Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sammysgrammy Expansion

I'm taking my etsy shop in a new direction. Since the beginning, I have always focused on the repurposing of vintage linens and laces. I have made snowmen and Christmas stockings from vintage bedspreads and seed sacks, I've made aprons from heirloom tablecloths, old buttons remade into brooches and bracelets, messenger bags from coffee bean burlap bags and on and on.

Body: Martha Washington bedspread and hobnail spread arms-fur wrap

I've pumped up the volume in my shop by also carrying a selection of items that I've knitted and crocheted. But, my hearts desire is to refashion the antique version of what I can make with my own two hands. The lace crocheted by yesterday's homemaker, I want to make  usable again for today's bride. I am so determined to rescue these beautiful pieces of lace that someone worked so diligently on so many years ago. There were once useful and needful to Victorian, Edwardian, bungalow style, roaring twenties, depression and WWll years households. They protected the parlor upholstery from soil, kept genuine wood furniture from scratches and spills, they hung in the windows, keeping out mosquitos and filtering the sunshine, they trimmed every kind of linen imaginable. The Victorian housewife loved decorating "overkill". Their hand crocheted lace strips (many times crocheted by young girls learning the skill) trimmed petticoats, nightgowns, towels, pillowcases, sheets, napkins and tablecloths.

Example of lace trimmed pillow cases

Now this magnificent needlework that was once so highly valued is found many times at garage and household sales because no one wants it any longer. It is not a needed commodity. The fact that it's lasted intact for 100 years does not seem to impress. The skilled needlework of generations of women and girls is entirely passe'.

But there is one place where romance and nostalgia still reign supreme - that's the wedding industry.

Granted, there are many brides who want a svelt, modern, contemporary, sleek style of wedding. But, Hallelulia! there are some brides who want romance, tenderness, sweetness, ruffles, girliness, intrigue, enchantment, lushness........... This girl wants a wedding with some sentimentality and tradition. She may not know it yet, but a garter made from a 100 year old strip of lace is perfect for her big day !
Example of wedding garter made from strip of vintage lace
Example of wedding banner made from a collection of round vintage doilies

Example of bride's clutch made from a lace doily


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art and Craft Shows

Doing a craft show is much like planning a wedding. For several months before the event, you imagine every little detail in your mind. You may even draw it out. You might even make up a "mock craft show display" with a table and display pieces, backgrounds, etc. in your garage. The plans fill your mind so that sometimes it's very hard to shut your mind off and get a good night's sleep.
My unskilled drawing of what the table would look like
I made a burlap banner with the name of my shop. For a wedding, I may make a wedding banner with the bride and grooms names on it or "congratulations" on it, or "Mr. and Mrs.________" on it.

The burlap banner is in the background

You design lots and lots of paper art for both events. "Save the dates", invitations, thank yous, table place cards for a wedding. For my show, I made coupons for each bag, I purchased a new supply of business cards, I tagged each item with it's price........

Coupon tag - business card - hand stamped shopping bag
I tagged 101 items
In the case of my show, I packed up all my items for transportation to the venue location. For a wedding, The planner is definitely going to transport "ambience" to the venue - flowers or table centerpieces, table covers, wedding favours, memory book, to mention a few.

And this is just the beginning. The BIG day arrives. You pack up your now, much too small car, and drive to the event venue. Imagine your surprise to discover that there are no tables provided! You must bring your own. We are now in the "countdown to blast off" phase. No time to disassemble a table that might be at home, loaded with sewing machines and other crafting paraphernalia. You must go to the store and purchase a brand new folding 6 foot table and take it to the venue just before showtime, set up your little shop upon it, unloading all the boxes you packed the day before (when you thought all you had to do was to cover your table and assemble your inventory upon it. Go back home and rest up for the BIG day tomorrow.

At this point, there's no guaranty that you'll even sell anything. I had no competition. I was the only vendor who sold hand knit items. I think there were about 40 vendors. The show took place at a local"Y" and was a fund raiser for them.

Sadly (for me), it was a dud, a lemon, a flop. I sold 3 items. I did, however, cover the fee for my space and just about covered my new table cost.

I learned some things the hard way. #1 pack your inventory in the largest plastic bins you can find. (these bins can then be covered and used as extra display space). I packed in reused cardboard boxes. You can't get much in them. They are unwieldy to carry, and you can only carry one at a time. If you use plastic bins, you'll need wheels, but you can put one bin on top of the other. Thus making one carrying trip instead of many. Possibly 1-2 large bins is all you'll need to use.

#2 - get one of those wheelies. I saw the professional vendors had a fold up "L" shaped dolly (wide bottom plus folding handle). This whole affair folds up flat. I do have the old fashioned type of dolly that you transport heavy furniture with. But it's not foldable, it's heavy and big and wouldn't even fit in my car after all the inventory and display pieces were in my car.  The 4th picture is the one I saw the professionals use.

You did notice that I said "professional vendors" in the previous paragraph. By that I mean, people who do many shows - perhaps even one a week during this pre holiday season. They even hand out lists to customers of all the shows they can be found at this season.

I don't normally do craft shows because I had long ago learned that it is a tremendous amount of work for very small return (why did I think this time would be different) while etsy offers an easy, comfortable, low key alternative. But when I saw this show announced and the very low entry fee, I thought "I'll go for it".

I have even reasoned that now that I've done all the prep work, why not do another one. The folding table is still in my car. But then on the other hand, I think I'm a glutton for punishment and should be put in a straight jacket for even mentioning it. But I have this "fatal attraction" for craft shows. I love being surrounded by creative people. I am a "planner". Much as I complain, I love planning parties, events, weddings and, yes, even craft shows. I'm an incurable optimist, to boot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Scarecrow Contest

The annual Fairport Scarecrow Contest takes place on the second weekend in October. The scarecrows line the Main Street in our little town from that weekend until the end of the month. Oftentimes, they get pretty ratty looking from standing out there in the rain and winds that usually accompany Octobers in upstate NY.

Therefore, I had a look at them on the Monday following the contest. It was a lovely balmy day and I took a few selected pictures of the many scarecrows, with my phone. I don't know which are the winners but it is an actual contest and scarecrows take honors in various categories.

Businesses, local families and organizations (like Girl Scouts) will create a scarecrow.

Fairport High School sports teams are the "Red Raiders"


Pre-School in the Village
Pizza Delivery Scarecrow outside of Salvatore's Pizza
EMT Scarecrow administering CPR
She was outside the Library - Notice her skirt made of books
Girl Scout selling cookies - notice the boxes of cookies
I think she's my favorite with the EMT scarecrow running a close second.
Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Historic House Tour

The Historical Society in my town has an annual house tour. This year's tour celebrated the 100th birthday of the lift bridge over the Erie Canal. This landmark is located right in the middle of town.......because the Canal dissects the town. Many times impatient drivers must wait until the bridge goes back down after letting a boat that is higher than the bridge, pass under it.

The canal itself is almost 200 years old, runs for 363 miles, from Albany to Buffalo, NY.  It was built to facilitate commerce through the port of New York City to inland locations by water rather than dirt roads - boats rather than horses. It actually cut transportation costs by 95% and opened up western New York to population growth.

Enough history. The houses on the tour were built between 1806 and 1903. All of them overlooking the canal. They were built in stages, with additions built in subsequent years, as their families grew and modern amenities became available.

Back of house - facing the canal

At the edge of a rolling lawn - a canalside dock
An irresistible red dahlia in this backyard
This brick house was a funeral parlor in it's early days - note the red barn

The loft area of this barn is where the embalming was done. You can faintly see the markings above the new-ish garage door where the much larger door was located which could accommodate a horse drawn hearse. The viewings would take place in the front parlor of the brick house.

As you can see the packet boats were low and fit under he bridge easily. This is a modern one and is a summertime vacation rental. The originals were much the same except they carried cargo and were pulled by mules walking alongside on the canal paths. In the far left upper corner of this shot, you can get a small glimpse of the liftbridge. It would not have to raise for a packet boat but for large yachts with fishing equipment, the bridge would raise to accommodate the passage under the bridge.

An enchanting historic tour. I enjoyed it immensely.