Craft Booth Tips & Improvements

It’s been a while since my craft table at the Festivus Games at my husband’s gym. I didn’t feel like writing about it because it was honestly really disappointing.

I’m an extreme night owl and an extreme introvert, so it was really exhausting to wake up early and be  around people all day. I also spent about a lot of time preparing, and for all that, I made less in sales than what I spent on setup materials. 

It was still nice to get some sales and interact with buyers in person, I just didn’t feel that the experience was worth the effort overall. 

So I have a few things to keep in mind for next time, like making sure the event is the right fit for my business, communicating with event coordinators, finding out if local people are interested, and being prepared for weather conditions. 

But mostly I would like to share about my table setup. I am by no means an expert, but I think I made some improvements from my first couple events – including the products themselves! 

I tried to think outside the box with my displays. You can save money and make your booth more interesting by using random items like crates, shelves, racks, easels, etc instead of purchased displays. I used some of each and painted, added nails, etc where necessary.

But with my first table, the multi-colored cards and displays were very distracting. Because my items are already colorful, they look better with a neutral background. And because they’re nature-inspired, a touch of rustic works too. 

I separated my items into categories and placed a few sets on busts in the center. I made sure everything was pretty visible, minus my extra stock, and that the price signs were readable. 

Lastly, I found it helpful to bring a few extra things like a checklist, free magnets, a visual of how my canes are made, and beading for my down time. 

Here are some of the resources that helped me: 

Booth Makeover

Top 5 Craft Show Display Trends

Craft Show Checklist

There’s more on my Craft Business Resources Pinterest Board.

If you’re a crafter, let me know if this was helpful, and your most important or most forgotten craft fair items! If you’re a shopper, what would make a booth most attractive to you? 

Introducing Handmade Supplies

I’m always looking for new product ideas to make and sell. After a few custom requests and some research, I decided to add handmade supplies to my offerings.

A few of my jewelry supply sets (available with or without holes).

I’m starting with pendants, earrings pieces, and a few beads. They are made with some of the same nature-inspired polymer clay designs as my finished jewelry items, mostly canes, but without the findings and at a fraction of the price. 

This way, because I have honed my skills with polymer clay and especially canes, you can combine my pieces with your own beading, wire wrapping, or other skills to create unique pieces to sell in your own shop. 

And if you’re not a professional jewelry maker, these pieces can also be finished simply with bails & chains or ear wires for yourself, gifts, or group DIYs. 

I might try to put together some ideas on how to use these so let me know if you’d be interested!

Also if you’ve purchased and photographed any of my products, use hashtag #noellelewisart or #pasticheaccessories on social media to be entered into giveaways! 

Fairy House Herb Garden & Jewelry Set

I almost didn’t get around to doing any gardening this year, but I decided to at least plant some herbs instead of the usual variety of vegetables.

I’ve also been seeing some adorable fairy garden ideas and thought this would be a great way to add some fun to my little planter.

I made mine with a broken wine glass and, of course, polymer clay. It’s sort of hobbit hole inspired with a flower for a roof.

Fairy house and herb garden

Then all I had to do was plant an herb in each corner, place the fairy house in the center, and add some mini garden stones (more accessories later!). It also looks cool as an LED candle holder.

Mushroom house drawing and redraw
It was nice to do something just for fun! Going with the fairy house theme, I also made a new mushroom house jewelry set for my shop, inspired by this redo of a drawing from my high school sketchbook!

Mushroom house cane and jewelry set
Are you getting into the fairy garden trend? Let me know in the comments!

On Selling Fan Creations

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Some of you may be familiar with items in my shop inspired by movies like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Up, and How to Train Your Dragon. You’ve probably also heard a lot of opinions about copyright infringement.

I’m writing this because I was contacted by Etsy regarding a complaint about one of my items. I can’t share specifics but in the interest of protecting my business, it looks like I will have to stop selling the item, and probably all such items just in case. I know some of you will be disappointed and others will think less of me for doing it in the first place, so I’d like to share my thoughts on this issue (disclaimer: I have no legal expertise).

A lot of people seem to look at fan-made merchandise as a way for unimaginative people to profit from others’ ideas. To me, if you’re taking an idea and turning it into something different, then it’s a way for people with various types of creative skills to work together to benefit everyone – more options for the fans, free advertising for the original creator, and yes, more income for us crafters.

I do respect the right of any artist to decide what happens with their own designs. But at the same time, part of art is sharing ideas, and every idea comes from somewhere. There is a difference between stealing and being inspired. Even nature-themed designs are copying something, just not something we’re going to fight over.

Maybe in the beginning I was trolling for ideas. Now I have a whole shop full of my own stuff – two in fact – but I still know my work has been inspired by things along the way, and I still don’t get to decide what’s actually popular.

I just wish there was a better way to make fan crafts legitimately. I would happily get licensed and pay fees if it were realistic for an independent artist to do so. Maybe someday we will have some better options.

In the meantime, I’m sorry to part with these items and the happy customers who purchase them, but I hope it will be an opportunity for me to focus on my other designs and for them to be noticed on their own.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!

Florals: Sale Items & New Designs 

It’s been a busy month (yikes!) since my last post, mostly spent preparing for a local event, which I will talk about later. I haven’t been able to spend as much time creating new designs, but I do have a few I hadn’t shared yet.

First I wanted to mention that I’m having a sale at Noelle Lewis Art on Etsy and Amazon, for just a few more days. I’m clearing out some of my older floral items, including jewelry sets and mixed media paintings, so I can focus on my landscape cane jewelry and landscape paintings – which may still include some mixed media.


Meanwhile in my other shop, Pastiche Accessories, I have a new collection of florals featuring statement necklaces and matching earrings in a variety of colors and styles. I use the caning technique for these also but shape the slices into flowers, then connect them and finish them with beads.

As I may have mentioned, I’m branching out to include other metal colors – besides silver – such as gold, copper, and bronze. And I’ve started making studs along with the dangle earrings, which can also be purchased as clip-ons. 

I hope I’m not confusing anyone while I figure out my multiple shop situation and get organized! But I have plenty of options and I hope you’ll check out the sale and/or the new collection! 

Festivus Games Craft Booth

  
Some of you may know that my husband runs a CrossFit gym (which I’ve been meaning to blog about). Next month they are hosting the Festivus Games, a competition designed to include people who are not hardcore athletes. I feel like it kind of goes with how they run things at CrossFit Metanoia; they’re all about meeting people where they are to help them reach their goals. 

Joe suggested I set up a craft booth with the other vendors at the games, since I make some Crossfit-inspired jewelry and people might be interested in my other designs too. 

I was hesitant at first, thinking my artsy, nature-inspired designs would seem out of place. But all kinds of people will be there and it couldn’t hurt to try something different than the craft fairs I’ve done before. Plus it would be nice for us to do something together business-wise, since we both work really hard at completely  different things. 

So I have a lot of setting up to do in the next couple weeks, but I will be there with my fitness themed designs and lots of other options too (you can check out my gallery pages or Facebook Page to see some examples). I look forward to meeting more of my husband’s clients and any other locals who would like to check it out! 

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Tile Bracelet Tutorial Improvements

I tend to make a lot of necklaces and earrings and not that many bracelets. I have a hard time making a bunch of matching pieces with nice holes, and they take up more material than, say, a pendant. Plus they have to be available in different sizes. 

But I like to have a well rounded selection, so I’ve been trying to make more. A while ago I made a tutorial of a stamped tile bracelet (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). It was cute and I spent a lot of time on the posts, but it could have been done better in some ways. 

Recently I made another tile bracelet, this time with cane slices instead of stamping. I’ve been practicing with canes a lot and this one is the unexpected result of several attempts at tree silhouettes. Anyway, I wanted to share some improvements I’ve learned.    

 

  1. Using the right brand of clay. Bracelets are likely to get banged around a bit so you want something strong. There are a lot of options – I used Sculpey Soufflé and Sculpey Premo here – I just wouldn’t use something like Sculpey III again for this project. 
  2. Making your tiles nice and thick. The original bracelet had about 1/8″ thick tiles, which is fine for some items, but you want more like 1/4″ to make room for the holes without weakening the tiles.
  3. Lining up your holes ahead of time. Teresa Pandora Salgado made a great video (Easy Bangle and Tile Bracelets) on how to do this, which kick-started the remaking of this project.
  4. Using proper findings. I used tigertail wire and matching glass beads like last time – stretch cord would be fine too – but added crimp bead covers for a more finished look, wire guardians for extra durability (here’s How to Use Wire Guardians), and a two-holed sliding clasp to match the two-strand design.  

 

Other notes: I keep large blocks of black, white, and translucent clay so I have them for backgrounds and such, and I’m working on stocking up on other colors. I used a square cutter to make the tiles this time because I liked the rounded corners and consistent shape. And I added a little liquid clay (Kato) for a shiny finish. 

Some of these tips are of course optional, but I hope you will find this helpful, especially if you too have a hard time making bracelets. 

In keeping with the original posts, here is a picture of my cat crashing my workspace!