Friday, June 15, 2007

The crafter's curse

I'm sure if you've ever done craft shows or similar events, you have heard the "crafter's curse."

Up front, it sounds like a blessing. "May you sell out by noon Saturday," one crafter will say to his neighbor after Friday night set-up. What a thing to wish upon a true crafter. On the face of it, it seems like a well meaning statement. However, it is along the line of the ancient curse "May you live in interesting times."

If a true crafter sells out by noon Saturday in a two or three day show, it means they have badly mis-judged the show. It also means that they will find some one, any one, grab a passing patron! - to sit and watch the booth while they go back somewhere to make as much stock as they can, as quickly as possible.

This is not because crafters are greedy. Most of us could make far more money working in the real world. It is because we have this compulsion to make things that people like and enjoy. In fact, there is a lot of obsessive/compulsive behavior involved in being a crafter. How else can you get yourself to crochet 10,000 Spirit Bells?

Right now, I am the spindle maker here at Common Threads. This morning I was laying out the stain and tools to make spindles. I always make 48 spindles at a time. My excuse is that it is silly to get everything together to make less than that. But the real reason... well... I make 48 spindles in about 4 hours. I do 12 each of 4 different color stains. I make top or bottom whorl spindles in sets of 4. It just works, ok. What ever you can do to find the focus place and get into the groove to do such repetitive labor is fine. Shawn looked over at me and said, "Time is tight, you don't have to make 48, you know." He almost added spindles to his to do list.

Another mixed blessing of being a crafter is being able to work your own hours. Of course, this means you tend to work all hours. In the real world, this is treated with suspicion. It is very common for one of us to work until 3 or 4 in the morning. I am usually up and at the loom by 6 am. This confuses most people and they tend to look askance at some one who keeps such hours.
However, in a craft community, such as the renaissance festival, it becomes clear that this is another part of the compulsive behavior of being a crafter. I took a break last night about 1:30 to stretch and walk the dogs. Two doors down, I could hear the jeweler's polishing wheel humming. The other direction, the light was on in the potter's shop and there was soft music drifting out the open door. Any time the muse is awake is a good time to create. Any time you can find the focus is a good time to work.

This week, it seems like a lot of the world has been getting in the way of my work - but I did get two nice shawls off the loom. I am trying to make it a habit to photograph them before I take them off the loom. I have sold many of my favorites without ever getting a picture. I name all the shawls I weave. This week's two are Midsummer Medley and Hocus Pocus. This connection is not letting me post pics, so I'll put them up next week.

Have a great weekend! Wish us bright weather and good sales!

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