Monday, May 19, 2008


As an avid crafter and participant in many shows throughout the last three decades, I feel I have crafting "in my blood". But in recent years, I've found it increasingly difficult to prepare for craft shows, transport tables and set-up to the designated venues, greet prospective customers for hours on end, and then take it all down. It's very tiring and doesn't bring in as much profit as it used to. In the early 90's, I took a break from doing shows so I could be with my new grandson. I watched him every week, off and on, for a number of years. Then when his little sister arrived, I watched her while her brother was in school. I happily agreed to be with both of them whenever my daughter needed my help. I truly cherished those times with my grandkids and together we had many adventures and made some wonderful memories. I quickly learned I couldn't spend quality time with my grandkids if I was constantly trying to make items to sell, so I willingly gave up crafting for that span of time I was watching them. Once the grandkids were older, and then when they moved from my area (they used to live just around the corner from me), my child-caring services were no longer needed. That seemed to be my cue to get back into crafting and doing shows. I missed the kids so much and had a very hard time adjusting to the fact I wasn't going to be watching them any more and they weren't going to be stopping by my house wanting to play. I was desperate for some profit-making diversion. I didn't want to return to nursing, but I did long to get the sewing machine humming again.

Apparently, I'd been out of the crafting loop for so long I didn't realize how much had changed in the retailing of handmade items. Where had I been that I'd missed the import invasion? I was stunned when I found handmade items were scarce in shops and the craft shows in which I'd chosen to participate no longer generated the profits they once had. My enthusiasm for crafting slowly evaporated. A very good friend, Deanna, and I decided a home show might be just the thing we needed as an outlet for our handmade items. We also wanted to get our creative juices flowing again. Deanna and I planned a fall show that we held here at my home in my backyard and cabin. To say we were disappointed with the attendance would be an understatement. We tried a few more craft shows, then finally decided last fall that we'd had enough. We waved the white flag of surrender and declared ourselves retired from the craft show circuit.

We still like to make things and have had a difficult time getting past the idea of selling our wares. I'll be honest and admit that I've had a much harder time adjusting then Deanna has. I think she's more of a realist then I am and she saw the handwriting on the wall sooner than I did. I kept thinking the next show would be better if I made different items or arranged things differently in our booth. I just didn't want to let go of something that had been a part of my life for so many years. In some ways, I think I had allowed crafting to define my life. My angst over retiring from doing craft shows wasn't because I was concerned about being bored. I'm never bored. My animals and my house keep me plenty busy. I just thought I'd miss crafting and sewing and thought that part of my life was over.

It wasn't only the generating of profit (or lack there of) that caused Deanna and I to ponder whether we wanted to retire from doing craft shows or not. We knew we'd be giving up the positive affirmation we'd often received from craft show visitors. Compliments - which we rarely received for cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry - always fed our egos and were sometimes just as important to us as turning profits.

Deanna and I came to the conclusion (during our quests for "finding ourselves") that we we are not, nor should we ever be, defined by our crafts. Crafting was, and is, just one facet of our lives. We're moving on and now looking forward to planning home projects, making curtains, re-arranging furniture, decluttering our spaces, and sprucing up our backyard buildings. Deanna has a wonderful garden house perfect for growing herbs and making candles, baskets, and soap. She's a versitile crafter and gardener - a true pioneer woman at heart. She never seems afraid to try a new craft. I also have a backyard building - a cozy little cabin in which I used to entertain my grandkids and work on sewing projects. Deanna and I still often wonder if we might want to host a holiday home show at some time in the future. See, it's never far from thought, no matter how much we try to avoid it. How about you? Have any of you experienced crafting withdrawal? If so, how are you coping?


Lizbeth King - Persimmon Possum Designs said...

So good to see you blogging. I don't have time for anything arty or crafty other than digital. Seems like I can never get in my "studio"... ahem... if you know what I mean!

Keep writing -- I always love reading it!

Kady said...

Thanks so much Lizbeth. This is already starting to be a good outlet for my ramblings. I woke this morning thinking I need to write a children's story about Cheepers, the rescued baby robin. Thanks for reading!