Friday, December 30, 2011

In the Gloaming Between

Bernadette Bohan's fabulously decorated Christmas cakes.
The Kerry Christmas Market was a big success.  Lots of work and I made very little money out of it, but the vendors were all very happy.  I have to think about whether I would do two days next year and I would certainly move it up a week so it wasn't the weekend right before Christmas.  Too many people had finished their shopping.  You certainly see the recession on the craft fair/Christmas market level.  Last year, most vendors agreed that they made 2-3 times as much in sales, but all were realistic this year and didn't seem upset as they did better that they expected.  I had two excellent Santy's and it was a shame to see that there weren't many people there for them as I thought they were better than any Santy Fionn has even seen.  Thankfully there were people there for sales.  I have to rethink the top floor as people don't seem to want to go upstairs, even with a lift.  All part of the strange psychology of selling.

Christmas Day came and went and it was as relaxing and chaotic as it should have been. By the time I get to Christmas, I am usually so tired that I am longing for my stack of new books and new pj's to just relax and completely unwind.  This year was no exception as I was going and going for what felt the entire year without much of a break.  I think if I hadn't the two weeks off, my body would have made the decision for me!  Despite the hard work, I didn't make hardly anything in December, which does not bode well for the rest of the year.  I am hoping that will end up being a good thing in the New Year to kick of Irish craft online.  I have been part of for over a year now and my sales are horrible.  Granted, my cost is not high, but I find it a total waste of my time.  There are just too many other artisans to differentiate yourself from and it seems like you could spend a whole day marketing and get absolutely nothing made.  Etsy is probably a good option for Americans, but I don't see the majority of Irish shop owners there doing as well.  Changes must get made.

We made these felt Christmas decoration
in craft club.  Girls are getting to be quite
good on the sewing machine!
I have to get more students on board or I will have to give up my studio.  That is the hard reality of this recession.  I am desperate to keep it so I will spend the first week of the New Year going around to the schools that are likely candidates and talking to students about the Craft Club that I do.  It would only take about 5-7 more students to cover the cost of my studio expenses, which isn't much and a realistic goal.  Otherwise, I haven't room in my house to even move things back home as the tables won't fit and I wouldn't have room to make larger items.  The Irish government is just sucking the life out of the economy and people are afraid to spend or are spending all they have just to keep going.  We all talk about trying to just keep going and wait it out until things improve, but I see this year will be the watershed year of the recession.  People are giving up their craft and are quite dejected.  I am not sure what the answer is, but I know that something good has to come our way in the New Year.  The Year of Craft is very nearly over and I know it gave craft a boost visibly, but it would be interesting to see in terms of figures how much it increased sales.  Part of the problem is that I think Dublin shoppers were much more in touch with buying Irish and buying craft this Christmas, but Kerry buyers were not.  I need to get my work out of Kerry, simple as that.

Meanwhile, I need to get a copy of the Examiner today as there is supposed to be an article on people starting businesses during the recession and I am included in it.

Colleen Bowler's beautiful, hand-thrown pottery.
And the New Year is almost here, so must make plans!  Happy New Year to all and wishing you a relaxing time for the rest of the holidays!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kerry Christmas Market

I've been a bit quiet lately, but I haven't been idle!    I am putting together a big two-day Christmas market for Kerry food and craft producers.  Sales this year have been so poor, that we really need a good event to give us a boost for the holidays.  And it's really shaping up to be a great event!  Lots of fantastic vendors and the Díseart will be beautiful for the weekend.  As Santy himself is too busy to leave the North Pole at this time of year, he has sent two fellas to stand in and make sure boys and girls are being good and are really deserving!  Saturday Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will be present as Dadaí na Nollaig on Saturday and on Sunday Brendan Griffin will be with us.  Great fun!  Santy will arrive via Dingle Jaunting car at 12pm on Saturday and on 1pm on Sunday.  Loads of details to see to in the final planning, but things are going well...

Another craft fair done yesterday and it was pretty dismal for all, if I am honest.  Most of Ireland is full of anxiety at the thought of the year's budget being launched tomorrow and are just afraid to spend.  We are promised another year of woe and punishment.  I am not sure how many more years of this average people can take.  The politicians have given themselves raises yet again.  It is beyond a disgrace to cut hospitals and creches and people on low income and then to give yourself a €27,000 wage increase (or one for your friends).  I am not sure if people aren't too downtrodden to riot at this stage, but most other countries in Europe would be raging.  Hard to say if it would actually do any good.  It makes keeping a cheery Christmas attitude that bit more daunting, I tell you.  I'd love to say that things will bounce back in the New Year, but I think people are largely thinking craft is a luxury and it is just not on the list of things to purchase.  As well as excellent value, it must be said that not all craft is expensive.  And the negative repercussions of buying overseas imports can be seen as close as our neighbors.  We all buy a certain amount of things that are made out of country, but Ireland has lost so many jobs in the last 3 years that it is critical to keep that money in our economy.  And if people aren't buying craft at Christmas, then I fear for sales the rest of the year.

Tree top angel,  Handmade out of pure wool!
Meanwhile, the craft club is going strong.  We made these little ladies last week and were working on felt Christmas ornaments this week.  I think the last session before Christmas will be Christmas stockings.   I am making these angels for hampers for Bluíríní Blásta Cafe for the next week.  It's all go!