Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Czech Glass Buttons

I have a new obsession...czech glass buttons, whether vintage or new. These gorgeous little beauties can be all sorts of iridescent hues, with nature or art deco designs. I have been creating some wonderful pieces with them.

Czech Glass Buttons have been made for over 100 years and today many are still made by hand or by hand and machine. It is a many- step process to create these little works of art, but the results are well worth it!

For my creations, I have removed the shank from the back very carefully. As many of these are foiled to produce an iridescent colour, you could remove some of the foil, leaving an uncoloured spot which shows through on the front of your button. I have then set the button onto many layers of aged brass filigree. Many of the buttons I have used are large, approx 2" in diameter, so I've chosen dramatic filigree and frames to use as settings.

These particular buttons came from an etsy seller, AllBohemianGlass . She has a wonderful selection and very reasonable prices. I was also surprised by how quickly I received my purchase!

Hope you enjoy these as much as I have!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Willow is back in the house!!!

After an extended absence from my rambling posts....I am back! To catch you up a bit...over the past few months, we have moved our home and my studio, had an unexpected visit from my eldest son and found out that we are expecting a wee one! The latter came somewhat as a surprise for although we had been trying for around 2 years, we had both given it up thinking that we were too old.

I have been busy in the studio, getting ready for our exciting summer show schedule. After this summer, we will be cutting back the number of shows due to my already expanding waistline. I hope to spend a good deal of time updating our website and posting regularly Under the Willow Tree!

I have a tip for anyone out there who has a website or business that they are trying to promote. Sign up with Google Alerts. I did and a couple of days ago, I received an alert for all of the Simply Willow mentions out there that were new. Look at what I found! http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/vintage-steampunk-jewelry-simply-willow I had no idea that this very positive and flattering article on my steampunk jewelry had been written! Google Alerts - check into it!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tips and Tools

Over the next few days, I will share a few tips on bringing people into your craft show booth and ways to increase sales. This is in no way meant to be an all inclusive list and to some may even seem very basic. Hopefully, you can take away a suggestion or two that helps in some way!

Eye catching display. Remember that your display should be customer friendly. Displays should be at different heights, many at eye-level. Most customers will not bend down to look at your product. The easier it is for them to browse your booth, the better chance you have of making a sale. Check back soon for an entire post devoted to booths and displays!

Warm, friendly welcome. Make sure to welcome people to your booth. There are two schools of thought as to what to do next. I have heard that you should immediately try to engage the customer, get them talking. What has worked best for me is…after i have welcomed the customer, I let them know that if they have any questions to just ask. I then start re-arranging my jewelry, dusting, straightening hang tags, etc. I stay available and interested, but let them look. It is my opinion that you can push a potential customer too hard. We have all been in the furniture store where the salespeople follow you around…its annoying. Often, people know what they like and what they are looking for. They will ask if they need help or are interested in a specific technique or material.

Pricing. It is my preference to tag all of my items prior to a show. I have read suggestions that it may be better not to price, to get the customer to talk. Here is where you will have to find what works best for you. It is my belief that many people will be annoyed by having to ask how much each item is, perhaps to the point of not buying. Some may just assume that they cannot afford it...the old adage “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” at play. Make sure, if you do use tags, that your prices are clearly marked and easy to read.

Stay tuned for more tips soon!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just the right show....

In more than 10 years of doing art fairs and craft shows, I have picked up some tips along the way...mostly from doing it wrong and looking for an easier way over and over! I will be sharing some of that information over the next few months!

If you can add anything, please do so!!!! If there is a topic that you would like to see...Leave a comment! Every bit of information that we can share helps not only our fellow artists and artisans, but also ourselves.

Today is all about finding the right show...

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a home & garden show trying to sell your handmade fishing lures or at a seaside resort with your knitted winter-wear? How about trying to sell your gallery quality high-end jewelry at a church bazaar? While these are extreme examples of shows that don’t perhaps fit the product, they do illustrate the need to match your product and business up with a show that’s a good fit!

Important things to look for when deciding on a show:

*How long has the show been in business? "First Annual" shows are not usually my 1st pick. Unless they are VERY well advertised, traffic could be iffy
*How and where are they advertising? This is important as you want as much traffic to the show as possible. More customers means more opportunity for sales.
*Do their customer demographics match up with your target market? For example…If you sell jewelry and your primary customers are women between the ages of 20 & 50, will you have a good audience at this show?
*Location, Location, Location. This is always a consideration. Is the show close to home? The higher your travel expenses, the more sales you need to make in order to realize a profit. You need to carefully weigh the potential sales and benefits of the show with the travel expenses you will incur. If a show has an extremely high attendance, especially in your target market, is very well advertised, has the potential for good publicity for your business…then travelling 250 miles or more may make a lot of sense!

There are other things to consider that don’t have such a direct impact…Have you done a show with this promoter before? Are they vendor friendly? Is the booth fee proportionate to the number of shoppers? Does the time of year fit your product? Do they offer helpers to load/unload and tables if needed? Is electricity available?

“Shop” for your shows like you would your supplies. Make sure you apply for quality shows that are a good fit for your business. Remember that shows are rarely the same two years in a row, especially in this ever changing economy.

Good Luck and Good Shows!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome to 2009 !!

Wow! This is my first post of the new year! The first of many as we move into this exciting time.

Today, a new president takes office, with a new perspective, new beliefs and new policies. With him, he brings hope and change. Whether democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, I hope that you are able to appreciate the possibility that this new president brings with him. The possibility that America can once again be a global leader, leaving behind the policies of the last 8 years. While there are many challenges facing the United States, there is now hope that we can move forward.

In the spirit of change that the country celebrates today....I have decided to make some changes here at Under the Willow Tree. Check back starting Monday, Jan 26th for exciting new features such as Artist of the Week, Weekly specials, Featured Jewelry, Marketing tips and All Photos All Day.

Celebrate the hope and change of this day...

God Bless America