pins and paper clips, you suddenly find yourself needing these more important documents. Luckily Carol’s used to much of this and has been amazing.
Carol and I both use vintage and recycled fabrics to make mats and baskets – this is one of mine in bright sari silks
So this is a reminder to all of you taking part in events to make sure
– your insurance is up to date (you should have this anyway, even if you aren’t asked for it),
– if you have decided for the first time to do a larger event, get your electrical products – lights and extension cables (even sewing machines and digital picture frames) – PATS tested and certified. I made the mistake of having mine done by someone who tested the plugs and put stickers on them but didn’t give me a certificate (so lots more running around to do!)
– familiarise yourself with what’s involved in risk assessment!
In the meantime, I hope some of you will make it to Wisley and come and say hello.
I wonder how many of you play my ‘internet procrastination’ game – a chance to do a little inspiration-chasing on Google Images. Words this time: waves, rooftops, magenta
Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, Surrey Guild of Craftsmen and Professional Crafters Guild. She runs regular workshops both for wetfelting and for coiled fabric basket making and examples of her work can be seen at