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Steampunk Carnivale – an Experiment in Show Vending

October 30, 2015 , In: Events, Inspiration
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I don’t do shows.  Well, at least not in several years – the few I’ve done in the past have been less than successful.  While I am always happy to sell my work, finding the right demographic for beadwork is difficult…and frankly, I’d rather be beading than just about anything else.  That being said, awhile back I had decided that the next show I would have a table at needed to fit a few requirements –

  • be within a few hours drive of home
  • relatively inexpensive fees
  • be a show I’ve attended in the past
  • have friends also vending, preferably sharing a table
  • time to make non-beadwork jewelry – something able to sell in the $10-$50 price point
SO…this year my friend Mel, a couple of her artist friends, and I decided to split a 10×20 space at the Knoxville Steampunk Carnivale.  I actually (briefly) met Mel at last year’s show while she was vending her leather and ceramic wares.  We didn’t become friends until earlier this year, and shortly after that we were talking about some sort of joint table at this year’s show.  
 
This show seemed to meet all of my above criteria, and also had the bonus of being an event I would have attended anyway.  It is so much fun to get all decked out in steampunk regalia…and have a scruffy little town like Knoxville turn out so many other awesome steampunkers.  Since we lived in Knoxville for 3 years, we have many friends in the cosplay/arts/crafts/lLARP/maker communities – a homecoming and reunion all in one!
Alice in Wonderland theme necklaces
Circus acrobat necklaces
Escutcheon necklaces
I had fun coming up with some new merchandise for this show, especially these necklaces – incorporating laser cut wood and paper components from PorkChopShow.  I’ve had these for several years, waiting for the opportunity to make a bunch jewelry with them.  It was also nice to break out my under-used dremel, and do some drilling.  
I also made a slew of leather and silk cuff bracelets, embellished with metal, mica, lace, and a few other random things.  I discovered while making these, not only can my little domestic machine tackle more leather than I had expected…but also that my metal hole punch works on multiple layers of leather and fabric…and on mica!!!
For the new work, I had to come up with some new displays.  I used my trusty wire crate shelving panels to make two flat stands that I covered in fabric – I used these for the wood necklaces. Driftwood from my friend Steve became the perfect thing to drape and wrap the leather bracelets around. 
For my beadwork, I used a mixture of white ceramic decor, and driftwood necklace busts (also made by my friend Steve).  I like the mixture of refined/organic/architectural/human – it seems to fit my work well.  Also, my pieces have a tendency to not only overwhelm the normal cardboard necklace display busts…but also topple them.  With displays like this, I know that my work will stay safely where it’s placed.  
I displayed earrings on little cardstock mason jars – hanging from a weird metal drum-shaped side table.  The slots in the sides were the perfect width for lining up lots of earrings.  Next time though…I need to affix a lazy susan to the bottom…everyone wanted to rotate the earring rack!  
 
An almost panoramic shot of our whole set up – with Mel and her leatherwork on the left, my jewelry on the far right.  The room in the middle was for the last member of our group, Constance, who brought her prints and paintings.  At first I was worried that we wouldn’t look cohesive, because our table coverings were all different colors and materials.  But between Mel’s leather merchandise, Constance and I working in similar colors, and the leather covering the rest of the tables, some how it managed to work!  ***unexpected bonus of leather table covers…being able to tape your breakable displays down***
 
How could you not enjoy a show with these characters meandering around, enjoying the music, and fondling your work?  I had so much fun all day long – chatting with old friends, making new ones, hanging out, talking about my work, walking around and talking with other artists and vendors about their work.  I still need to work on my introversion…but overall, I managed ok.  
Our 4th booth-mate Jamie and I, having a good ol’ time!
So, by now you’re wondering how I did, right?  We will just say, I made more $ than I have at any other show to date.  I was not expecting to sell any of the beadwork pieces, but I did alright with the wood necklaces, and also sold a pair of earrings and a cuff bracelet.  The event was hugely under attended from last year, with fewer vendors, food trucks, and one of the major attractions pulling out.  The show was very poorly managed and under advertised…that alone would dissuade me from vending again.  But from a “fun” standpoint?  I had a blast – 100% success!
 

Lindsay Star

Lindsay Starr is a beadwork and mixed media artist currently based in Nashville, TN. She spent her early childhood in Alaska, and her school age and college years in Oregon. Lindsay has a great appreciation for history, science, and nature and is consistently inspired by insects, sea life, color, and the significance of beads and beadwork throughout human history. She spends her days beading, walking at the zoo, and practicing yoga. Lindsay loves to share her knowledge and passion for beads and beadwork to hobbyists of all skill levels.
  1. Reply

    Love the Mason Jars, Congratulations on a sucessful show despite the odds.

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