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Art (and dogs) in the Park

>> Monday, May 31, 2010

This weekend marked my very first craft fair, and overall it was a very enjoyable and successful experience. I met some great new people and saw some impressive work by other artists. One of the highlights was discovering that my booth was right next to those of Dolan Geiman's mother and sister, further adding to the list of coincidences mentioned in this post.

Leading up to the event, we were worried about the weather; it stormed on Friday night and there was a threat of rain for the weekend as well. But aside from a brief rain shower on Saturday afternoon (which caused us to quickly rearrange our booth by pushing all of the tables toward the center of the tent) and temperatures in the high 80's on Sunday, we really lucked out.

One of the great things about selling at the craft fair, as opposed to just selling online, was that I was able to get a sense of what products people seemed most drawn to as they were browsing in my booth. In addition to my handmade journals, photo albums, and wedding guest books, I was also selling handmade notecards, printmaking, photography, and my wine bottle gift bags made from shirt sleeves. I was surprised by how popular my prints were, especially "Swimming with the Jellies" (which is my favorite as well). Also, my wine gift bags were a huge seller on Saturday. I sold almost half of the bags I had in stock the first day, but not a single one the second day. In general, the words of wisdom I heard from a veteran craft fair seller rang true: people shop on Saturday and browse on Sunday.

We found out the day before the show that Art in the Park was a pet-friendly event, so we decided to bring our sweet brindle bullmastiff along. Riviera was a huge hit throughout the weekend, bringing tons of visitors to our booth. There were all sorts of dogs (and even one pet snake) in the park this weekend, from tiny puppies to huge great danes.

My husband Tony helped me to make this bulletin board that displayed my linenlaid&felt logo, and some other information about my business. In the upper left, there's a short bio about me, which includes a description of my study abroad experience in Cortona, Italy where I learned the art of book making. We also included samples of linen, laid, and felt paper textures, a guide to the different binding styles of the books that I make, and info about custom orders.

I would also like to mention that Tony was a huge help with the preparations for this event. He helped keep track of my inventory, ironed my tablecloths, packed up our cars, set up my tent and tables, kept me company in my booth the entire weekend, and so much more. I could not have done this show without him, and I am so thankful for all that he contributed.

While sitting at my booth throughout the weekend, I worked on binding several books together as a demonstration of my craft. I made several Japanese stab-bound photo albums and some Coptic-bound journals and wedding guest books.

During the past month I had been so busy getting ready for the craft fair that I hadn't added many new products to my Etsy shop, but I will be adding a whole bunch of new products in the upcoming week. Today I photographed some new books, notecards, and wine bottle gift bags, so as soon as I write the descriptions they'll be up.

I would love to hear what all of you think of my craft show set up. Since this is the first show I've done, we decided to keep it simple at first, but I'm sure there are things I can do to make it better next time around. Please feel free to leave your critiques and suggestions in the comments.


Anonymous June 1, 2010 at 7:32 AM  

Love the set-up! The photos all look great. So glad the wine bags sold so well. :) I know when I go to craft fairs I'm always grateful when vendors have more affordable versions of their artwork (the smaller prints, cards, etc) as I can't afford big, beautiful artwork right now.

APW June 1, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

Looks great, Katie! You are a true professional. :) Wish Jon and I could have come up to go to the fair. We miss you guys!

Lizzie June 2, 2010 at 5:10 PM  

Wow, Katie, this all looks fabulous! I love the bulletin board with information about you and your craft - that's such a fab idea.
The layout of your booth, with all the little bits & pieces, groups of products and colourful cloths, is just lovely. I'm sure it made visitors to the booth keen to hang around and browse - it all looks very inviting. Nothing regimented and starchy in sight!
Well done for your many sales - it sounds as if it was worth all the effort that you (and you lovely husband) made to get ready, set up and run the stall.
(by the way, thank you for your lovely comment on my blog. :-)

Scott June 2, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

Your booth looked great and I'm a big fan of your work. I can't wait to frame our Swimming with Jellies print. Can you send me info about how you framed yours? Every fair you do you'll learn more and more about what works. Great job and keep us posted on your future shows. Hope to get you and Tony over for dinner sometime.

(the crazy jugglers wife)

Katie June 3, 2010 at 2:25 PM  

Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful feedback and support about my booth set-up!

Elena, I was thrilled with how well the wine bags sold too, and I listed a few to my Etsy shop last night. And I really wanted to have a wide range of price points with my work. My books range from $5 to $60, depending on the style, and I also sold notecards and such along side the more expensive books and printmaking. I think it was a nice mix, and it was interesting to see what things were most popular.

Ashley, thank you so much! We miss you too, and we're very much looking forward to our trip to Georgia in August.

Lizzie, I think the bulletin board turned out pretty well too. Lots of people stopped to read it, and it was a good conversation starter too. We did have lots of people stop by to browse, and having our dog with us certainly helped to attract a crowd. Overall, the show was a lot of work, but very much worth it.

Scott, thank you so much for making the trip over the mountain to see us this weekend! This craft fair was certainly a learning experience, but no doubt prepared us for future shows. I'll keep you posted about what I'm up to, and we'd love to come over for dinner sometime! If you follow this link, you can see how I framed my Swimming with the Jellies print:

Maria June 9, 2010 at 4:27 PM  

Your books are so beautiful!! I especially like the Japanese patterns.

Katie June 12, 2010 at 11:53 AM  

Thanks for taking a look at my blog, Maria! I'm a big fan of the Japanese styles too. :)

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