musings, pre market launch

The market returns tomorrow, so today has been a blur of findings, muffled curses (why oh why are crimps so liable to roll everywhere, damnit?) and lists. Oh my, the lists. In the flurry to get everything ready in time, I have realised that some of my working habits are here to stay.

– I need everything piled around me. I start off with a bare, pristine work surface, and it quickly becomes piled with strands of beads, pins, findings, buttons, bad sketches on the backs of envelopes. I have tried to fight it, loving the austere work spaces and processes of other artists, but it ain’t gonna happen.

– If I work with silence, music or a film, I tend to work differently. I today discovered Stereomood and to my delight, they have a mix entitled “Let’s Knit”! I’m tempted to put up a few mixes of my own. Music or silence is ideal for my more involved work- if I am doing routine piecework, then it’s box set time.

– I really, really like “One Nation Under A Groove”, and nearly did myself an injury jigging about the kitchen to it early. Note: hot, bubbling liquid and the shaking of one’s thóin do not mix.

– I may knit or crochet on the couch, but for needlework, beading or papercrafts I absolutely must be at a table. Weird.

Fingers crossed that the weather is with us tomorrow. We have endured some pretty tough conditions, but it would be lovely to have an easier start to the year this time.

P.S. Isn’t Mastercrafts so absorbing? Watching the episode on weaving at the moment.

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business or benevolent craftocracy?

Over here, Norma Smurfit is well known for her charity work, hosting events involving the great and the good for donkey’s years. I know that the whole area attracts bile and some fairly valid criticism by turns, but there is no denying that she is exceptionally good at what she does, and obviously feels passionately for the charities benefiting from her events.

Until today, I had no idea that she was involved with microfinancing. First Step does precisely that, offering loans between €5,000 and €25,000 to companies who have difficulties accessing conventional lines of business credit from banks. (And from what I’m hearing, that is a widespread problem lately.) Thank goodness for that, eh?

I looked at the application form, and in several ways I know that I would not be a right fit. Number of employees? One. Number of employees in twelve months? One. Yep, me. I do everything from tagging my bags to making the stuff to doing the promotion, and that’s how it will always be (barring some sort of major coup involving a crazed pack of celebs suddenly taking a liking to felted bags and crystal jewellery, that is).

So, I must ask the question (cue Carrie Bradshaw-esque voiceover and zoom into screen): Am I a crafter, or is this a business?

Perhaps this is a business for the following reasons:

– I act like a professional. I don’t dismiss my competition- I work to be as good and better. Instead of engaging in snarkfests or ‘borrowing’ other people’s ideas, I work hard to make my work distinctive and to come up with my own stuff.

– I have a big fancy shiny till and schtuff. (Joke. I have threatened to get one like this if I ever have a bricks and mortar shop, though, but that’s for another post.)

– I keep records and receipts for everything. It goes back quite a few years and includes entries like “tuppence ha’penny for receipt book and vegetable samosas for elevenses” ;).

But on meeting other crafters, I realise that they are just as professional as any business in the important things- serving customers, charging fair prices, keeping things professional, doing their absolute best. They (like me) just appreciate the flexibility of being able to work at their own times and at their own pace, from their kitchen table or a studio.

Like me, they are keenly aware of the best materials to use for x, what venues are the most suitable for selling, what particular types of goods sell better than others, their cashflow etc. They just feel that keeping things slightly less official (not illegal, mind you! We’re all tax compliant) is a better environment for their work to truly flourish.

what’s on when in 2010

Temple Bar Cultural Trust has just released its events guide for 2010, and you can grab a copy of it here (.pdf). As ye can see, it’s a mix of the old favourite one-off events like the Handel festival and Chocolate Festival, continuing markets (DesignerMart on Cow’s Lane, the food market at Meeting House Square and the book market at Temple Bar Square) and partnered events like the Bealtaine Festival with the No Grants Gallery.

Like I said over on Twitter, it’s great to be part of the change that has taken place in Temple Bar. TB has had such a negative reputation- think Fall of Rome only with more sausage sandwiches and crushed beer cans, if you believe some reports- and it’s great to see that people are noticing its continuing rehabilitation. I see great places like the Gutter Bookshop opening up, or events like ChocFest coming back year after year, and it gives me hope. Our customers at Cow’s Lane are not shy to let us know how happy they are with the change, either.

Come join us! DesignerMart is returning the weekend before St Patrick’s Day and as ever, we would love to see you there. You can expect beautiful stuff, a place to see and be seen, and from yours truly, some free gratis and for nothing Jaffa Cakes. (You see if I don’t.)

down home: Nenagh

On my last visit down home, myself and Maman schlepped to Nenagh for a look around, and I have News(TM) to report:

There’s a wool shop! On Kenyon St!

The proprietor, Sinead Lee, has chosen a lovely mix of yarns, and stocks a full range of notions including some very cute buttons- I love a woman with taste. If you’re in the area, walk down Kenyon St until you see a basket of wool on the pavement and go through the corridor to your left. It’s a small shop in behind Lee Auctioneers.

On a related gratuitous plug woolly note, I am delighted to see Hanly’s Woollen Mills going strong. I’ve noticed their range of blankets, throws and scarves have been receiving plenty of attention of late. It’s hardly a surprise, really- if you take a look at design blogs and magazines, the desire to create a cosy, intimate space has never really left, even if all those minimalist, biscuit-coloured apartments got all the headlines :). You can take a look at their shop here. I am really tempted by the mohair blankets, myself!

Life in Tipperary continues apace. Like everywhere else in the country, it has taken a battering, but Tipperarians are full of good humour and great ideas, and they will make it through. It felt good to see that contrary to reports, rumours of rural Ireland’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

So, if you’ll pardon me putting my Discover The Feckin’ Fabilis Mid-Wesht Tourist Board: North Tipperary Division hat on, if you’re in Nenagh and have a few hours and/ or shekels to spare, give the following a try:

I am a Tipperarian and as such, I run best on a decently full stomach. Foodwise in Nenagh, you can’t go wrong with The Pantry in Quentin’s Way (just off Pearse St). Order yourself a Veggie Hot Belly. And by the way, you’re welcome ;). I also love Cinnamon Alley for a quick bite- the squidgiest cakes this side of the Danube! Country Choice is a lovely spot- it gets totally jammed in the afternoons but is well worth it. Take a look at their beautiful artisan products while you’re at it. If you still have room, try Quigley’s Bakery on Kenyon St for their white chocolate and raspberry muffin with a pot of tea. In the evening, give Roots a try- their apple, walnut and goat’s cheese salad is heavenly.

Otherwise on my travels, I noticed a new shop called Eclectic Mix open in Kenyon St, which stocks the loveliest range of clothing, children’s toys, jewellery, pottery and other bits, and I cannot forget my favourite old reliable The Watch Centre, the place I’ve gone to since I was a wee wain for presents and the like. McCarneys is an absolute treasure trove- it’s been a ritual since I was a young ‘un to press my nose up against the window and gaze in at their new finds. And in fairness, they only had me arrested once for doing that, and a lot of that was my own fault.

If you’ve got longer to spend in the area, take to the hills- Silvermines, I mean. The views are balm to a weary soul. The castle is still under scaffolding, alas, but once it’s done, it is well worth a look. If you’re a walker, you are in luck in this part of the world- no savage hills, but plenty of amazing views. Slightly further afield you have Terryglass, Garrykennedy and beyond that Killaloe- well worth your time.

By no means is this an exhaustive list- more like the edited highlights. Still though, they always say to ask a local, don’t they?