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Stuff for craft fair? Ideas wanted!

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Mark Karacsonyi

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Projects for craft fairs are endless. The real trick is attracting the punters. As the US, based box maker Doug Stowe said, in the foreword in one of his books, ‘Beautiful Boxes’, I think. Look for the ‘toe turners’. Mike Abbott highlighted in one of his books the ‘live’ making of baby rattles on the pole lathe. It’s not what you make, it’s how you market it. Ask yourself, where do you go, the live demo, or active person, even if it is cosmetic sanding. Or the supermarket checkout stall.

I would love some feedback on this please.
 

julianf

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Projects for craft fairs are endless. The real trick is attracting the punters. As the US, based box maker Doug Stowe said, in the foreword in one of his books, ‘Beautiful Boxes’, I think. Look for the ‘toe turners’. Mike Abbott highlighted in one of his books the ‘live’ making of baby rattles on the pole lathe. It’s not what you make, it’s how you market it. Ask yourself, where do you go, the live demo, or active person, even if it is cosmetic sanding. Or the supermarket checkout stall.

I would love some feedback on this please.
I agree with what you are saying, but I don't think thats possible for me. I think the organiser has in mind that I'm doing another "hands on" activity that is nothing to do with wood...

(so my activity will be entirely in line with what you suggest, but will entirely take me away from trying to promote any other sale item in the same way)

...I think they have in mind that I'm doing silk screen print workshop things for people. But I'm not entirely sure!

(As I say, the event organiser is a good friend who has just quit their job under difficult circumstances, so I'm there for them - the selling of wood stuff is just for curiosity on my behalf really!)
 

J-G

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Really? Then why are cutting boards hardly ever end grain?
I think it's just a fashion amongst amateur woodworkers.
See post #31

I've only ever made 'End grain' boards and the few 'professional' boards that I've had given me - including one specifically designed for use with a Mezzaluna - have also been end-grain. The reason is quite obvious (to me).
 

Tris

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Totally off topic but as someone who grew up in the catering trade in the days before plastic boards took over the only end grain pieces were the butcher's blocks, never saw an end grain cutting board. Once they got a bit worn they were sent round to the local carpenter who took a couple of mil off and away you went again. Glued end grain blocks would never have stood up to the temperature of a commercial dishwasher.
 

hairy

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Totally off topic but as someone who grew up in the catering trade in the days before plastic boards took over the only end grain pieces were the butcher's blocks, never saw an end grain cutting board. Once they got a bit worn they were sent round to the local carpenter who took a couple of mil off and away you went again. Glued end grain blocks would never have stood up to the temperature of a commercial dishwasher.
End grain or not is one argument, but do you have to employ really small people to do chopping inside the dishwasher?
 

hairy

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The OP Trychet thing suggests to me you make a bottle opener. The control panel details could be used on that, or copy details from aircraft control panels?

My Mrs has done several fairs of different types and usually the things she has made to try and sell there and then open up questions of "yes, nice, but can you do......"

So business cards next to examples like you have shown here, and basically present your skills to the visiting public and see what emerges?
 

Rustic Mike

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I've done a few craft fairs and focus mainly on chopping and serving boards. I do both end grain and face grain and also use both at home. Certainly the end grain ones hold up better over time but both can be re-sanded to like new. In my experience, the face grain boards tend to sell quicker as they are cheaper. Also easier to batch out. Unfortunately I don't price mine as if I was running a business. I look to cover the cost of materials plus a bit extra. Many of the crafters I have spoken too, have told me to increase prices and they think I'd actually sell more. I've seen other woodworkers at these events sell what is basically a sanded board with no other work for the same price I sell the end grain ones, so I often wonder.....

Anyway, onto the question in hand - other ideas might include:
Tea light holders - very easy and quick (get a kitchen hinge cutting bit as they are about the right size)
Christmas tree decorations - hardwood snowflakes go down really well
Live edge coasters - very quick and easy to just chop up a log of the right diameter. Easy to make a holder as well with a larger diameter log slice and some dowels. The log slices sold much better than end grain ones I made with leftovers.
Bandsaw boxes

I find things can sell much better if there is a story behind the item. I managed to get a load of old teak from the local pier which burned down. People like to own a bit of local history.
Just done a few trees, got a few shops I put them in just trying them lot of work but have really enjoyed doing them over the summer months and have now got a template for the tree and base so easy to knock out, just used by jigsaw and an hole saw, hoping to get £65 sold one to my mate, so I’ve got 5 left not doing anymore this year, will see how the go, I’m going back to my driftwood stuff for winter, just sold one I did as a light for a really good price so I’m happy with that.
 

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JobandKnock

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Don't know if it's been mentioned yet: key rings.

A number of years back I knew a couple who did the craft fairs at weekends. He was a scroll sawyer whilst his missus made quilts and the like. He reckoned his biggest sellers were items like scroll sawn key rings in the shape of animals like pigs, bunnies, cats, etc with a bit of poker work detailing. The sort of stuff that kids would buy, or parents would buy for kids, but always priced at one or two coins (it was a few years back - these days I suppose you'd need to carry a card reader or make it for a fiver or less). He used to do a bit of scroll sawing at the shows in the bzckground as a gimmick, using a pedal powered Hobbies scroll saw, which often drew a bit of a crowd (his "work" saw was actually a Hegner) - stuff like scroll sawn names and the like which could be done quickly.

I still have one of his cat clocks and a pair of sort of cat jigsaw book ends packed away somewhere
 

sneggysteve

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Just done a few trees, got a few shops I put them in just trying them lot of work but have really enjoyed doing them over the summer months and have now got a template for the tree and base so easy to knock out, just used by jigsaw and an hole saw, hoping to get £65 sold one to my mate, so I’ve got 5 left not doing anymore this year, will see how the go, I’m going back to my driftwood stuff for winter, just sold one I did as a light for a really good price so I’m happy with that.

These look good - painted MDF??
 

Cozzer

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Used to do a lot of craft fairs many years ago.
Came to the conclusion that the only way to make any money was to be the bloke charging admission.
I hauled my marquetry wares across a good few counties. I used to hear comments ranging from "patience of a saint" right through to "our cousin Billy used to do marquetry...and he was a lot better than you"....
Yes, you need a thick skin!

I finally gave up when the lady on the stall next to me had a roaring day. Some of my marquetry pieces had literally taken days (in hours) to complete, but were all "realistically priced" to sell - probably less than a fiver an hour labour.
The next-door lady's "craft work" involved sticking a pencil into a polystyrene ball with a face on it.
She sold ****ing hundreds of 'em.
 
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