When I started this blog, I worried I wouldn’t have anything to write about between, oh, October and June, ha! But once I started exploring different topics, I realized part of what got me so excited about growing my own food in the first place was my inert desire to create. To make something useful with my own hands.
My family has been making stuff for decades, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. My mom used to design and sew character costumes for our local skating pageant (I wish I could find photos of that 7′ tall Dino the Dinosaur!). Many of my and my sister’s clothes were sewn by her (back in the day when matching gingham petticoats were cool, yikes), and today she has outfitted my girls’ 18″ dolls with entire wardrobes sewn by hand. I could go on and on.
My dad could often be found in the yard doing what looked like “yard work” but was actually landscape design, and every bit of rock work that has ever been built in his different yards was created by him, by hand. Add on building doll beds and houses that still house my kids’ dolls 35 years later and well, you see the pattern. And this from two unionized professionals, a nurse and a pilot. But when you gotta create, you gotta create!
Fast forward to 2 months ago (I won’t bore you *now* with stories of all the successful and failed crafting I’ve done over the years), when my cousin convinced me to try making Kombucha (future post!). I was keen, but I realized I had given away all my large mason jars (in which to concoct it) to a friend a few years ago. At the risk of sounding impolite, I gingerly asked her if she was using them. She said no and promised to return them to me. I just needed a few. Well, said friend was cleaning out her garage before embarking on a big overseas trip and unloaded five boxes of mason jars in all sizes and states on my doorstep!
Slightly overwhelmed, I was five minutes away from putting them in the back alley when my daughter shouts “Noooo! We can MAKE something out of those!”. This is a common statement in our house, as many pieces of “garbage” get reclaimed from our recycling bin to later become “art” or “gifts”, and I have received the most thoughtful and resourceful homemade gifts from my kids over the years. But this time she was more ambitious – she wanted to exhibit and SELL our creations at a craft fair!
I love how creative my daughter is, and because we’d be up-cycling reusable items, I was sold!
And so began the internet search for crafty things to make from mason jars, and where to exhibit them locally. I want to say our main motivation for settling on our neighbourhood community centre was to support the local community, but here are our more honest reasons:
1. It was cheap (although I’m still not sure we’ll sell enough to even cover our table cost).
2. It was still available (unlike many other higher profile fairs that had sold out to vendors months prior!)
3. I was having a huge anxiety attack about having to make items that were “sellable” (grandparents are a lot more forgiving than real customers). We’d been to this fair before and it seemed fairly “low key”, so I figured it would be a small loss (to our wallets and our self esteem) if we didn’t sell anything.
It’s now less than 4 weeks to the craft fair, and I have a huge new respect for people who actually exhibit their crafts publicly. A couple things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Don’t underestimate the amount of time and money it requires to try different techniques and make prototypes for your eventually sellable items. I’m no longer keeping track and am thinking of it as a learning and bonding experience for me and my creative daughter….this time.
2. An 8′ table holds a lot! We’ve had to augment the mason jar crafts with my daughter’s fabulous duct tape creations, which will really be the hero here. She’s had the chance to hone her skills and designs and learn some “stick with it” resiliency along the way so we actually have something to sell. NB, I’ve recruited my crafty talented sister to exhibit some of her gorgeous hand-knitted wearables as well!
3. Don’t underestimate the little old ladies selling dolly clothes (like I did last year as a spectator) at the table next to you. You need all the marketing, project management and accounting skills you use at your real job to really make a go at this!
So, as the countdown begins, and I’m ordering little baggies and tags from Ebay in hopes that they’ll arrive before “C” day, here’s a few of our pieces in the making.
I’ll post more as the volume increases, and maybe we’ll see you at the craft fair – Saturday, November 29th from 10am to 3pm at Renfrew Community Centre – 2929 E 22nd Ave, Vancouver.
I hear an 11 year old kid has inspired her mom and aunt to exhibit for the first time.