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Happy Earth Day

Today was Earth Day. Over the weekend, Anodyne Design participated in the Earth Day Festival at Forest Park Nature Center. After the recent heavy rains and extensive flooding, and the unseasonably cool weather, I was worried that the event would be a bust. The day was cold, but bright and calm, and people came to the festival in spite of the temperature.

More than once, someone came by my booth to tell me they still had and used something they purchased from me years ago. Someone showed me the wallet her daughter still uses, which I sold to her 4 years ago. Someone else told me that she has several of my bags, each of which serves a specific purpose, and then bought a new one to add to her collection. She mentioned that when she first bought from me, she thought my prices were a little high, but now that she’s seen how well my bags last, she understands.

And it’s true– buying from a small, local business is going to cost you more up front. I can’t compete with an economy of scale, so my materials cost more. But my materials are also of better quality, or come with story behind them (like my wallets made from recycled pants). I make everything myself, which takes time, but it also means that you know who made your wallet, or bag, or owl, and I think that naturally leads to a higher quality of work, because I’m personally invested in each and every piece. And of course, there’s the thing that people mentioned over and over again this weekend– my items last. Buy a coin purse from me and use it every day, and it will still be in good shape in a few years. Buy one from a big store, and chances are, it will start to fall apart before you are ready to buy a new one.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Earth Day Festival, whether you bought something from me or not. It was wonderful to see how many people care about our planet and want to do their best by it.

Here’s a fun Earth Day fact about Anodyne Design: all my Little Hootie Owls are made with felt that’s made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. No sheep involved, and a few less plastic bottles to find their way into the giant ocean garbage vortex. Yay!

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

Yesterday turned into a gray, rainy day at Rhapsody in Bloom. I was afraid there would be more of that today, but the forecast looks like it will be sunny and pleasant all afternoon. Hooray!

Come see Anodyne Design, and about 50 other artists, at Rhapsody in Bloom today in the Luthy Botanical Garden from noon – 5pm. The garden and the art are both worth it.

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Then and Now: What I’ve Learned About Setting Up A Craft Fair Booth

I was working on this post when my computer crashed. And I forgot it never got officially published. So here it is, a week and a half later…

Another day, another booth photo. While I was at Sommerfest today, some friends reminded me of how much my booth has changed since I first started doing markets and craft shows. So I thought I’d look back at what my very first booth set-ups looked like, and I was surprised. I didn’t realize how much my set up had changed in the last two years. Check out this photo of my first craft show booth:

Two little tables, with room for everything I had for sale. No display pieces, no fitted table covers. When I first found this image, I was sure it had to be from at least 3 years ago. But really, I’ve only been doing craft shows for just over 2 years now.

Some things I’ve learned in the last two years about setting up a booth:

  1. Have multiples. People are attracted to groups of like items. They don’t pay much attention to single items that don’t seem to fit into a group… it’s much harder to sell that last one of something.
  2. Group similar items together. I’ve noticed that when I have similar items scattered throughout my display, people don’t always realize they have more options. They don’t naturally look over the rest of your display to see if that style of coin purse they like is in a pattern they like somewhere else.
  3. Make prices easy to see. If people can’t quickly find a price for an item, they’re likely to set it down and move on rather than ask for a price. Consider putting a price on every single item, because sometimes people will miss even the most obviously placed signs.
  4. Use height. I tend to be attracted to booths that make a good use of vertical space as well as the flat space on top of tables. It draws my eye, and gives the appearance that there’s a lot to see at this booth.

Wind-proofing your booth is probably important, too, but that’s not a thing I’ve mastered yet.

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Underground Fine Art Spring Fling

My first show of the season, the Underground Fine Art Spring Fling, is this Sunday. I’m a little surprised by how much I’m looking forward to it. Sometimes I forget how much like interacting with artists and buyers in person. It’s nice to be surrounded by real people who enjoy handmade as much as I do.

I’ve been doing the typical last minute creative rush. But this time, I’ve focused on working with all the scraps of fabric I’ve been hoarding for awhile, so many of my new items are made from fabric that would have been otherwise discarded. I’m especially in love with a couple of wristlets I made with little bits of patchwork trimmed from quilts I’ve finished for myself and loved ones. Somehow, that seems more special than just a wristlet made with fresh fabric. These wristlets have a personal story attached to them that makes me happy.

If you are in the area, I’d love for you to drop by, even just to say hello! I’ll be there with over 40 other vendors, plus a great local restaurant, Pepper’s Cafe, will be selling food there. You could make a whole afternoon of it! Here’s the info:

Underground Fine Art Spring Fling
Sunday, March 27, 2011
10 am – 4 pm

Cornerstone Building
321 NE Madison Ave
Peoria, IL
Happy Weekend, everyone! I’m back to last minute sewing!
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A Peek at Patchwork

In my ongoing quest to use up scraps, I’ve started making scrappy wristlets. This one is entirely made of scrap cotton and linen left over from other projects, embellished with a bit of bright blue embroidery. This satisfies two objectives: 1) use up scraps, and 2) stock up on environmentally-conscious goodies in time for the Earth Day Festival. Of course, if you can’t wait until Earth Day, you can find this one at the Underground Spring Fling Fine Art Fair next Sunday.

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Rhapsody in Bloom

Butterfly at Luthy Botanical Garden

This weekend was Rhapsody in Bloom, so I got to spend both days enjoying art and nature in the Luthy Botanical Garden. The predicted rain did not materialize, the garden plants and creatures were lovely, the art was lovely, and it was wonderful to see so many people come out to visit the garden and check out the art.

Blue Sky seen from Luthy Botanical Garden

I loved meeting so many new people, and seeing some familiar faces from the RiverFront Market and the Peoria Heights Art Fair. I keep trying to make new things, to keep things fresh and interesting, and this weekend was no different. I stayed up way too late on Friday night making new straight-sided cosmetic pouches. I broke out some of the fabric I have been saving for “just the right project,” and each one was embellished with fancy French velvet ribbon or ric-rac.

Cosmetic Pouches

Three of the pouches in this picture are gone, but I have a few more in the works, and hopefully I’ll be getting a few listed online in the next two days. And they will definitely be putting in an appearance at this weekends’ RiverFront Market. (I loved doing Rhapsody in Bloom this weekend, but I did miss my weekly market time, especially the tomato man and the lettuce guy. I’ll be happy to see them this Saturday!) I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too, and that this week shapes up to be a good one!

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Some Market Observations

This weekend was busy (and it’s only Saturday night)! Friday afternoon I drove to the next town over to set up for First Fridays. They shut down the main downtown street, and local restaurants set up some outdoor seating and do a bit of cooking in the street. There was a band (whose cover of Sarah, by Hall & Oates, I thoroughly enjoyed), and local artists set up their tents along the street. The street was full and lively all night long, and the forecast rain never appeared, which was marvelous.

Anodyne Design at First Friday in Galesburg, IL
Anodyne Design at First Friday in Galesburg, IL

This morning was not quite so nice, weather-wise. But a little rain is no reason to miss the first farmers’ market of the season, so we braved the weather and set up downtown. It was clear the rain kept quite a few people away, but I think that just speaks more to the awesomeness of those who did come out. It was nice to see some familiar faces and to make some new friends.

One of my favorite things to do at a farmers’ market or other event is to people watch. It’s endlessly interesting to see the variety of people in this world. (And to see their pets. There were definitely some cute dogs out at the market today.) Some of my favorite observations from this weekend:

Stilts at First Friday in Galesburg, IL
Stilts at First Friday in Galesburg, IL

– watching an older woman dance un-self-consciously to the First Friday band, while everyone else just stood around. It was absolutely refreshing to see someone so much enjoying herself regardless of what anyone else was doing or thinking.

– witnessing a Walk of Shame. The parking lot for the farmers’ market has signs clearly stating that no one is allowed to park in it overnight on Fridays, because we need it for the market early Saturday morning. Not everyone always follows the signs though, and sometimes we have to work around the cars. There was one such car right next to my space today. About halfway through the market, we watched a young woman enter the lot in some fabulous heels that were clearly too fancy for a rainy morning of produce shopping. She quickly walked straight to the car next to us, and drove out of the lot with her hand over her face. But she did have awesome shoes.

– watching a man on stilts gently hold his companion’s (who was not on stilts) hand. And then watching that man on stilts be “stalked” by a gaggle of little boys, who would scream and run with delight whenever he turned and saw them.

– I also met a man with a laugh just like Amadeus today. It was marvelous.

Tomorrow, I plan on checking out the Junction City Art Fair. Some artists who are there that I love: Joan Furilla (fine silver jewelry), Razorberries (quirky watercolor illustrations), and metalME (more pretty jewelry!). And perhaps best of all, it should be sunny, or at least not raining. Hooray!
P.S. Help Anodyne Design grow a little, by nominating it to win a small business grant on Love a Local Business. All you need to do is click the link and leave a comment describing why you love Anodyne Design. If love is too much commitment for you, I’d happily settle for “like a lot.” I love being a small, local (and online) business (although you don’t have to be local to vote!), and it will be easier for me to keep doing that, and doing it well, with a little love from you. Thanks. 🙂

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They Can’t All Be Winners

This weekend I participated in a craft show at the Franciscan Recreation Complex, organized by the Peoria Park District. It was in the same location as the first Fancy Schmancy show last May, which is a lovely park with lush green grass and big old trees filled with allergens. I had the pleasure of sitting directly under one of these trees, and it dropped little presents on me all day.

Anodyne Design at the FRC Craft Show

Holy cow, I had no idea I could have such bad allergies. Thanks, Illinois. I never had allergies before I lived here. Unfortunately, I had a lot of time to think about my terrible allergies, because this craft fair currently holds the title for Least Attended Craft Show of 2010. To those of you who did come out, stop by my booth, or even buy something, thank you!

On the positive side of things, I met some great people, both shoppers and other vendors. In particular, I met the ladies of Garden Glitz, who were my booth neighbors. They were a pleasure to talk with, and their garden art truly does look lovely in sunshine. Not to mention the fact that they recycle old glass pieces into something beautiful, which speaks to my eco-conscious heart. I heard them mention that they will also make custom garden art with your own glass pieces, if you have something special that you don’t quite have a use for.

I also continued to work on my booth set up, and I think I hit upon a great use for the antique shutters I bought a couple weeks ago. I used them to support little “clotheslines,” which I used to pin up my clothespin magnets. It’s always been difficult for me to come up with an attractive way to display these, so I’m extra happy with this one.

Clothespin Magnets on Display

Next weekend will be filled with a much-anticipated visit with a friend, instead of a craft show. Although I won’t be there, a little bit of Anodyne Design will be at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market next Saturday, sharing space with Yellowdragonfly Designs. The next place you’ll be able to find me is at First Fridays in Galesburg, Illinois on Friday, June 4th, from 5-8 p.m. I hope to see you there!

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Fancy Schmancy Market

Anodyne Design at the Fancy Schmancy Market

This Saturday I spent the day at the Fancy Schmancy Market. The market was held indoors, which was a nice change from last weekend’s cold outdoors event. Especially since it ended up raining this weekend! The market went well, although it was not as highly attended as anyone had hoped. Those who did come by were a pleasure to see, and as usual, I enjoyed talking with everyone who stopped for a moment in my little booth.

When there was a lull in shoppers, I used the time to get to know some of the other vendors there. There were a lot of great people and things at the market: Sea of Glass Designs was there with some really lovely jewelry, Carrie’s Crafty Cottage was there with the cutest hand-knit cupcakes, and Razorberries was there (and I finally got some fabulous notecards).

Big Hoot Owls

There were also some new Big Hoots in my booth this weekend. They are twice the size of the Little Hootie Owls, and perfect for watching over the little ones.  Most of them were gone before noon, so I think I’m on to something here. I’ll definitely be making more. And thanks to a special request, I’ve started branching out into owls made with cotton prints, in addition to the felt ones.

Next weekend, I’ll be participating in the Craft & Vendor Sale at the Franciscan Recreation Complex in West Peoria. This is in the same outdoor location that Fancy Schmancy used last May, so I know it’s a lovely place to go for a little shopping. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for nice weather. We’ve had enough cold, windy, and rainy Saturdays. There will be more Big Hoots there, and some new wristlets, Little Hootie Owl mobiles, and journals. I should probably get to work on those now…