Monday, August 10, 2009

Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair starts with a Bang!

For as Type A as I can appear to be at times, I can screw things up royally if given the chance. Thursday, I was all set to deliver a piece to Crimson Laurel for the Liz Zlot Summerfield Auction, and then load the van for Craft Fair. I had a dream Wednesday night that I was at the Fair with my best friend but my work was nowhere to be found. So Thursday morning, I decided to reread the letter from the Fair and discovered that I was to set up at 2:00 Thursday afternoon. I was saved from a big "Oops" but unable to make it to Crimson Laurel. Perhaps I can bid on something online in September to help the cause.

Friday morning started out just fine. Jay was in Wisconsin on business so both kids were there to *help* me. My booth was on North Main, and the church provided some much needed shade as well as a great climbing tree. Sarah House stopped by early to say "hi", and Michael Rutkowsky came by to encourage me to do a demonstration. I walked over to see Lynda Banner who had a terrific location in front of the library book sale and next to the food court. Sales were pretty robust. My new Ikebana dish was by far my biggest seller. I was exhausted from the afternoon sun and decided to decline the demonstration. I was asleep before 8:00 Friday night.

Upon waking Saturday morning at 5 am completely refreshed, I decided that I could indeed demonstrate that day. I went into the studio and threw a couple of cylinders, then went to the computer to put together a brochure. By 7:30 I was ready to go, but the brochures were slow printing. I left that task to Jay. Of course, we ran out of color ink, so he had to get another cartridge. Last minute printing is generally my weakness.

Saturday started off nice and cool and by 10:00, there were lots of folks on the Square. Allison went to watch Pete McWhirter throwing. Then I demonstrated my cutting and piecing. A few people stopped by but watching me cut and piece is not nearly as entertaining as watching someone throw.

Sales for Saturday were about a quarter of Friday's. Most of the other artists I spoke with experienced the same thing. I did have the opportunity to talk to some of the other potters. There were a few there from Seagrove. Without naming names, one potter was telling me how she had sold out of soup mugs and a couple of other items Friday. Then again, her soup mugs were less than $20 and her coffee mugs were a mere $7.

I don't make that kind of functional work, but it got me thinking about the Clay Club meeting last month about pricing. I think it was David Trophia who talked about our reponsibility of educating the customers as to what they are buying. I hope my demonstration was educational as far as the amount of work that goes into a single one of my pieces. We also talked about undercutting other potters by selling too cheap. The $7 mug was worth all of $7. My cheapest item is a $14 heart bowl. I think the price is fair and wouldn't try to sell them any cheaper just in order to sell more.

Although Saturday's sales were slow, I talked to lots of folks who live nearby and want to come by my studio, so I wasn't too disappointed. I expect to see at least a few of those folks in the coming weeks.

The kids started back to school today so I'm cleaning house and sprucing up the gallery before I unload the work. I'm also restocking my work at the Toe River Craft Shop and will be taking some wine bottle coasters to Mountainside Wine in Spruce Pine.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, I remember those undercutting artists well. Or those who say they were super busy w/ great sales.

    As you know, knowing how to price your work is always the hardest thing to do. Some people will understand the beauty of your work, and others don't - those that look at price only.
    And when "bad" artists undercut, it cheapens everyone at the fair.

    I've been thinking about getting back into the business, but at a lower level. Before, juries, fees and set-up took the fun out of it.