What NOT to say when you’re at a craft show

I’ve done 4 shows in the last two weeks.  It’s been tiring but fun.  I met some really fun and really talented crafters, especially at Cambridge Open Studios.  (COS is, by the way, also showing this weekend.  Yes, you should go if you can.  It’s amazing.)

What was striking was not only how great the community of crafters were to each other, but also how great most of the people visiting the show were to us.  However, like any barrel of apples, there were a few rotten ones.

Everything listed below was actually said to me or one of the people I met over the last two weekends.  When you’re at a craft show, don’t be this person.

“I could make that.”  Could you?  Really?  Then by all means, go out and get the tools, supplies, and the skills necessary and do it yourself.  Since you don’t have them on you, then either buy it here or STFU.  Really.  There is actually an art to what we do, honestly.  If you think you know how to do what we do better than we do, shut it and move on.  We’re not sitting here so you can insult us.  We’re sitting here because we make something we love and we’re trying to make some money selling it.

“So you don’t actually make anything then, you just put it together.”  Yep, and the painter just moves the brush over the canvas and the furniture maker just makes a few cuts in the wood and it just magically comes together.  After all, the furniture maker didn’t grow the trees and the painter didn’t mix his own paints.  Give me a break.

“Why do they charge so much?”  Because unlike 99% of what you buy, this wasn’t assembled by a machine or imported from a country where it was made by slave labor in a factory where people routinely die from working conditions so horrendous it makes my stomach turn to think about them.  Most of us don’t make a living or even a profit doing this, and you’re still getting a deal.

“All you do is point and click.”  Yep, that’s all the photographers do.  The camera does the rest.  And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.  Seriously, I know a photographer who had one shot that took a full year to research and set up.  He had to know weather patterns, star positions, and the geography of a certain national park, plus pull permits and then spend 5 hours shooting, all for one photo.

“You’re not really an artist, you don’t cut your own stones.”  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard this.  What people fail to realize is that cutting gems, just like soldering or smelting precious metals, is industrial work.  It requires permits and special very serious training and hardware.  This is not something somebody like me (someone with 5 jobs, not including the performing and the jewelry making) can invest in.  Particularly not when I’m working out of my dining room.  Municipalities tend to frown on people cutting rocks and minerals and smelting metal in their dining rooms.  Also molten metal + Scratch would be a terrible idea.

In short, ask us questions about our work.  Ask us why we did something or how, we’re happy to tell you.  But if you’re going to take up half an hour+ of our time, buy something.  Or at least take a card.  Most of us are happy to be educators and talk about what we do.  I know I’m happy to explain the difference between the crystals and minerals I use.  But try not to be insulting, we can hear you over there on the other side of the table.  And, unlike the person behind the counter at your average jewelry/home decor/furniture store, we’ve got a lot more invested in the stuff on the table.


2 thoughts on “What NOT to say when you’re at a craft show”

  1. Kind of like:
    “What do you do?”
    “I’m a writer.”
    “Oh. Don’t you have a real job?”

    “What are you doing?”
    “Well, since you’re not busy, could you…”

  2. I hear stuff like this ALL THE TIME, frequently directed at vendors around me (like we are all deaf). My personal favorite to me (which the guy later apologized for after he got a sewing machine and went to the fabric store)…”(sarcastic) Wow, you take $2 of fabric and sell it for $25…nice!” Um, d-bag, NOT! My favorite sign EVER at a craft show? “Sure, you can make it, but will you?”

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