Goodbye craft fairs, hello cats!!

If you couldn’t tell from the pictures in the last post, my dream craft workroom is now a small boarding cattery!!!

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From this………………….

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To this……………..

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We have 2 perfectly formed holiday homes………….

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With heated bedrooms

Back to my roots and back to doing what I love. I will still be doing my crafts, but probably I will change again and concentrate on catty things. Like cat beds, mats, toys etc.

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Perfect little bed for my perfect little cat, made by me.

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Squishy cat mats for the cattery, made by me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is also a new cat I have designed, once the cattery is up and running (we were only granted the licence to open a couple of days ago) I will be making these as elaborate, one off crazy quilted cats.

DSC_0097 I have plenty of space in the cattery to sit and do my hand sewing whilst talking to my little visitors and keeping them company. What could be more ideal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Craft Room / Shop

Everything I have made this year has been carefully put away into large plastic storage boxes, and only taken out if I do a craft fair or someone has ordered it from my Etsy shop or Website. So I decided it would be nice if I could have them on show if anyone came to my studio. That way they could be labelled and priced and ready to go and my workshop would look like a little shop. Also it gave me the opportunity of maybe making some more sales!

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With the help from my partner I now have a wall of shelves, and each time something is made I can label, price and bag it up and display it. I can see what I have in stock, and if I attend a craft fair everything is ready and easy to hand.

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And I still have room for my crafting. I couldn’t afford proper shelving, so I just bought a whole load of brackets and a few 6 x 8 ft sheets of hardboard, which is really cheap. As you can see it is warping a bit, but my bags and baskets aren’t heavy so I am not worried. All in all I think I spent about £30 for 9 shelves and 27 brackets.  Alot nicer than a bare wall!

One Rag Bag Made

Thought I would show you one of my rag bags being made.  This one made me think of Mint Matchmakers!!!

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pillow case and some sheets

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All squares cut and ready for quilting and adding applique each square is made up of 3 layers of fabric

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Applique flowers cut and ready to stitch on

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pieces of wadding cut for each square, it takes a lot of cutting and preparation for these bags!

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After pressing each square I cross quilt the plain squares and zig zag stitch the appliques

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The squares are all then sewn together

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to make the bag

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I insert the handles before stitching twice around the top of the bag

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Next I spend time snipping every seam to make it fluffy and once my label is stitched in my bag is finished!

You probably noticed that I didn’t use the brown sheet afterall, I do change my mind alot with these bags.  Well they do take me 5 hours to make, alot of time to think and re-think.  This one will go towards my hoard for the next craft fair.

What am I doing?

I can’t believe that it is nearly 2 years now since I went self employed.  I haven’t made any money and I don’t seem to have got anywhere with anything.  As you can probably tell, I am on a little bit of a downer at the moment.  But the last couple of years have been ups and downs all the time.  The only thing that is keeping me going is the time I am able to enjoy crafting.  But I am getting to the point where I am realising it doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table.

One minute I am looking at a job website, then I am trawling through the craft forums.  I have invested so much money (alot to me anyway) and time and effort into this that something has got to give.  Christmas is around the corner again so I am trying to think about that too.  There just isn’t enough hours in the day.

My workshops are non-existent, even though I keep changing them to get interest.  I know the kiddies are on school holidays at the moment, but I haven’t had one enquiry so far this year.  I can’t reduce the fees as I am supplying all the fabrics, equipment etc as well as the tuition and they get to take the finished article home with them.  So I think the price I charge for a 2 hour workshop is reasonable.

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The little craft fair I attended last month is holding another one at the end of this month, so I am making my Rag Bags to fill the stall along with my paper baskets. This last week has been a lovely quiet, creative week in my ‘studio’ doing what I love most.

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My new Rag Bags are thicker, flufflier and (I think) alot prettier than my previous ones.  They are still made from recycled fabrics and are all ‘one of a kind’.  I never make 2 the same. SAM_1518After the craft fair they will be for sale on my website along with others I will be making working up to, hopefully, Christmas sales.

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I am going to be holding an open day for people to meet me, see my studio, see what and how I make my baskets and bags and to answer any questions they have about the workshops. It will be by invitation only,  so if you are local and would like more information and an invitation please contact me through my website.

I must start concentrating and stop going off at a tangent, and keep changing things and starting new things.  Perhaps that would help.  So it is just my paper weaving and Rag Bags from now on.  I have streamlined my website, cut down on my workshops to concentrate on Rag Bag making and decorating sessions.  Now all I have to do is sell ……………………

 

Thursdays Gorleston Craft Fair

It was another beautiful day weather wise, thank goodness. This is one of the reasons I keep saying ‘no more’ to craft fairs. Most of them tend to be outdoors and I absolutely hate, hate, when you have set up all of your beautiful things on your stall, including business cards and maybe a flyer or two, only for the wind to come along and blow everything away, or for it to rain and you are rushing around trying to cover everything or pack everything up that musn’t get wet! I have had to do this many a time. English weather is NEVER predictable, whatever the forecasters on TV say. But, Thursday was definitely a sun tan lotion day.

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Items ready for staining and decorating to add to the stall

It was a very small, quickly organised, not very well advertised, local craft fair. So small that there were only 5 stalls! We were outside, in a pub garden and semi-covered by a small marquee. We needed to be semi-covered as my partner had part of the table demonstrating how the paper woven items were stained and finished, and I could show how I made the small paper dollies. We didn’t want the marquee (that is rented out for parties and weddings) covered in wood stain. I make corn dollies from the newspaper sticks as well as the baskets and pots.

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Not many people attended, due to poor advertising. But this was the first craft fair that the organisors had tried to organise, so it is all down to experience and learning lessons. They are hoping to have the fair once a month, so I will see how they approach the advertising etc. for their next one before I book again. Although it is for charity, so I will see, I did make a little money afterall. Which is what it is all about, for me, at the moment.

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Even though not many attended I managed to get a bit of interest in my stall and I sold more there than I had at any other craft fair. And as far as I could tell I was the one that sold the most, which is a lovely feeling and gave me a much needed boost! Especially after the last one. At another, supposedly really organised, once a month craft fair, indoors, I sat there for 6 solid hours, getting alot of interest but no sales at all (also due to bad advertising). At this little fair  it was only open for 3 and a bit hours and I made my table money, and more!!!!

I also discovered, which always eludes me, how to price my stock. Unfortunately I have stock for sale on my website, at my original prices, and I can’t change them yet as Paypal are messing about with  all of their gubbins, so please keep an eye on my website as prices for my paper weaving items will be changing hopefully soon. Also, I found out that my Rag Bags were popular so I will be investing some time into making some more within the next few weeks.  I have loads of new ideas, which is one of my BIG downfalls regarding the business that I must address!

I think the little fair in Gorleston could take off in a big way if it was handled better. I am sure that the organisers will take this first one as a big lesson learnt and will make the future ones really good. They are hoping to have a craft fair once a month, so if they get more crafters to take part they can look for another venue. Hopefully an indoor one for the winter months and for crafters to have a Christmas Craft Fair. Good luck to them, and I will definitely advertise them here on my blog. Anything to help local,  fellow crafters!

In the meantime I now have more irons in the fire, regarding Tina’s Rag Bag. I ‘might’  write about it soon………………..  AND…………….I reached 1,000 views on my blog last Sunday, I am so chuffed. As far as I can tell I have 1 person in the USA frequently checking this blog. I would dearly love for them to get in touch. If  it is you could you contact me through my website ???? I promise I will reply.

But for now, to keep you in suspense, I must get on with my new Business Plan!

Craft Fair Gorleston

Yes, I know, another craft fair!  I keep saying ‘no more’ but there is always the hope that  someone special sees you, or buys one of your items.  So I will try again.  This time I am hopefully having 2 tables.  One table with things to sell and one table demonstrating how my items are made, with my partner showing how he finishes them. I will be selling some of my rag bags along with my decorated and lined woven paper baskets.  There will also be information on some of my classes.

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My table, in two halves!! (Photographed by my grand daughter Louise)I will have a cloth with a Tina’s Rag Bag banner on it. And I have lots of other items to replenish the table if I sell anything.

I think most of us crafters  make the mistake of thinking that everyone knows what’s involved with our different crafts, but they don’t.  If it looks like ….. it must be made like ….., so it should be the same price as …..!  Even if someone has spent maybe hours, lots of love and thought, skills and experience in producing a one of a kind item. People seem to forget that handmade means a unique item, no two are the same, EVER.  If it is properly handmade, its impossible. A little kink here, a little mistake there.  My motto is ‘its never perfect if its handmade with love’ and I stand by that.  My items are individually made by my own hands, therefore I would like customers to appreciate what I have made, regardless. If they don’t craft themselves they don’t have any idea of  how much time, experience and thought goes into a hand crafted item, let alone the worry and apprehension of showing them and hoping that everyone likes what we have made as much as we do.

So with my tables at the craft fair I hope to:

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show how to change these

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Into these

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Into small corn dollies

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Which when stained and decorated with ribbon and Norfolk grown lavendar can be a pretty little decoration.

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Or with time, patience and skill can be turned into something like this.

Anyway, the craft fair is next Thursday.

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I do hope that some of you reading this blog are local to me and will be able to come along.  If you can, please talk to me and let me know that you are reading my blog, that would be absolutely great.  The internet seems so impersonal.

So, after my disappointment with the Yarmouth venue I am keeping my fingers crossed with this fair, and I hope that someone comes along and appreciates what I do and can help me in my endeavour to carry on being self employed, doing something that I love and to be  able to enspire other people to have a go.

 

Not Happy!

Big disappointment about the Gt Yarmouth craft place I mentioned in my  post ‘Help For Crafters in Gt Yarmouth’.  I had booked a week starting 4th August, but visiting the place last week to have a look and see how they were doing I wasn’t impressed, and didn’t really want to show my work there.  So I have cancelled.  I have been assured that things will change, and that they should be organised in a couple of weeks, but I will wait and see.  I was so looking forward to having the opportunity of showing my baskets and bags and hopefully selling them, the ‘shop’ is in a beautiful location, lots of footfall and the building has a Dickension look (it was built around victorian times) with big round bay windows, I can see how it would look in the winter with lovely crafts, warm decoration and fairy lights.  But this doesn’t seem to be the vision that the people there at the moment have.  Such a lost opportunity to really help local crafters and inspire others.  Why can’t I find somewhere like this, I would be in there like a shot, since hearing about this place, and hopefully getting involved, I have had so many ideas and dreams.  Now I am going to be looking for somewhere of my own to make those dreams come true, I just need someone to believe in me and not just want hundreds of pounds rent!!!!!!!

Anyway, I have booked a table at a new local craft fair.  This time I will be selling my baskets and rag bags BUT I am adding a little twist.  My partner will be there also, painting paper woven dollies as part of an interactive stall.  I will write more about this tomorrow, with pictures, so keep watching.  I am not giving in that easy!!!!!