Saturday, October 6, 2007

Handmade versus Imports. The Fall Arts and Craft Show Season has arrived!

If you've ever tried to make a living by doing art and craft shows, you know that this is the time of year that you've worked so hard and waited so patiently for. This is the time of year that your hard work and talents pay off - hopefully.

I've had my share of getting ready for craft shows, working night and day, all weekend and all the next week to restock what sold the weekend before. Until you experience that for yourself, you don't realize just how hard these people really do work.

In my neck of the woods, October begins the month of back to back craft shows. The closest one to me, and one that I did for many years is in Ozark at the fairgrounds. Mariah and I went to it yesterday.

Although I don't do craft shows any longer, I really do appreciate the talents of the many crafters and artists I met with and talked to. The talents ranged from jewelry artists, furniture makers to those who made pre-made scrapbooks, an altered artist and a young girl who was selling her adorable polymer clay figures. I saw a variety of styles and skill levels and what I appreciated was that they were out there - giving their all and offering their handmade work to the public. It brought back some really NICE memories of when my kids were younger. They traveled everywhere with me to all the craft shows. They were so much help! I don't know how I ever did it without them. The first thing we did every morning was paint their faces. Every so often, they would walk the show together with a group of kids who's faces I also painted and advertise to kids to come by and get their face painted for 50 cents. One show we made an extra $400 by painting faces (that's alot of kids! - do the math). We had quite a routine. Alex was about 7 or 8 at the time and was very good at running the cash register and working with customers. Mariah loved to talk to people and package their purchases. It was great family time and it was fun! It taught the kids what it was like to work hard and earn money.

Of course that was back in the time when "crafts" were generally handmade by the artist sitting in the booth. Disappointingly, there were so many imports at the show yesterday, that it really spoiled the occassion. My heart went out to all the true crafters, who really put their heart and soul into the work they were selling.

I am a supporter of the arts. I would rather pay more for a piece that is handmade by the person I'm purchasing it from. Many times that person will share an experience about the inspiration for the piece or how the whole family is involved in the business. I like that! I support that! It's impossible to get those kind of memories when you purchase imports.

I visited with an adorable older lady who was giving up showing at craft shows because she said that she just couldn't compete with the imports at shows any longer. HOW SAD! She was a decorative painter and her work was gorgeous. She had a fishing scene painted on the side of a suitcase that caught my attention. Next to it were some primitive carved wooden fish. She told me how her son carved those fish and she painted them. They called them "Finley River Flounder". That story really spoke to me and so I bought a pair (they are perfect for my lodge style house, and Dana jokes about how those are the ONLY fish I'm able to catch!) Now when I look at those fish, I think of her and the Finley River Flounder story.

We ate lunch at a booth who offered Buffalo Burgers, Brats and Hot Dogs. They run about 90 head of bison and work the farm as a family. He shared with me his story about the family business. They butcher and prepare their own meat with their own recipes for the brats, summer sausage and jerky. So what did I do? I ate a Buffalo Brat. It was delicious and not only that, I was happy to support a family run business.

I'm sure many of you will be visiting Arts and Craft festivals in your area. I hope you will give consideration to the people who truely put their heart and soul into their work and support them. Have a chat with them, see what inspires them. Get their story, buy their artwork! If you want imports.....go to Hobby Lobby or Pier One.

Next weekend I'll be off to Art in the Park and the following week...WAR EAGLE!! I'll be back later this week sharing some teasers from my next book on "Making jewelry with Metal". But for now....Now it's playtime with some metal!

Thanks for stopping by the Artbuzz... please share your thoughts with me!

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