Its Been Different This Year

2015, has been a very trying year for me. So much has happened. I moved from North Central Montana to Southwest Montana, my Mom died, and so did a friend of mine. This was the first time that I can remember that I have lost two people in one year. Work has not been the most pleasant adventure for me. I took on a janitorial contract early in January and have been having some issues with the client. I don’t know why people demand a contract, when they aren’t even going to read it before they sign it. I had to take on a job as the place I moved to is rather expensive to live. Unfortunately by doing so, Craftingmontana.com has suffered and for that I appologize. I hate not being able to work on Craftingmontana.com by bringing new pictures of handmade products I have on hand to the store, and to write articles, or maybe for once a story or a poem highlighting one of the various products that I have for purchase on the site.

My sister and I had decided some time back, that an ecommerce website for all the handycraft things I made to pass the time of day for the first five years of being disabled, could be a way for me to supplement my SSDI. Since then my disability has improved some, I no longer require a service dog to be out in public (my adventures really don’t go past grocery shopping or going to work in an empty building now). The level of other issues involved do limit my ability to perform traditional jobs and to tolerate certain environments and personalities long term, still leave a lot to be desired. The janitorial contract that I am currently working through has proven to me that the limitations are real.

It is my plan for the future of this site to turn the shop section into a flipbook catalog, I am also going to get rid of the Guest crafter, apparently I don’t generate enough traffic for that as of yet. The articles will become consistent at least, and if I can I am hoping to find a couple of people who would be willing to film some tutorials. Earlier this week I went out to another sister’s house and she taught me how to can deer meat, one of my childhood favorite foods. Canning your own food is another craft that is slowly going by the wayside. That would have been an interesting tutorial don’t you agree? If you have any suggestions, those of you who are human and land here for whatever reason, if you would leave suggestions for me I would really appreciate it.

I am hoping to supplement my income and I know that I need your help to do so. After all if I have no customers then I have no store. I have finally found a way to model the hats, and scarves better and have been working on my lighting so that the pictures will be easier to see what it is you are getting for your money. Yes my prices are low, but that is because the items are pretty simple right now, and I have been living in poverty for so long that I know it is hard to afford all those birthday presents for relatives, and children’s birthday parties, as well as for Christmas. I enjoy making these items and many more, I like variety and after making 10 or so Arm knitted cowls, I might do some simple seed bead necklaces or earrings, or crochet a cowboy hat or two. To make the beeswax and parifin candles is an all day process that is difficult to do in the small apartment I live in now. I want to start cutting glass and offering candle holders, juice glasses and more candles in containers as well. I have all this wonder pure beeswax I want to use up. The repetition to continue making some items over and over is far to taxing on my hands so I need to change the actions I am taking.

I know nothing about marketing on the internet and certainly don’t understand traffic either. I have seen others prey upon others in ways that are far from honest on the internet, and I have seen others provide top notch service and products as well. Me, I am providing simple, unique, handmade items that make great gifts without having to spend a fortune for. I am a simple person, just trying to boost my income so that I can meet my bills, and maybe put a little away for something whenever it shows up. Any suggestions for Craftingmontana.com, help, or purchases you may make are all greatly appreciated and warmly welcomed.

Remember, Keep On Crafting Montana!

Sewing Bee Needle Sharpener
DON’T FORGET TO WAX YOUR SKIS!

Are Farmer’s Markets Worth It

I applied for and am selling some of my craft items at the Farmer’s Market here in Great Falls, Montana.  Though the booth rental is very reasonable, I am wondering if it is really worth standing around for six hours waiting for the right customers to come buy and purchase.

I am only doing every other weekend, as I have a few physical complications and it takes me about three days to be able to function properly after a Market day.  Remember you have to load your wares, displays, tables, canopy and personal stuff into your vehicle the night before.  Then when you get to the Market before the Rooster crows you must unload and set everything up usually within one to two hours before the Market starts.  Our Market lasts for four hours and then we get to pack everything up, tear it all down and load it into the car for the ride home.  Once I get home it usually takes me a couple of days to unload everything because once again I have some physical issues.  The worst part is lifting the cinder blocks in and out of the trunk of my car so many times.

Now, I know I am not going to get rich selling my products at the Farmer’s Market or even selling them online, but at least online I have eliminated the difficult task of hauling everything down to the market and then back home again.    My first Saturday of selling my display looked like this:

My First Saturday at the Great Falls, Montana Farmer's Market
My First Saturday at the Great Falls, Montana Farmer’s Market

I know the short table with all the cowls looks rather sloppy, but I wasn’t sure how it would work out, as a couple of other people were suppose to have sent items of theirs to be sold as well, but backed out two nights before.  It rained for six hours, the whole time I was there, so the crowd was not as large as it usually is.

The vendors around me were very helpful, as I set my canopy up on the grass and started to put every thing out on the table.  They told me I wouldn’t get any traffic there, as they all set their displays out on the pavement.  They graciously helped me move everything and gave me a few more tips on where to set the tables.

This last market I did I was in a different space, closer to the entrance and closer to the food vendors.  It was a windy day, but not a drop of rain.  My display looked pretty much the same.  There was a larger crowd and my sales had increased thanks to my two Aunties who purchased two arm knitted cowls and wore them as they strolled through the Market.  They were asked where they got them and they shared where my booth was.

SOLD
SOLD

I had lots of interest in the cowls and candles.  Those who stopped by had plenty of compliments and suggestions for me.  I plan on incorporating some of them into the third market I will attend.  I also went to visit my Aunts the day after the market to ask their advice on my display and pricing.  They, and my Uncle gave me some tips on the display and prices as well as how I might make my product a little bit different than  some of the similar wares being sold by other vendors.

I cleared six dollars my first market and increased that to over $50 the second market.  I like how the Great Falls Farmer’s Market charges a percentage of your sales and not a flat rate that would make it almost impossible for a first time vendor to make any kind of profit.  Right now I would have to say Farmer’s Markets take more work than the money generated, but I did give out a lot of cards with my web store address on them and gained a lot of knowledge that can only be acquired through hands on experience.  Are Farmer’s Markets worth it?  Well, that is hard to say.  If you are only looking for ready cash:  if you sell good food, or produce you are in luck.  If you are selling craft items, I would say your first year will be a struggle until enough Market goers find you and become familiar with your work.  Also the more unique your craft is the better chance you have of picking up customers right away.

I am not able to sell my jewelry at the Farmer’s Market, as they have a lot of vendors who do sell jewelry so be sure to take into consideration what you are selling and do they have enough of those types of vendors.  You can only get my simple seed bead jewelry here at the web store, but the candles and arm knitted cowls you can stop by the Farmer’s Market and pick them up as well as ordering of the net.

Remember, Keep On Crafting Montana.

 

101 Uses for BeesWax

I was just at a craft show the other night (the first one I have done in 20 years), when I was asked, “What do you use these Beeswax bars and disks for?  Are they good for Hockey sticks?”  Of course my reply was yes.  I also told them how you could use the bar for unsticking drawers and zippers.  Latter when I got home I started thinking about all the other ways one can use beeswax.  I spent the last four hours finding 101 ways that beeswax can be used in different ways.  Not all of them can be done by the individual, but they are ways that beeswax are used in the past or still today.

1) Lubricant for very old furniture joints.

2) Smooth movement for doors and windows.

3) Component for mustache creams.

4) Prevents bronze items from tarnishing.

5) Use as a rust prevention.

6) Furniture polish when mixed with linseed oil and mineral spirits in equal parts.

7) covering cheeses and preservatives to protect from spoilage.

8) Conditioner for wood bowls and cutting boards.

9) Coat nails and screws to prevent wood from splintering.

10) Used by NASA with an enzyme to mop up oceanic oil spills.

11) Cake guitar bodies to boost longevity.

12) Coat tambourine surfaces for thumb roll playing technique.

13) Coat reeds for woodwinds to get a tight fit.

14) Egg painting in a Ukraine folk art of Pysanky.

15) An essential ingredient in Indian art of fabric dyeing called Batik printing.

16) Candles that don’t drip and have no smoke.

17) In candy like gummy bears, worms and jelly beans.

18) To water proof leather.

19) Molten beeswax to polish granite counter tops.

20) To make crayons.

21) With palm oil for soap.  The palm oil reduces scars and the wax a natural moisturizer.

22) Mix with palm wax for a natural hair remover.

23) To reduce bow string friction.

24) on whips to water proof.

25) in bullets.

26) With comfery and chick weed powder to alleviate itching.

27) Wire pulling.

28) Sewing to strengthen the thread and prevent snagging.

29) To fill seams between pieces of slate when setting up a pool table.

29) Plucking the feathers from fowl.

30) As a flexible mold for a variety of mediums.

31) Jewelry.

32) Clean your clothes Iron.

33) In glass Etching.

34) Encausting Painting.

35) To make earplugs.

36) Ear Candling.

37) When fashioning Dreadlocks.

38) To make Dental floss.

39) For cracked animal hooves.

40) When making cosmetics.

41) When making chocolates.

42) Copper sinks.

43) Removing previous waxes.

44) In Blacksmithing.

45) Basketry.

46) To coat Baking pans for smooth exit of goods.

47) To coat the hemp strings on Bag Pipes.

48) To make balms.

49) Barbecue preparation.

50) When making healing salves, creams and ointments.

51) Use in pharmaceuticals.

53) In manufacturing of electronic components and CDs.

54) As a polish for shoes and floors.

56) To unsticking drawers.

57) Keep zippers moving smoothly.

58) To water proof boots and saddles.

59) To coat hand tools to prevent rust.

60) To lower cholesterol, ulcers, diarrhea and hiccups.

69) To relief pain, swelling (inflammation)

70) In beverages.

71) In manufacturing as a thickener or emulsifier.

72) In fragrances in perfumes.

73) To seal documents.

74) An ingredient in surgical bone wax.

75) Blended with pine rosin to serve as an adhesive.

77) A metal injection molding binder component.

76) In the embalming process.

78) As a stabilizer in the military explosive Torpex.

79) To coat hemp strands – an alternative use to lighters.

80) A natural Air purifier.

81) Glazing of fruits and vegetables.

82) Chewing beeswax can help quit the habit of smoking.

83) As a hair pom-pay.

84) Grafting plants.

85) In the restoration of pictures.

86) Wax fly fishing lines so they float.

87) To keep saws sharp.

88) Grinding and polishing of optical lenses.

89) Used in crafting of dentures and other dental equipment.

90) To seal and polish smoke fired pottery.

91) Used on snow skies for a good glide.

92) Used for base ring for toilets (in the past).

93) Used to cover a broken wire on braces until you get to your orthodontist.

95) To prevent stretch marks.

96) Saturate cardboard with beeswax and use as a fuel for a backpackers fuel for stove.

97) Beeswax candle as emergency heat when trapped in a car or small space.

98) Temporary filling until you can see your dentist.

99) To seal stick matches to stay dry when boating, fishing or skiing.

100) To prevent slippage for belts in vacuums and sewing machines.

101) As a wood filler.

That is what I was able to come up with.  Some of these items we will explore on this site as an activity to do.  Some of them I don’t really want to try like embalming or making explosives.  If you know of other uses for beeswax let me know, maybe we can try to create it here together.

The next time you see a bar of beeswax pick it up, you never know it just may save your life or your favorite pair of jeans from the rag bag.  You can always order a bar here for only $1.75 (plus shipping and handling), and look at all the things you can use that little bar of beeswax for.  What a sound investment to make and at a price everyone can afford.

Keep on crafting Montana.