Saturday, August 23, 2008

Art Shows, Crafts Shows, Consignment & other venues

Currently, I sell my beadwork and crocheted items through consignment at the gift shops of the Japanese Friendship Garden and the San Diego Art Institute, in Balboa Park, San Diego, at local Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention art shows (Condor Con, Comic Con, and Conjecture), a couple of gallery shows for bead society/art museum members, and now through Previously, I sold on consignment at a friend’s shop, until she decided to convert her brick and motar business to an internet business—you can find her on Etsy and eBay as “whatigather”; you may notice she sells some similar “bits and pieces” to what I’ve incorporated in some of my work (yes, I spent a lot of my consignment checks in her shop)…. I also tried a few on-line sites before Etsy, most of which no longer exist. Occasionally, I make “direct” sales and custom items.

For my consignment sales, most buyers are tourists wanting a souvenir that is a bit different than the usual made-in-China gew-gaw, but don’t want to spend much on it. “Under $10” is the “price point” for most of these sales; other buyers, though, are locals looking for something “different” or “arty”—these buyers generally are willing to pay for that uniqueness, especially since the purchase helps support a local artist AND a local non-profit institution.

I’ve participated in a few Crafts’ Shows. The last time, was this past spring, at my workplace (for a fundraiser). It reminded me why I don’t do them…. Even if it hadn’t been the confused “mess” it ended up being (mistakes, miscommunications, and generally poor planning from those in charge of the event), it still would not have been a “good day” for me—I really have a hard time “sitting” for extended periods of time.

Gallery shows—ummm…. Well, I’ve taken part in our bead society’s gallery show every year it has been held. My preferences for “d├ęcor” and content generally run counter to the preferences of the “PTBs” of the last few years. “Their way” has been to make it like a “high end”, fine arts gallery show—I sell one or two pieces, and most members don’t sell anything; the PTBs sell “high end” items to their friends and current clients— the gallery show being set up like an extension of their studio shops. The way I prefer—like a fun and happy Bazaar… total sales in terms of number of pieces is higher, more artists have sales, and there is a whole lot more selection of “affordable” items for casual, spur of the moment, walk-in type visitors (the majority of potential buyers). My personal sales income is about the same, but generally it’s several “low to mid” priced items rather than one or two higher priced ones, which to me is “better”. It’s not an extension of “my studio”… which consists of my end of the dining table for beading, and a few canvas bags for crochet WIPs. (We won’t talk about how much space storage takes up…). The other gallery shows I’ve entered were at the SD Art Institute’s “Museum of the Living Artist”—once at one of their fund raiser shows, and last year, for a “Holiday Tree” show (mine sold the first night—before any of my friends got to see it! I have mixed feelings about that…). Still working on “fine art” type projects….

For the art shows… I really haven’t figured out where the main “price point” is. Sales are at low, mid and high ends… although I haven’t done but a couple of really high end pieces for sale, and somehow, I seem to forget to even put those out most of the time, or don’t have room for them. Usually, the highest priced item is under $200. The last show I did (Comic Con), the highest priced item was $165—and it sold. So did $5 cell-phone charms and hair clips, but only a couple of “moderate” priced items….

Things to consider about art shows:

As you may have gathered… I like Art Shows. They aren’t “perfect”, but until I can find a Rich Patron who will pay for all my materials, promotions and showings, and pay me a living wage to “create” as I please… Art Shows will have to do.

Art Shows are “easy”—you set up once and can leave until it’s time to pack out. AS Staff takes care of sales, credit card processing, check guarantees, and paying the Governator his cut of the sales. No resale certificate required (I have one, though).

Art Shows are “cheap”—a display space usually costs much less than vendor space. And… you don’t have to “sit” all day with your “stuff”. You don’t need as many products to fill your space, either.

Art Shows, in my experience, are “safe”—I’ve never had anything “evaporate” at an art show, nor any breakage I did not myself cause (I’m a bit clumsy and tend to drop stuff…). I have had consignment and gallery show items disappear and be broken. You also don’t have gooey-fingered kidlets messing up your pieces, nor people spilling drinks, etc on them.

Art Shows usually have limited space—but so do many Crafts Fairs. Generally, one “space” consists of a 4’ x 4’ vertical panel or a half-table (tables either 6’ or 8’ long x 30”, depending on the venue). Some shows limit the number of spaces per artist, others are “first come, first choice”.

Art Shows usually charge a commission on sales—but they do work for it, and they have to pay the rent on the room. Some Crafts Fairs also charge commissions, as do most gallery shows and consignment shops. Of the art shows I do— Comic Con charges no commission, Condor Con and Conjecture charge 10%, Westercon charged 15%, in addition to the table fees. Most of these shows are three days.

Art Shows aren’t really set up for sales of “production items”—they’re more for one of a kind or limited edition work. This can be a “pro” or a “con”, depending on how you work. Since I can have problems making two earrings in a pair match… “OOAK” inventory works for me.

Comic Con 2008 table

Friday, August 15, 2008

For the amulet bag in the previous post....

The beading of the pouch portion took probably 20 hours-- part of the reason it took that long, is because I needed to adjust the pattern as I went along to keep the proportions right. Which meant ripping out several rounds at a time, and re-beading them.

The initial graphing took a while, too-- it was done "low tech" (not with a graphing program). To start- you scan a graph onto a transparency, then lay that over your picture, and re-scan with the two together.... Then agonize over each partial square when filling out the paper graph that you use for your working copy, realizing that the "squares" aren't QUITE the same proportions as your beads (in my case, a Delica graph, but I used 15/0 beads).... I had planned to "someday" reverse engineer a pattern from the completed bag, but now that Suzanne has done it... I'll probably use hers if I decide to make another one. Besides, hers looks like it will be fine using 11/0 beads, which are easier than 15/0s.....

I used the same method with the Ruferto bag I made-- which was much more complicated because of the colors, and because even using 15/0 beads, details in the original had to be eliminated because they were "too close together" to make them distinctive in the overall size of the project I wanted. For that one, there were a few more steps using a copier to adjust the size of the original (which was about the same size as the amulet bag) to use for the pattern. Usually, the cartoons I use for patterns are much simpler than Sergio Aragones draws.... Hello Kitty, for example....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Wa" (Harmony)

Thanks to Suzanne Cooper for reminding me I had this.... I made it several years ago, by graphing a calligraphy done by my minister-- peyote stitch, 15/0 beads for the bag and fringe, 11/0, fire polished glass, bone and a "cinnabar" bead for the strap. That loop above the toggle is there because I got a knot in it, and I can't get it undone.... Looks almost planned, though.
Check out Suzanne's website: . Not only does she have a version of this character in a pattern that looks good in 11/0 beads (FREE!!), she has many other wonderful designs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Stuff

Mostly recovered from Comic Con and our temple Obon Festival, I got back into the "creation mode" this past week. I even have pictures of some-- despite having to battle the scanner for the past hour (I emerged victorious!!... at least, I finally got scans that didn't "auto crop" out what I was trying to show....). Still can't manage to get the Blogspot upload to arrange them properly... and also have two more crochet projects finished, which are too big to scan....

Day of the Dead bracelets-- the bottom one is nearly a quarter pound... so I made a "Lite" version, as well. Same number of beads, just smaller ones....

Soft sea colors-- A RAW "wiggle" bracelet (instructions in B&B special issue), an "Obon" bracelet-- it started out as another "woolie worm" style, like the DoD bracelets, but it looked "right" after the first pass of enhancements, so I managed to retstrain myself from adding the other rows I had laid out.... Abalone buttons for the closures on both. Also a ring with a peuote st band and a flower and leaf enhancement.

Cell phone charms and some twiddly whatnots that may be used later as components... or not. Anyway, it was easier to make them than sort out the beads and put them away properly.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I was “tagged” by Michele Cook (, a fellow Esty “eSMARTsTeam” member. Accordingly, I am posting according to the “rules of the game”.

Here are the rules

1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Sooo…. I’ve already linked to Michele in the first paragraph. By the way, check out her Etsy shop ( ), and the rest of the Etsy team’s shops ( has a list of members' shops).

My “6 random things about me”:
a. I'm short, too.... Not as short as Michele, though!
b. I was named after my aunt (father's youngest sister), because my father liked that name. Got my mother's first name as a middle name (family tradition), and chose my nick-name myself when I was learning to talk... my mom chose the spelling, though.
c. US Navy vet
d. Two sons-- both "grown up"; no grandbabies (except the furry variety).
e. Hubby's from Hawaii.
f. We're taking our "honeymoon" at the end of the month... just a couple dozen years late. We'll be visiting his mom and sister.

My 6 “victims” (the ones at the bottom of my blog list—meaning they haven’t been heard from as lately as the others):

Anita at

Jackie and Lara at

Diane at

Carlotta at

Julie Ann at

and our shy member at