Focus ~ Craft Show Wisdom?

Hello Dear Reader,
This past weekend I participated in a local HS spring craft show.  Unfortunately, it was a bust. It was a rainy, cold day. That fact can either drive people in to a show or keep them at home, as was the case Saturday.
 So I had a lot of time to think. I always take something to work on at shows. One, because I like to stay busy and two because I believe it shows that my pieces are truly hand made. So while I sat wire wrapping a big pile of carnelian lentils I looked around, and talked to my neighbors, and thought & thought and thought.   What I saw were TONS of jewelry artists & LOTS and LOTS of strung jewelry. 
 I've been pondering this question quite a bit lately. Really, the market is saturated with jewelry. Simple strung jewelry is not difficult and many people are good at it, so there is a lot out there.  I started by stringing too and it's still a good technique, but in the last year I have been branching out. Mostly I have been growing in my Polymer Clay and now into metals and wire. 
As I watched and chatted with the few brave customers that came out I saw what they looked at in my humble booth. [I was not very happy with my location here, I feel like my display was lost among the visual clutter, I prefer to be against a wall.]

These two easels on the right and this small table in front were what seemed to attract people on this day. 

The wire wrapped keys and wine cork pendants were among the most commented on items.

My PC pendant sets in antique copper patina and rustic woodland were eye catchers too.

Assemblage also seemed to attract some attention.


 In the end what sold and barely saved me from a total loss?? Near the end of the day a lovely customer purchased my 'Antiquarian Ocean' PC & mixed medium set.

I also sold the leather & ball chain bangle. I have a customer who wants the leather cuff with abstract designs & some coordinating earrings....if I can resize it down, which I am working on. 

Lastly I traded these metal embossed earrings  with another vendor for a pair of her enameled copper washer earrings.  I had actually purchased one of her bracelets a few months ago at Two & A Half Women, the artist consignment shop I have pieces in down in Elizabeth City, NC. Now I have a set.

So, in conclusion I think the signs are pointing me towards Polymer, assemblage and metals and away from beading and simple 'stringing'. 
I have a couple very loyal customers who love my strung pieces, so I hope they continue to follow me as I journey along this path of growth and change. 

 I see it as the way to continue to do what I enjoy, which is to create. In a very saturated market, the way to survive is to be different from everything out there and from what I could see that must be my path.
Thanks for staying with me on these lengthy musings today. I appreciate your time and any comments or advice would be welcome.
Warm Regards,


  1. I can so relate to this. Getting ready to travel to California for a show, first time for me at this venue. Always a gamble, but I have gone in a little different direction as well. Best of luck to you and thank you for sharing.

  2. Sounds like the bead show, even if not so much "worth it" financially was very much worth it in terms of working out where you're going and how you intend to develop.

    I do agree with you about stringing being what everyone does! It is easy and quick, easy to get a production line going, and therefore superficially attractive for beginners wanting to make money. But as you say that means there are so many people trying to do the same sort of thing that anyone who wants to make a name for themselves and make money needs a USP. Something that will catch the eye of passers-by (whether at craft fairs or etsy) because stringed stuff can look very samey when viewed at a distance/not very carefully.

    For this reason too I wonder if people selling ought to have really big/extravagant and original "conversation pieces" that they price really high (so they are unlikely to sell) but then they draw people in who then end up buying something cheaper and more wearable? Kind of like, in haute couture, the catwalk items versus bags/scarves.

    As for myself I'm still very much a beginner and happy with stringing as a hobby, bumbling along with nobody to please but myself, learning to put together colours and shapes: but if I were to go into business I would definitely need a plan for how I would carve out my own niche and stand out visually from the rest.

  3. I agree with and enjoyed your musings for today. I have moved away from stringing as well, sometimes still do beadweaves but have really gotten into making my own components. I think this is becoming a must, either making your own or using art beads in your work to make yourself stand out from the crowd. I'm still finding my "style", it seems it may always be a work in progress.

    I wish I had advice for you but I'm still out here finding my way too :).

  4. So glad you got some valuable insights out of this event. Sounds like that's what you were supposed to get from this show, rather than sales. I do think you are right, creating unique pieces is the goal. Looking forward to seeing where the future leads you. And thank you for sharing these valuable insights.

  5. Hi Tammie, the area that I live in is a little more conservative, so the mixed media and polymer clay are not huge sellers around here yet. My daughter and I do a lot of shows every year and we do ooak strung jewelry. That being said we also do mixed media,[did not know that was what it was called] and assemblage and did not know that was it's name either. We are working on other new [new to us] mediums and are having a great time./ Do you do a lot of shows? I really love your work! The fireflys, the assemblage and the leather are some of my favorites!! Hope you have a great season!

  6. I agree. I haven't done shows for a couple of years but when I was doing them I felt like every other table was jewelry. I could see people glaze over at the look of another table filled with jewelry. It didn't matter if it was handmade or not, once they had their fill of it they were done looking.


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