Craft Fair Preparations

It is with great excitement that I inform the lovely readers of this blog, and the wonderful fans of Mystic Moose, that the time has come for our first craft fair! If you are in the Cotswolds on Saturday 11th August, then pop along to Gloucester Folk Museum for the MADEmarket, an exciting new series of craft fairs in the local area!

I am a great advocator of buying beautiful handcrafted delights and vintage trinkets whilst browsing stalls at craft fairs, but I have never been a seller at one of these events. The thought had always seemed a little daunting, mainly because of the amount of stock I would need to make in preparation. I usually keep about ten of each item and design in my stock cupboard and make more when they sell, but for a craft stall, particularly with the smaller and less expensive items, I would need much more than this or the stall would look rather empty. Having read many articles on the matter, it seemed it was far better to overestimate and arrive laden with too much stuff, and hide it under the table ready to replenish the displays, than to bring the right amount of stock and have a stall that is half empty!

Having thoroughly raided my belongings for all interesting boxes, containers and knickknacks, I have begun to sort the ones that may be of some use. A small set of shelves lying flat on its back can hold a variety of pencil cases, a wine box tipped on its side becomes both a shelf for a cotton tote bag and a display box, an empty tea chest given to me last Christmas becomes a handy container for pocket mirrors and badges.

My only problem is all of these items are made from different coloured wood and materials, and when placed together, despite making an interesting, efficient and varied display, they look inconsistent. I’ve resigned to painting them all matt white (bar a few lovely old items made from wood), with the hopes of bringing attention to the products they hold. I know from experience that having different materials to create levels or backdrops can be distracting if they lack a consistent style or colour scheme. I remember stalls I have seen that unitised wicker boxes, antique wooden wine crates, painted white benches, plywood card stands and chequered fabric covered blocks, which all looked lovely individually, but they lacked cohesion when arranged together on a stall. I guess such details are not really noticeable to the average craft-browser, who may not think twice about the design and would hopefully be gazing longingly at a beautifully handmade craft item, it is something I have noticed whilst scrutinising fairs for ideas and inspiration for my stall.

Ultimately, I guess much of the display is dependent on personal taste, alongside the style of your brand. The best stalls I have seen have used backdrops made of one or two materials, such as the aged wooden crates and some white washed furniture items. Such stalls lured me in, especially if they had smaller items that enticed me to peer closer. Whilst rummaging for display boxes, I found an old fold-up table which, with the legs removed, became a lovely screen backdrop for part of the stall, which can also be used to hang some smaller items from.

For the last month or so I have had several product lines that I wanted to make but never found the time. The craft fair is a perfect opportunity to make some of these smaller items and get a feel for how popular they are and whether it is worth making more. If all goes to plan, the below items should be available to sale online by the end of next week!

On the top of my new products list is our lovely new badges. There are two kinds – large button badges, made using my badge and mirror making machine, and the shaped ones made from exciting shrink plastic! I am very happy with these shrink wrap badges, although they can be time consuming to cut out, bake and varnish.

I also have been making lavender bags, which have filled my studio with a delicious scent. They are filled with French lavender, with a heat pressed image on the front and a twine tag for hanging in wardrobes. I have been hesitant to make them because I was uncertain about whether I could export lavender to the USA and Canada, so when I start selling them online, I will only be shipping these within the UK and Europe for the time being.

And not forgetting Make-up bags, filled with wadding to protect their contents! I planned to launch these when I started to making pencil cases, but they spent longer in the development stage than I initially thought, whilst I found the right material to use as padding. (No photos for these as yet, but expect many more to come after the stall!)

This craft fair, alongside spending many hours developing exciting new crafty products for my shop, is part of my excuse for my lack in internet presence over the last month. Blog posts I have intended to write haven’t had the time to manifest, or are waiting to evolve from hastily scribbled blurbs in sketchbooks whilst travelling on public transport. With less than a week to go, I still have many more pencil cases to sew, mirrors and badges to press, and a little bit of painting to do, but all is going exceptionally well!

The MADE market is at Gloucester Folk Museum on Saturday 11th August 2012.

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