Monday, September 14, 2009

Craft Fair Done, whew!

Craft fairs are tiring. I survived without my ego being completely brutalized and met my goal of coming home with fewer pots. People admired the big churns, jugs and art pieces, but they bought small bowls, tumblers, tiles and business card holders. Actually, it was the other vendors that bought the business card holders. So, do you change what you make? Another question I face is that I fire in a number of different kilns and atmospheres: from oxidation in an electric kiln to wood, fired salt kiln. Should you try to tell the customer how it was produced? Is it a matter of disclosure? Or should you go into the spiel just if they ask? Or do I limit myself? Or would that be better said as to focus myself?

Things that worked:

1. Presorting, pricing and placing the ware into plastic tubs.

2. Not cramming the display with all the ware at once. The tubs were placed under the tables where things could be pulled out to replace something that sold.

3. The TrimLine Craft Tent. While it does take longer to put up, it seems to be real solid and might have a chance in a stiff wind.

4. Relaxing and just chatting with people.

Things that sort of worked:

1. Paper bags that I bought at Sam's club. People really want something to carry away their stuff in. I got the 25# bag, which worked well for small stuff, but started to be a problem as the stuff got bigger. I need to find a cheap solution for a larger bag with handles.

2. Table layout. It is just adequate. Need to improve with pedestals and shelves.

3. Money handling. The first day I just used an envelope in my pocket. The second I used a money belt we had bought when traveling to Europe. Neither worked well. Most of the vendors used a “cash box”, but one had his stolen out of his booth while he stepped out for just a moment.

4. Firing@CreekBendPottery blog. There was a lot of interest in this. Need to clean up the concept and integrate it into a total marketing plan. Yeah, that is going to happen ;-)

Three moments for me to smile about. One was a young lady, maybe 19 or 20. She came in and spent a long time looking at a little faceted bowl. It was the size you might use for paper clips maybe a little bigger. It was salt glazed. I had it priced really cheap as it took no time at all to do. You could tell just by the way she looked at it, it had found a home. It makes me happy to know that. Next, a wood sculptor and his wife, a fiber artist came in. At the last show, I had traded with them and they had ended up with, among other things, a small cereal sized bowl. Well, it seems this bowl had been causing marital strife. Each morning it was a conflict on who was going to use the bowl. So, they bought another. He came in on day two and said that things had gone better at breakfast. Made me chuckle. And last, a lady spotted a tile I had done with a pig sculpted on the face. She bought it. Her friend asked her what in the world she was going to do with that? She said, I don't know, it just makes me smile. And that makes me smile.

Now, back to kiln building. Tomorrow, today I rest.


  1. Shows are tiresome but they can be fun too. As to explaining technique, I wouldn't bother with the casual looker, but if they linger over a piece you might ask if they are familiar with the particular technique/firing.

  2. I have noted that little I say seems to make or break the sale. I can turn them into my booth with a hello or good day, but the sale seems to be about the piece. I haven't figured out how to "nudge" someone into buying. One lady looked at one of the bigger vases for a good 10 minutes. I kept trying to think of the right thing to say, but in the end just let her look. She walked away saying she would have to look to see if she had the space. Never came back. I think she would have freaked if I said "what can I do to put you in this vase today?" like a car salesman.

  3. haha, I like your comment about the car salesman tactic. Regarding the technique explanation, I think that's always helpful. What if you had a photo album, or notebook that customers could look through, giving some brief details about the process? Most people don't have a clue what's involved.

    From the customer's standpoint, I get turned off when the artist pounces on me and starts extolling the virtues of their work. On the other hand, I also like to at least be acknowledged with eye contact and a smile (or grunt if it's late in the day!)

    You could always ask them if they have any questions if they appear to be lingering over a piece. Of course, if they're like me, they may start picking your brain about your firing and glazing techniques!