The Ups and Downs of Craft Fairs

  • By Lizzie Masters
  • 23 Nov, 2016
Hello again.  Its been a while since I published a post so I thought Id better pop in and catch up with you all.  As Christmas fast approaches, (too fast for my liking), here at Glassy Towers we have been busy working away creating lots of pretty makes for gifts and decorations.  We are also attending a lot of craft fairs and it got me thinking about what I expect from a craft fair and what the public see.

Ive been attending fairs for about four years now and its becoming increasingly obvious that the title "Craft Fair" is very often quite ambiguous given that only about 50% of items at some of the fairs are actually handmade.  As every crafter will know being at an event where you are competing against mass produced items or against other sellers who are only hobbyists can be pretty defeating.  Especially as those people charge so little for their work.  This then affects the sales of genuine business' such as our own because we cannot compete with such low prices.  All the materials, time and overheads have to be taken into consideration when pricing an item otherwise there is little point in being in business.  Sadly those people who charge so little for their items are giving the impression that the work that we produce is overpriced.  So if you are looking to purchase items at craft sales then please do consider the following:

As a small business our overheads include material costs, the price of glass has risen by 12 and a half percent this year alone.  The other materials involved in creating your piece will be solder, flux (a chemical used to allow the solder to flow on stained glass pieces), copper foil, glass paint, my time at the minimum wage, the cost of electricity to operate the glass kilns and last but by no means least the cost of Public Liability Insurance.

I am rarely asked by the organisers of fairs I go to if I hold Public Liability Insurance.  I do but how many of these other sellers are genuinely insured and covered against the damages that they may face if sued by a purchaser who may be injured by a piece they have made.  All crafters attending fairs should be, by law, covered by insurance.

The other issue is that of copyright.  Images, wording and logos are all covered by copyright and by making pieces with these on you are breaking the law.  Again, I see so many stallholders ignoring this issue.

So I would urge anyone who is considering organising a Craft Fair to seek the following from the applicants for stalls.
Please ask for proof of insurance, please do not accept stallholders who are in breach of copyright with their goods and please do not accept stallholders who are not selling handmade items. 

And finally if you are attending a craft event coming up to Christmas please do not buy copyrighted items, do not buy items that are ridiculously cheap because you are probably buying from unlicenced and uninsured sellers who are not professionals. 

I realise that all the above has probably left you feeling a bit disheartened about buying handmade and I'm sorry if you feel Ive been ranting a little but I hope its given you an insight into what to expect when making a purchase. 

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at The Glass Dragonfly


Glass by the Sea

By Lizzie Masters 23 Nov, 2016
Hello again.  Its been a while since I published a post so I thought Id better pop in and catch up with you all.  As Christmas fast approaches, (too fast for my liking), here at Glassy Towers we have been busy working away creating lots of pretty makes for gifts and decorations.  We are also attending a lot of craft fairs and it got me thinking about what I expect from a craft fair and what the public see.

Ive been attending fairs for about four years now and its becoming increasingly obvious that the title "Craft Fair" is very often quite ambiguous given that only about 50% of items at some of the fairs are actually handmade.  As every crafter will know being at an event where you are competing against mass produced items or against other sellers who are only hobbyists can be pretty defeating.  Especially as those people charge so little for their work.  This then affects the sales of genuine business' such as our own because we cannot compete with such low prices.  All the materials, time and overheads have to be taken into consideration when pricing an item otherwise there is little point in being in business.  Sadly those people who charge so little for their items are giving the impression that the work that we produce is overpriced.  So if you are looking to purchase items at craft sales then please do consider the following:

As a small business our overheads include material costs, the price of glass has risen by 12 and a half percent this year alone.  The other materials involved in creating your piece will be solder, flux (a chemical used to allow the solder to flow on stained glass pieces), copper foil, glass paint, my time at the minimum wage, the cost of electricity to operate the glass kilns and last but by no means least the cost of Public Liability Insurance.

I am rarely asked by the organisers of fairs I go to if I hold Public Liability Insurance.  I do but how many of these other sellers are genuinely insured and covered against the damages that they may face if sued by a purchaser who may be injured by a piece they have made.  All crafters attending fairs should be, by law, covered by insurance.

The other issue is that of copyright.  Images, wording and logos are all covered by copyright and by making pieces with these on you are breaking the law.  Again, I see so many stallholders ignoring this issue.

So I would urge anyone who is considering organising a Craft Fair to seek the following from the applicants for stalls.
Please ask for proof of insurance, please do not accept stallholders who are in breach of copyright with their goods and please do not accept stallholders who are not selling handmade items. 

And finally if you are attending a craft event coming up to Christmas please do not buy copyrighted items, do not buy items that are ridiculously cheap because you are probably buying from unlicenced and uninsured sellers who are not professionals. 

I realise that all the above has probably left you feeling a bit disheartened about buying handmade and I'm sorry if you feel Ive been ranting a little but I hope its given you an insight into what to expect when making a purchase. 

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at The Glass Dragonfly

By Lizzie Masters 05 Sep, 2016
Hello again!  Well I think the title says it all really.  The summer holidays are over and now the younger dragonflies are back at school and sixth form, it really is time to knuckle down and start thinking about designs for this year's Christmas deccies.   I'm producing a stained glass Christmas angel in two sizes and designs as well as the little fused glass hangers Ive been making up.  I'm also working on snowflakes and Christmas trees.  So I think that should be enough to be going on with.  Admin Vicki will be adding the new designs into the web shop as we go and you will find everything under the Christmas section. 

I have a lot of craft fairs booked for November and December, I think I have one every week.  Do check up on the Craft Fair dates section at the top of the website to see where I am going to be. 

Miss Willow doggy is growing up fast and is now five months old.  She is a beautiful dog with such a lovely temperament and has made lots of friends both doggy and human alike at our local park.  Mr Max who is 13 is very tolerant of her and all the attention she receives.  As I speak Miss Willow is lying on the back door mat eating a lettuce stump that I had put out for the hens, now I wonder how she managed to get hold of that?

Lots of exciting things are happening here at The Glass Dragonfly, one of these is our very first Newsletter which will be sent out this week to those who have signed up to receive it.  Each month this will contain a different offer exclusive to those who have signed up for the newsletter.  In order to sign up please fill in the pop up form that you see when first coming onto the website or click on the Sign up button at the top of our facebook page. 

Right, that's it for now, have a really good month and I will see you all in October.


By Lizzie Masters 17 Jul, 2016
Hello Again!  Today I attended an event in a nearby town, it was a good event, it seemed to me to be very well thought out.  The organisers were friendly and helpful and had covered every aspect of the vendors needs.  The event had been well advertised and there was a large attendance by the public.  Today was a good day.  Sadly that is not always the case.

Over the years that I have been self employed and producing handcrafted items I have attended many fairs.  I have experienced the Portaloo on the hill, try sitting on one of those at a peculiar angle!  The marquee of very dubious age that had more patches than original canvas with holes in the roof through which the rain dripped onto my head!  Oh and the smell it gave off was most peculiar.  The fairs where the organisers ask you to move your car off site and then vaguely wave in the direction of the village and say "find somewhere to park".  The tables provided that bow in the middle and wobble dangerously when touched.  The lack of advertising, a two line advert in the small print of the local paper a week before the event.  The best one being where money was taken up front for events that were never booked or mysteriously cancelled days before.  That one resulted in legal action being taken by many of my acquaintances.  The one where we were all placed in animal pens in a shed at a local market, open on one side to the elements and still covered in animal excrement in December!  I could go on, but I wont. 

Its certainly been an experience so it is such a relief when you can attend an event that is well thought out and considerate of the sellers' needs.  Yes we need to park our cars close to the site of our stall to be able to load and unload easily so that it isn't necessary to have to, in my case, carry heavy boxes of glass items over a long distance, or upstairs.  To make sure that toilet facilities are available, not easy when you have to cross your legs all day or just not drink so as not to have to find a bathroom.  To provide shelter, today we were all given a free gazebo which gave us shelter from the sun and wind, that was a real boon.  To be offered free teas and coffees is also brilliant, that was also on offer today.  To have the organisers come and ask if you have everything you need, if you have had a good day, to obtain feedback.  Too often your money is taken and you are left to fend for yourselves.  To ensure that a good footfall is guaranteed and that advertising has taken place is another bonus. 

All of this must make you wonder why I continue to attend fairs on a regular basis.  Well to be honest there are some I would never attend again.  However, there are some very good ones out there that I will go back to on a regular basis.  These are not always large events, some are quite small but because they are well organised its worth returning.  I also get a thrill from meeting customers face to face.  A lot of my sales are made online and that is great but there is nothing like being able to interact with people and to talk about my work and why I love doing what I do.  Its also a great way to obtain feedback on products.  Despite the aching legs, dry throat, crossed legs, freezing cold, damp, smelly marquees and dodgy toilets and strange parking arrangements there is nothing like coming home with a cash in your money tin and putting your feet up to look back over the events of the day.

Until the next time. 

By Lizzie Masters 12 May, 2016
Changes are never easy and if, like me, you are wandering into your middle age, changes are harder to take.  Little changes like a new phone or a new laptop, as I am having to deal with at the moment are something that you soon learn to deal with and these are not major events.  Bigger changes however are happening right now in the glass producing industry and the consequences of those changes are going to be far reaching and long lasting.

In and around the Portland area of Oregon in the USA are most of the major glass producers whose glass is used by glass artists and companies throughout the world.  Spectrum Glass is one of these companies and yesterday it was announced by their owners that they will be ceasing production within the next 70 days.  This is because of some changes that have been brought in by the American version of the Environmental Health Department.  Local residents living in the area surrounding the glass factories became concerned about the waste output from the chimneys of these factories and made a complant to their environmental health department with particular regard to the use of cadmium and lead used to produce certain colours of glass. 

The glass factories were told to stop all production of the range of colours using these elements and tests were carried out on the soil and plants and air surrounding the factories.  The tests revealed that there was no significant danger to the residents from the levels that were found, however all the factories were strongly advised that if they wanted to continue production of the full range of colours of glass then they would have to "bag" their chimneys; that is to fit special ventilation units to stop any fumes emitting at all.  All of the factories have complied and they had been allowed to restart full production.  However the vast cost of this coming on top of the recession has simply been too much for Spectrum glass who feel they can no longer continue.

This means changes for the owners, and for the workers, many of whom are local residents and also these changes are then spreading outwards like ripples on a pond to reach the glass supply companies, like the one here in the UK that I use which sell only Spectrum Glass, and I wonder what effect this is going to have on their business as some of their stocks are already low due to the period of time that the factories were out of production,  and thereafter to the glass artists who use those suppliers. 

You may say "Ok well just buy a different type of glass".  Yes of course, personally I use Bullseye glass for my fusing glass but its not that simple.  Spectrum 96 which is the fusing glass has a different COE or coefficient of expansion which means that you cannot use it with Bullseye as their COE is 90.  The coe is the rate at which the glass fuses together in the kiln and if you tried to fuse two pieces of the different glasses together then the result would be that either the glass cracked or split apart.  Any artist using only Spectrum will then have to change their entire glass range, not just the sheet glass but the accessory glasses too, the frits (crushed glasses that are used for decoration) and the stringers (thin rods of glass also used for décor).  And that can be quite an expensive thing to have to do. 

I use Spectrum stained glass which for me is more easily replaceable with other makes of stained glass, Urobos for example are another small glass maker but it is rumoured that without Spectrum glass then Urobos too will fold.  I begin to wonder how many other glassmakers will go under because of these changes.

I am all in favour of cleaner air and soil and some companies have gotten away with polluting our air for far too long but none of the tests have proved that the glass factories are actually causing serious harm.

So changes, I have no idea how far they will spread in this instance but I hope with all my heart that the glass making industry can recover from this setback and all those affected by it also. 

By lizzie masters 27 Apr, 2016
After a few mishaps my blog is now sorted and I can try and produce regular posts. 

My glassmaking skills are always developing and recently I have been trying my hand at glass pictures using frit which is crushed glass and glass paints.  The pictures take several firings as this then gives the piece depth.  This little one above was an experiment which I rather liked so I ended by slumping it over a small wave mould, this has created a freestanding piece of glass which can be placed on a window sill as an ornament or used with a tealight or small candle behind to illuminate the scene in the evening. 

I have recently acquired a second hand kiln which is the same model as the one I already own, a Skutt Firebox 14.  Now being me and of a somewhat sentimental nature I decided to give my first kiln a name and so held a little competition on my Facebook page, The Glass Dragonfly, to allow my followers to choose a name and the one that was pulled out of the hat, or bowl in this instance, was Noris.  So now Noris has a friend and another little competition is taking place to choose a name for this new kiln.

New kiln had a bit of a poorly lid so after some discussion with a member of staff at my suppliers it was decided the best course of action was to purchase a replacement lid and install it.  This was a bit of a daunting task as it required the removal of all the "furniture" on the old lid, and the disconnection of the control box and elements.  However it proved to be a little easier than I had anticipated and new lid is now connected and kiln is working fine.  I am feeling rather pleased with myself.

Now all I have to do is get to grips with our new wireless printer which doesn't seem to like me at all.  I'm waiting for No 3 daughter to come home from sixth form this evening as she is very good at all this modern technology and I most definitely am not!




By Lizzie Masters 25 Feb, 2016
Hello.  Welcome to my new blog and my new website.  I'm hoping that I will be able to reach a wider audience with my site as whilst social media has provided me with a good Base on which to begin my business not everyone is comfortable using it.  I hope you will like the layout and design and find it easy  to navigate

The photograph at the top of this post shows a pot melt serving platter.  A great way to use up all my scrap glass and amazing and unique results every time and this one has even produced it's own "handle".  This was purely an accident.  One of the quirks of melting glass.  

I shall be attending a range of craft fairs this year and the dates for these will be put up on the website as I sign up for them.   

That's it for now.  I shall be back soon.  


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