How NOT to Prepare for Art and Craft Fairs

Picture of sandblasted stock items piling up for a craft fair
A huge amount of stuff having been sandblasted – in a tiny room, hot as hell…

At the end of last year, I really looked forward to the four whole months I had to prepare for the art and craft fair season, which was starting in May. I could see the endless days of working in my nice, warm studio, drifting in a cloud of serenity, not under any pressure, just creating. 

Guess what? It hasn’t quite worked out how I planned. Why? Because I am a terrible procrastinator. I am not kidding when I say tell you that I bought a course on how to stop procrastinating and, well, I’ve not done it.

Here’s a snapshot of the last 4 months:

January: 4 months until craft season

There was the taster weekend, which to be fair, was a lot of work. I’m not complaining at all as it was great, (you can read about it here*) but it did take up much more time than I anticipated. I was also nervous about it and being nervous does not make me very creative. ‘I’ll start building stock when that’s done’, I said to myself. 

February: 3 months until craft season

Craft taster weekend, done. I start to make some pieces. But I also do an online course with an international glass artist so I need to start working on that technique. It can’t put it to one side to do later because part of the course is to upload the piece you’ve done so it can be assessed. This is a brilliant way to do a course, but it does mean that I’m not making art exhibition stock because I’m concentrating on this new technique. I just tell myself it’s only February and we all know how long winter lasts.

Fused glass bowl in a new technique, ready for art and craft fair.
The piece in the new technique: Firework – from start to finish

Early March: 2 months until craft season

Slight panic felt in my tummy. But we’ve still got weeks to go before the first craft fair so I can easily push that to one side. To make myself feel better, I draw up a plan to work to: what pieces do I need, and what is going in the kiln and when. This of course, is a form of procrastination but I kid myself I’ve done a really useful thing. And go and sit down and do a sudoku. 

Mid-March to April

Full-on panic-mode. I now know exactly what I’m doing. But wait a minute – what the hell is that hissing noise? It’s my sandblaster – having a meltdown – clearly it wanted a serene four months, too. Rich decides he will try and fix it and does some online research. Sadly, because we don’t know what is wrong with it, he has to finally admit that he can’t. Besides, his face is now a sort of hell-fire red, which is its default colour when he is stressed. We send the sandblaster off to be repaired. In a couple of hours, Rich’s face goes back to its normal colour.

No sandblaster. This is a real problem. I had no idea HOW much I use it. I don’t just use it to finish off a piece, I use it between firings, a lot. Each week I wait for a call from the repairers. At the end of week three, I ring to find it’s not even been started. Enter full-on rant mode. This wears me out. I calm down by doing a sudoku. 

Early April: just a few weeks until craft season

The sandblaster is back and I spend what feels like days locked in a tiny room with something that is actually louder than my dog. I emerge only when I just get too hot to stay sane.

Now: what feels like just hours until craft season

Well, we are getting somewhere but I still worry I don’t have enough stock. If I had a magic wand, my wish would be that kilns didn’t take so damn long; that firings could be done in 2 hours instead of 24. (Mind you, I’d also like a bigger house, a fancier car, 33” legs and thicker hair but I guess you have to just get on with what you’ve got).  

We still have things to do: order some nice card for our displays, order wall fittings for the wall art, drive all the way to bloody Ledbury to get change for the float because every branch of sodding Barclays even slightly close to us has been closed. (Incidentally, I found out last week that the Post Office don’t like giving change because of potential fraud. I mean if I was into some massive fraud, I’m damn sure I’d be doing it with more than £20 in five-pound notes and £30 in mixed change but there you go).

Reader, this is how NOT to prepare for craft events. Of course I have simplified it. I haven’t really spent hours sat on my arse with sudokus and I have spent a lot of time doing commissions, marketing, etc but nonetheless, I could have done it better. I’d like to say ‘lesson learned’ but I’m not convinced this short-legged, fine-haired old crone, in a small house with an old car is realistically going to do anything different next time…unless of course I actually finish the procrastination course.

*if you fancy doing the next taster session in June, you can book here.