Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hollywood Red Carpet Creations

When I first read the theme for the May Etsy Beadweavers' Challenge, I thought, "Oh, boy, this is going to bring out the glitz and glamour". How was I ever going to come up with something to compete with some of the wonderfully elaborate creations this team thinks up? Answer: Not gonna happen. I'm really not a "Wonderfully Elaborate" kind of person. So I got to thinking about the kind of fashion that appeals to me when it comes to formal dress. Again, I normally don't lean toward lots of ruffles and frou frou. I like draped designs, simple sheaths, skirts that flow. I love men in tuxedos. And when I thought of tuxedos, that's when it came to me - Black Tie! Fortunately for me, I had just bought Diane Fitzgerald's book Shaped Beadwork and was learning how to make the different components. It occurred to me that if I put two of the open teardrop shapes together point to point and figured out how to do a center, it would look just like a bow. A circle of fire polish beads did the trick for the center and my old reliable spiral stitch seemed a natural for the strings and ribbon. I used another of the open teardrops with a peyote stitch bar for the clasp. Done up in shiny black opaque and sparkly silver seed beads, I think it's Red Carpet worthy. I'd like to imagine someone like Diane Keaton wearing it at the next Oscar Awards! :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

First Show of the Year

For several years now, I've started my craft show year with a two day fair called the Tulip Festival. It's the only outdoor show that I do and that's because they provide space in two large circus style tents so exposure to the weather is minimal. Rain and wind are not kind to my craft and Kansas springtime weather can have plenty of both. This year was no exception. Saturday dawned cloudy and damp keeping traffic to only a few brave souls. The sun finally made an appearance after lunch and brought the crowd with it, but it was too little, too late to make for a very profitable day. It's also rained in the area for most of the preceding week so even in the tents, the ground was wet and muddy. Sunday remained cloudy and the wind decided to get in the act too. Here it was the middle of April and a lot of us were running around in winter jackets! Sunday has traditionally been the slower of the two days and again, no surprises there. It wound up that I only sold about a third of what I did last year. I don't know if it was the weather, the economy, a combination of both, or if I just didn't have what the buyers were looking for this year. Craft shows can be so iffy, but I do enjoy interacting with customers and the other vendors.
I decided to take some shots of my set up this weekend. Unfortuneately, craft show spaces are never the same. They're never the same length and width. Sometimes you get lucky and snag a corner or an end space, enabling you to use both sides of a gridwall. Sometimes you get wedged into a center space. A lot of the time you don't know your location until you get there. My space set up has been a continual evolution for years now. I keep trying to make it better, more inviting, more efficient. A couple years back I happened on an old bakery rack at a yard sale and now use it to display floral arrangements. Since it has four sides, it took the place of two shelving units. My jewelry display has grown from laying things on tables to hanging them with corsage pins from a foamcore board to hanging them by handmade hang tags on gridwall. Until this show, I also used collapsible shelving for bracelets and earrings. I decided to try something different with the gridwall and ordered bracelet bars, waterfall hooks and shelves that all hang from the gridwall. I rather like the way that part of the display turned out. Hopefully, next time I will remember to purchase two spaces instead of just one and will be able to spread out my floral work a bit more. I like to create a shop-like atmosphere in my space but this time I made a mistake on my application and had to crowd things more than I like. Thank goodness, my partner didn't need all of his space and gave me about four feet of craft show real estate.
My goal is to get my display to the point where no matter what the configuration of the space, set up will be standardized. And of course, to always have in stock whatever it is the consumer is wanting on that particular day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

That Other Thing I Do

If you are familiar with my blog and my Etsy shop, you may have wondered why it's "beads" and "blooms". Most of my blogging is about my beadweaving and my Etsy shop currently only features jewelry. But before I discovered this wonderful cyber world, I sold my creations primarily at craft shows. Floral design was actually my original moneymaker and the jewelry kind of just happened. And the more I made of each, the more I knew I didn't really want to give either one up. So, I became Beads and Blooms.
Being a very small - as in one woman - business, I've found that selling floral arrangements and wreaths on the internet is really more than I want to handle. I did sell a wreath on Etsy shortly after I started my shop, but because I wasn't prepared to buy in quantity, finding suitable packaging that didn't cost an arm and a leg was a nightmare. What was I thinking? How was I going to pack and ship something more fragile? So I decided to just sell my jewelry creations on line and sell both at craft fairs.
My first craft show of 2009 is this weekend and I have been busy making up wreaths and arrangements as well as adding to my jewelry inventory. Spring shows are always a bit iffy. One never knows what the weather is going to be like or whether fair goers are going to be in a buying mood. Traditionally, I do better in the fall when folks have gift-giving on their minds. In fact, the only reason I still do this particular show is because I can set up in a huge tent which helps with the weather worries and it attracts a large crowd over a two day period. Some years I sell the heck out of jewelry and some years the florals move better, but it does seem that people buy at this show. This year, the weather is not sounding too promising for sunshine and the economy could certainly be better, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and these things aren't going to sell hanging in my basement!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Last of the First Four

My first batch of four Czech art glass buttons from Crazycakes are all now incorporated into jewelry designs. I just can't get over how beautiful they have all turned out. Hopefully, that doesn't sound too boastful. But these buttons are just so lovely, they inspired me to create pieces that enhance that loveliness. I think the last one I made, the bronze herringbone bracelet, is my favorite of the four. Although, the white one is very sweet. I just got eight more of the buttons in the mail today and can't wait to start designing with them. In fact, I think I'll go shop in my stash right now to see what I can come up with!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mother Nature's April Fool's

It may have been a day late, but it was still a pretty good April Fool's joke from Mother Nature. This is what greeted me when I stepped out of the house to go to work this morning. Funny thing was, I had looked outside at 5:45 a.m. and the ground was pretty clear. Just some rain and a few flakes falling. But an hour and a half later, it was a different story! Messy drive to work, but by lunch, the sun was shining and streets and sidewalks were drying out. As they say, if you don't like the weather in Kansas, just wait five minutes and it will change!