Thursday, 30 May 2013

Inky Drakey Plans

 (Oyster Fayre 2012)
All’s quiet on the Wyvern for sale front (if I’ve not yet mentioned, Wyvern Publications might have a buyer, but we’ll see how it turns out – I’m very excited about it! It means authors will have a chance to have their work back on the market and Wyvern itself still going).  Which suits me fine at the moment because it’s all about Seadrake in two days.  I never had a chance to finish the two brass leaf brooches – there were too many other things to do and my knuckles were aching in the cold, damp workshop (someday, after a lottery win, I can have the workshop insulated and have proper double glazing).  Today I’ve got to finish painting my Seadrake Creations banner for the Oyster Fayre.  I’m on plot A6, which is a big move up from last year and exactly the opposite far end of where I was before.  It’s going to be so much fun regardless of the weather.


Sales, however, will suffer if it rains… which brings me to the question I’ve been nagging myself over.  Is it all worth it?  This is the beginning of year 3 for Seadrake and I’ve struggled with it (as most new businesses will).  The difference is that I don’t really know if it’s worth the struggle anymore.  Goodness knows I’m not charging enough for my time or even enough to cover basic tools let alone PLI and pitch rentals.  There has been a renaissance in hand made traditional crafts but nobody outside London wants to (or can afford to) pay for the time and money it takes to produce something handmade and beautiful.  Something whacked out of the factory in the third world can give a similar effect for a fraction of the cost.  Let’s face it, we’ve all been belt pinching which is what brought on the handmade revolution in the first place.


And curse this whole issue of needing sleep and getting tired.  WHY can’t I get up at 5am all chipper and work and play with my toddler, get dinner on, bake fresh bread every Friday, grow fresh flowers and veg in the back, juggle Wyvern Publications, tackle the hedge, write two non-fiction books and one novel, keep a jewellery business going and still have time to write the blog without falling asleep or feeling like a zombie?  Okay, I get up at 7… but if I could, I’d wake up fresh at 5.  Can I pull the teen thing and say, “it’s not fair”?  It really isn’t.  My body can’t keep up with all these life plans I’ve got.  I’ll do the usual of working like mad, getting ill then having everything fall to a standstill for three months.  I know many people who struggle to get up in the morning just to face the day, so I am being greedy with wanting to do more.  Sorry peops, I’ll stop griping.


I do need to streamline again.  The allotment (you remember, the thing that was going to be my priority this year after family?) is on my axe list.  Every time I get on top of it, something happens to set me back months and not just the weather.  It’s time to move on and use the backyard as my growing space.  It will be after the season finishes, so I can harvest the last of the berries and rescue all my berry bushes and the shed and tools, water butts and composter.  The rest can stay there for next year’s grower. Shed BTW is going to be toddler’s own outside playhouse.  I’ll paint it up brilliantly for her.  The front is going to have a mini bridge over water plants (not real water plants, but plants that I feel represent water) and she’ll have her very own mini garden in front of her house to tend.  It will take some time (like, a year) but it will be good and I won’t have to worry about… well the things that have been helping me make the decision about dropping the allotment.

Now to bring on the Oyster Fayre and then I’ll only do Seadrake work for special orders for the next month as I’ve got to hammer out the draft of Three Victorian Women in Asylum and edit the Isabella anthology for Springbok Publications.  Forget the fact that I spent yesterday writing three new business plans.  Maybe I should just relax for a bit…

Thursday, 23 May 2013

To Boot or Not to Boot…

I’m going to be much better at blogging.  This time.  Truly!  I’ve got a new resolve and it’s going to be blogging and representing Seadrake better.  So it may be that I keep blending my two careers onto one blog or I may start an independent blog just about jewellery (or if you’re in the US – jewelry).  Not to be traitor to blogspot, but I’ve seen some amazing blogs on Wordpress and WOW.  It acts like their main jeweller’s website and blog with links to their Etsy shops.
Here is the main question: do I start selling smaller, less expensive items at the local car boot sale or do I focus on the larger and more expensive markets?  My experiences so far of vintage and craft fairs is that they cost so much (along with the public liability insurance) and it might lead to one or two commissions afterwards and is a lovely place to meet artisans, but there is little to no financial gain at the end of it. 
Enter the car boot sale.  It conjures up visions of broken high chairs, rusty old tools, rotting books rejected from a charity shop… but the car boot sale has some amazing finds, stalls, and regulars who, upon chatting to, say how slow the market has been and they only take X amount, which happens to be triple of what I make at a craft stall on a good day (and without the need for public liability insurance AND with about a third of the setting up price).  But the trick is to get the right items out and keep an eye and strong nerve for those who are out for either a freebie (ie 5-finger discount) or extreme haggling (which I’ve never had a problem dealing with).
Another bonus about car boot is that you pay on the door on the day.  No pre-booked stalls that don’t get refunded if the weather is too poor for the public to show.  And it’s a good day out with the opportunity to get some amazing bargains on tools (see the photo up top?  That was a £3 car boot find – a rusty old jeweller’s vyse.  It took me only 3 hours to refurbish and now it’s invaluable in my workshop).
It will be (my plan at this time anyway) some Roman sterling twisted wire rings, pearl and gemstone earrings, leaves range and a photo album display for people who might want to commission bigger items.  The footfall for car boot is pretty amazing and what a great place to advertise!
After the Oyster Fayre I’ll keep an eye out for the right Sunday morn and then, BAM! out I’ll go to the car boot at 6:30 in the morning to get my ideal position before 7am opening and see how things go.
I may have just answered my question – To Boot!!!

Friday, 17 May 2013

April Escapes and May Showers

It’s been a while since my last blog (the usual… life got in the way again) but this time I have a slightly better excuse and yes, it is the weather.  The relentless winter got me (and I know even hardened individuals suffered this year) down, my light box was still ‘missing’ since the move to the new house, and the new house was/is an icebox with freezing cold air pouring off the outer wall.  Even paying outrageous fees in gas and electricity kept us wearing double to quadruple layers indoors, which frankly, I found rather offensive.
So, with a bitter feeling of cold despair, I begged for an escape home to sunny CA and my supportive husband readily agreed.  Two weeks of sunny bliss, family gatherings, meeting up with old friends (at one point it felt very ‘Housewives of Orange County’ except we weren’t bitching, it wasn’t Orange County and well… let’s face it, I was the only ‘housewife’ in the group).
On the trip, I had my e-mail account hacked – typical timing and I spent some time trying to fix it on my mother’s computer which felt a bit like wearing someone else’s underpants (the keys responded differently, screen alien, and well, it just wasn’t my computer).  I’d meant to abandon all computer-related activity so it was just by chance that I checked my e-mail and received a mass of informants.
But when the two and a half weeks were up, I was ready to go back to reality – it was even warm for the weekend before plunging back down to the gloomy weather we’d left.  Two weeks in and I’m still reeling over the catch up I’m trying to do.  And balanced with recovering from jet lag, an excited toddler and growing lawn, my workload is feeling a bit overwhelming.
Writing – I’ve got my short story for the Springbok anthology to do – well, I’ve just finished the draft and need to change a few bits before sending it in – it’s due at the end of the month.  Then after the Oyster Fayre, it will be ‘all systems go’ to get this non-fiction drafted in time (Three Victorian Women in Asylum).  I’ve also been compiling a fairy anthology of retold ancient lore and new tales with an ancient feel.  It will be illustrated by my fabulous mother and talented artist, Linda Gunn.
Wyvern – There are still two books on the lists – then will close.  Or it was going to (I had no time for my own writing whilst running a publishing company).  I’ve got a potential buyer, hoorah!  So authors might have a chance to receive new contracts, which I’m thrilled about if it all goes through.  I’ll keep posting updates as they happen.
Seadrake – Gulp!  Only a few weeks left before the big weekend of Oyster Fayre – the market that sums up Seadrake perfectly and the event I look forward to every year… I’ve got all my stock put together, but there are some final bits that have been giving me trouble (combined with a toddler who keeps trying to break into my workshop means I can only work when she’s asleep… which is usually when I crash out too).  I have to brass leaves to saw and finish into beautiful medieval brooches – they are all etched beautifully and are ready for the wrist and knuckle breaking moment of hacksaw (which takes forever).  There are costumes to drag out of the closet – I’m selling off as much of my historical wardrobe I can this year, so if you need a Tudor/Renaissance/Saxon/Arthurian gown, drop by for a steal.
Fab, so it’s all systems go until June 1… Bring on the Oyster Fayre!