Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Jewels

Oooooh I had some fun with these! Here is my lovely wedding jewelry, made of all sterling silver, natural mother of pearl, freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals. In keeping with my beach theme, I love how these worked out. I think the crystals look like little water drops on the shells. Love it!

I used sterling wire and headpins to wrap the beads into links and dangles. It's a little hard to tell (actually if you click on the pics they get much bigger), but the idea was to wrap extra wire around the top to make a sort of bead cap for each one. I think in the future I will do a post on how to wire wrap beads...

I bought bulk sterling chain and attached it to a fancy wave clasp in the front, and I love the look of it! I did the same for my two best ladies, but with fewer dangles and a smaller clasp. They also got simple crystal earrings to match.

I made a matching headband at the last minute, after looking at some online. For this, I used silver colored beading wire I happened to have on hand in 18 and 28 gauge. The thick wire was doubled and bent at the ends so as not to scratch my dainty head. I used the thin wire to wrap the beads onto the headband (alternating pearls and crystals), by weaving it in and out of the two thicker wires. It worked pretty well, but if you work the thin wire too much it can break. Which I found out about 2/3 into this. Ha. Anyway, I think it added something pretty to my hair since I didn't wear a veil... I got lots of compliments on it.

I don't have pics of them, but I also made 3 simple pendant versions for the 2 moms and the carrier of the ring bearer (aka sister-in-law). For theirs I got ready-made chain necklaces (with clasps on them), and added just the shell with 2 crystal dangles. In some ways I liked those better than mine! I would wear them all the time... whereas my necklace feels almost too fancy to wear day to day. 

I made some neato little gift boxes for all the jewels, and gave them out at the rehearsal dinner. You can find templates for these online all over the place... it's just a flat shape folded into a pretty little box, one cut out of card stock, another out of paper and glued inside (leftover invitation papers of course). I wrote a little love note inside of each one and wrote their initials on the top.

And here's one more pic with the wave motif, jacket and jewels. I know they're not for everyone... but I have to say these were perfect for me. I loved the simple prettiness of everything. Looking at the pics again, I am still swooning over my wedding day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Clothing

Ok, on to the fun part. You know, it took me a while to come up with a wedding dress design. Getting married is just not something I've ever thought about. I know it's typical to have at least passing fantasies about your wedding or dress sometime over the years... but I never did. I never planned on getting married, never wanted to ever before. Funny. So when I finally considered the fact that we might indeed marry at some point, I did some doodling and came up with a plan. In the end, the outfit looked almost exactly like this doodle.

 The basic plan was a pseudo-Victorian-ish outfit made up of 3 layered parts - a ruffly jacket, a short dress and a long underskirt. Using the tan and brown as 'beach' parts, and blue as the watery part to fit my Ocean Wave theme. I decided Stu and I (and my sweet little niece Daphne, the ring bearer) would be the only ones to wear blue. 

I made a Wave stamp and printed the design around the hem of my overdress, and added a single print to each of the maids of honor dresses and the pocket of the best men shirts. I kept everyone in rayon, to make sure they would all match. 

My biggest challenge was certainly with getting the dye colors just right. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a good tan! Sheesh. Not too putty, not too orange, not too dark or light. I was never so terrified as when I finally got to the real dye batches. But I had done 4 test batches and just had to get moving. Somehow it worked perfectly.

Since I was vat dyeing, what I did to pad the sample batches was to buy a bolt of muslin. I cut 2yd lengths and ended up with lots of nicely colored fabric to cover the tables at the wedding. Now, I plan on sewing them into skirts and overdyeing them for sale. Hey, they're all fulla our love vibes now. I can charge double. 

The blue was by far the toughest to get right. The biggest problem was that my jacket was 100% rayon, but Stu's vest was a rayon/linen blend. There was quite a color shift between the two... but somehow I managed to get very close in the end. Also, getting that perfect shade of sky blue - not too purple but not too aqua - was tough. Good thing I have skills.

Except for our fancy blue garments and the guys' Carhartt's (my Stu is a carpenter and I let him pick the pants), all the clothing was bought and dyed as is. There were plans early on for more sewing by my best friend Heather, aka sewing goddess. But she ended up moving and being in sewing limbo for a while. Also, it's very very difficult to sew for someone who lives far away. Still, it worked out great. I got all the girl stuff and the guys' shirts from my regular supplier. The jacket was premade, but we shaped the front and added the ruffle. The vest was made from scratch.

Oh and I got these killer boots too, which looked super cute when I took off the underskirt for dancing. WAY cute. So in total, including store bought stuff and sewing costs... all the clothing came to a little over $500. Pretty damned good, I'll say! And we could have cut that almost in half by foregoing the boots and sewing help.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Invitations

I made our wedding invitations as simple and cheapo as possible. Like I said, some things I just didn't care that much about. I looked online and folks seriously get into their diy invitations... I didn't have the time or the inclination to get off on them that much. Still, I am happy with the end result. Perfectly acceptable. We also decided to send out an evite, using Purple Trail. This way we were sure to cover everyone... most of my friends are online, most of Stu's are not. For some folks we had emails but no street address or vice versa. So, we just sent both types to everyone.

I decided the cheapest way to do the printed invitations, was to format them so they would fit into a standard envelope. I chose the parchment card stock and blue paper to go with my wedding colors and theme. The parchment looks kinda sandy and I liked that. I just cut two rectangles and glue-sticked them together (if I were to do it again, I would use rubber cement for a better stick job). I did spend a good few days formatting the info onto the card, but really there isn't that much info that goes into an invitation. Since I did these in Word, the tricky part was getting my Wave logo positioned behind all the text properly. I also tried printing little waves onto the envelopes (which looked way fancy), but my printer kept eating them. Bummer. Oh and I bought self-sticking envelopes which made the process that much easier. Not pictured are the RSVP post cards, saving even more money on postage and no extra envelope.

Instead of bringing gifts, we asked everyone to participate in our Wedding Raffle, "Win fabulous prizes created by our talented friends!" It was a huge success, with 20+ impressive prizes. The little box on the invite has this info, and I also added a check box to the RSVP for those who wanted to donate to the raffle. I was surprised by how many folks did! I'll do a separate post with more details about the raffle later.

Ok, so the cost of the invitations (card stock, colored paper, envelopes) was about $35, not including postage. There was a ton of extra paper and card stock for the bar signs and info cards for the raffle, as well as thank you cards. Hell, even Mermaid hang tags and business cards for the next couple years.

I made the thank you cards using a quote from our ceremony and our Wave symbol, and formatted them to fit into the leftover standard envelopes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Ring and Theme

When we got engaged, I pretty much demanded a ring. Ha. Our engagement was completely unceremonious... over drinks in the kitchen one night, I suggested we throw onto the table  our pros and cons about getting married. We'd been not talking about it for about a year and I could stand it no longer. We discussed it while Stu cooked dinner, and agreed the pros outweighed the cons. I suggested a year from then would be a good time, he agreed. I said,"And I want a ring. Nothing outrageous, just something I can flash around for the next year and say I'm getting married." He said that was reasonable... especially since we'd been together for 7 years and I'd been hinting (not at all tactfully) for some kind of ring or Something for the past couple. 

We both know I'm not a gold and diamond kind of girl. I don't need to own shiny things as a general rule... but a sweet sparkly thing from a cute boy is nice to have. So I designed this ring and had it made. I love it. It's the engagement ring of my dreams, white gold with a sapphire. Perfectly me. 

I love it so much, I decided to make it the focal point of my whole wedding. I made a sort of logo based on this design, to use on the invitations and to print on the clothing. All the clothing, jewelry and decor was based on the ocean theme. I chose brown, tan and sky blue as my colors.

We also added the meaning of the wave symbol into our wedding ceremony. I thought it was very pretty...

"Bekki & Stu have chosen as their wedding symbol and theme, the ocean wave. Like relationships and life itself, nature ebbs and flows. Let this symbol be a reminder to them of the power of nature's cycles, and that all things in life have highs and lows. When times are hard, be ready to accept the next good thing... when times are bountiful, prepare for the next difficulty. Together you can ride these waves with ease."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wedding Geekout

It's finally done. I'm married now... and months of planning payed off with a kickass wedding. 

Man, it's been a busy year! Now that the wedding is done and the shows have finished up for the most part, it's time to switch gears. I'm going to get back to posting projects here and I can't help but start with wedding stuff. I had a blast with the crafty parts of the wedding... but I was mostly interested in the clothing and jewelry. Some other parts I did cheap and simple, some parts my friends took over. In the end our wedding cost very little, and not only did we  cover all of it with gifts, donations and barter, we actually came out ahead! We're planning a trip to Hawaii next month. Ha.

Anyway, since I have all these fun details in my head and it worked out so well... I thought it would be fun to post some projects and info on how we pulled it together. Our cheap, fun and crafty wedding. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yes, Father...

(I realize this pic of my adorable niece is irrelevant to my post, but just lookit her in her Mermaid gear!)

I needed a little kick in the butt. Oh it's true... I've been snoozin on the blog. I didn't even finish posting about my big road trip. Lame. Heh, maybe later, I'm freakin busy!!

I got home from my 6 weeks on the road Aug 14, and 3 days later got sick with a cold. This was me being forced to rest I suppose. Down for a week, that left less than 2 weeks to prepare for Blues by the Bay over Labor Day weekend. Which rocked, by the way. I just love that show... so many friends and beers and tunes and sales. Super fun.

Of course, while preparing for the show, I was also making and sending out my wedding invitations. Did I mention I'm getting married in um... less than a month?! Heh.

Then, right after the blues thing I had to start preparing for North Country Fair, which is coming up this weekend.  While still doing wedding stuff. And trying not to freak out on my (now at home way too much) husband to be. 

So far, I think it's going pretty well...


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time to Drive... and Drive and Drive

Man am I behind here! Hahaha... at this point in the Tour, after Renton it was July 26. I was eager to get to my Mom's place in ND and it would take 3 days of driving to get there. 

The first day I drove across WA and just over the MT border. I found a wonderful campground (by then I knew National Forests were the best way to go, cheaper and more primitive) that was only $7! I built a fire and enjoyed the silence. I love the different nature sounds and plants you see going state to state camping... it was so beautiful.

The second day crossing MT was crazy. It's so flat you can see forever, and there were thunder storms all around. I could see it's raining over there, and over there it's really dark, etc. I drove right into a pretty gnarly storm... in fact I can say it was the worst storm driving I've ever done. There we all were on a 70mph highway going 35. Zero visibility at one point and everyone was pulling over, it was nuts! Just as I decided I would have to leave the road, it cleared. Freakin scary. I decided not to camp out in the Billings area, but found a motel instead. Later there were storm warnings and rain, so I guess I was smart.

By Billings, things were starting to look like ND. Lots of old men in short sleeved plaid shirts, the accent, the terrain... looking familiar. I drove on the third day to Mandan and arrived in the mid afternoon. You know, I've been visiting ever since high school, every year or two for 20 yrs, but I don't usually drive. It was an odd feeling to navigate to Mom's house and have my own vehicle there to use. But SO great to sit indoors with plumbing and family comfort. Aaaaaah...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Stilt Lady

Stilt Lady
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid* to the booth in Renton.

Show #4 Renton WA

After getting all peaced out in the forest for a few days, it was time to head back into 'civilization' (blech) and my last coastal show, Renton River Days. I had an idea what to expect... and I meditated extra hard to prepare. Ha. 

My first clue was that every time I mentioned the show to another artist in the area they would all react the same way, "Oooooh" with a sort of groan. Also I knew it was very close to the Seattle city limits, and so quite urban for my driving tastes. 

I was correct about the driving part for sure. It sucked. I hate the city and I don't know how folks can live that way really. I got lost right away... well not lost, but since the show info was sent after I left home, I had Stu read it to me and um, things weren't clear. So I circled the park 3 times trying to figure out how to get in. Grrr. The 'RV' parking they offered was under the freeway, which also ran RIGHT next to the show. Ha. I found another spot for the other two nights (yes, 3 day show *sigh*) so it wasn't too bad.

Really, the event was very well organized and aside from the location, the park itself was lovely. The staff was there to help and very friendly. They gave breaks and even helped haul our booth stuff in neato little trucks... and there was quite a haul distance. 

One interesting item there was my booth neighbor, who was from Dickenson, ND. I kinda blew her mind when I told her ND was my next Tour stop. I also talked her into bartering some of her awesome ND Grandma crafts for my wedding raffle. Oh yes! Kitchen towels with the crochet on top, plastic canvas needlepoint coasters and more. Classic.

Unfortunately, the sales were stinky as suggested by my previous art friends. But, I ended up doing ok and treated myself to a motel stay before moving on. Man, that was a long freakin weekend. Good bye Washington!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ooooo Pretty!

Ooooo Pretty!
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
View from the campground, right on the Hood Canal. Good spot for clamming and swimming... maybe the best camping of the trip so far.

Olympic National Forest WA

Finally found my beautiful camping spot on the water... so many mossy roots.

More Camping in WA

After the Gig Harbor show and my visit in Portland, I was way past ready to be away from cities. And people. After one luxurious night at the Super 8 in Bremerton (oh yeah, where I got busted by cameras running a red light, heh, my first ticket in like 15 yrs) I headed north toward my wonderful highway 101. In case you aren't looking at a map, Gig Harbor and all those other fake small towns are on a bunch of peninsulas and islands west of Seattle in the puget sound and various canals. It's like the SF bay area on crack. And there are only so many ways to get to these towns. Still, I was surprised at the amount of traffic on these smaller forest highways. Weird. 

I drove on and on and thought 'where are all these people going?!' Until I turned off on the 101 to go back south... and I was all alone. Aaaaaaah. It was like home. REAL small towns, not even towns really. A store and a gas station and that was it. I was in heaven again. I was almost to Canada at that point, and 101 loops around at the top of WA and just goes back down. As I crossed the bridge over the Hood Canal I was stunned to silence by the beauty of the place. Mount Olympia and the surrounding forest is just sublime. I can understand why people want to live up there. 

I found a state campground in the Olympic National Forest that was a bit crowded for my comfort, but managed to get a semi private spot and called it good. It was getting late and I was dying to make a fire cooked meal. The next morning I set out to find something more remote and private... and found it only 2 miles away in Brinnon. Nice spots set apart from each other and it was right on the water. Gorgeous. I had to 'hike' up a rocky little trail to get to my spot from my van and I loved it. I couldn't see my neighbors and felt nicely nestled. I stayed two nights. Of course, the second night I got some obnoxious neighbors who like to play loud 80s rock music while they camp, run their 80s generator all hours to better support their giant flood lights... and it was time to move on.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Show #3 Gig Harbor WA

After Portland, it was time to move up to the Seattle area... Gig Harbor. Sigh. I have mixed feelings about this place. First a little background...

Back in June, when I had first decided to do this trip, I was vending at the much loved Mateel Arts & Music festival in southern humboldt county. Coincidentally, my booth neighbors were from Gig Harbor, which I had never even heard of before. They told me how hard it would be for me to simply hide out camping in my van as I normally do during a show. I fussed and fretted over that quite a bit... but I had a plan. I knew there were big box stores nearby who are known to be ok with overnight parking guests. So I figured, if I didn't find anything close that would be my last ditch plan. 

Well, I came to town and right away hated it. I've since learned that there are many such fake small towns in the area... maybe once it had been a quaint seaside town (sound side?), but now packed full of shiny car drivers who commute to one of the many nearby giant cities. Also, the roads were wonky and narrow and I was easily confused and frustrated. Blech.

Add to this the presence of 'we will tow you if you park here over night' signs at my sure fire parking spots... no bueno. At setup time (too close to sunset for my comfort) I was still wondering where I'd sleep for the night and getting increasingly anxious about it. When up pulled my old booth neighbor friends. I had looked for them earlier where their space was supposed to be, with no luck... but alas! Their booth had been moved right next to mine. No freakin way! Right away he asked if I'd found a place and invited me to park on their property for the weekend. 

At that moment, my weird uncomfortable show turned into a pretty fun show. My hosts were so gracious and their home located pretty close by on 3 acres of woods. I had bathroom and shower access, even sunday morning coffee! And they also hosted a little artist bbq saturday which was a treat.

The show itself was fairly successful... I did find the clientele a bit snooty patooty for my taste. But my fun neighbors more than made up for that. Overall, a nice show but I'm not sure I'd go back.

Camping in Mt. Hood OR

Camping in Mt. Hood OR
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*

Post Turkey Wanderings

Ok, now all my pics are on my phone, so I'll add a couple after... right now I'm at an actual computer. woot. 

So after Turkey Rama, I headed east toward Mt. Hood for a couple nights of camping. The rhythm of this trip has been lovely. Work in town and get up to my eyeballs in people contact, then go to the middle of nowhere for quiet time alone camping. Really perfect. By the time I'm getting bored it's time for the next show. The Portland area had been so hot, I was ready to chill... and that's what I did. Since I chose a camp spot near the pass, it was actually cold. Ha. The better to build campfires. I do so enjoy campfire cooking. 

A couple nights in a beautiful campground, then back to the actual city of Portland for a visit with my friend Margaret. This was a nice surprise, as I had figured we would only have lunch or something brief. But, she invited me to stay a couple nights in her house, with the ok of her housemates. They live next to a cool neighborhood where we were able to walk to beers, food, coffee, books, movies and even a songwriter's open mic. I was also thankful to have use of an empty bedroom for sleeping indoors, and a huge shower with an open skylight. Really a very fun and mellow time with an old friend. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Turkey Rama

Turkey Rama
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
I'm a bit behind on my blogging duties here, where does the time go? Well, after the van adventure I went on to McMinnville, just south of Portland. I was lucky to be able to visit with family there which was great... hadn't seen them for oh 30 yrs. Very fun. And my aunt volunteered to be my booth helper, though I'm not sure she knew what she was getting into. Ha. Still it was fun to hang out.

And hot! I didn't know it could reach 95 in that area! That along with the ridiculously long hours made turkey rama a bit painful to do. My uncle & aunt were nice enough to let me han out and recover an extra day... and I was off again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Van Recovery

Van Recovery
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
We were determined to have our camping night...and were rewarded with a beautiful secluded spot.

Van waiting ...

Van waiting ...
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
Waiting next to the river. Also next to the highway, but hidden from view. All in all, not so bad.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First Van Tow of the Tour

Well, I knew it was inevitable... can't take a trip this long and not have SOME kind of vehicle issues. Still, I was unhappy to say the least when I was in the Willamette National Forest, stopped at the ranger station for a map, and the van wouldn't start. Fuel pump. Great. 

However, as far as breakdowns go, it couldn't have been much smoother really. So far, my phone works everywhere... I was able to get AAA right away for a tow. Of course, in the middle of nowhere, I wasn't sure what would come next. A tow the 40 miles back to Eugene? A crappy mechanic who'd screw me over or do a crap job? argh. 

Well, the guy who towed me turned out to be something alright. (can you tell I'm at a real computer right now? probably the longest post you'll see in a while. ha.)  On the way back to the tow place, I learned quite a bit about him.... first, that he 'feeds' a homeless guy out back who he lets live in an old RV. We stopped for water, beer, smokes and a sammich. The tow driver was also the owner and mechanic of the shop. ASE certified, baby. AND in his spare time, an EMT and volunteer fire fighter. I felt pretty confident this guy would be helpful and competent. He was nice enough to let me camp near the river on his property, where I stayed in the shade while the van was repaired the next day. 

While I was paying him, he asked about what I do etc... and proceeded to buy $100 worth of goods for his anniversary. Score! Photos to come...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Seller of the Funniest Joke Book of All Time

New Message
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
Yes, those are rubber chickens in the wagon...

More Art & the Garden Pics

I can only send one at a time... but wanted to share a couple more from last weekend. Fun times.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Art & the Vineyard Report

Wow. What a weekend! A really nice show in Eugene... 3 Days, very high quality artwork, music, and perfect weather. The hours were pretty grueling, as expected. I'm mostly mush right now. But sales were great, people friendly... the food was excellent and there was a beautiful garden art area where I could have stayed all day. A long but fun weekend.

I am now at my camp on a lake south of eugene... It's gorgeous but not as peaceful as I need right now. Too many boat motors and people. Tomorrow I'll find a remote place to spend a couple nights before I move on. Trees. Birdies. Quiet...

My trip is off to a fabulous start. I don't think I could be much happier...

Rainbow Alert!

Art & the Vineyard Report
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Here we go!!

Here we go!!
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
Ha! I am right now blogging from my phone thanks to the genius of My first almost-tour post. Here is a pic from the waiting room of the car place yesterday... The AC is now ready for anything!

Yet another test!!

Yet another test!!
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
Please save me, flickr...

It's all Tour updates from here...

Ok, here I am at T-48 hours and I'm still not in freakout mode. I think it must be some sort of defense mechanism... I'm way too calm. I suppose I do have a good handle on all my packing stuff, though there's still plenty to do. 

I'm pretty bummed that I can't get my mobile photo blog thingy to work. Well I can post photos to Facebook, but not my fan page. So my mom can see my pics, but not my customers. Argh. What I might do is have someone else post in my stead, via emails from me. Or I might see if I can post to Flickr and link to it. We'll see. I might also have access to a couple friends' compies on the road. 

Anyway, right now I'm taking my pile of half-crossed-off lists and forming a final list, or punch list as Stu would say. Today is mostly printing clothing and finishing up some flyers and brochures. Tomorrow will be gathering and van packing day. Somewhere along the line I have to get groceries too. 

 This first show in Eugene will be a bit grueling... it's a 3-dayer and goes until 8:30 every night. Our campground is over 30 minutes away, which means some late nights. Luckily, Stu will be joining me on his motorcycle and has volunteered to leave the show early each night in order to prepare dinner ahead of me. That will be nice. Although we won't be there much, the camp site is on a lake with showers and all. Should be pretty cool.

So far it just feels like I'm going to any other show, with more camping gear. I know it will sink in after the show when I don't have to drive home. Heehee, this is so much fun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Message

You have a Picture Mail from
Well, this stinks. Part of the whole reason for getting a shiny new phone was so I could blog a bit while traveling. I can send a photo, but here's how it looks. I had to edit it, cuz it shows my phone number and a big Sprint logo and all this other junk. So... if I'm unable to make it work, I can at least post text. Which is lame, but it's something. I CAN, however, post pics on facebook. At least to my own account, maybe not the Mermaid page. *Sigh* Crap.

View Entire Message

Send and receive Pictures and Videos through Picture MailSM. For more information go to

Please be aware your friends can forward your picture, video, and album share invitations to others or post the unique Web link to your share invitation on any number of sources (e.g. blogs), through which others could also gain access to your online photos. If you have private or sensitive photos you are sharing, please share them only with those you trust.

© 2010 Sprint. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

And now?

How about now?

Testing 1-2

Trying again... Posting from my phone. Lookit me! How about a pic. Uh, nope.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

T-1 Week!

Oh my. It's coming up so fast... one week from today, I'll be packing up the van and checking my lists for departure on the Mermaid Tour 2010. I'm working hard not to have a freakout (like I often do when on my way out for a show trip). Doing my walks and taking care of bidness. But, each day my excitement level ratchets up a notch. I fear I'll be unbearable by next week. Anyway, I have all these travel details cluttering my brain. I figured I could bore you with them here... that's what blogs are for. Ha.

As I have been preparing for my 6+ week craft show/camping trip, I have formulated a basic living plan. During the shows, I will hide out in my van as I normally do... somewhere close to the show. This is easy, as the van is empty and I can park it anywhere and go unnoticed. I'm usually so worked and tired, all I do is eat and go to bed anyway.

Between shows, I'll camp in the beautiful forest lands. Tons of fabulous camping all along my route. I'll find a lake or river to camp near... if it's very hot, I'll opt for the coast when in OR & WA. 

Actually, for the first two shows, there are already exceptions. For the 4th of July show in Eugene, I reserved a nice campground on a lake south of town a bit. Stu is riding his motorcycle up with me, so I wanted a good hangout space for us. And showers, for a 3 day show, are very nice to have.  Then, the next show in McMinnville, I'll be parking at my Aunt & Uncle's place nearby. I'm very much looking forward to visiting with them... it's been many many years.  

Since I know I'll have showers and comfort those weekends, I can seek out more isolated camping  for the days between. I invested in my own little portapotty, quite a luxury! Hahaha. Sorry, but that is one of the hardest things to deal with when camping, esp in town. It will be nice to be able to camp wherever I wish, completely self contained.

My general plan is to bring home as much money as possible. This is not a cheap trip. I anticipate spending a couple thousand bucks on gas alone. I have no plans to get a hotel. I will probably eat out a few times with friends, but mostly I'll be eating out of the coolers and cooking over campfires. I don't mind that one bit...  I plan on hitting every fruit stand and farmer's market I come across.

My other plan is to make my trip as comfortable as possible. My big concern is dealing with heat. I am a wuss who overheats easily, so that's a big one. Here's a list of stuff I've been collection and preparing:

- Porta potty :-)
- Battery/plug powered fans (for van and booth)
- Additional small cooler with wheels (for booth toting)
- Bigger 'drinking ice only' cooler with spout
- Van back windows tinted
- Van AC fixed ($ouch$)
- Smaller 1-burner cook stove
- Extra tubs for storage
- New kickass phone like the rest of you have... for web updates and navigation
- Smaller fold-up dolly
- AAA card updated, maps, guidebooks
- Oil changed, general inspection of van
- New sandals
- Better first aid kit (more organized and complete)

Oh, and I'm also still making clothes for sale. This week, I'll finish up the last dye round, then print as many pieces as I'm able. Next week will start the final van packing and list checking.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Mateel Arts & Music Report

Success! A good time was had by all, and sales couldn't have been much better. Woot! I can always count on my SoHum peoples to come through. Really fun to see everyone... thanks to everybody who visited my little booth over the weekend!

The weather turned out great, even too hot for me. A tiny bit of drizzle, but mostly it was sticky humid. The sun did come out here and there, so we were able to achieve that good summer festival feeling. I was about as close to the stage as one could get. I love being by the stage, but being SO close it was pretty loud even for me. Especially at breakdown time when the metal band played. Kinda hurt my head.

I had a few hiccups with my girl party/helper plan. Sigh. But hey, I gave it a shot. Anyway... I did have some friends hang out for a bit, had enough help to do some shopping on Sunday which was a luxury. I was on my own for setup and tear down and that was a little rough. But the crazy sales, cool neighbors and friendly customers kept my attitude in check. 

I also scored some sweet Mermaid booty... in the form of a handmade bead necklace from my neighbors, and the coveted Carnival Girl pendant. Woohoo! A few years back I got a couple of her pendants for my two best friends and regretted not getting one for myself. So now I have one and the world is right again.  I also picked up a few items for a certain bff who is turning 40 tomorrow, but they're top secret. OH and the pan flute with Andean music CD was left in my booth by a customer. So, I'm thinking of making a 'pile of stuff left in my booth' raffle prize for the wedding. I already have a Gold Beach wine glass, who knows what else I can score by then?

So now I am recovering and making to-do lists for the Tour. Also, I suddenly have a bunch of inquiries for orders... I think a day spent updating my web site could be a good way to go. Onward!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

5 Essential Tips for Craft Fair Selling

I think I started doing this a couple years ago, listing tips for craft selling... then felt a little weird about it for some reason.  A bit know-it-all-ish, I guess. This past weekend though, I found myself surrounded by new sellers and pouring my wisdom all over the place. People were taking notes! haha. It occurred to me that this is my 10th year of selling at festivals, and maybe it's ok to know some stuff. Since I really do enjoy sharing what I've learned over the years, and possibly helping someone out on their path, I thought I'd post here. 

So, here are my 5 essential tips for selling at craft fairs. There are plenty more where this came from...but these are the biggies in my book:

1. Stay Positive.  I think if I hear one more discussion about these 'tough economic times' I might lose it. As craft vendors, we know every show is different. It's always something... gas prices, the weather, the promoter, the advertising, the location, the local population. Argh. Get used it and give me a break.

Personally, I believe you create your own reality in many respects. I met a vendor recently who was KILLing me with her constant talk of how hard things are. She can't find a good show, can't get a part time job anywhere, can't get orders online... blah blah blah. Guess how much fun I had talking to her?? Not only that, she spewed it out to her customers too. Do you think that's good for business? No. It's exhausting and boring. Generally, customers feel better buying from a successful vendor. Fake it 'til you make it.

So, how do you stay positive when you just spent 3 weeks and all your cash to make stuff that only 4 people have bought so far? Think about the next show, draw in your sketch book, dance around to the band playing, get a glass of wine, chat with your neighbors about what other shows are coming up. Smile. It's a festival, have a little fun.

Craft shows are a gamble, but there's always another one. Faith in yourself, your product and your customer is essential if you are going to do this type of business. I do this because it's fun and I love it... please allow me to enjoy.

2. Be a Good Neighbor. #1 is a good start here, but there are many facets to being a good booth neighbor. A huge part of what I love about doing festivals, is meeting other vendors. Where else do you meet your peers, folks who do exactly what you do for similar reasons? Artists, travelers, small business folk... so much to learn and gain from these friendships! 

So, be a friendly neighbor. Offer to watch the booth of a solo vendor so they can grab a break. Don't just stand by as someone's tent is collapsed by wind. Move your vehicle asap so others can load/unload too. Do NOT encroach in any way on your neighbor's booth space or the path to it (or get their permission first). Be aware. We are a community and these are your peoples! 

Talk to other vendors and you will be AMAZED by what you can learn. I still am every time. For example, last weekend I was at a very slow and tiny show in Oregon. I made a point of talking to most of the other vendors to find out what shows are actually really GOOD in OR.... since I have never found one. I learned of 3 shows I hadn't heard of, got the scoop on a show I'm doing for the first time next month, and input on a show I didn't want to try again but now maybe I will. I also met a vendor who has done shows in Montana, where I'll be passing through on my tour. I had no idea there were any shows at all in MT, and now I have 3 to choose from! I'm just scratching the surface here... I have made lifelong friends doing this, been offered showers and places to stay, bartered for some wonderful handmade goodies, shared stories and dinners, found wholesale accounts and material suppliers. 

Communicate, connect. That's how magic happens.

3. Use Your Space. Recently I was setting up my booth at an indoor show. I was along a wall with about 5 other vendors... most of whom had one table sitting in the middle of their 10ft x 10ft space and that was it. While my booth looked like a beast in comparison. Well, at least I was visible. Most of these folks were new to selling, so they didn't have much inventory. Still, you are paying for the space, why not use it and spread out a bit?? 

Now for me, it's easy to spread out in all directions because I use 6ft panels. Everything is vertical. For the table user, I have this advice: figure out a way to use your vertical space! Think about the customer walking by in a crowd... they should be able to see what you sell as they pass, or they might not stop for a closer look. Make a banner with your name/tag line or giant photos of your work and hang them up. For SURE find a way to add levels to your table display. I have seen some sad little table booths out there. Use boxes under tablecloths to add levels, hang lattice on the side of your booth for easy wall displays, keep your eyes open for interesting racks and baskets that fit with your work. 

Refer to #2, visit your neighbors for great display ideas and resources. 

4. Price Fairly.  Jeesh. I can really go off on this one... first of all, I guess my first tip for craft selling should be to get a good book. I have a couple and I read them cover to cover many times before I started my business. Go buy anything by Barbara Brabec. One thing I learned from her is the importance of fair pricing. Fair means fair to YOU. 

My biggest pet peeve with new sellers are their low low prices. This is not a flea market. Yes, some people are only looking for bargains, but that's not your best customer... people who appreciate quality handmade goods ARE. Please trust me on this. Low low prices often just make a thing look cheap. Some might say 'what a deal!', but many will think 'what's wrong with this?' Think about it. The consumer mentality says, better things cost more. 

The best way to make sure you are covering all of your costs, is to use a formula. Generally, it goes something like this: (Materials + Labor) + Profit = Wholesale Price. Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price. At an art fair you are selling retail, so the mark-up is meant to cover your retail costs (booth fees, gas, time selling, booth structure, credit card fees, food, etc). You should also be able to cut your price in half (or close) to sell to a shop wholesale. You MUST charge for you labor!! Pay yourself at least $10/hr. You have skills and abilities that others don't have. That is worth plenty.

Now the other side of low low pricing is (read carefully please) that it HURTS your neighbors and the crafting community at large. Underpricing your hard work just makes mine look outrageous by comparison. It brings down the worth of the whole show, really. Have some dignity and pride about what we do. It is valuable. 

One last word about pricing... higher prices mean you can sell fewer items and make more money. The dinky show I did recently only yielded about 10 sales, but that was over $400. The guy next to me selling $10 candles did about the same but had to sell 40 of them. Just ponder that for a while...

Printed Rayon Poncho and Organic Bamboo Wrap (both $45)

5. Quality is Key.  When I FIRST first started out selling crafts (circa 1993), I crocheted. But, crochet is labor intensive for the amount people are willing to pay for it. What I did figure out quickly is that takes just as long to make a hat out of wool as it does acrylic. And I can get much more for the wool hat. 

Now as a dyer and printer of clothing,  I still use the same principles in my work as far as materials. I mean... I could do Tshirts and shorts for the masses, like many tie dye folks (who sell much more in quantity than I do!). But I focus on women and get the best quality fabrics and nicest styles I can find. That helps set me apart from other dyers. People comment all the time 'ooooh this is the good stuff!'. That's what you want. 

Spend a bit more on materials and price accordingly. Your best customers expect quality. Give it to them... don't waste your talents on crappy materials.