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Sunday, June 28, 2009

First Art Fair

I sold a pair of earrings that went with a necklace set. Just the earrings. I was SO not expecting anything like that, I didn't even have one of my little earring boxes for them. But going to this art fair was an excellent experience.

Let me set the stage for you. At 7:30am, it was literally POURING rain. If you have never visited Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you have maybe never seen rain like this. It let up at 8am for registration, and stayed dry just long enough to make it possible to find my spot and get my tent up, (this with the help of The Best Man Ever and Most Excellent Teenager) and then it poured again. This was actually helpful, as I knew my tent was indeed watertight, and also exactly where my tables should be to stay dry.

This particular art fair is still in it's youth. It is a one day affair, and part of a City of Minnetonka Summer Festival. It takes place on the grounds of a beautifully restored turn of the century historical homesite, the Burwell House. Originally the Burwell House portion of the festival was an old fashioned Ice Cream Social with bands and entertainers and house tours and an open air antique market. Three years ago, the city decided to add an art fair.

The majority of the people attending are there for the ice cream and entertainment, not to buy art. But many were happy to look, and most were enthusiastic and complimentary. No one was rude, or questioned either aesthetic or price . The value in this experience, although obviously not monetary, was immense, and I really want to write it down while it's fresh in my mind.

I learned a great deal about selling my work. I learned that my beadwork is TACTILE, and looking at it is not the same as TOUCHING it. It needs to be turned over and EXPLAINED. Materials that are amazing need to be pointed out. What makes for good beadwork, like no visible threads or stitches on the front or back of the work, needs to be demonstrated. And most important of all, people need to TRY IT ON, and see themselves wearing it in a BIG MIRROR. It makes a difference how I am dressed, and I think this will vary from fair to fair. And, spending next to no money on my display, other than the cost of the tent, does not really create a fantastic environment. It was functional, but could be so very much more. Thank God for my Fairy Bead Mother's (Hannah Rosner, Good River Gallery) great advice about the bed risers under my table legs, because that was pure genius and kept my stuff up high enough to be seen without a backache for me or my browsers.

At about the half way point in the fair, my friend Donna joined me. Donna is a petite, delicate woman, but you musn't let her seemingly small aspect mislead you. Donna is a dynamo. She is a tiger. And when she gets her teeth on an idea, she does not let go. I learned alot from her about persistence and positive thinking. I also learned the difference between an ATTRIBUTE and a BENEFIT. The attributes are the things I like to talk about; how the work is done, why I chose the materials, what inspired the piece, and how it might best be worn. But it hadn't occurred to me to discuss benefits. Like, when I wear something I have made, people stop me to ask about it. Check out girls and dental hygienists and Most Excellent Teenager's teachers all want to know about my personal, portable art. That's a benefit of buying art for your neck instead of for your wall. And the fact that those lovely beaded toggles are so easy to use, as well as gorgeous. Benefits. Donna was so helpful!

Then, when the wind came up, Most Excellent Teenager and friend Jayd and The Best Man Ever appeared with bags of water softener salt, (which he informed me we needed anyway) and bungee cords, and secured the EZ-UP, so Donna and I didn't have to worry about taking a trip somewhere over the rainbow. Heroes! I love my boys.

Another art fair? You bet. There are wonderful fairs here, most of which need to be applied for by March, and I was not ready in March 2009. March 2010? Haute Ice Beadwork is fair ready!


  1. Sounds like you had a lot of fun :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about benefits versus attributes!

  2. Wonderful post and sense of humor. Thanks for sharing your experience!


  3. I think you are one of those whose cup is half full not half empty and you have a wonderful sense of humor!

  4. Congratulations on your first show! They're great aren't they? I spend the week before a show in a state of panic just trying to get things together and pray I have enough pieces to sell! Then there are displays and set up and who will be there to help and of course the weather. Wonderful blog about your experience and good luck with your future shows!
    Beaded Extravagance

  5. Sounds like a wonderful experience. And you learned so much!

  6. Marsha, thank you so much for sharing your experience! I'm so going to use the attributes and benefits approach! I tend to do the attributes part whenever I wear a cuff and someone comments...I'll take it off so they can look at it closely and feel the texture. That usually gets them asking more questions. Thanks again for the information and advice! (I just happen to have the bed risers, too!)