'tis the Season


255basket of monkeys
That's right... 'Tis the Season of the craft shows.

3 months of sewing, tagging, printing, painting, sewing, sewing, sewing and the week has finally arrived. 2 Craft shows back-to-back – the Speakeasy Holiday Craft Sale on Thursday evening and the 918 Bathurst Holiday Art Market on Saturday and Sunday. As luck would have it I started feeling sick on Monday and by the morning of my first craft show I was in the throws of a full blown sinus cold: head-achy, body-achy, crawl into bed and die-achy.

I dragged my bins of monkeys, my table and my boxes out to the car on Thursday morning. I picked up Michelle and all her handmade goodies and we drove to the office for a day of nervous anticipation for the

evening ahead. The Speakeasy is a show I participated in at least 10 years ago when I was making plaster masks and, of course, my decorative wooden fish. It is an unique show because it takes place on the first Thursday of every month and it is at The Gladstone which is licensed so you can enjoy a beverage as you wander through the rooms to view or purchase art. Depending on the month it could be a comic art show, Illustration, advertising, photography... this month was the craft show. The crowd was fun and chatty and interested in what we were selling. One of the other crafters that we shared our room with was Tanya from Tanushka Handmade Jewellery. We got to chatting about craft shows and eventually we were commiserating with each other about our online sales (or lack thereof). By the end of the evening I had made my table fee back and was able to put a few dollars in my pocket. My voice, however, was completely gone and I almost fell asleep driving home.

254Speakeasy 2010 Speakeasy Craft Sale at the Gladstone Hotel

On Saturday morning I woke up feeling like I had been clubbed to sleep. I couldn't breath through my nose and my head was pounding. The 918 Holiday Art Market opened to the public at 10:00 am and I needed to be there to set up by 9:00am. I forced myself into the shower, choked back a Daytime NeoCitran, grabbed a box of Kleenex and a pack of cold meds and was off. This was the big one. Two whole days of Christmas shoppers filing past my table! I was unsure if I had enough stock so I brought the 4 monkeys that I hadn't been able to finish and a sewing kit. I could finish them in between the rushes.

I found my table and began to set up. I was a bit disappointed in the number of other vendors but I soldiered on, taping my Neapolitan Ice Cream Garlands to the wall, fanning out my gift tags then scooping them up and refanning until I got them just so, arranging the sock monkeys so that they could be seen from a distance and then arranging myself in the prime spot behind my wares.

256Art Market

I could now relax and wait for the mad rush of customers. I began to sew an arm onto a monkey and then got distracted but the vendor on my right who was setting up handmade gift cards. I introduced myself and we began chatting. His name was Guillaume and he was volunteering for a charity called Earn and Learn. It is a program set up to help keep children living in India in school instead of having to work and help provide for their family. The money that Guillaume earns from selling these cards goes towards this program. His table fee came out of his own pocket.

257Earn and LearnHand made cards made for the Earn and Learn Organization

On my left was a jewellery designer named Shandell who made lovely beaded necklaces and earings. I fell in love with her purse charms. She told me of a few other craft shows that I could look into next Christmas.

258dellzinesJewellery by Dellzines

It was now 11:00 and the only people I had talked to were Guillaume and Shandell. By 12:00 a few people had wandered through and I sold a package of notecards. We thought that maybe it was still too early on a Saturday for people to be shopping, but by 2:00 it wasn't looking up. By 4:00 I had finished sewing 3 sock monkeys and had sold 4 packs of cards. At 5:00 we threw sheets over our tables and left for the night. I went straight home, humbled, and fell into bed.

Sunday morning I woke up early enough to get some of my student marking done. By 10:00 I was back behind my booth eager to see if Sunday would be better. By 2:00 I had sold 4 monkeys and a few more cards. I was so depressed. How do people do this for a living? Shandell and I wandering around the room and everyone was grumbling, everyone was frustrated. There were people there who hadn't made a single sale. Some vendors even left early making the room even more barren. We spoke with the organizers in hopes that we might get some of our table fee back. They were sympathetic to our situation and suggested a gathering to discuss how to make the 2011 Art Market successful. I stuck it out until 4:30 and then I packed it in. When I got home I was so tired, my cold was still raging and the weekend had not gone as planned. The only thing that made the weekend worthwhile were the people who I met.

For more information about
Earn n Learn: http://www.earnlearn.org
Speakeasy: http://www.blttogo.com
Tanushka: http://www.tanushka.etsy.com
Sandell: http://dellzines.co
KemptonJones: http://kemptonjones.com