Last weekend, I participated in another crafts market organised by Faszination Handwerk. Markets are held twice a year in differing locations roughly in the Tegernsee-area. This allows for people from Munich to visit without the very high-costs associated with organising such a market in a central location in Munich.
Since we were allocated a corner between two doors, the above became the set-up of my stand. I even managed to eke out a small corner of one of the tables to clamp an embroidery hoop on. Although the lighting was really good, the location was your standard conference building with little to no charm. Since the organisation does not provide tables, we take our own. The above is all our Toyota Auris can hold :). Thanks to your excellent feed-back after last year's Leonhardimarkt, I think I achieved a better overall set-up. My stand was no longer so flat and had more 'explaining' going on regarding time and skill involved. I also added a cheaper category of pendants.
Since the car was really full, I couldn't bring trestles and a slate frame. Instead, I demonstrated some French boutis. I still had the 'heart' kit by Averyclaire. This type of whitework embroidery is both 'large' enough and not too complicated; ideal for demonstration purposes. Unfortunately, people were not at all impressed. Mental note: only bring goldwork.
The show ran for three days and was really well attended. Many of my colleagues reported good sales and/or follow-up trade possibilities. Unfortunately, my embroideries did hardly sell and I did not even recoup my entry fee. I can only hope that there will be follow-up trade this time. Overall feed-back of the visitors was that my embroideries were perceived as being 'foreign' and not of 'local tradition'. Many did not understand what it was all about and were not happy for me to explain. It was generally really hard to get into contact with people about what I make. What they did pick up on was my accent. And some were really not cool about it. I was even asked if I could understand and speak German... I could almost hear grandpa Grimm turn in his grave!
So. I will no longer exhibit at these particular fairs. Costs are too high and I am not a charity. However, I will try to attend at least one local market a year as I do understand that I need to meet the locals. But these markets must have low entry fees. And luckily for me, one such market stood on my doorstep last week! Or at least its organisers did. In May, I will join sculptor Marion Werner and two other artisans at Marion's home at Steingaden for a crafts market. Marion and her husband have been organising these for many years and have built quite a following. I feel honoured that they'll allow me to join them this year! And the entry fee? Two home-made cakes to sell to the visitors. I can live with that :).
Those of you following me on Instagram or Facebook will have seen pictures of great upheaval in my embroidery studio. Selecting and packing everything for the Leonhardimarkt in Geitau taken place last weekend. Now that the markt is over and my embroidery studio back in order, let me tell you what I have learned from the experience...
Up first, a picture of me explaining the St. Laurence goldwork project to some visitors in the local newspaper. Nice free publicity!
The Leonhardimarkt is organized by Fazination Handwerk (Fascinating Craftmanship) and aims to create a platform for artisans (i.e. not hobby makers) to sell their handmade products and to demonstrate how they make them. They do this by organising two 'up-scale' fairs a year. I had visited a fair before, but this was my first time participating in one. Unfortunately for me, this one was not visited well on two of the three opening days. Not only a pity for me, but for all the participating artisans as sales were way below what they used to be in other years.
On Friday, we had by far the most interested crowd of visitors. People really enjoyed seeing the St. Laurence project and for many it was their first encounter with anything other than embroidered tablecloths :). It was really nice to be able to explain to people what I was doing and why I was doing it a certain way. We drove the 1,5 hours home on a high!
But as always, after the sunshine comes the rain. The crowd on Saturday was bored and unfriendly. It was kind of a blessing that there weren't that many of them... The Sunday saw a much higher volume of visitors, but these were mainly the families who came for the watching rather than the buying. Overall, my finished embroideries did not find a new home. I sold a couple of beaded pendants and a few embroidery kits. Interestingly, my lovely neighbour the Federkielstickerin didn't sell any of her finished embroideries either! It seems that embroidery still has a long way to go when it comes to fair pricing.
Why is that? For a starter, I noted that people do not have a clue how long it takes to stitch. They really think that I spent only a couple of hours on a piece and then sell it for top euros. Educating them that I only want the German legal minimum wage of €8,84 per hour + material costs, opened a few eyes. Secondly, although you can only sell at this particular fair when you are a true artisan and not a hobby maker, many people still thought that embroidery is my hobby and not my way of making a living. It became clear that embroidery is not recognised as a serious art form or a way to pay the bills.
How best to change this? By attending future fairs! Even though I made quite a loss, I might pick up some after trade. The trouble is, I won't know until after a certain time. Unfortunately, I need to make a decision in the next two days if I want to attend their fair in February. And that fair has an even higher attendance fee... What would you do, dear reader?
P.S. you can now pick-up the many new beaded pendants I made for the Leonhardimarkt from my webshop! I have also listed the finished embroideries I have for sale. I need a bit of cash to buy additional storage space for my embroidery studio, so please help me out!
I will be demonstrating gold embroidery and selling my embroideries at the Leonhardimarkt in Geitau from 3-11-17 until 5-11-17! This fair is organised by 'Fazination Handwerk' at the beautiful old farm 'Hasenöhrlhof'. Besides me, there will be bobbin lace making, tailoring, weaving, porcelain painting, gold- & silver smiting, woodturning, carpet making, wood carving, (book) restauration, shoemaking, millenary, wax working, reverse glass painting, passementerie, painting, knife making, watchmaking, leather working, chocolate making, lebkuchen baking and federkiel embroidery. Now, there is a good chance you have never read or heard the word Federkielstickerei before. Let me explain...
Federkielstickerei uses feather quills to embroider on leather. The tail feathers of a peacock are split to produce a workable 'thread'. The leather is prepared by using an awl to prick the holes (just like the hole drilling before you can embroider on eggs). Federkielstickerei is an old craft which requires a lot of skill. A Lederhosen (traditional leather breeches) decorated with this type of embroidery has been and still is of great value and seen as a status symbol. Another common sight with traditional men's clothing in the Alpine regions of Germany, Austria and Italy is the Kraxen or broad belt.
Below is a charming short video featuring Georg Leitner, one of the last men earning his living with this ancient form of embroidery:
Hope you enjoyed this blog post and I would love to meet you at the Leonhardimarkt early November :)!
Today I'll talk a bit about the 'behind-the-scenes' of my business Märchenhaftes Sticken. Although you can now find quite a few of these stories on the world wide web, there are still people out there who will be surprised to read that my days are not entirely spend embroidering beautiful things :). Seriously, I am not embroidering marvellous pieces most days. Instead, I usually see my Acer Aspire V more than I see my needles and threads. Now, don't start to feel sorry for me, because the other tasks that make up Märchenhaftes Sticken are mostly fun too! I'll promise. Just read on.
Take last Saturday for instance. We checked out the Paradies Hof in Wessobrunn-Forst. A lovely farm bistro in a gorgeous setting. They run a crafts market on Sunday the 21st of May called 'Bunter Markt'. I've never before presented my work at a local crafts market. However, I figured that it might be a cost-effective way to reach the locals. You see, my 'problem' is that I am very well able to reach the world through my website, this blog, Instagram and the like. BUT, I am not faring so well with local support for my business. This is largely due to the fact that my local people are not computer savy. Unfortunately, newspaper and magazine ads are quite pricey (think hundreds of Euros). And, running the risk of dispelling another myth, you don't make the kind of figures with a small embroidery business to be able to pay for such pricey marketing strategies :). Ten Euros for a table at the Bunter Markt is much more doable. Added bonus: I will meet other local makers! And, since the farm bistro prides itself on baking delicious cakes from local ingredients, we were obliged to try them too... Very hard to be me indeed.
Since I've never done anything like this, I need to prepare for my stand. Thanks to my lovely and inspiring fellow embroidery makers on Instagram, I have a fairly good idea what makes an attractive booth. So, apart from making more beaded pendants, I've asked my farmer landlord if he had some old drawers for me. Currently, they are sitting on a towel in my kitchen after they had a thorough encounter with a water hose :). Those of you who have come to visit me here at my studio on the Lötschmüller Farmstead, won't be surprised that he was able to turn up quite so many assorted drawers in such a short amount of time... Farmer Sepp Maier is a huge collector of anything and everything. And since he lives on a large farm, there is always an empty space which just shouts to be filled with another precious piece!
And then there is the amount of time I spend on my 'prevent-a-stitcher's-bum-program'. I am not sure the program entirely works as planned... But I love to be outdoors, clear my head, give my hands a rest and exercise the rest of me! Today we walked the Klosterweiherweg near Bernried. Apart from passing by these beautiful artificial fish ponds dating back to medieval times, we read some inspiring texts along the way. They were beautifully presented on stelae marking points of interest. Invigorated, I can now write this blog, compile my newsletter, think on what to do with my drawers, compile a list of places where I am allowed to lay out my new flyer, etc. Happy stitching!
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