Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year, New Look

It's been a while since I blogged on here.
I could say that my new year's resolution will be to blog more, but I know I won't keep to it!

It's been a tough year out on All Saints and I nearly gave it up altogether. Everyone is struggling right now so someone selling luxury items is going to struggle as a result, too. But there's been some positive changes on the market though, with bucket loads of enthusiasm brought in by our new manager, Sarah-Jane who has dragged the market into the 21st Century with a growing Facebook profile and fresh new ideas.

So I think I need to inject some new ideas into my business too...

For a while now, I've been very involved in the Steampunk scene, bringing out my range of Steampunk jewellery and giftware in the form of Capt. Hieronymous Bartholomew's Impossible Fossils. I've also been experimenting with a new addition to the Steampunk range since September which only now is starting to take shape.

I'm making Steampunk sweets!

Well, old fashioned Victorian style boiled sweets in colourful jars and tins with a dash of irreverent humour. I'm nearly at the stage now where I will unleash my creations on an unsuspecting world....

Just some minor tweaks to do, a kitchen inspection from the Council to prepare for and some ordering of artwork and I'm all set!

Don't worry, I'll still be making jewellery and coming up with new designs. Arcturus will become a part of
"The Captains Ephemeral Emporium" selling sweets, giftware and jewellery from Cambridge, various events and, of course, online.

My jewellery style will remain inspired by Art Nouveau and Victorian styles that fit nicely within the new Emporium. I'll still seek out unusual gemstones (including blue amber when I'm able to afford it) and still retain my wedding tiara range.

I'm becoming less reliant on my main website, so that will eventually become a portal to the various Etsy shops that I am developing, two of which are already set up:

The Captain's Ephemeral Emporium will be available on Etsy for the boiled sweets in due course.

This is all in readiness to evolve into a purely online presence at some point this year, due to the high cost of stall fees, petrol etc. Whether or not it works like that, I won't know for a while but keep a look out for interesting developments!

Happy New Year

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Has the age of Arts and Crafts long gone?

They say that you reap what you sow.
Well, now that I have been "casual" (in name only) since January I now have another problem. At the height of the summer peak trading, I now cannot get a pitch on the Sunday market. If I had been paying for my pitch as a permanent trader all this time (and often making a loss) then I would be assured a place.
What has happened in the past six months is that the managers of the market have been busy filling all the vacant permanent pitches. Brilliant, you would think. Keep the market thriving with people who can afford to make a loss. Kick out these "part timers" and keep the market full.

I have to say, that this makes perfect sense and I couldn't argue with that.

So who are they filling the Farmer's and Crafts sunday market with? New, young artists and makers, hungry for a chance to sell their wares?


Second Hand clothing
CD sellers

If you think that this a good idea then that's fine. Cambridge Market managers simply need to re-brand the sunday market and remove the "crafts" element from the description as it is rapidly becoming false advertising.
Here on the Council's website for those wishing to trade on a sunday it says:

"you must also design or make craft items you sell, and local produce must be from within 60 miles of Cambridge."

 If you think, like me that a farmers and craft market should be just that, then don't go to the sunday market for quality, hand-made goods. Go to All Saints Arts and Craft Market on a saturday, opposite Trinity College. It is a market that is struggling to continue, as many people don't know it is there. Changes in footfall now that the Grand Arcade is open means that it doesn't get anywhere near the amount of people that it used to.
It's a pity, but perhaps the time of hand made goods has had its day. If people really wanted British hand made jewellery, art ceramics etc then we wouldn't have this problem. Artists like myself wouldn't have to worry about making a loss on a few weeks of the year as the rest of the year would make up for it. People would seek out All Saints every week and it would bustle with life like it did twenty years ago.
Now that the shopping public require their shops to be open every day of the week at times that suit them, small independent craftspeople cannot compete. I can't be there every week. I do what I can.
I think the future will be online for people like us. On Etsy, I can be open all hours. I'll see out the summer and see how I get on but it may get to the stage where the little garden in the centre of Cambridge, after 40 years has had its day and so have many of the traditional crafts that reside there.

You can't halt progress.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Sunday Trading

For those that might be wondering where I am on a sunday these days, it's a bit of a long story... oh, alright then.
In 2011, Cambridge City Council decided that the collection of small artist/makers, retired folk, part timers etc that trade on the sunday market need to be treated the same as weekday traders, ie, pay for their stall even if they are not attending.
Four sundays are allowed off without payment each year for holidays. The problem is, in January, craftspeople have no stock after Christmas. We do not order it from a wholesaler, we make the items we sell. If we do trade, we often make a loss at this time of year with precious little to sell. Most of us decide to come back in February, refreshed after a short break.
So when these new rules came into force last year, it wasn't long before I had used up my four weeks allowance on family events and the occasional weekend trading elsewhere (holiday? what's that?!)
The only choice I had (apart from pay for my vacant pitch for all of January) was to give up the regular pitch that I had occupied on a sunday for nearly five years and go "casual" as they call it, which consists of turning up on the day and being allocated a spare stall. Sounds like a plan.
I was intending to come back in February on this casual basis and trade for approximately 40 sundays in the year. Unfortunately, the Council are dragging their feet closing my old licence down and creating a new one.
There would be a simple solution- pay over £100 to clear my remaining market stall arrears that I have left on my old account. As at this time of the year, £100 is often a week's takings, I can't afford to do that with other bills to pay. I can arrange to pay it in installments but a new account has to be set up just for this. And that is what is holding things up.
Without clearing that amount from my old rent sheet, I am prevented from trading. In effect, I am cutting my trading hours by half. I have tried being patient, I have tried calling and e-mailing. Unfortunately, this has come to nothing.
So you might eventually see me here and there on the sunday market. You also might notice that there are fewer craftspeople and more traders buying in stock trading in the sunday market. I'm afraid that the trend is set to continue in the name of profitability. In the meantime, come and support All Saints market on the saturday. Although bear in mind that the Council also run this one too. Eventually they might start tinkering with the guidelines here too and we'll lose more small artists and makers to "progress".

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The reason why I wasn't at the Market today...

All taken from my garden this morning. Brrr!