Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Handmade: Craft Show Season is Here!

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

The sun has been warmer. The grass has been mowed. The daffodils are in bloom. I have even seen a robin red breast. What does this all mean? Besides it’s a good time to start using sun block; it’s outdoor craft show season. Time to dust off the canopy, and find my folding chairs.

Assembly Square Marketplace

Last summer was Prunella’s Workshop’s first real season. We have done shows off and on over the course of seven years, but never consistently, and they were all indoors. My first outdoor show was at Sholan Farms in Leominster, MA, and let me tell you, I didn't have a clue what I was doing! I look back at pictures of my display and I wonder what I had thought I was doing. Albeit, when I saw it all done up at the event, I knew it was wrong.

Prunella's Workshop at Sholan Farms Apple Blosson Festival 2013

A year later, and I will be at Sholan Farms next Saturday. It will be interesting to see how it differs. I know I don’t want to put up the walls of my tent unless the weather requires it. Last year, my tent seemed dark and my table was lost in its depths. I had put up the walls as I believed I should. I will arrive early so I may pick my spot closer to the front. There were no assigned spots, and it was first come first serve. While I was far from late, I ended up closer to the other end of two long rows. I have since added more dimension to my displays with the addition of risers and picture frames.

City By The Sea Ceramics at the Boston Handmade Marketplace

I know I have learned other skills as well since that show. I know better how to discuss my work with potential customers. People enjoy knowing the story behind art. It makes the piece come alive for them. They are interested in who we are. I am a naturally shy person, and it takes a lot out of me to fulfill this requirement, but I believe I am improving. I also have streamlined my merchandise.
As we begin outdoor craft season, I reflect on the year past, but I also wonder what is in store this year. I know I am by no means an expert yet. I doubt I will ever master the business/sales portion of this life. Challenging myself with my craft is easy-even when I am trying to learn a new technically difficult technique, as it is my passion. I want to see the world wearing my work, but I am not passionate about the art of being a salesman. It is a necessary evil if I want to continue with my craft. Perhaps someday I will be able to hire staff who will stand at my table for me! A girl can dream.

Jessica Burko's table at the RISD Alumni Art Sale

What are you looking forward to, in the upcoming season? Do you expect this year to be different from past years? What have you learned in the past year?

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