This term I’ve taken part for the first time in a number of makers markets. The first of these was with Nam at Tiny Rebel’s Autumn Makers Market in Cardiff town centre (Nov 25th), the second was at CSAD’s School of Management as part of the fundraising for our degree show catalogue with the rest of the course (Dec 5th), and the third was last Saturday at the Cardiff Quakers Meeting room organised by Hannah (Dec 8th).
Carlota, a graduate from the CSAD fine art course had set up the autumn makers market at Tiny Rebel. It was a successful day and exciting to see the public engaging with the work. Sharing a table with Nam and her co-worker Richard my first time helped calm my nerves. There was lots to remember – boxes to display the work on, a cash float, scissors, sellotape, bubblewrap, paper bags, business cards, price tags…I was worried I would forget something. The venue itself was cosy and not very big although unfortunately Tiny Rebel weren’t able to advertise outside their premises except through social media so most of the visitors had heard about the market online or through word of mouth.
I felt that my work (a mixture of different sized functional stoneware storage jars and bowls) was in the higher price range for this kind of event. Most people appeared to be buying things that were £10 or less, especially stickers and cards. My jars ranged from £26 to £60 while the bowls were £15 to £30, prices I had decided on after a last-minute tutorial with Natasha the week before. I’m happy with the prices I’ve chosen and so far the public seem to agree that the prices are justified.
Richard’s work sold well and while it was also ceramic, he buys in bisque ware which he decorates with brightly coloured splattered glaze and overglaze, meaning he can afford to price his mugs at £10 while mine were going for £26. For a ceramics student outsourcing in this way feels almost like cheating but then I’m reminded that even Bernard Leach probably didn’t make most of his own pots, although he decorated them. It was a little disheartening to see that the public seemed to see no difference between ceramics which had been handmade from a lump of clay and ceramics which had been decorated but not made by the artist. It made me think about how much of my work I would be happy to outsource either to industrial manufacturers or other makers.
I suppose I already outsource the processing of the clay and glaze materials, I’m also happy to use tools that I’ve bought or that have been made by others. The enjoyment I get from the process of throwing and control over the form is too much for me to compromise though.
The Quaker’s Market this weekend was a little different – a three hour market over lunch time instead of a whole day. We were made to feel very welcome in the ground floor meeting room and regularly supplied with mince pies, tea and hot mulled apple. I had positive feedback about my work although again I felt my work was the highest priced of everything in the room. Rather than art college graduates and craftspeople this was more of a second-hand shop with an Avon sale and a few craftspeople. I managed to make over £200 from these two markets but in order to work out if these kinds of events can be lucrative I need to work out how much I’m spending on materials, firing, transport costs, business cards, wrapping etc. I hope to take part in more makers markets in the new year but with smaller, cheaper items such as eggcups, plates, lemon juicers and plant pots. I had visitors asking me if I made vases and jugs too so perhaps adapting my products to the desire of the public can encourage me to try out new forms.
Our collaborative mug sale at the CSAD Christmas Market was organised through the Centre for Entrepreneurship. Yixia and I liaised with Giorgia to secure a couple of tables and I put together a rota so we would have students manning the stall add day. Luckily none of the makers markets have required me to pay to be there (Richard paid our £15 for the Tiny Rebel stand and the Quakers only suggested a donation of 10%) but I realise that usually the cost of the tradestand would need to be deducted from the overall profit.
I lowered the price of my mugs from £26 to £18 since this market is aimed at students. A number of us from L6 had made mugs for the sale and we made a total of about £130 from the day. Unfortunately we hadn’t realised we would have also been allowed to sell on the Friday of that week too so that’s something to look out for in future.