How not to be a craft market customer

Well that’s another craft market done and dusted.  Business was slow – all the stallholders agreed.  A fair few people wandered into the town hall and did the circuit, but most appeared to be either exercising their dogs (yes, really) or deliberately aimed their line of vision just above the height of displays and sellers as they walked very briskly and left with wallets intact.

Ah well, we’re used to days like that.  Cost of living rises and all that.  We roll with it.

Fortunately we did shift plenty of the badges and knitted nightingales Mrs S was selling for Ukrainian refugees and – let’s face it – their need is far greater than ours.

IMG_20220326_105649_resized_20220329_112816967Of course there are customers who take an interest and engage.  Most are charming, mildly apologetic that they won’t be buying, but enjoy looking closely at the wares and asking questions.  The smiles on the faces of small children allowed to turn the handles of the wobbly mechanical things and make the birds, balloons etc twirl around made up for the lack of takings.  Then there was the gent who was walking past and did a double take, recognising Mrs S from quite different circumstances.  Having greeted her, he stopped to take in the the stall’s contents.  His eyes moved slowly along the six foot table, then he stopped and stared at Mrs S.

“You made these?”  he asked incredulously.  “What, ALL of them?” when she had smiled and nodded.

He paused for a long while, shaking his head as he clearly made far reaching adjustments to his opinion of our stallholder.

So yes, customers like that are just fine.  We are not expecting everyone to buy and bear them no malice if they don’t, but there are a few who needlessly raise the hackles of those trying to sell their wares.

Please:

  • Don’t bring your dog to an indoor market if it is likely to forage around the displays, scent mark the table corners or yap continuously.
  • Don’t look pointedly at a stall and say, “Did you make all this?  Yes?  Hmm, well done.” in the patronising tones of a schoolmistress from the 1950s.
  • Don’t allow your child to finger anything unless the stallholder specifically invites them to do so.
  • Don’t tell the stallholders they should have made particular items into earrings/brooches/tea cosies if they expected you to consider buying. (These people always smile graciously when politely thanked for their opinion and walk away convinced that they have done a great service.)
  • Finally, and above all, don’t smile at the female stallholder selling items created with wood, metal and resin and ask if her hubby made them.  We quail when Mrs S replies icily that she does not have a ‘hubby’ and if she did, she wouldn’t let him anywhere near her workshop!

Stuff That

IMG_20220313_152937_resized_20220314_095249429Well no, they’re not very steampunk…  We’re deviating slightly for a very good reason.

A visitor to Steampunk-Shrunk Towers last week came clutching a large bag of toy stuffing, intended for use in our miniatures.  Very kind, but none of the items we make include the addition of toy stuffing (well, apart from wisps of mock steam for small boilers and contraptions occasionally).  Mrs S has a firm policy of never peering into the mouths of gift horses, so she sat down to ponder a use for it.

We’d already been intending to have a basket of items on our next market stall (26th March, Glastonbury Town Hall) to sell for Ukraine.  So maybe some tiny soft toys?

Mrs S decided Ukraine must have a national animal, like USA’s eagle or Russia’s bear.  She researched: Nightingale.  Yes, really.  A poignant symbol of the coming of spring, the building of homes and beautiful song.

Could she knit nightingales??

IMG_20220314_095120_resized_20220314_095249127After a huge trawl through online knitting patterns, she found exactly what she needed – a pattern for a small bird, knitted all in one piece.  A work of genius, actually.  It’s more like a cross between knitting and origami, with its many twists and turns and complex shaping, but it comes out just fine.

Friends were polled to decide whether to knit them in natural browns or in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag.  ‘Some of each’ was the verdict, so she has been busily knitting ever since.  A small flock has emerged and will continue to grow.

The proceeds, depending on the situation by that time, will either go to reputable aid charities or to fellow Etsy sellers in Ukraine.  Many of them have had to close their regular shops, but are still able to sell printable digital items and so get their hands on a small income.  Search for ‘Ukraine sellers’ on Etsy and you’ll find everything from beautiful art works, scrapbook papers and recipes to images of the national flag and drawings by the sellers’ children.  You pay by PayPal, the money goes directly into their accounts and you can download the files, send a message of support in the review section and maybe get a hasty but heartfelt message of thanks from the seller.

Etsy has served us well, with our SteampunkDollsHouse shop over the years, so we are happy to support our fellow crafters and artisans in Ukraine at this time.

Mechanical Miniatures

“It’s been a while since we turned our hands to anything mechanical,” my brother Henry said, rather wistfully.

We started exploring piles of promising-looking items in the workshop.

“Wheels?” I suggested, holding up some circular wooden blanks.  “Hard to get the hole for the axle right in the centre though.”

“Cams!” he replied jubilantly.  “Drill the holes off-centre and we can make some cam-operated wind-ups.”

IMG_20220221_094042_742_resized_20220303_101756693 (1)And that was all it took.  He started to put some sturdy little boxes together, the ladies decorated them and I (Charles) got to work on the cam mechanisms and handles.

The first was a multicoloured dancing tree, made from twisted wires, sequins, beads and charms.  Next we raided the vintage watch parts for some springs and gears to put together with coiled copper wire.  Then we became more ambitious and produced a tiny hot-air balloon, complete with top-hatted magnificent men to fly it.  100% upcycled junk!  An old Christmas tree bauble was covered in plastic mesh which held Mrs S’s garlic, a few beads and jewellery bits added for the basket and the gents were fashioned from cotton bud stalks with tiny shoe eyelets for their hats!  Many hours of exacting work, of course, but we’re very happy with the finished result and now planning a series of dancing birds, octopuses and who knows what…

Proud to say that this week they have been the most viewed item in our Etsy shop.  Here’s a quick link, in case you’d like to take a look.

Heart, Flag, Ukraine, Kyiv, NationalOh, and while you’re on Etsy, we’d recommend searching for printable items produced in Ukraine.  Our fellow sellers there have been forced to shut their regular shops, due to the war, but still receive money direct to their PayPal accounts if we buy their digital artwork.