Saturday, October 20, 2012

Studio Saturday with Rebecca of Songbeads

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.
This weeks winner is Melinda Abrahamson.
You have won a Skully pendant pendant from Melanie of Earthenwood Studios
Send Melanie an e-mail with your address and she will get it right out to you.
This week we visit the studio of Rebecca Anderson of Songbeads

As you read this, I will be at The Big Bead Show in Surrey, teaching three classes to a variety of beaders from all over the UK. I know some of the people who are coming along and needless to say, I am both excited to meet my beady friends and also a little daunted that I will be teaching my very talented friends!

But life continues on in Songbead Studio - I'll be returning home to Manchester this evening as I have a local craft show tomorrow. I'm also preparing for an exciting event on the 4th November - The Handmade Show in Perth, back home in Scotland. I took part in this show last year, and the quality of the exhibitors was astounding - I felt so very lucky and honoured to be a part of it. The people of Perth came out in droves to shop handmade, and I'm hoping it will be more of the same this year! 

I wanted to share a little bit about how my stand has changed over the past 18 months since I started selling my jewellery at craft fairs. Here's a shot of that first craft fair, back in May 2011.

As you can see, so many craft fair no-nos going on here - virtually no props, no height, jewellery not displayed well AT ALL. But can you believe it, I did OK, and my jewellery selling craft fair journey was underway!

Here's a weekend show I did this summer - The Folksy Fair in Sheffield (Folksy's a British handmade market place, like Etsy or ArtFire). You can see things were pretty different! It was my first outdoor show with a booth, so that was a whole new challenge. I borrowed the tent from a friend, so I got what I was given (dark green!) but if I continue to do these on a more frequent basis, I will be investing in a white one.

And here is what my new stand is shaping up to be. I was happy enough with my old look but I realised that in order to achieve things that were important to me, like height and spacing between items, I needed a big change. I have been collecting things such as crates and random wooden items over the past 6 months and although what you can see below is not the finished article, hopefully at the show tomorrow we can tweek and perfect as necessary. 

If you take part in craft fairs........What top tips do you have for creating a beautiful jewellery display?
If you don't sell your work yet, what do you like to see as a customer?

Leave a comment to be in with a chance of 
winning a pair of my Om Earrings in the colour of your choice.

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer and singer, currently living in Manchester, England. You can read more about beads and singing at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at


CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

My number 1 tip is to raise the height of your table! Table risers make customers linger longer!

m.e. said...

I LOVE the look of your newest setup !
Attractive and user friendly.
Sometimes I am intimidated by gorgeous artsy displays.
I'm afraid I'll mess it up if I touch something!
To be honest,I'm more like to buy from a flat folksy table like you first photo than one that is that looks like a display for a magazine ad.
Is there a secret to finding that balance between terrific and touchable ?
m.e. :)

Alice said...

Rebecca, I love the wood table in your first photo. Like you, I've been wanting to change my display and have started collecting crates and other vintage things. It's slow going for me as there are not many shops around here for such things.

I love your new set-up, which is just fabouous! I can see customers flocking to it. I can't wait to see the final reveal.

As for displaying jewelry, I've learned there should be some empty space between displays for the eye to rest upon, and to make it less cluttered.

Your earrings are just lovely!!! I would be thrilled to win them.

Lois Moon said...

As a customer I like to be able to look at the pieces without feeling overwhelmed. Just like white space in a document, I like a little downtime for my eye so crowding makes it difficult for me to see the pieces.

Your latest display has evolved well. Similar types of pieces are grouped, but there is plenty of variety in height and type of display that it is interesting. I really like that you are mainly using wood and glass as props. They do not distract from your work and are a great neutral background which allows the gorgeous colors in you pieces to pop.

Sometimes I see beautiful ceramic dishes or wonderful vintage dodads used for display, but they can be distracting. Even in the small photo I can zero in on the colors and shapes that appeal to me. Bravo!

Cyndi J said...

I love the new display. Really like how the props create a mini wall with all the interesting nooks and crannies. Looks really cohesive.

I'm afraid that I don't set up anything interesting. I use necklace stands to display most necklaces. No props because I don't have room for them. Mostly I do open houses (held one last night).

And your Om earrings are spectacular.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

Beautiful tables! I really like all of your wooden boxes. I just did a show (arts and music festival) last weekend. My advice is to create a unique environment; make your booth/table/space so visually interesting that people just have to come in and take a look!

The earrings are gorgeous!

Gale said...

Thanks for sharing your evolving display. I need some inspiration in that department! As a buyer (who'd have to go home early if I had to bend too much), I'd really appreciate that added height. And as for those earrings, the green is just beautiful!

Emily said...

Personally I don't really care what booths look like as long as there's lots of things for sale for me to look at. I thought your first craft fair table was simple and charming. I like the others too! Just that for me it doesn't really matter. I just want to get my hands on the goods so to speak, ha! I do think that your newest booth is absolutely impressive. I think that I might be distracted by the books some though, I like to read too. Maybe I'd buy a book AND a necklace? lolol

I have to say though, the biggest thing for me is a welcoming seller. Smile at me, say hello, tell me about your jewelry! I loooove beads and jewelry! I want to hear all about it! It's hard for me to approach people because I'm shy, so if the seller just takes two seconds to even just smile at me it's so much easier. Oh, and give me a business card with a web address!! I do almost all my shopping at home and only have so much money to bring to craft fairs, if I like you-I can almost guarantee I'll shop from you later when I get more money. :)

Emily said...

I don't really mind what a person's booth looks like as long as there's lots of stuff for me to look at. I think the biggest thing for me is when the seller says hello to me and smiles. I'm quite shy and it's hard for me to approach strangers. I like it when sellers point out their pieces and tell me about their stuff, enthusiasm is contagious! And please give me a business card with your web address on it even if I don't buy anything. I do a lot of shopping online but can only bring so much money to a craft fair. If I like you, I will definitely shop from you later when I get more money. :)

I have to say though, your newest booth is very impressive. I think I'd be distracted by the books though (I like to read too). Maybe I could buy a book AND a necklace? lol!

Erin S said...

I don't sell at craft fairs, but I love to go to craft fairs and check out other people's work. Creative displays make products so much more inviting than just just stuff spread out on a table top.
Beautiful earrings--I'd love to win those!

Lynda said...

I too am looking to add more interest and ease of view by adding some height to my booth display. I have several cardboard boxes that I put under my table cloth...then, try to artistically 'drape' the cloth over these. My earring racks go on top of these higher places on the table. Instead of an expensive table cloth, I found a large, neutral print bed sheet that gives me plenty of options for accessorizing and draping on different size tables.
Love these gorgeous earrings!

Saraccino said...

I really like your newest setup! The colours and structures brings out your jewelery really beautiful!

My tip would only be: Love and like the things you are using. I find special things at fleamarkets or other opportunities and seeing them I know I want to use them as displays :)

It is like the jewelery itself: showing a part of your own personality and style.

But I have to say I am very careful only to take things which are not too big to store and are light weight. I don't have a car so others are taking me or I am using my bike with a bike trailer :)

Elaine said...

One thing that has helped has been improving my signage and tagging. The more I work on it, the easier I sell.

Also, not only business cards but I have little leaflets about clay and about handmade.

KayzKreationz said...

I don't do craft fairs with my jewelry yet. Don't really have enough items. But I like an eclectic and vintage look, both in the jewelry and the displays. Love your crates.

lamplight crafts said...

Something to remember also: location, location, location. It doesn't do much good to have a great display if no one knows where you are located. But what you have now is great.

TesoriTrovati said...

Great booth space Miss Rebecca! I only do this one show a year and you saw what I did. I like to vary heights. Having those closet doors turned into shelves and the chalkboard clipboards for the necklaces was actually sort of genius. So many people complimented me on it. I like to have things in my booth that are interesting but stick with my theme, my style. I think that you have a very cohesive look! Good luck! I wish that I could win those pretty earrings. I hope you will be making more. I would love to buy a pair if you would make me one! Enjoy the day! Erin

My Life Under the Bus said...

LOVE your newest display Rebecca!!! I have learned nuetral works best for me when I started I wanted to mix colors and patterns but I find the nuetral back drop really let's the jewelry shine. Past 2 shows I put some very inexpensive stud earrings next to my checkout with some candy. I can't tell you how many little girls came into my booth, took the candy, saw the earrings, then went back and got their mom ( who bought more expensive jewelry) - I could kick myself for not doing it before!

Valerie said...

I like your newest display! The neutral colors are nice for showing off your designs. I do 5-6 shows a year and a couple of my best tips would be to vary the height of displays, use neutral display colors and make sure everything is priced. Thanks for the chance to win your beautiful earrings!

Melinda A said...

This is a fantastic subject. I have my first show next weekend and have been obsessing about my setup.

Thanks for all the awesome tips, ladies.

Thanks, also to Rebecca for sharing pictures. The second set up is much more refined but still has the artsy, shabby chic feel. I am likely going to look more like the first setup, fingers crossed. But you have given me something new to aspire to :)

Rebecca said...

Haha! How funny - I should have been more clear - this set up is in our spare/music room or library! There will be no books in the real thing :-)

Joanna-Gloria said...

I love your display!!
I don't sell my jewellery yet but as a customer, I like to be able to see all the pieces without difficulty (i.e. overcrowded display that tires the eye) and I always appreciate an artistic/personal touch to the presentation.


DESPINA said...

As a customer (I don't sell my pieces in public yet) I like well organized, defined spaces, color and a general style/concept in a presentation.
After all, handmade jewellery is an art form and their presentation should have an artistic feel, too.
I have seen wonderful presentations with inexpensive materials (like cheese grinders painted into pastel colors, paper bags, etc) that were absolutely great.


Mary Harding said...

Rebecca I love your earrings. Your displays are great. If you don't really have books you could hang a banner with a photo of the books. It does make a great environment for jewelry. i don't do a lot of shows but am getting ready for our Art Council's Studio Tour. I like to display pendants in a small printers type drawer. I use rice or lentils in the little boxes to raise up the pendants and to support them. I always get lots of comments about this method of display and it seems to draw in customers. Love your jewelry. it is so festive and lively.

Cece Cormier said...

The new display looks great. I don't usually sell at craft fairs, but have a few smaller cases in our gift shop. I'd suggest some type of lighting set up and always clearly price each item. It also helps to have multiples of items so customers feel like they have choices.

graypeape said...

I really like your display, it has nice texture & visual interest without overwhelming your wares! It's spaced nicely, no crowding, each piece easily seen, but also nicely full.The use of simple props is good- you do want something pretty, but you don't want it to be distracting. All it needs is a mirror- once the customer sees how pretty something will look on her, she'll be hooked ;) I would definitely be drawn to your display!


Anonymous said...

#1 vertical display
#2 ready to go packaging

Rebecca said...

@graypeape, I'm there already, I do have a mirror! It sits off to one side and is hand held, so I didn't include it in this mock set up. Good point though!

Jess Green said...

I haven't had the courage to try selling my stuff at a fair yet! Beyond selling a few pieces to frinds and family I haven't ventured too far into the business side of jewellery making. I've had an offer to start selling at festivals next year though so I had better get planning!

I do love to see a jewellery stall that presents a good range of textures and display ideas, quirky little things (like the lovely bottles in the last photo :). I think a display should look tactile - that way people are more likely to want to come in and start handling your jewellery - one step closer to buying it!

Whimsy said...

I love the set up. Great shabby chic look.

Anonymous said...

I'm preparing for my first show in the spring. I have been building stock and trying to collect props and ideas for my table. I love your set up! It is very visually appealing and makes me want to linger and look! Great job!

Shee Sews said...

This is a fantastic blog and great learning opportunity. I loved reading all the comments. Yes I read them all. I loved your set up when I saw it in your own blog. The set up was very much what I would have expected from having been looking at your amazing jewellery for the last few months. I have not yet participated in any fairs but my other half is trying to encourage me, keeps talking about doing banners for me etc. I will come and have a look at the Perth Show to get a better idea of what to do or not to do lol. From a customers point of view I like being able to browse uninterrupted without feeling that I am being watched, so your stand with the height gives that.

Cynthia said...

Needless to say, your display has evolved quite nicely! I don't sell at shows, but I agree with most of the comments. Hieght is important, and table risers are a great idea. I make mostly dark colored jewelry, so it looks best on light backgrounds, as you have done.
The book shelf is interesting, but also visually busy, so I wouldn't try to recreate that at a show. (my opinion)
Your earrings are stunning, and I would LOVE to win them in any color!

Christine said...

Love your newest set-up - I could linger all day!
I was recently at a show, and the table where you paid was much higher, so you could stand and talk to the artist, and look at a few more of her designs when you were paying.
LOVE your Om earrings!!
Thanks for sharing your display - so many great ideas to borrow from!

Catherine Sorensen said...

Hi Rebecca!

Keeping your display to match but not compete with your style is important along with varying heights of displays so that the customer's eye moves through the whole booth.

I also leave a lot of my jewelry {particularly the sets} in their boxes {lids nestled underneath the box of course} to display them. It helps to separate the different designs, show how unique each is & show off the pretty packaging I use.

Your display looks lovely & those earrings! Beautiful!


Anonymous said...

Hello ! I love your work and this reflexion is a real challenge ! My best choise is the last one : by custumer because my look is vertical and so much natural. And I can see all your work in one "coup d'oeil". Like an art peinting, with a reading from left to right as well. Thank you for this brain-reflexion. Kiss from Swiss, Alys

Hedy said...

When I work at shows, I find that the best place for me to stand is behind my display. This way, I can help customers without getting in the way of other people who want to check out my jewellery. A small work area behind my table allows me to make minor adjustments to my jewellery, if necessary, and gives me a place to wrap up orders and take payment.

I wasn't sure from your photo where you were planning on standing. The back of your display looks quite tall and perhaps a bit solid. You may want to eliminate a few of your crates and simplify your display. Having said that, the style of the display works well with your jewellery. And ... I too, love your Om Earrings!

Best wishes!

Hedy said...

When I work shows, I like to stand behind my display. It's easier for me to help my customers and I don't get in the way of other people who want to look at my jewellery. I also have a small work table in the back so that I can make minor adjustments to my jewellery, if necessary, and to wrap orders and take payment.

From your photo, I wasn't sure where you are planning on standing. Your display looks quite tall and solid. You may want to remove a few of your crates and simplify your display. This would also create some height variation along the back of your table.

Having said that, the style of the display seems to work well with your jewellery. And ... I too, love your Om Earrings!

Best wishes!

CraftyHope said...

Ooooh, I really love how your new display is shaping up. I haven't yet gotten to the craft-fair selling yet.. Though I know that I do want to at some point. As far as what I like to see in other vendors. . .I like the jewelry to be OUT, not encased behind glass so that you can really see the piece. I also like to see a little variety and personality in their set-ups rather than just black and white displays.