Thursday, September 24, 2009

Final Preparations for Art Beat

Please, just let this be over with!!!

Art Beat is coming up on Saturday, and the weather forecast is calling for thunderstorms. That would make two years in a row now. And last year was my first year in Art Beat. Are we starting to see a pattern? So, fingers are crossed and eyes squeezed shut, hoping that those storms blow through south of town!

After making a zillion tags, gluing my fingers together, organizing my supplies for the day and printing and cutting out various signs for my table, I think I finally have everything together that I need! Last night I experimented with my set up in my living room. I've mentioned before my extreme lack of ability to do anything with fabric... no sewing ability here! So I pulled my fabric out of storage and realized that it is WAY too narrow to get anywhere close to hanging to the floor. So... straight pins to the rescue!

I have a row of pins holding the two pieces of fabric together. Then I placed it on the table and used a runner to cover the seam. Professional? Not quite. But it will get me through a day (I hope!). Right now I'm just wishing I had thought to iron them BEFORE I had all the pins in place. I guess that will be a challenge for later tonight.

I brought in my props to figure out how the space would work for me. Here are some scenarios that I put together:

So, what do you think? I brought out a few pieces of jewelry to try, and came up with this:

I think it's coming together alright. One thing that's not working out is the cute little sign holders. Turns out, a slight sigh is enough to tip them over, so an outdoor festival is probably not the place for them. I don't have a back up idea yet, so I guess I'll just pack a roll of mailing tape and see what I can do! Anyone else know what might be a better way to display signs on a windy day?

I only have a couple of nicer looking busts. I bought some jewelry displays from a discount store that went out of business about a year ago. They are grey, and some of them are really showing wear. I'm looking forward to the day I can phase them out, but today is not the day! So they are in. (I have stumbled upon some ideas from fellow jewelers, so my next show might have something new.) So now I just have to iron fabric, get everything into totes, and do my anti-rain dance until Saturday morning gets here. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Still...Getting Ready for Art Beat

As I continue getting ready for Art Beat, I'm getting down to it! I have gotten word about my booth location, and am thrilled to learn that I’ll be right on Michigan St., in the middle of it all! Not to mention, really near a great coffee shop… Ahhh! Coffee!
{the counter where I will be lining up}

I’ve printed out some cute tags to use and spent Saturday evening cutting them out while watching a movie. So I have some tags that look like this:

Now the pain will be figuring out how to attach them to the various necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. My best idea right now involves gluing them to store-bought tags... But boy, if something better comes to me, I'll try it!

I also printed up some special treats for anyone who buys something from me. One is a coupon for 10% off in my Etsy shop for future purchases. The other is an invitation to my open house, which is coming up in November.

{side note - I don't have photoshop, and do my photo editing in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. So at one point this summer, I used this washout function to turn a picture of mine into a background. Too cool - I used it to make gift certificates. Then a couple of weeks past, and I wanted to do it again...but couldn't remember how I had done it! Let me tell you, I lost a day of my life trying to figure it out! (And probably earned a new gray hair or two!) It got so bad that I actually gave up, dropped it, and decided that I was hopeless. Randomly, a couple of weeks later, while working on something else, it hit me! The washout function was in Microsoft Word...(how could I have forgotten that I was in a different program...) I'll never forget that again. So if you want to wash out a photo for a background, and don't have any fancy photo editing software, here's what you do: Insert the photo into a word document and double click it. Under the photo tab, change the dropdown for color: to "washout". Done! And then you can write on top of it!!!}

My sign up sheet is all ready. Plus I'm working on my binder that will sort of serve as a catalog:

My biggest difficulty is setting up my booth in a way that doesn’t look kind of messy. I have no sewing skills, so table coverings for me are really just pieces of fabric roughly cut with a pair of scissors! I’m hoping to do better this year, but I’m not really sure how that will happen…
I’m working on collecting some display items to help get my jewelry up off the table tops. For some reason, I always find the BEST stuff at Pier One {pardon the poor photography - I was being lazy!}

And my newest acquisition... Halloween Schmalloween, I say a glittery black metal tree is always in season! I picked this up the other day and plan to hang some necklaces from the branches.
I hope everyone else is having more luck than I am in pulling together whatever it is that you are working on right now!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Preparations and Plans

Procrastination must end!

It's time for me to get ready for an actual event that I'm a part of. I tend to put things to the last minute, but I'm putting it out there that this time, I'm going to get ahead of things!! I'm going to be a part of Art Beat on September 26. Art Beat is a full day event, on the streets of downtown South Bend in Indiana. It’s free and open to the public, and I’ve always attended this event each year. I always loved walking along the sidewalks, looking at art, shopping for earrings, tasting wine and watching dance performances. Where else can you do all of these things at once?

Last year was my first attempt at joining the fun as a vendor. I had to take a half day off of work (it was on a Thursday night previously!), and had my husband and my mom help me set up and man my booth. BUT…it rained! And I mean it really rained; all day, unrelenting, downpour rain. At the last minute the event was moved indoors. Everyone grabbed a spot, threw up their art, and we had the event. I’ll never know if I sold relatively little because of something inherently wrong with my set up or items, or if I can blame it on the rain! (Sorry to anyone who is now singing Mili Vanili in their heads!)

{me set up at my very first craft show. This was not Art Beat (note the sunshine!). It was before my Art Beat experience last summer.}

I’m very excited that the event was moved to a Saturday this year. I don’t have to try to get time off of work, for one thing. And, I’m hoping that turn out will be greater. Now, if only I could control the weather…

The event is in just a little more than two weeks now! So as I get ready for the event and try out some new ideas, I’ll be sharing them here. After September 26, I’ll be able to talk about how things worked!
I’ve gotten some wonderful ideas from fellow Etsians in the Etsy forums – too numerous to even recall exactly who to give credit to! One of the big things that I’m going to do is accept credit cards this year. This will be a first for me. I just set up my ProPay account. For a yearly fee, I should be able to use a computer or cell phone to take credit card payments. If I sell even a few things to credit card shoppers, this will pay for itself.
Another thing that I will be trying to do is expand my contact list. My plan: create a contest to win a gift certificate to my Etsy shop. By writing their name and email address down for me, they enter themselves into the contest.

After the event, I will randomly pick a winner (announced via email). Now, some lucky shopper has $ to spend in my Etsy shop. My benefits are; new people (hopefully) checking out my shop online, and a few more email addresses to add to my contact list.

I'm working on a couple of other new ideas that are still brewing... More to come!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Some Projects, from Start to Finish

Here is something I hope I can do here from time to time: Show the steps that I take it the creative process getting from raw materials to finished product!

Sometimes there are creative bumps in the road, when my brain takes a break. This one wasn't too bad, and after a few days I pulled together an idea. Here I have the completion of a project! First, I got the wonderful grey Czech crystals.
I took a few of them and put together these cute little flowers. I stopped at that point, because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to make with them. I was thinking about earrings, but ended up changing my mind.
So a couple of days ago I finally attached all the cute little flowers to a copper chain. And I have a great, dangly necklace! I came home from work the next day to find some decent light hitting my backyard. So I ran outside, braved the mosquitos, and got some pictures. So, here's the working progression: 

And only three mosquito bites! I think I like how it all came together. So now all I have to do is write up a little description and list it on Etsy!
My other projects came together as well, although I sold them right away, since they were custom orders.
Starting bits that I posted in an earlier post:
Simple, but special. These bookmarks were made for a father and his two year old son. I added a single freshwater pearl, followed by a pewter cross. For the mother and daughter of the family, a set of pearl bracelets with matching pewter cross charms. By adding the chain, the bracelet can fit the little girl for years to come, even as she grows.
So, now I'm looking at probably putting creating new items on hold. I'm going to work on getting ready for Art Beat, the big art fair that I'll be participating in at the end of the month. Last year was my first time participating, and I must admit, it was a bust! I would like to blame it on the fact that it rained, but who knows! So this year, I'm going to try my best to improve what I can to make this year go better.
There's lots to do - make tags, decide what I'm taking, maybe prepare some matching earrings to go with some items, print out signs...and the list will probably continue to grow! There's the must do list, and the would like to do list.
I'm going to read up, try to find some good advice, and will share what I learn here. Some ideas I have already found that I will probably try are:
  • creating a gift certificate give away,
  • handing out business cards
  • having a binder with pictures of my items (printed from Etsy), and a big one...
  • accepting credit cards!
I'll report on how these turn out, of course.