Sunday, 21 September 2014

Craft Fair Virgin: Getting Ready for My First Craft Fair

It's been a rush! I've been back at work for a few weeks now, and when the work day is done I head home to cut and fold and glue hundreds of paper flowers for my very first craft fair!

I've been invited by Seaway Valley Artisans to participate in their Gathering of Artisans in Baie d'Urfé on October 18th and 19th. I was delighted to accept their invitation, but since it's my first fair I've had a lot of questions:
  • How will I get my products there safely?
  • How much inventory should I bring?
  • How should I decorate my booth?
  • How will I promote my work at my booth?
  • How will I package my products for customers?
  • How do I accept payments? 
Initially I had a lot of first time jitters, but now I feel better that I've sorted out what I'm going to do. I started with the booth decorations.

I looked through Winners, Target, and Sears for a tablecloth of the right size. It's a tall order, since the table they'll be giving me is eight feet long. I finally ended up going to Linen Tablecloth online to find exactly what I was looking for. I ordered a hemlock coloured table cloth, since that colour goes well with my logo.

Next, I decided that I wanted a banner that matches my blog header and my business cards. Lucky for me, Vistaprint is having a sale this weekend! Using Gimp, I designed a banner and uploaded it to Vistaprint. I should have it by next week. (I'm planning to write a tutorial on how to use Gimp to design your own logos, business cards, and so on!)

The banner I designed using Gimp

Although I have a number of larger projects finished, by searching through the Etsy forums I discovered that the majority of sales come from smaller items, so I'll be aiming to create as many little things as possible, such as earrings, tiny bouquets, and Christmas ornaments. 

As for taking payments, I went ahead and ordered a Square Reader. I haven't used it in a sales setting yet, but so far I am incredibly pleased with it! I ordered the device, which was free, and downloaded the free app onto my phone. Now I'll be able to accept credit card payments from customers. So handy!

The Square Reader

As for everything else, I've decided to enjoy the experience and learn as much as possible. I hope to continue doing fairs for a long time to come, so this first one will be a chance for me to break myself in, see what other makers are doing, and join in the community of artisans here in Montreal that has so far been so welcoming!

Image courtesy of Orin Zebest

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

DIY Gaming Mat Tutorial - Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures

Geeks make the best husbands! My husband Philippe is a huge fan of the game Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures. My own taste in games runs more towards Marrying Mr. Darcy, but I can tell you that Star Wars is a tactical ship-to-ship combat game played with scale models on your kitchen table. Over the past few months Philippe has amassed a pretty admirable collection of X-Wing figurines and has started playing at events around Montreal.

A problem with Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures is that it's played on a 3 foot by 3 foot square surface, and being off by even a small bit can affect the outcome. When Philippe first started playing, he would carefully mark off the playing space, but this got to be pretty tedious after a while. 

I asked Philippe if the game's publisher makes gaming mats that might make this easier. He told me that there are some small indie companies that produce mats, but they're sort of expensive. Some players have found ways to make their own gaming mats using bits of tarp, foil, and paint.

It immediately occurred to me that I could sew a mat. What perfect timing! Philippe's birthday was only a few weeks away! So for his present I designed and made a DIY mat that requires only basic sewing skills.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Corsages in TARDIS Blue

Well, it's been a busy week here at The Beaded Kusudama! I've been busy working on an order for a bride in New Hampshire and I'll be ready to ship it out tomorrow.

This particular bride is a huge Dr. Who fan. She requested that I make three corsages for her wedding in TARDIS blue. I decided to use white as an accent colour, since in cartoon versions of the TARDIS, the windows are usually shown as white. This is what I came up with:

I am really starting to enjoy custom orders like this. Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in your own head creatively. But the process of collaborating with someone else takes you further and allows you to branch out. I get to make something new, and the bride has something that she can be proud of on her wedding day. Now that I have made these corsages, I will definitely be making this model available in my Etsy shop. 

In other news, I've been busily preparing for Seaway Valley's Gathering of Artisans in Baie d'Urfé. I have to confess that I've been enjoying the paper selection part of this process way too much.

My favourite paper supplier is Trinity Crafts, an Ontario-based business that happens to carry KaiserCraft paper, which is hard to get because it's manufactured in Australia. There are so many beautiful patterns and styles that even though I've been trying to narrow it down, I'm not having a lot of luck!

Here are a few examples of papers I could order:

There are dozens more too. You can see why I might be having difficulty with this decision. Once I've actually made up my mind I will definitely be posting pictures of the beautiful things I'll make with this paper!