On May 12, 2014
Last weekend was the quarterly, local Holistic Festival. Though I hadn’t attended in years, not since renting my last table, it somehow still holds me in its warm grip. The people are kind, the energy inviting and the creativity easily contagious. Unable to attend, the notice I received about the event managed to stir up in me a few memories of the bygone days of craft shows, both as a vendor and consumer. And, as is always the case when one of these festival dates arrive around the calendar bend, I’m reminded of a particular instance when my wire wrapping was still a budding possibility and hadn’t yet rolled around in the soft sounds of its own voice, and another vendor (who I imagine felt he was doing myself, himself and the crafting community as a whole a great service) approached me and my work with criticism.
“Your prices are undercutting mine.”
“You should be wrapping in sterling silver or gold. Everything else is substandard.”
“Copper makes your work look cheap.”
Mild discouragement with the first comment. Then, with his second, doubt began to tip-toe towards the gods of good reason and push them over the edge of my own self-consciousness, one by one, each screaming an echoing, sad refrain. But the third…. the third made me angry. And with that anger, I smiled sweetly at him, thanked him for his advice and continued to work. Because the only ways to silence the criticisms of others is to either shut your ears to them, or (in cases in which they are intended with a good heart) take them and endeavor to learn from them. In this case, I endeavored to learn. And I learned sometimes people have opinions founded in nothing but their own prejudice and selfishness. Sometimes, they’re rude, and push beyond the boundaries of polite conversation. Sometimes, despite my lack of experience, I do know better.
That day, I found a voice, and my work listened to it and flung open its petals at the sound.
Thanks random rude craft show guy! Your criticism was worth something after all, and I’m glad I was strong enough to find that worth. But, finding the worth in words such as those is of secondary concern to having them even been uttered at all. So, with that in mind, here is my list of things, as a vendor or consumer, you just don’t say or do at a craft show or creative event, and still remain in the company of polite and pleasant individuals.
This list is certainly not all-inclusive, and if you have any suggestions for those looking to attend a craft show, please feel free to add them in the comments below!
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