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Category Archives: Craft and Handmade Shows

Craft Fair Booth Set Up Part 1

Photo Courtesy Nik V Phototgraphy

Rats!

Today’s post was supposed to be all about how I had finally triumphed in my craft booth set up for last Sunday’s Patchwork show.

However, I encountered a teeny-tiny glitch with that plan:

  • None of the pictures I took seem to exist*
  • “Triumph” is sort of a stronger word than can be applied to my achievement

I know!

Upsetting!

Pi (who featured prominently in several pics) threw himself to the ground in his disappointment and was almost inconsolable.

But I did improve my set up (I think) so perhaps I can share the journey and, hopefully be of some help to others.

Here’s the deal.

Of the many things I struggle with (fighting my all ice-cream diet instinct, remembering sunscreen, not banging my head into solid objects) booth set-up is one of my biggest conundrums.

You’d think that by now I’d have it down.

You’d be wrong.

You see, I’m convinced that if I could just create the perfect booth, the perfect displays then THEN everyone would buy everything!

Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to focus on…..if your goal is to go insane.Craft booth set up for Cheltenham Road

I basically have two, three, a lot of main problems:

  1. I’m too eclectic. Soap sellers sell soap, the tshirt vendors sell t-shirts etc.  Me?   I make  coasters….and trays……and signs…..and wine charms…..and magnets…..and candle blocks…..and wood letters…..and flower holders….
  2. Because, as a customer, I often go into booths I’m convinced that everything needs to be as close to the front as possible
  3. Everything needs to fit in a somewhat small car and be easy to set up/break down
  4. I need a place for me
  5. I need to be able to get out of the booth and not trap myself behind the table)
  6. I need accessible storage
  7. I need to find a place for Pi to feature predominately so as to lure people in

Today I’m gonna focus just on number 1 –Eclectic and Flexible (sounds like a disorganized yoga class I took once)

Of course, you may be thinking, “David, perhaps you should, um, calm down, focus and sell coasters like your friends the candle makers, tshirt makers and such?

And you’d be right.

But I’d be bored.

The fun part is making.  Coming up with new ideas.

And I pretty much have the Coaster Display down.  As you can see above, the towers have been with me in some form or another since my first show.

It’s the “everything else” that comes and goes that needs to be worked out.

But I think I’ve got that down to a science or at least a solid theory.

I’ve started using various combinations of inexpensive, stained 1×12 boards, wood crates, drop cloths and tables.

This gives me plenty of flexible display space while not taking up much room in transport.

For Patchwork Santa Ana I laid everything out across the front:

With the Coaster Display lined up flat along the wall

Here is a sort of schematic I put together to give you an idea

It worked great – sort of.

Everything packed in the car nicely.

Everything was up front except magnets and their sales were way down.

Pi was kinda hidden behind the display and the tables.

I got lucky because the space next to me was wide open but if it hadn’t been there would have been a very bad bottleneck at the sales table with customers not being able to get back out of the booth without jostling through a crowd.

So for Patchwork Long Beach I changed things up a bit (and sorry, here is where the pictures magically disappeared so you’ll need to make due with my never-meant-to-be-published phone pics of the set up in my driveway).

I swapped in a 6′ table and set up the shelves in an L formation

Here’s another schematic:

I moved the magnets up to the other corner and put the Coaster Display in it’s three-sided tower layout.

Pi was more prominent.  Perhaps too prominent.

He literally stole a toy from a baby!

The child toddled into the booth carrying a yellow, fluffy, stuffed something.

Pi wagged his tail, sidled over, said “I’ll just take that, thank-you,” and retreated under a table.

He was totally gentle, the kid hardly noticed, the parents laughed (which doesn’t bode well for the child’s future) and I was mortified.

But other than that the layout worked!

The shelves are flexible, easy to pack and any random thing I make can be displayed without coming up with a whole new system.

The crates double as storage for transport and, with some care, everything fits in or on the car!

I have some other refinements in mind for the next round but, hopefully, I’m done overhauling the set up for every show.

I’m sure I’ve confused some folks or there are questions so don’t hesitate to fire away if I’ve been unclear about something that would be helpful.

I’m planning posts on my Sales Table and an update on that hanging wall.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Photo Display Board Tutorial

Last weekend’s Patchwork Festival in Santa Ana went really well!  Beautiful weather, great crowds,  good sales and I may possibly have figured out a good, final, booth set up….more on that in another post.

This Sunday is Patchwork Long Beach!

Patchwork Show Long Beach. Sunday June 10th

I have no idea why I thought “cool! Two shows almost back to back” sounded good but apparently, in the darkness of January, I did.

So here I am – madly restocking!

However, my Photo Display Boards have gotten good response at all the recent shows so I thought it might be fun to share how I make them.  Also, Geralyn came up with a great suggestion for a new one!

Disclaimer: While I’ve labeled this a tutorial it’s really more of “here’s-what-I-did-you-can-do-something-similar-but-I’m-not-saying-you-should-do-exactly-this.  However, that seemed like an unwieldy title so rest assured I’ll be offering up other options for each step as we go.

These signs fall into my Use Up Your Scrap-wood mission in life.

So I started with:

  • Scrap plywood 30” long by 7” tall.
  • 3 eyehole screws
  • Ikea RikTig clips
  • 36” threaded rod (from the hardware store) cut down to 30″
  • Decorative Threaded End caps (from the same hardware store)
  • Folk Art Aniquing Wax

(not pictured but strongly implied)

  • White paint
  • Drill
  • Minwax Polycrylic
  • Sandpaper
  • hacksaw (for cutting the threaded rod down to size)

My board was already painted white but had it not been I would have done it –  regular latex paint works (Milk paint would be fine too) – just make sure its thoroughly dry.  I then sanded off just the edges for a slightly worn look.

Geralyn’s (brilliant I think) idea was that I should make one that could be used to show off children’s artwork so I created a graphic that fit with my “vintagy” style – an old Crayon Box.

Alternate: I also toyed with the idea of just using simple text that said “Look what I made!” or the Picasso quote “all children are artists.”  Any text or graphic would work.

I did my usual image transfer technique (detailed instructions here).

It’s quite simple – I print graphics out in reverse on a laser printer and adhere them, face-down, onto the plywood using Minwax Polycrylic.

For a  sign this long I had to create three, separate, sections printed on regular legal-sized paper which had to be lined up.

After letting the polycrylic dry overnight I took my very wet rag (no need to be delicate) and rubbed away the paper to reveal the graphic.

It takes a couple of rounds of rubbing to get all the paper off and if, like me, you’re going for a vintagy look, you can be fairly aggressive since any image that rubs away just adds to the aged look.

I then used Folk Art Antiquing Was and a pouncing bush to add a bit more distress to the fairly pristine wood.

(In truth I think I may have over-distressed this one.  There is a fine line between “look an old sign!” and “you need to clean that” and I think I may have crossed it.)

After the wax had dried and I’d buffed it a bit I added the eye-hole screws (pre-drilling the holes)….

….ran the threaded rod through them and capped each end with the decorative caps.

I had stumbled on these Ikea RikTig hangers the other day and they work perfectly (as well as being quite inexpensive).Alternate: If you didn’t want to use a rod a tautly stretched wire, a wood dowel or string would work perfectly.  If you’re not near an Ikea then small clothespins would work or, even possibly, be better!

I don’t have any kids so, after stealing some artwork from innocent children passing by, I was all set to go!

As I mentioned any sort of graphic would work.

My initial sign was just black and white for a made-up camera shop

I got a bit more colorful for a mid-century version.

These are fun to make and I think the idea is easily adaptable.

If image transfer isn’t your thing stencils would work great as would more straightforward decoupage.  Lots of options!

And, as always, if you make something similar, I’d love to see the photos.

Back next time with Adventures in Booth Design!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Progress and and Update!

I interrupt this update for a quick PSA:

The folks at Plaid are having an awesome sale on all Mod Podge branded products on their site (so, Mod Podge, tools, brushes, melts etc – lots of stuff)! 

Photo courtesy of Plaid Enterprises.

It’s 40% off your order and free shipping if you spend $60 or more.  So, if you need to, now is the time to stock up.  I bought 6 gallons (#holysmoke) of Mod Podge and saved a ton of money.

BUT!!! It ends tonight.

Just go to their site and use the code MPDAY18

We now return you to your regular programming:

I’m baaaack….sort of

OK, so my To Do List for the last three weeks has looked like this:

As you can see my priorities are solid!

But I finally did #1 today.

It took 30 seconds.

May I present my card:

Actually, there is a lot more to do (full-fledged site redesign, shopping widget etc) but I do at least have the space now to do a post.

And you’d think, “David, with all that free time, what with not accomplishing your goals, you must have done lots of stuff!

And you would be wrong….and possibly new here?

Actually, that’s not true. I did a lot.  Just not necessarily in an organized, well thought-out, photographed sort of way.

I had my first in-person show of the season in Pasadena and finally FINALLY! Put together a booth set up that I liked!

I had a nice, corner spot and this arrangement gave me plenty of space for display and for everyone (including me) to move around!

It looks a bit dark in the photos but I actually thought it was welcoming and cheery in real life.

I worked out some new ideas too.

Sticking with my “use your scrap wood theme” I came up with these vintage sign photo holder boards.  Which combine my love of vintage graphics and a certain amount of practicality.

I made a few more for the show:

Pi also finally pulled his weight by looking really cute and luring unsuspecting future customers into the booth:

A long-time “I have an idea but I haven’t gotten around to it yet” project came to fruition with some coaster holders to sell along with the actual coasters.

First up- little Library Drawers to go with my Vintage Library Card Drink Coasters (again, made from scrap wood)

They got a lot of attention at the show:

and I kept working on those scrap wood flower holder crates which are fun to make.

So I guess I was busy, just not particularly focused.

I have my next big show this coming Sunday in downtown Santa Ana and will report back with details, designs and new ideas shortly.

Thanks for bearing with me!

 

Simple Farmhouse Style Tray Tutorial

Got a bit distracted over the past few weeks but I’m……”back on track?” …. well, that kind of implies there was a track to begin with which might be overstating things….. let’s just go with “I’m continuing to continue.”

So the next couple of weeks will be all about preparations for the upcoming, April 28-29th Jackalope Pasadena Art Fair.

It’s a great show.  I’m excited about it  and determined to

  1. come up with some new coaster designs,
  2. have enough coasters on hand, and
  3. really make use of all that scrap wood for some one-of-a-kind projects.

I have a million ideas – I just need to do the “hard” work of turning them from ideas into actual, physical things.

Oh, and I also need a new booth set up.

Bottom line – it’s going to be a super relaxing couple of weeks filled with bon-bon consumption and channel surfing……

Up first is a tray for the proud citizens of South Pasadena.

It’s pretty easy to do but I thought I’d outline the steps in case anyone out there might like to give it a go.

Here is what I used

  • Tray
  • Wood stain
  • Some thin strips of scrap wood cut to size
  • Wood stain/antiquing glaze
  • Paint (Folk Art Milk Paint in my case)
  • E6000 glue
  • Polycrylic
  • Roller
  • Rag

After staining the tray I cut my scrap wood to size (2.5″ by 16″) and went to my Plaid supply box and pulled out Folk Art Milk Paint (Petticoat color) and Folk Art Antique Wax. After painting the slats with Petticoat I went back in and “aged” the edges with the antiquing wax.

I glued the strips in place using the trusty E6000 glue and left it to dry overnight.

After working out the South Pasadena design I reversed it and printed it on my laser printer using plain old, Staples brand, legal paper

I used my Polycrylic transfer technique (you can see details here) and, after letting it dry overnight, rubbed away the paper with a wet rag (you can be pretty aggressive).

*I have found one refinement for this process.

The technique works perfectly but you do sometimes end up being able to see a slight demarcation where edge of the paper was.  I found that if I spread the poly carefully so as to avoid sealing down the very edges it minimizes this effect.

I seal all my trays with Envirotex Lite.

It’s easy to use (as long as you follow the directions to the letter) but you do have to prep the surface.  I seal everything with a coat or two of Matte Mod Podge taking particular care to run a bead of MP around the inside of the tray to seal up any gaps. 

What could happen if one skips this step?

Hypothetically …… One might return to check on one’s project and think “Gee, it seems like there is a lot less Envirotex in that tray than before.”

One then might find the missing Envirotex all over the kitchen table and dripping onto floor.

One might then panic and instinctively touch the insanely sticky, spilled Envorotex WITH BOTH HANDS.

One then (finally using one’s brain) might go to get paper towels and discover one is out of paper towels.

One might then try to open the pantry door with insanely sticky hands and then attempt to tear open the plastic wrapper with one’s insanely sticky hands and then return to the now even bigger mess on the kitchen table with one’s hands covered in plastic and paper towel bits.

Hypothetically……

Once it was all dry the tray was ready to go.

One down!  So many more ideas to work on!

Seasonally Challenged

Remember back in July when I was all about Halloween?

And we laughed about how it was way too early for Halloween?

Welcome to October!  Now we can finally talk about surfing.

Surfing?!

I know.

I am seriously seasonally challenged.

But here’s the deal.

I had the big Abott Kinney Festival (in Venice Beach) a weekend or so ago and I had to change gears radically to get stuff ready for the beach crowd.

Coasters are always my biggest sellers and I wanted some new ones.  So I upped my “beach game” by playing with some new colors for my Subway Art coasters:

And worked up some new vintage surf shop coasters as well

So far so good.

I wanted to add some other stuff to the mix and, as you may recall, I bought a bunch of metal trays a while ago and have been trying out various designs on them.

I liked one of my Surfing Coaster images a lot and had an idea about how to transfer it to one of the metal trays but wasn’t sure if it would work.

Spoiler: It did!

I painted the bottom of the tray using Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint – Ivory, blew up my graphic and printed it out in reverse on my laser printer.

I used my favorite transfer technique.

I simply lay down a decent coat of Minwax Polycrylic, place the image face down on the Poly, smooth it into place using my hands and a roller and let it dry for several hours in the sun (or overnight if you don’t live in hot, dry southern California).

Tip:  I’m always trying to improve a bit.  The only downside of this method is that you can end up with a faint outline of the edges of the paper.  I found that if you only put the Poly where you image is and only smooth down that area it cuts down on the “edge” problem a bit.  You can see in the picture above that the edges of the paper are not stuck down.

Once it’s dry I soak a rag in water, lay it over the image and let get good and damp

and begin rubbing away the paper.

until the image is totally revealed.

My concern was that the process would rub off the paint but it wasn’t a problem at all.

I actually had to go back in with some sandpaper and “distress” the letter a bit more (I kinda overdid it with “A” in California)

I really liked how it came out and the tray sold almost before I opened shop.

I plan to try it with a few fall-like designs as well.  Or, what the heck, it’s October, let’s talk Easter decor!!!!

(you may wonder what I’ve been up to since the Festival and now…..well, my faithful computer Blue-Screen-of-Deathed me just afterwards and I’ve been dealing with the hassle of buying a new one and getting up and rolling again.  Fortunately, most of my work was backed up but between passwords, fonts, bookmarks etc it’s been a slow slog to get my act back together)

 

 

Vintage Signs! Trays! A Jackalope Report and How the Dog is Gaslighting Me

I think Pi is trying to gaslight me.

Friends come to meet him and he’s the ultimate tail-waggy, cute, well behaved dream dog. When I describe his Cujo like other side they all look at me like “really David?”

“But it’s true!!!!!”  I cry.  “I’ll show you” and I leave the room.  And he wags his tail, curls up and takes a nap.

But once the friends leave, if I even look like I’m going to, oh I don’t know, go to the bathroom alone, it’s Stephen King time.

This has led to a sort of Dog Supervised House-Arrest situation which has yielded both good and bad results

Upside of Being Under Dog House Arrest:

  • I’m getting lots of filing done
  • I have time to do the research for new designs
  • When I do make it “over the wall” so-to-speak and get to the garage I execute my chores with a breath taking, military-like precision and efficiency that would make my father proud
  • Facing an upsetting lack of tortilla chips and a glorious abundance of pretzels I invented Pretzel Nachos!

Downside:

  • I invented Pretzel Nachos. I was not actually in need of yet ANOTHER salt/fat delivery system…but they are delicious.
  • Getting ready for the big Jackalope show last weekend was challenging.

I couldn’t really plan out my booth the way I usually do so I just chucked a lot of stuff in the car and hoped for the best.

It came out OK

I did forgot my banner that says “Cheltenham Road” and I neglected to bring my business cards but other than that I was, you know, “Captain of Industry” all the way baby!

Product-wise I had to focus on things that I could (mostly) make indoors.

This restriction somehow, to all my Spite Crafting signs morphing into something a bit less spiteful and a lot of fun.

So, in addition to my Camera Shop Sign (click here for a tutorial on the image transfer technique I used)

there was a vintage bicycle sign (graphic courtesy of the The Old Design Shop):and my favorite one that I made with an old typewriter advertisement

They were fun, easy to make and, best of all, sold!

I also worked on some more trays and gave my Bathing Beauties another go

And worked out a new subway sign featuring our great National Parks

Now, of course, I had to bring Pi with me or face the consequences.

I was nervous about how he’d do in public but he did great (gaslighting!)….with a tiny exception.

I gave him one job.  ONE JOB!

He was to sit up, look adorably puppy-like and lure unsuspecting customers into my booth.  They would squeal over the cuteness of my pet and then feel compelled to purchase coasters (it’s a well known cause-effect pattern).

Pi, instead, did this:

 

All day!

Both days!!!!

He just laid there behind or under a table.

Useless.

His pay will be docked accordingly.

So my job now is to continue to try to train him to chill-out (he’s actually been doing better the last couple of days) while I make a bunch of pretzel nachos coasters that are due at the stores.

Wish me luck!

Life of (with) Pi

We’ve traced the barks.  They’re coming from inside the house!!!!

This is not going to become a blog about a dog but I feel I must explain.

I really lucked out with Pi (somehow it auto-corrected last time – his real name is Pi).

The shelter said he was untrained but either they were wrong or he’s the most considerate animal ever.  He doesn’t beg for food, he doesn’t eat stuff off the floor, he doesn’t chew on furniture.  He just crawls in your lap and curls up in a little ball and naps.

In short, he’s kind of a dream.

There is just one small problem.

Poor little guy has some very understandable abandonment and separation anxieties.  And he wants to be near me all the time.

ALL THE TIME.

It’s like having a small, adorable stalker (who snores)

He follows me everywhere:

At my desk right now

Doing laundry

Any bathroom activity, including showering – he just pushes the door open and waits.

(which  I guess is only fair  since I watch him when he does his business)

And if I stand still too long when doing photos for this blog post?

This is fine.  I’m totally down with being unquestioningly adored (it just feels right!).

But I can’t leave the house.

If I leave the house (or even the room and he can’t follow) my sweet, placid, trouble free dog goes full blown Glenn Close at her bunny boiling, I-WILL-NOT-BE-IGNORED-DAVID!!!!!! Fatal Attraction peak.

It’s heartbreaking, a little scary and VERY limiting.

So, since I can’t even go to the garage for more than a few minutes I don’t have anything very detailed to share this week.

I did get a few “almost-done” things “totally-done.”

Finished up my biggest sign yet. It’s for a local teacher’s classroom.

This sucker is one foot high and about 4 ft long when laid out.

I’m also gearing up for the one of my favorite shows -the Jackalope Artisan Fair is in Pasadena next weekend.  I want to have some new trays and since I liked the how the Camera Shop sign came out I thought I’d try it in tray form.  I did the same process as before and  just used a bunch of cut-to-fit, painted pieces of thin scrap wood.

I put together a vintage bicycle tray that I thought might be a fun gift for someone.

And finished up my latest HOME sign for a customer in Fort Worth Texas

I’m hopeful that, this week, I’ll be able to convince Ms. Close that it will all be all right and that I guarantee I will return every time (we actually are making progress).

Until then it’s build up for Jackalope and, possibly some very scratched up doors.

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