Friday, 28 January 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Containers

Using containers for a craft show display is a bit of a no-brainer - not only can you use them during the show, but you can sometimes use them for transporting work to and from the show.

There are lots of types of containers you can use for display:
  • Baskets
  • CD boxes
  • Cigar boxes
  • Glass jars
  • Hat boxes
  • Metal buckets
  • Metal gym baskets
  • Shopping baskets
  • Suitcases
  • Tool boxes
  • Train cases
  • Wood crates
  • Wire baskets
The list could just go on and on. What works best for you really depends on the size and design of your books.

Here are some examples in use:

Some considerations:
  1. Is the work visible? Is any part of your work obscured by a part of the container? If customers can’t see the whole item, it might be less likely to attract them.

  2. What is the possibility for damage? Natural material containers, like baskets, might have loose reeds that could scratch your work as it moves in and out of the container. Other materials might cause friction. Will the corners or edges get banged up?

  3. Is it easy for a customer to see and look at the work? You want to be sure that there's enough room in the container for books to be flipped through.

  4. Does the container complement your work? If your work is contemporary, then a vintage container might not work for you. Something may not work for your display when in its raw form, but you can always paint/finish it in a color that works.

  5. What are the details on your book? If the stitching on the spine is fabulous, you want to make sure that folks can see it.
Obviously, Etsy is a great place to find containers for display (list items are clickable):
If you want to go the local route, you can scout out yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops. Not only would you be supporting your community, but you’d help keep things out of the landfill and likely also save some money.

If you want to buy containers in quantity so that you can get a uniform look in your booth, then there are these options (list items are clickable):What are you using in your booth? If you have images of your use of containers at craft shows, I'd love to see them! Send me an Email with photos and I'll try to include them in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Craft Show Confidential follow-up: Handmade Book Stands

It seems that I just can’t stop talking about book stands! This week I’ll focus on handmade options. Coincidentally, all of the ones below have been made out of wood.

The best part about making your own book stands is that you can customize them any way you like and the materials cost is minimal. On the other hand, you need the right equipment and enough time to get them done. As artists, I think we all understand that problem. :)

Maybe the following pieces will inspire you to create (or buy) your own handmade book stands.

Rhonda Miller (a.k.a. MyHandboundBooks on Etsy) is lucky enough to have a talented woodworker for a father and he made her these book stands:

Image by Rhonda Miller

Here they are in use:

Image by Rhonda Miller

Rhonda gave her books some height in the back of her table, which is a great idea.

Indie publisher and book artist Hamish MacDonald was looking for a way to photograph his books while open and developed (and built) the following design:

Image by Hamish MacDonald

Image by Hamish MacDonald

And if you don’t want to make them yourself, you can always support another Etsian - Randy Arnold:

Image by Randy Arnold

Image by Randy Arnold

He does beautiful woodwork and understands the needs of bookbinders – he’s in a relationship with one. :) If you’d like to learn more about Randy, he’s been featured on the BEST blog.

I did some web searching (a dangerous pastime of mine) and found some plans for making your own wood book stands:

Many thanks to everyone who shared their photos for use in this post!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Blog Organization

I'm sliding in a quick post just to let you know that this blog is being organized!

If you'll look to the top, you'll see lovely tabs which will take you to other pages on this blog. The first (after the Home tab) is a list of members and if you click on their names, it will take you to their etsy shops. If you haven't been through everyone's shop, I suggest you try it out. I've found some amazing artists and wonderful products. It's also very inspiring.

The second tab is a list of events. This list includes classes, art shows, lectures, book arts group gathering etc. that are either put on or attended by BEST members. We're in the process of gathering information for this year but go ahead and check out what's on there.

The third is a list of tutorials gathered by or made by BEST members. It also includes a list of shops that include kits for learning to make your own books.

Kit by GreenChairPress

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Craft Show Confidential follow-up: Book Display Units

Since last week's post about book display units, I heard from two B.E.S.T. members who recommended the wooden racks made by New Hampshire company Clear Solutions, Inc.. After checking out their website, I decided to show you what they offer.

Clear Solutions manufactures a number of plywood display units, ranging in price from $12.50 to $24.95 - definitely affordable. The units have a several great features:
  • They are easy to assemble.
  • You can take them apart when not in use and store them flat.
  • They are made from sustainable birch plywood, which is lightweight.
  • They are finished on both sides,
  • The materials have no added urea-formaldehyde and are CARB2 compliant. In plain English, this means better air quality.
  • You could easily paint them in a color that coordinates with your booth.
Units have either two or three shelves and come in different styles and widths. Some racks come with a lip in the front...

Image by Clear Solutions, Inc.

...and some without.

Image by Clear Solutions, Inc.

Ruth Bleakley uses the wooden racks and they really suit her work. They just disappear into the background and let her work be the focus:

Image by Ruth Bleakley

If you have smaller pieces and are looking for something a bit different, you can get a half-round display unit for $15.95:

Image by Clear Solutions, Inc.

Clear Solutions not only makes display racks, they also have book stands. Prices range from $1.95 to $6.95, depending on size.

My heartfelt thanks go to those who have been sending me links to suppliers and images that relate to this blog series - everyone benefits from the shared wisdom.

I'd like to do another blog post that focuses on book stands/units - I'm specifically looking for images of things that you've created yourself (MacGyverisms welcome). If you have images that you'd like to share, please send me an Email with your Etsy shop name, Flickr account name, and/or your blog URL.


Many thanks to Clear Solutions, Inc. for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Organize for the New Year

I'm back with my Tuesday posts! What a better way to start off this new year then to talk about organization in your business? In order to really reach our goals in our businesses, we need to be organized. I love this photo below and I wish I could see all of your faces when you see it!

Is your business like this? Half organized, half in knots?

So over the next several weeks, I'll be giving quick tips in my regular posts to help you get organized in your business! Today we'll start off with 2 tips to get organized which really are the two I personally dread the most.

Getting Organized Tip #1: Organize Your Email!

  • If you've been wanting to switch your email provider (yahoo, hotmail, gmail) then now is the time to set up your new email but don't forget to transfer things over from the old (after you've cleaned it up).
  • If you don't currently use folders but you like to keep emails with important information for later use, set up those folders!
  • Delete old unwanted emails (I'll have to admit, I hate deleting things, I'm an email hoarder with thousands of emails in my inbox so this will take some time!)
  • Set up your contacts list, you could even organize your contacts into groups like family, friends, business contacts etc...
  • Is it time to change your password? It's a good thing to change your email password occasionally. 

Getting Organized Tip #2: Check your Inventory and Shop Listings

I do this about every 4-5 months and I always find that something isn't priced correctly or I missed something in the description of a book. I also always find at least one book sitting on my "ready to ship" shelf, that isn't even listed!

  • Go through each listing in your shop and check description, price, shipping and photos. If something needs changed, change it.
  • Go through the books you have made. Are they all listed? If not, list them!
  • What books would you like to add to your inventory? Create a list of possible items to add to your shop.
  • Check Expired Listings for those that may need to be relisted.
  • Check Inactive Listings to make sure none were lost while editing.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Blog Interview: NatalieAsIs

Welcome to another BEST interview. I hope you all celebrated a happy change of years. For this first interview in 2011 we will visit the US East coast, Providence in Rhode Island, to meet Natalie A. Stopka of natalie as is.

Hi Natalie! Tell us a little about your shop and your crafting: What do you make and sell?

I focus on the tactility of books, their fibers and textures in the hand. I enjoy using vintage textiles as binding elements for their beauty, feel, and sense of history. In my studio I am surrounded by not only vintage fibers, but also vintage tools. My sewing and embroidery are done by hand or on my great-great aunt's 1928 Singer sewing machine, which works like a charm. I've recently restored a Kelsey Excelsior pancake press, and am reassembling a type chest. I have great respect for the bond between a craftsperson and their tools, and the traditions which have been developed over generations of skilled crafting. I am not hidebound in the design of the books I make, but I am mindful that there is always more to learn, and I have reverence for the history of the art form. Using precious textiles and handmade details is a way of reminding the people who handle my work of that history.

Do you focus on a specific group of customers?

My blank books have found a niche in the bridal market, and I've been working primarily on photo albums, guest books, and custom work. It is really great to work with a couple in designing such a special object for their wedding!

Do you have a day job different from being an Etsy seller?

During the day I work as an administrative assistant/graphic designer; at night I become a book artist and illustrator. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design's Illustration department with a concentration in Sociohistory a few years ago. In addition to illustration, I had the opportunity to take courses in fiber arts and bookbinding during my studies, which I found allowed me to control the entire experience of the book in a wonderful way. I love the idea of creating a complete experience for the viewer, including the words, images, design, and binding of a book.
I have been especially fascinated by your various woven designs, since I first saw them. How did you start making them?

I gradually developed the woven binding which is a particular favorite through a process of experimentation. I had learned an open spine sewn-to-tape binding in school, which was great but difficult to manage the tension in its sewing. I eventually added coptic and kettle stitches to stabilize the spine, and began thinking of the tapes as both a functional and decorative element. Once I made the leap to weaving the tapes across the covers, I was free to experiment with materials and use the spine as a decorative space. Now I offer the woven book with an open spine or a flat back case binding, using many different vintage fabrics. In the process I learned one of the most important lessons of bookbinding - walking the fine line between utility and decoration in designing a book.

Do you have a special way or place to get ideas?

When I am working on blank books, my inspiration usually comes from my materials. I enjoy researching fiber arts techniques which can be incorporated in unusual ways - such as embroidery stitches, smocking, dyeing, and other types of fiber manipulation. Working on narrative illustrated books is a more complex and personal process. I often turn to history and mythology for inspiration, but I also pull ideas from my dreams. There is something about dream logic and timing which enliven a story with the unexpected. Whatever I am working on, it is of vital importance that I listen to good music while in the studio!
Thank you Natalie for talking with me, and for letting us in behind the scenes of your bindery!

If you now want to browse more of her books, and follow up on her work, click on to her Website and Blog, her Flickr Photostream, and of course don't forget to browse the shelves in her Etsy-Shop.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Book Display Units

Over the last two weeks, I talked about the usefulness of individual book stands. Their main advantage is their flexibility, both for transport and display. Unfortunately, they can be time-consuming to set up. If you don’t have much time before a show begins, this can be a problem.

This week I’m going to examine book display units that can hold more than one book. These types of displays are geared toward trade show and retail use. Similar to book stands, these units display books so they show from the front. Unfortunately, because they use a form of storage pocket and aren’t open shelves, part of the unit will obscure your work.

This type of display is more expensive and therefore requires a greater investment up front, unlike the individual book stands. Overall, they are also heavier and bulkier to transport. Please note that I didn't cover wood display units because they seemed to be out of the financial (and weight-carrying) reach of a typical artist.

Wire Displays

Wire displays come in both tabletop and floor models:
6 Tier Counter Display - Image by R. WIREworks, Inc.

10 Tier Floor Display - Image by R. WIREworks, Inc.

  • Folds up for easy storage.
  • Durable.
  • Comes in multiple colors.
  • More stable because it has a larger footprint.
  • Less noticeable than heavier shelving/furniture.
  • With some models, you can add signage to brand or identify your work.
  • The pocket prevents books from falling over – your work will be secure.
  • Tabletop units can increase the height of your display and people won’t have to bend over to view your work.
  • Can show more books without taking up much room on your table.
  • Not adjustable.
  • Pocket depth limits the size of book you can display.
  • Overall, more noticeable and can distract from your work.
  • Takes up more storage space.
  • Heavier to transport.
  • Could accidentally be tipped over by customers.
  • Inclement weather could more easily impact your work on the bottom shelves when using a floor display.

Acrylic Displays

While acrylic displays come in both tabletop and floor models, the floor models are so heavy and bulky (and pricey!) that they are impractical for craft shows. Thankfully, the tabletop displays come in many different styles:

Large Three-Tier Acrylic Countertop Rack - Image by Brodart

Three-Tier Acrylic Countertop Displayer - Image by Brodart

Three-Tier Acrylic Countertop Display Rack - Image by Brodart

  • Clear acrylic makes the stand "disappear" into a display.
  • Lightweight.
  • Has a polished appearance.
  • Durable.
  • Displays with pockets prevent books from falling over – your work will be secure.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Can hold a surprising amount of weight.
  • Tabletop units can increase the height of your display and people won’t have to bend over to view your work.
  • Can show more books without taking up much room on your table.
  • Not adjustable.
  • Doesn’t fold up for ease of transport and storage.
  • Prone to scratching.
  • Takes up more storage space – bulky.

These larger types of display units are most easily purchased directly from the manufacturers, library supply companies, or trade show suppliers.

If you have used any book display units at craft shows, whether similar to or different from those shown above, send me an Email with photos and I'll try to include them in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Both R. WIREworks, Inc. (manufacturer) and Brodart (library supplier) were kind enough to grant permission for the use of their product photos in this post.