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Topic: Renaissance Faire Crafts? Guitar Show Crafts?  (Read 1671 times)
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« on: August 03, 2006 10:38:28 AM »

My boyfriend is going to be selling instruments with his dad at a Renaissance Faire in a couple of months. I was thinking that, since I'll be there anyway, I might try to sell some crafty wares. I don't want to bring things that are wildly inappropriate for the faire, so I thought I'd see if anyone had any suggestions.

What do people look for at Renn Faires?
What crafts are usually sold at Renn Faires?
Are there things that I could make that wouldn't really be competing with other sellers?
Maybe craft kits of some kind that would be appropriate?

Thanks for any help!
If their booth does well, we may be going to these pretty regularly and I'd like to contribute in some way.

Oh, and we also go to guitar shows...any ideas for those? I'm working on some guitar straps, but I could always use new ideas.

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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2006 03:45:43 PM »

Ohhhh - Ren Faires!  I love them, but sadly there aren't any in Hawaii.  Whenever I am in Texas in the fall I go with my sister.

What I buy at Ren Faires:
JEWELRY - always!  Especially dragon and Celtic knotwork.  Pendants, lots of pendants on leather thong.  "Slave braclets" - (the ones that have a ring attached to the braclet).

I have always seen a lot of clothing, jewelry, ceramics, crown/tiara/head coverings, pewter goblets, Ren boots/shoes for sale.

I like the idea of craft kits.  What about leather kits to make a pouch/money bag.  Or other Renaissance accessory items.

The Guitar show:  What about finding paint or paint pens that would stick well to guitar pics and personalizing them for customers?

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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2006 04:30:29 PM »

For the guitar shows, drill a hole in the pick and make a necklace or even earrings. 
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2006 08:03:24 AM »

I used to sell hand marbled silk scarves and marbled paper goods at Renny faires. People usually like to buy littled trinkets that are inexpensive to produce and don't cost much to buy, since they've probably just put down a hefty entrance fee just to get into the faire.

If I was still doing faires, I would sell stuff like:

http://www.vertetsable.com/demos_fans.htm - 16th century Venetian flag fans

which are pretty easy and cheap to produce. The biggest expense is probably the really nice paper. You might find (or stencil or stamp) paper with a renaissance guitar or lute theme and use that for the flag fan.

$1 to $5 trinkets are usually popular if they're unique and no one else at the faire is selling them. I used to make a killing on tiny hand-marbled, hand-bound Japanese accordion booklets. They cost me about a buck to produce (at the time) and I sold them for $5.00, so the flag fans might do well, particularly if it's a hot day at the faire!

You might try reproducing plectrums or figure out a way to make renaissance-looking guitar picks.
What about copies of renaissance sheet music? If there's any copyright free stuff out there, you could make xeroxes, slap on a pretty renaissance-y front page and back page and bind the whole thing together with brass brads or spiral bind it (easier for the guitarists to read if you spiral bind it).


« Last Edit: August 07, 2006 12:23:35 PM by jofre146 » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2006 01:56:02 PM »

wonderful ideas!!

Serious rennies will want historical costuming stuff.  We can be a tough crowd, but we'll also drop a lot of money on the right item.  Costumy stuff needs to be, or at least look like, made from natural and historically correct items - leather rather than pleather, no big glued-on craft jewels, etc.

If you want to reach out to the more casual faire goers, I think you can't go wrong making something inexpensive and "blingy" for kids.  Parents will be busy telling their kids that they can't have $200 genuine steel swords, but they'll buy a $4 foam sword.  Little girls like princessy stuff.  A lot of the women will walk around all day in flower wreaths and regular clothes, just because you don't buy flower wreaths from street vendors in "the real world."

I always shop for fancy scented soaps.  Some of the gourmet shops do great - candies, preserves, etc. - by setting out samples.  The soap shop I like best even has samples!  They put small soap pieces in a big basket, and I woman stands out front and yells, "Get your soap sample!"  It's weird in that you can't really "sample" it right away, but it smells nice and gives you a first-hand look at their quality and hopefully lures you in.

I would urge you to be playful as a seller.  Make eye contact, smile a lot, don't be afraid to talk loud, and say, "Good day, m'lord" and "Good day, m'lady."  Faires are incredibly fun when everyone is playing and incredibly awkward when some people won't play/interact.

And if you learn to make authentic 16th century handfans, please PM me - I'm redoing my garb (costume) and am in the market for a fan!   Grin

« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2006 02:28:01 PM »

Thanks so much for the ideas, you guys!

I am working on some celtic knot ideas. I would love to do some leatherwork, but I think it would take a while to get it down. I have a kit at my dad's house, but I haven't been very successful at it in the past. I might try to get it next time I'm up there. It's worth another try! I'm sure I could at least put leatherwork kits together.

I love the idea of having smaller items in the $1-$5 range! I always want to buy something when I'm at festivals and shows, but I usually can't afford a lot of the larger/more intricate things that vendors are selling.
I'll definitely try those fans. And the sheet music is a genius idea, since we'll be selling instruments!

I am pretty concerned about the tough crowd, so I think it's probably a good idea stick to smaller trinkets and things for kids--at least at first. I was thinking about some ribbon-y hair wreaths...do you think the market is flooded with those?
And food hadn't even occurred to me! Do you think I need a special permit for that?

The other thing that I was thinking about was growing some tiny pots of herbs.
Do you think that they would sell? What should the pots look like?

As far as guitar shows, I worked a booth this weekend and there were absolutely no handmade goods at the show. It was a smaller show, but I usually see at least one booth with something handmade! I just need to figure out what I'm capable of making and what people are willing to buy. I think I'll stick with smaller items at these as well.

Sorry for the hundreds of questions, but I don't know any other crafty people!!

« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2006 06:45:53 PM »

The only way to tell ether some of your ideas will sell is to go ahead and make some up and see if they sell. Each faire is different, but after a while you'll know what people will buy and what they won't.
And there's no hard and fast rule about it; fashions and fads change. I have one friend who still sells only Shakespearian items - mugs, books of plays, stationery, little pewter figures, whathaveyou. He's focused on a theme and it works for him.

I'd check into seeing what kind of permit - if any - you'd need to sell food crafts. Every so often I'd see a vendor selling short bread type cookies - made with medieival or renaissance molds. They were sooo cool! Don't know how well they sold, though.

And also, if you guys are selling guitars, consider it concert or demo time! Have at least one person on staff willing to play some renaissance music every so often.

Having lower priced items for sale is a necessity for reasons mentioned by Writer78.

Good luck - let us know what you come up with! I'm so inspired I'm going to check out a local renny faire next week and see what they have going these days!


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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2006 06:50:07 PM »

I have only been to a single Renn Faire in my lifetime (was drug there by a friend). One of the only things I remember about the experience (with the exception of it being riduculously hot and seeing some interesting magic tricks), were these incredibly neat "hair sticks". They were ornamented and just intrigued the heck outt me. The women selling the wares would show a person how to wear them, and she had a wide variety available for purchase.

At the time, I didn't have much money to spare, so I merely drooled at them.

I still think about them to this day.

How about some ornamented hair sticks? Smiley


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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2006 06:59:26 AM »

"I'm sure I could at least put leatherwork kits together."

Leather items tend to be popular at faires.

"I am pretty concerned about the tough crowd"

Don't be worried.  Just make what you're good at, and know that you are reaching out to a different "market" - the casual attendee - rather than the hardcore history buff.

"I was thinking about some ribbon-y hair wreaths...do you think the market is flooded with those?"

Not in my experience, at the faires I've attended.  I think wreaths usually do well.

"And food hadn't even occurred to me! Do you think I need a special permit for that?"

Probably - definitely something to clear with the faire people before you decide to do it.

"The other thing that I was thinking about was growing some tiny pots of herbs.  Do you think that they would sell? What should the pots look like?"

Hard to say; I'm not really a plant person.  It's not something I've seen much at faires.  Think in terms of the person carrying their purchase around the faire all day in hot/sunny weather; items that are smaller or wearable are good ideas.

By the way, what faire are you going to?  If they have a website, try clicking around and finding hte "Vendors" link to see who is selling.  You could also look up other faires and look at their vendor lists to see what kind of shops are common.  I attend the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin; you can find it through a google search.

please keep us informed!  I'm really intrigued to hear what you come up with and how it sells!

« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2006 07:46:20 AM »

I think the hair ribbon wreath thing is kind of over done or at least it was 10 years ago. And unless you can provide a better product for cheaper than the last vendor, I'd give it a miss.
But really, you need to go to a faire and see what's there and what isn't. If you don't see any hair wreaths like the kind you want to make, go ahead and make some!

Writer 78 nailed it with the little potted plants idea - they're probably too hard to carry around without spilling the contents. Dried herbs might be something to consider, though.

Pomanders might be a possibility...usually they're made with either lemons or oranges and have lots of cloves stuck in them in neat patterns (like lutes or guitars, hint hint)
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