Guess what Pinterest says will sell at craft fairs? Guess what Pinterest was half right about…

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None of this is original.  I’m not even sure what original is anymore since the internet took over my life. I was trying to help raise money for a group that I belong to and I became obsessed with how I could single handedly help to fund a million programs. So I took to my frenemy, the internet, and put in this search: Why didn’t I sell anything at my craft show? I am a big fan of learning from the mistakes of others.  I didn’t want to be married to the concept of assembling a ton of snowman poop (see and be amazed) if it wasn’t going to help the group. I needed to find something that people would buy and that I liked to make.

There are lots of reasons to make art. Personal satisfaction is one reason. In this case, that took a backseat to making a little bit of cash for someone else.  It’s like the difference between Alec Baldwin doing his passion-project podcast, “Here’s the Thing” (which is incredible – Here’s The Thing) or his 1991 starring role in “The Marrying Man”. One of those things was done just for the money.  Let’s think of this project as my Marrying Man – make some quick cash and move onto the next thing.

Cue Pinterest. After searching for mistakes I searched for all-time best sellers at craft shows/flea markets, etc. That is how I came upon the glass magnet.  It required one trip to Michaels and an ability to follow simple directions. From there I got some pretty instant gratification (and I’m not talking about leaning in close when you use the epoxy, which totally happened by accident and was more disorienting than fun. Sigh).

Here’s the magnet shopping list:

  • aforementioned epoxy
  • flat glass marbles (like the kind that people enjoying jamming in a vase)
  • 1″ paper punch
  • scrapbook paper
  • Modge Podge
  • mini round magnets
  • paint brush
  • cute slogans or sayings or letters or whatever you want to see on your fridge everyday

With common sense and 85 sheets of scrapbook paper, I had a pile of about 30 magnets in a very short period of time.  I actually enjoyed making them and I almost never enjoy making things.  Don’t get me wrong. I want to make things, but the excitement at the beginning is hard to sustain through the uncertainty of what may happen in the middle of the project.  What if it sucks? What if I spent $25 on the wrong tool? What if I had to add it to the Quitters Craft Cabinet where tons of my half-finished projects rest because I got too frustrated? Or I gave up because the time-table was too daunting? One time – actually, THE One And Only Time I successfully made a shirt for my toddler, I looked on it with awe for DAYS. After sewing the sleeves on upside down twice I could not believe that all shirts didn’t cost at least $150. Figuring out a pattern is like a puzzle wrapped in a riddle jammed into a tetris game with a padlock on it.

But I digress…

The magnets were a hit. I priced them at $2 each or 3 for $5. I sold 41 of them in an afternoon.

 

Now these babies were a different story.

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I loved making these things.  All white paint and sharpie markers and freehand drawing. Acrylic paint dries quickly.  Simple line drawings. Plants that really can’t be killed without premeditation.  All the ingredients for artistic satisfaction.  I was sure that Pinterest was right and that people wouldn’t be able to get enough of the cuteness. I priced those suckers at $6 and I thought they would fly off the shelf. They didn’t.

Maybe I should have painted wings on them.

I think that our group, while appreciative, was unwilling to part with two separate bills to take home my snowflake of an art project. I get it, but if I’d priced them at $5 we would have made about .30 on each one. I know very little about business, but .30 seems like a real kick in the crotch after a second trip to Michaels and two evenings of practice line drawings.

So, I hung my head slightly as I walked out the door after our event still loaded down with plants. Did it hurt? Yes. But was it outweighed by some substantial artistic satisfaction? There were moments. Plus, now I have five cute plants that I can’t kill. And, when you’re not charging people for them, it turns out they’re really popular.

 

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