Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Things That People Say Part 2

So I am back with more interesting things that people say to vendors at craft fairs/shows. It is always amazing to me that people do not understand the time and effort it takes to make things. Not just the amount of time physically spent making items but the time we spend online and in person hunting down reputable, affordable dealers for supplies, and the amount of time that we spend perfecting what we do. I also know from personal experience and know this to be true of many other artists as well, we never stop learning new things, and trying to perfect the techniques that we already know. For most of us it is never good enough and this drives us to continue pushing our personal envelope. This is one of the reasons that many of us are unwilling to divulge the source of our materials and many of the techniques that we use just for the asking. We want you to learn by doing just like we did. It tends to make you a better artist than if someone just hands you all of the information. Most of us are more than willing to point you in the right direction to get you started but please, don't expect us to give up all of our secrets we worked so hard to acquire.


A friend said to me (chatting online): "Maybe you can show me how to make jewelry. I will never have to buy jewelry again!"

My comeback: Logged off.

I had one of these too!
But then I got really evasive, saying that I buy my wire from the States (via internet), thinking that she might understand my subtleness.. and then she asked me if I could buy the wire for her!

wow, I should think about this a bit more but I did have someone grab my button machine and ask me how it works without asking to touch it. Never touch an artists tools without asking! Don't touch musical instruments, tools that seem like they could be in a tool box like pliers or those fancy artists pens, just don't do it.

Also, every couple of months I get an e-mail from some local person I don't even know who wants to borrow my button machine. They tell me that they want to make buttons and not have to pay my prices!? I usually answers by saying "My button machine is my tool of my trade. I don't think you would ask a random carpenter you didn't know if you could borrow their table saw."

Customer: "where do you get all your supplies?"

Me: *thinking to myself "that is the rudest question to EVER ask a designer"....i said to her w/flat-pan grin "...i get all of it from planet earth." ~ which is a true statement.

"Will you teach me to do that?" (Subtext: "...because I don't want to pay you for something you can teach me for free to make myself...")

"I wonder where she got her supplies"

It's usually "How did you make those?"
To which I usually answer "One at a time."
(One young man of about 13 replied to that, in his best Robert DiNero "So, you ain't gonna tell me?")

I had one guy ask me if I had gold items so he could melt them down. Then he asked me where I got all my stuff.

Ummm... :/

Most often overheard at my booth: a all too common scene:

Nice Lady: "Oh my daughter makes jewelry"

Me: "Yes, I think about 20% of the population does it for a hobby or proffession, it is the sewing of yesterday"

Nice Lady: "My daughter needs to come over here! (calls on cell- "OH daughter- come check this stuff out! You should totally come make this designs and charge so much more!" While looking directly at me)

Me: Is she coming over?

Nice LAdy: Yes, she is, she was just over by the handmade candies

Me: Oh, good, I love to talk with other bead lovers..

Nice lady's daughter : OMG! I love this! Mom, I should totally copy and sell for more! You are so right!!! Hey- you- bead artist, where do you get your beads so I can buy them? I like totally want to make this myself

ME: I have them custom cut and made just for me. Takes 9 months and thousands of dollars (Truth)

Nice LAdy; OH! Daughter! I am so sad for you! You can make so much more money than her if you could do that!

Me: Why dont I give you my bead suppliers name and contact info

Nice Lady 's daughter: That is like so totally unfair! That would take forever!I hate you! I want your beads now! You make it really difficult for others to earn a living at this business!!!

ME: Well, I spent 5 years working for others while doing my jewelry line so I would not spend a dime on credit for supplies and very slowly built up my purchasing abilities. This has taken 11 years for me to get here. No easy road for me.

Nice Lady's daughter: Mom, buy me that necklace so I can resell for 3 times that amount

Me: happy to sell that to you..

Nice ladys daughter: Why dont you just sell me the necklace for what the beads cost you, I think you should because I am a beader too and buy from Fire Mt.

Me: ( It takes me to hear this before I think: WTF????) I am so sorry, but I need to sell at what it is priced at. My babys need food you know!

Nice Lady: Why dont I make it up to you by buying you that nice handbag you want

Nice ladys daughter: Pout....

I love art and craft fairs. I was at the Christmas craft fair last year. There were 2 ladies stop by my booth. They examined everything inside and out the say: "Would you show me how to make this. I don't want to buy, I can make it if you'll show me how" Wow, I said: "Why would I want to do that? How much do you want to pay for the lesson?"
They left without saying a word.

"Where do you get your stuff from? I was thinking of doing the same thing, but I don't know where to get the stuff" !

As you can see most artists and crafters find this type of thing rude and belittling. We really don't mind giving tips about techniques and supplies if you are a serious crafter but don't expect us to give away the farm just so you don't have to pay for something you think you can make yourself.

Usually, if the person is serious about starting a "craft" and making jewelry I might point that person in the right direction. After all, if they go online they will find the information regardless. I don't really have time to teach. I barely have time to create! And if I was to teach anyone I would definitely charge for my time and supplies.

I have had people ask me oh how do you make that? Basically just to see what information they can get out of me... I laugh and tell them "I can't." or "Sure I can tell you, but I charge $30 an hour for my time." Short, plain, simple, straight to the point.

I still do not understand why people think it is just a hobby. Yes I do have a full time job, but I also work on my jewelry practically full time as well. The fact that we sell our work online, on craft shows/fairs, makes it more than just a hobby, but some people take that for granted.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Major Milestone

Well I have to say it crept up on me. One day I had a baby boy. The years flew by as they always do with baseball, soccer, basketball, school, friends, going to the park, tennis, best friends, girlfriends, learning to drive. Then it happened. My oldest son GRADUATED from high school! There aren't enough words to convey how very proud I am of my son and the man that he has become. He has faced some serious adversity in the past 18 years and has handled himself in manner far beyond his years. He has developed a wonderful sense of humor, a strong work ethic, and is fun to spend time with. This past year as a senior he has gone to college in the morning (post secondary) gone to high school in the afternoon and held down a job. I am so grateful that despite the many mistakes that my husband and I have made in parenting our kids he has still developed into a this great person who I enjoy spending time with. Great job Brandon!

(I just had to brag a little bit lol!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Things That People Say

Part 1
I am going to be doing a series of posts about the crazy and sometimes rude things that people say or do while at a craft fair/show. Please keep in mind that for those of us who do craft shows 99.9% of the people who come through our tent or booth are very nice people who we all appreciate. The other .1% can make a crafter's life, I don't know, shall we say stressful?! The great craftspeople on Etys have been kind enough to share some of their stories with me to share with you. Hopefully some of you will get a laugh and maybe some of you will re think what you say in front of the people who have worked so hard to bring their hand crafted, beautifully made items to the general public.

And just so you don't think that I am being too one sided I
will also be sharing some stories about other vendors who can be just as rude and obnoxious to their fellow vendors as anyone else.

The number one thing that people say that tends to irritate artisans is this:

"I can make this myself"
"I can make this myself for less"
"If I had time to take classes I could make it myself"
Lady turns to friend and says "I bet you could make this yourself".

Some true life examples:

"No man alive could make that!"
...to which I (a nice, middle-aged lady, replied, "Well, a woman can!"

My husband once said "I could make that" at a modern art museum. I responded, "But you didn't".

A few years ago a lady was admiring some of my scarves, then she told me she would buy a loom and learn to weave before she bought anything from me cause she could to that herself. Hmm - buy loom, pay for lessons, spend years getting to the level of competence to create what you are holding in your hands before you would pay $60?? I was speechless.

this time i didn't have to have a quick come back...the customer did it for me....bless her little heart!

i owned a B&M shop in MI in the early 90's....i had over 40 artisans in my shop (including my own work). i used to do design work for BH&G magazine (Better Homes & Gardens), one idea i sold them was my button heart design, which started a HUGE trend of hearts covered in buttons that lasted for years....anywaaaaaay....i also sold them in my shop.

...one day a lady picked one up (not knowing i made them) and said "whaaaa?! $18.95 for THAT thing???! i can DO that!" i, of coarse, didn't admit to making them and replied "well, there are over 70-80 buttons & are exceptional vintage mother of pearl....each one is carefully sewn on by hand, plus it is a perfectly shaped stuffed heart their attached too. i don't think it's as easy as the artist makes it look." She snidely said back "oh yea? i got buttons...i'm gonna make one...it'll prob' look even BETTER than those, i'll bring it back & show ya'! $18.95, ya' got to be kidding me!!" off she went.

the next week, sure enough....she showes up, walks right to my counter and plops down a mash of buttons. i said "what's this?" because i couldn't really tell what the devil it was. "well, i REALLY tried to make one of those expensive button hearts...but, DANG, it's REALLY REALLY hard!! how does she get it to look like a HEART? and how does she manage to get 70 buttons to lay right? AND where on earth did find all those mother pearl button?! mine just doesn't look like HER."

i looked her right in the eye and said "well I spent several yrs collecting antique buttons, and it took many tries to develop the right pattern,...blahblahblah.." during MY explanation she turned bright RED realizing all the things that she had said the week before about ME & my work. when i finished my story she walked over to the bowl picked up the last four button hearts that were left and proceeded to buy ALL four....saying "deary, i owe you a HUGE apology....i just realizd what a BIG mouth i have and i won't ever say "oh i can do that!" AGAIN!!!"

before she left, i shared the REAL story of my button heart...."my neighbor lady died on Mother Day's while i was living in CA, and it was that experience that inspired my button heart design....i created a heart for each of her girls to remember their Mother by. they were to attach a different memory to each button, because a button's job is to keep things together." the nasty customer buying the 4 hearts began to weep, walked around the counter and gave me a HUGE hug...."can you make me 10 more hearts, please? that is the loveliest story....i want to share that story AND what a dope i've been w/my daughters and all my best friends i love. the next time i hear one of them say 'oh, i can do that'...i'll say to 'em...."you only THINK you can!"

"my three year old could do that"
I had a brief stint in art school and one year we made this into the school t-shirt!

I was doing shows every weekend and I make tables out of old windows..one of my biggest sellers at the time. Woman and her son came up and she said to son.."I have one of those windows in the basement" Sonsays "I can make one of those for you" Hubby was standing behind me when the son turned to me and said "how do you make that?" Hubby spoke up before I could say anything and said" for $225 you can take it home and take it apart and find out how she made it" With that.. off they went in a huff without my table..

At my last festival/fair, I had a front table with all my jewelry for sale on it, and then off to the side towards the back of the tent, I had a small table in the shade that my husband and I were taking turns working at. A fairly young lady came up to the table and picked up one of my Romanov weave necklaces (not listed on Etsy yet, but will be soon). Now this necklace took me almost three days to complete because it was made with really tiny rings (they blow away easily they are so small) and it's a complicated weave. But she was looking at it, flipped the price tag over, smirked and said she could make it for far less. Husband picked up my bag of rings and my pliers and told her to hop to it. She scoffed and walked off.

We realize that with the right supplies, the time to spend to learn to make something well (sometimes years) and the patience to do "it" you probably could make "it" yourself. However you are standing in front of the table and the vendor is standing behind the table. Please don't be rude and belittle the time and effort it takes for an artist to make the things they do. Chances are good that even if you could make it you won't. Or you would be behind the table not in front of it.

Many thanks to