Saturday, 27 April 2013

A Complete Disaster, Dahling!

I've been quite excited about having a stall at the Tweseldown Artisan Market - over the last few years, my attendance at craft fairs has dwindled as I got a bit fed up with the wear and tear on my stock from being carted to and fro and fingered by sticky-faced children and careless adults.  Plus there is the soul-destroying aspect of hearing your work being discussed as though you are invisible; together with the remarks of 'it's a bit expensive' when you have probably paid yourself less than a sweat-shop worker if an hourly rate was to be worked out.

But yesterday morning I got up at the crack of dawn with enthusiasm, and was even ready, car packed, dog walked, house tidied, daughter fed and dressed, fifteen minutes before we were due to set off.  It was, however, bitterly cold - gone were the spring temperatures of 24 hours previous.

We got to the venue, unloaded the car and took everything to our pitch, which was in the centre of a courtyard, next to a lady selling rather nice sewn bags.  We'd opted for an outside spot as we figured there would be more room to spread - it wasn't just me this time, I had joined up with Jane from Pandoren who sells beautiful hand sewn/knitted childrens' clothing.  Fingers were numb, the wind was whistling through the buildings (one of my paintings blew over and the glass smashed), but we figured once we'd got the gazebo up, we'd be fine.  That was the first of our problems.  My other friend had brought her gazebo for us to borrow but it appeared to be missing a few poles.  We struggled for half an hour (being watched by other stall holders who found this very entertaining but didn't see why they should offer any help other than smart-alec remarks...) but it wasn't going to happen.  Jane had still not arrived at this point, she'd got a bit lost.....

We decided to abandon that gazebo and wait for Jane with hers.  When she eventually turned up, we set to trying to erect the second, much larger, gazebo.  More entertainment for the bystanders but they were starting to get restive as it appeared our gazebo might encroach on their areas by a few someone thought it helpful to add that they'd seen one of these event gazebos collapse only last week.  How we kept smiling I do not know.  After a short while, someone else suggested we move around the corner from the buildings where there was a huge free area - which we promptly did and were met by stall holders selling garden plants and accessories who were a whole different kettle of fish. They offered to help, were friendly and no smart-mouths! In no time we had set up and were just about ready for when the gates were open to the public.

It was a very cold and breezy morning, but we were cheerful enough.  However, although there were a lot of visitors, people seemed to keep their wallets firmly in their pockets.  By lunchtime, my daughter had turned an interesting shade of blue, despite wearing a coat, two extra cardigans and being draped in two blankets, so my friend who was going back to walk my dog for me took Stacie with her for an hour's tv in the warm.
While they were gone, disaster struck.  There had been showers on and off throughout the morning and odd gusts of wind, but nothing prepared us for what happened next.

Suddenly the wind picked up and all our stock started flying.  At the same time, the heavens opened - not just rain, but horizontal hail.  Within seconds everything was soaking wet and in disarray. Some kind people hung on to the gazebo for us while  Jane and I ran to put sides onto it as fast as we could but by the time we did so, the damage was done. All the knitted and fabric items were saturated, my boxes containing jewellery were little pools of rain water, and worst of all, my paintings had water within the frames, soaking the mountboard.

This whole squall took less than ten minutes but it was enough to completely scupper any chances we had of making further sales.  After a brief discussion, we decided to pack it all up and get everything home and spread out to dry as quickly as we could and assess any damage.  So we only did half a day, barely sold anything and both felt like having a damn good cry.  I can't even show you my photos of the stall before it got wrecked as they won't load - even the pictures are jinxed!*

Miraculously, on closer inspection this morning, my paintings have dried out with no water stains and I do believe all the knitted shawls and everything else has also dried out with no further casualties. I know that Jane's stock dried out successfully too as we all met up later yesterday evening and had a Chinese takeaway together with copious amounts of red wine - talk about drowning your sorrows!

So some serious thought is required as to whether or not it is worth ever attempting a craft fair again.  I certainly would not have an outside stall again when you have to deal with the capricious British weather.  It was such a shame as this particular artisan market is a lovely event, focussing on local artists and crafts people, with a varied selection of stalls and good attendance by the public.  If only they could control the weather!

*not jinxed, problem with Blogger which I have had to circumnavigate!


Laura Sparling said...

Blimey, sounds like a nightmare!

So pleased all your work was okay.

Laura x

Magpie Magic said...

You poor thing. That does sound like a total nightmare. I am so glad there was no lasting damage to your work, but sad that it didn't work out. Hugs. xoxox