Random Acts of Craftiness

Spiral Goddess ScarfIt started with a scarf. I had a dozen or so fleece scarves sitting in a plastic bin, remnants from when I had an embroidery machine.  Some I tore apart and turned into rugs.  I didn’t have it in my to destroy the others, though.  One in particular, soft green sporting an embroidered spiral goddess, deserved to be worn rather than trampled on.  On a whim, I mailed the scarf to a friend, a pagan who hated the winter cold as much as I do.  I didn’t tell her it was coming.  I didn’t even know if she had received it until she posted a picture to Facebook.  The sight of her smiling face struck a chord deep down inside of me.  This was right.

I have always liked giving gifts.  As an introvert dealing with anxiety issues, it’s a way of expressing love that is safe.  I especially enjoy making gifts: something beautiful, something soft, something that will last and raise a smile every time it is used.  Giving a handmade gift is giving a piece of myself to someone, a permanent way to say “I love you.”*

But when you are trying to make a living through your handiwork it can be hard to divorce your creative efforts from the dollar sign.  Every hour you aren’t making inventory, you aren’t making money.  Every day you aren’t working on a commission you are failing by capitalistic standards.  I love you’s don’t put food on the table, after all.

The push back, however, is that we aren’t just meat-robots.  Humans need to feed more than our bodies.  Especially those who deal wit depression and self-loathing.  Creating for the sake of it, gifting to others, is more than a rebellion against art as a commodity, it is an act of self-preservation.  It is a way to balance the current, often crushing expectation for every aspect of our lives to have a monetary value with the absolutely essential need to establish that people are priceless.  Human creativity doesn’t come with a price tag.

It was a couple of months after I mailed off the scarf that the idea of Random Acts of Craftiness gelled.  I posted a picture of the Eighteen Panel Skirt on Facebook and a couple of friends brought up the idea of a trade.  Their crafted goods for my own.  Then later, I posted the Majestic Fucking Unicorn cross stitch pattern and two more friends requested completed works.  I said yes in both cases.  Yes to engaging in a craft exchange.  Yes to sewing a message of support and love for people I care about with no expectation of anything in return.

Crocheted Turtle of LoveGranted, saying yes was easier than the follow-through, at least at first.  The balancing act between money and love has tipped more often than not in the favor of money.  I’ve had to steal time from myself to finish projects.  But with each one completed, I have felt how right it is to do so.  There are kinks in the system, of course.  Finishing works and getting them out the door has proven a stumbling blocks as well.  Getting out of the house to the post office can be extremely difficult.  Slowly, though, love is leaving this house in parcels.

And in return, love is coming into this house.  A crocheted turtle sits in my workshop now.  Every time I see it I smile, think of my friend, and feel that I am loved.   I will fill this house with books and family and reminders that there are those out there who believe their time is worth more than money, their creativity has no price tag.

 


*I am not the only one in my family who does this.  My sister sends semi-regular packages to me filled with cookies and other goodies she has baked.

Making it Work: Adjustments

It’s once again time to play “Just how poor are we?”  Since satisfaction, happiness, health and stress levels aren’t easily reduced to numbers, I’ll break down how much money we’re actually making off of this attempt to live by our creative efforts.  Our net earnings in February are below:

Etsy Sales $33.12
E-book Royalties $2.00
Commissions $98.00
eBay $100.00
Total $233.12

Royalties & Etsy are self-explanatory.

Commissions were all Stephan in February.  He started making chainmail in earnest last month and had several people request customized pieces.

I added eBay just because it’s income.  We had a book that we got for free and that neither of us wanted.  Rather than let it gather dust, we sold it.  I’d rather have books go to people who want them and will read/use them, than sitting unread on a bookshelf.*

It’s clear, after the disaster that was Fan Fest, that we need to make some tweaks to our plan.  We do believe that we can make the convention plan work.  But we need to actually make it to the conventions, which requires an influx of money.  To that end Stephan has taken a part-time job.

I was worried that taking a job would invalidate all our plans and hard work.  It’s not even three months into the grand scheme and we’re already failing our goals.  I’m afraid that we’ll give up on the idea of living off of our creative efforts before we even got a chance.

Stephan, as is his way, is more optimistic.  The job is only part-time, with a manageable commute.  This means he won’t be out of the house ten plus hours a day.  He’ll still be here for the kids (his hours are 10-4).  He’ll still have time for chainmail.  He’ll still be able to go to conventions.

So, this is just a course correction.  Our end destination—living on our own, in our own way—remains the same, our route has just taken a diversion.

Image: Success by Demetri Martin.


*This reminds me that I need to update my Bookmooch account.  I have several books I picked up at library sales specifically to trade and I know the list has fallen to disuse.

Planting the Seeds

I don’t feel it is an exaggeration to write that the recent warm weather has been like a miracle to me.  Last year winter lasted long after it was welcome, and I was worried we’d spend another six weeks gripped by freezing cold.

After the disappointment of Fan Fest I have been struggling with a sense of futility.  Jerk Brain has been having a field day, telling me all the ways in which I suck and am a failure.  I’m having a hard time combating all the negativity.  It feels like my well of optimism has dried up.

So on Tuesday, when we went grocery shopping, I added two more items and two more stops to our list.  First we swung by the Home Depot and picked up a bag of soil.  Next we hit the Dollar Store and picked up a couple of bags of accent stones.  We hadn’t planned on starting seeds until next week.  But the warm weather signaled it was time to do something productive that would shut Jerk Brain up.

All winter long I have been collecting empty toilet paper rolls, plastic containers, egg cartons, plastic bags, and other items I could use in gardening.  I have quite a collection by now; it takes up several shelves in the workshop.  I laid newspaper down on the dining table and set to work.

Toilet Paper Starter Pot
Cut an empty toilet paper roll in half. Make four cuts, about halfway up from the bottom and fold over. Voila! You have yourself a biodegradable starter pot.

I made starter pots from the toilet paper rolls.  The instructions I first followed has you taping the bottom closed, but I found that folding the cut edges together works just as well and then you don’t have the added step of pulling the tape off when it comes time to plant.  In those I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, honeymoon melons, bell peppers, hot peppers, marigolds and zinnias.

The egg cartons help hold the starter pots upright.  I spaced them out after learning the hard way that mold can grow if they are touching.

I also started some lemon seeds (because of Pinterest) and ginger.  I repotted some houseplants and started cuttings of more.  I planted three pecans that I gathered from a neighborhood tree last fall.  I hope at least one will sprout so that we can plant it in the front yard.  Finally, I started two containers of trumpet vine from seed, again collected from a plant in the neighborhood.

Marigolds in Detergent Caps
Marigolds started in washed detergent caps. I poked drainage holes in the bottom.

All of the seedlings went into plastic bags to start them.  When it was all said and done, I didn’t make much of a dent in my collection, there’s still numerous cans, yogurt containers, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and more.  I have to pick up more seeds, as well.  But it is a good start.

The whole effort took a couple of hours.  Hours where I didn’t worry about how we would get by.  Hours where my Jerk Brain didn’t give me grief.  If the weather can continue to warm, I can start some outdoor work next week.  I’ll keep moving, keep planning, keep working: using what we have, doing what we can.  Maybe I’ll find my optimism sprouting as well.

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
After a couple of hours work, this is what I have finished.
Ginger and Houseplants
The started ginger, as well as houseplant cuttings.

Convention Report: Wizard World Fan Fest

I want to be able to report that we headed into Wizard World Fan Fest like gangbusters and came out swaddled in a warm Snuggie made out of cash.  Alas, that is not the case.

The weekend started off great.  Stephan and I headed into the city Friday morning to set up.  We were hyped up on caffeine and sugar (and no sleep on my part).  Set up was super easy.  We got there before most of the other artists and got to drive right into the show floor.  Between the two of us we got everything ready in a couple of hours and we headed back home in good spirits.  It was pretty much all down hill from there.

Viking Dad hard at work
The Viking Dad hard at work at Fan Fest. He had a few on site commissions Saturday.

When deciding on shows to vend at, you look at a lot of factors: attendance, timing, who is running the show, cost.  With Fan Fest, I knew I was going into a brand new show—it was originally supposed to be the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest, but Bruce Campbell had to pull out—but I figured that Wizard World wouldn’t have gone ahead with the show if they didn’t think people were going to come.  And with it being in Rosemont, it meant we wouldn’t have to travel, pay for a hotel, etc.  With all that in mind (and after looking up the average attendance for other Wizard World shows) I went into the weekend with what I figured was a respectable expected sales figure in mind.

We didn’t even make a tenth of that.  In fact we lost money on this show.  It’s been years since I’ve lost money on an event.  I’ve broken even, or made less than I was expecting in gross sales.  But to lose money?  On a local show?  The attendance just wasn’t there.  I was assured by both our booth neighbors that the Wizard World Comic Con in August sees ten times as many attendees, and has four times as many vendors.  But I also heard that Wizard world has expanded their events so much over the last couple of years that vendors are feeling the effects and sales are down.

Rich Kunz
One of our booth neighbors, Rich Kunz, from www.diligentvisual.com, was upbeat and helpful all weekend long.
Brian E. Baity
Brian E. Baity, of The Creation Crib, our other booth neighbor had very positive energy.

None of that is really helpful knowledge now.

It’s hard not to feel discouraged.  I spent so much of my energy trying to remain positive leading up to Fan Fest that I don’t have much energy to combat the disappointment.  I am back to questioning the feasibility of my plan.  Jerk Brain keeps telling me that if I were smarter I would have anticipated this; if I weren’t lazy I would have researched more.

In struggling to find some sort of silver lining, I look to the time Stephan and I spent in the booth.  We had a good time with each other.  And when things started to get really bleak on Sunday, he made me a necklace in hopes of cheering me up.  Our booth neighbors were awesome and had lots of encouragement for us.  I saw some very cool and clever cosplay.  And I did have really cute convention hair on Saturday.

Also on the plus side, we won’t have to make up as much inventory for the next show in a couple of months.  Well, I won’t.  So far nearly every piece of chainmail jewelry Stephan has made has been bought.  So he might have to slave over some cold aluminum links for the next few weeks.

Cute Convention Hair
The best part of the convention was spending time with Stephan. Second best was my hair on Saturday.

The Making of Things

By bringing positive intention to the making of things and creating to soothe our own as well as others’ emotions, we can discover what it’s like to create for the greater good.  By making intentionally ugly things, we question conformity to media beauty standards, and we can see how difficult (and important) it is to create without pure aesthetics in mind.  Finally, by following our roots and connection to the DIY ethos, we see how our own work can unfold and allow us to find our best selves.

—Betsy Greer, Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism

Operation Overflow

There’s a mermaid who swims laps in the local rec center. I see her some mornings when Stephan and I sit in the hot tub. I’ve never felt the need to engage her in conversation, to ask her name, or compliment the green of her tail. I just appreciate her presence, the little boost of magic it gives to the rest of the day.

I feel the same way about our morning visits to the rec center’s gym. Or, more precisely, I feel that way after our visits.  Getting there is a struggle: the cold, the morning, the constant reminder of things to be done, they all work against me making the trip.  Stephan goes most days, taking Ben along so he can take advantage of the free childcare on site.  When I do make it, though, I am always happy that I did.

We have a week to go until Wizard World’s Fan Fest.  It’s our proof of concept convention: where we will peddle our wares to a larger audience than before.  We’re excited and nervous and scrambling to take care of the final details.  In all the hustle and the bustle it would be easy to loose sight of why we are doing this.  I’ve been there before, so wrapped up in getting to the convention that self-doubt gains a foothold when I’m not looking.  The next thing I know I’m heading to the event convinced I’m going to fail.  It’s a mindset that not only undermines my ability to sell, but it makes me miserable the entire time.

To combat those negative thoughts and feelings I’ve adopted a new strategy: Operation Overflow.  The idea is it fill our lives with so much joy and positivity there’s no room for negativity to flourish.  I have made an effort to concentrate on what is going right in our lives, to keep the house lit with candles and clean and good smelling, to feed us food that is good and warm.

It takes a concentrated effort to remain positive, while also working to get ready.  It’s an effort that has paid off so far.   The atmosphere in our home has been relaxed and happy.  We’re looking forward to the event, rather than dreading the looming deadline.  Even facing uncertainty as to whether this plan will work or not, our confidence has grown.

Over the next couple of days, should I lose that positive state of mind, I’ll head over to the rec center and watch the mermaid swim.

Eighteen Panel Skirt

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe
Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Look at the prettiness!

I was walking through my local Jo-Ann Fabric store a couple of months ago when was seized with a fiery passion of the sort that overcomes a baron for the new stable boy.   Usually it’s a piece of embroidered linen that stirs my creative lust.  This time it was a skirt.  More specifically, the panel skirt show on the cover of Stylish Skirts: 23 Simple Designs to Flatter Every Figure.

Just look at it over there, all stripy and swishy, with french seams!  Now, that skirt is swoon-worthy on its own, but my mind was going off into another direction.  I had, buried in my stash of fabric, several yards of soft, knit fabric in three colors: grey, heathery-purple, and a smokey-blue.  They had been sitting in a cardboard file box for years, waiting for the time when I would get around to making them into something awesome.  Well, their time had come.

It has been years since I’ve made any clothing for myself.  Which is funny as I originally got into sewing for just that reason.  So, it was with a lot of giddiness, trepidation, and wine, that I set out this past weekend to make myself a new skirt.  The skirt started off very close to the original pattern, which is where I ran into the first obstacle.  Stylish Skirts is translated from Japanese, and there are some glitches in the transition. Fortunately there’s the internet, and I wasn’t the first person to run into problems.

Creating the pattern took about half an hour once I figured out the issue.  I didn’t take into account any changes to the pattern with regards to using a knit fabric.  I drafted it to my waist and hip measurements, and drew it much longer than the book calls for.  I like long skirts.  I don’t care if they’re not supposed to look good on short girls.

Skirt Panel Pieces
Skirt panel pieces, assemble!

The actual cutting out of the pieces took an hour or so, due to the fact that I wasn’t working with intact yardage.  At some point in the past I had cut out two one-piece tunic style dresses for Charlotte out of the blue and purple fabrics.  As such I had to take some extra care to get it all cut out.  Even so, I ended up with only four panels of the blue, six of the purple and then ten of the grey.  The original pattern calls for six of each, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop me.

Sewing the skirt together took a couple of hours.  The original pattern calls for a zipper closure, but because I was using knits my plan was for an elasticized waistband.  Remember how I drafted the pattern as suggested by the book?  That didn’t take into account the need for the waist to fit over my hips with an elastic waist.  So when I sewed the panels together I dropped the seam allowance down to 3/8″ of an inch, which gave me the necessary room.

I gave the hem a rolled edge because I was tired of sewing by then, and also I didn’t want to sacrifice any of the length.  (Did I mention I like long skirts?)  The resulting skirt is soft and swishy.  I have to kick the hem out of the way when I walk, or pull it up—a bonus in my book.  I have been twirling around the house in it for a few days making little noises of happiness and satisfaction.

Skirt Selfie!
And here is the finished skirt! Super soft and comfy and requires me to kick my feet out when walking.
Lounging in my Skirt
Lounging in my comfy skirt.

I’ve already settled on the next skirt I’ll be making from the book. I’ll post pictures and a write up when that happens.  In the meantime, please enjoy the playlist I put together for the skirt:

  1. Not an Addict – K’s Choice
  2. Got You Where I Want You – The Flys
  3. Creep – Radiohead
  4. Linger – The Cranberries
  5. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  6. Soul to Squeeze – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  7. Who Will Save Your Soul – Jewel
  8. Building a Mystery – Sarah McLachlan
  9. Celebrity Skin – Hole
  10. Santa Monica – Everclear
  11. I Don’t Need a Hero – Concrete Blonde
  12. Happy Phantom – Tori Amos

 

Making it Work: January Earnings

I promised I would make it a regular thing to blog about how much, or more accurately, how little we’re making from our creative endeavors.  To that end, I present the report on our January earnings.

Etsy Sales $26.42
E-book Royalties $1.73
Midwinter Convention $284.47
Total $312.62

The numbers reflect our net earnings.  In the case of Etsy sales that means less shipping and various selling fees.  With regards to Midwinter, the net takes into account expenses for the booth, for getting to the convention, hotel costs, etc.  On the plus side, we made almost three times what we did in December.  On the down side, no one is getting rich off of this.  I’d say we shouldn’t quit our day jobs, but …

We are closer to our goal of getting a new fan for the Jeep, though, almost halfway there.  And we have a convention coming up in March that promises to be more lucrative.  We’re only a month into this whole grand scheme, so I can’t really say if sticking to one or two large conventions a year is feasible.  We may have to add in more events, or I might have to open up to commissions again.  Or, we might have to put in a better effort to market our books, and finish the one that is in the works.

I did add a page to this site for e-book design services.

As always, we continue on.  February is the shortest month and we’re making the most of it that we can.  I’ll keep updating our monetary progress as the year unwinds.

 

Setting Fire to the Past

I’ve made so many moves over the years it’s hard to keep track of them all.  Besides the physical moves I’ve made—from Wyoming to Chicago and various suburbs thereof—I’ve made personal, emotional and relationship changes.  It is surprising how much distance one can cover without ever having to take a step.

Through all these moves I’ve carried a trunk with me.  It was a high school graduation present from my grandparents.  The trunk has been a bench, a footstool, and a table, as well as being the holder of those things I couldn’t bear to toss, but had no need to be out in the open.  Journals, letters, cards, old ids, and other ephemera.  For the past couple of years it has sat under my desk, home to the garbage can and a laptop that I don’t use any more.  I haven’t opened it, partly because I haven’t had anything to squirrel away (e-mail, Facebook and WordPress has digitized much of my correspondence and thoughts); but also because it is full.

In mid-December I dragged the trunk out.  I was looking for a notebook, and was certain it had to be there.  This happens on occasion. I’ll be seized by a need to find something and I tear apart the house in search of it.  Usually, I fail to find whatever Lost Ark I’m chasing; if it were still around I would have found it easily.  I’m then stuck with a mess and a heavy weight of frustration that my quarry managed to escape the nets of my organization zeal.

This time was no different.  The notebook, and the information therein, was nowhere to be seen.  In my digging through the trunk, I flipped through the dozen-plus journals there.  They were varied: cloth covered ones bought in a three pack from Sam’s Club in the early 90s, spiral bound ones from Borders, “leather” covered ones, five subject Mead notebooks, even a manila envelope stuffed full of loose-leaf paper.  This represented more than a decade of my life: from about 1995 to 2005.   There were some random pages from earlier and later, but the bulk of my regular journaling ended shortly after Charlotte was born.

As I flipped through the pages all I read was misery.  Every randomly picked page was a chronicle of how desperately unhappy I was.  Did I write only when I was upset? Or did I only write of my unhappiness because that’s all there was? I think a little more of the former than the latter, but there was no denying that what I had committed to the pages was unpleasant.  I wanted to reach out to my past self and tell her that it was going to get better … in a way.  I can’t reach her, though.  She is in the past and trying to cast back would only slow down the momentum I have gained.

But I didn’t have to keep carrying the millstone of unhappiness.  What did I gain by keeping these journals around? Evidence of my unhappiness during that time?  Did I really need it?  I had my memories, if ever I wanted to revisit them.  Which, again, wasn’t going to help me move forward.  I had learned all I could from that time.  There was nothing more these journals could tell me about myself.

I grabbed two cardboard boxes and filled them.  The letters, cards, notes, pictures and miscellaneous bits and bobs stayed.  The journals went.  For the first time in years there was room in the trunk.  Room for more pleasant keepsakes: love notes from Stephan, birthday cards from my children, perhaps even a letter to my future self, telling her that I am okay.  She can let me go and move on.

The first of January I took the journals out to the fire pit and burned them.  The day was sunny, if cold, and windy.  Despite the helpful nature of the weather, burning a decade’s worth of misery isn’t easy, even when it is bound in paper.  You can’t just set fire to your past and walk away.  You have to tend to it, or else it won’t be fully destroyed.  Blackened bits of paper constantly tried to escape, flying high and forcing me to run around the yard to catch them.  Some were still burning and had to be stomped out.  I had to open up the journals with a poker to make sure all the pages burned.  I got a surprising, and disturbing, insight into just what goes into a book burning.

The whole process took three or four hours.  As I worked I kept thinking, “This is who I was, but it is not who I am now.”  As the paper turned to ash, I felt the truth of it more and more. I returned to the house cold, smelling of smoke, my hair peppered with ashes.  I can’t say if I have completely divorced myself from the misery of those past years.  However, I won’t have those words sitting at my feet, their ambient unpleasantness influencing me.  And if that isn’t a solution, it’s at least a start.

 

Convention Report: Midwinter Gaming Convention

Last week we headed up to Milwaukee for the Midwinter Gaming Convention.  We had a booth there, and had plans to get some gaming in.  This is Midwinter’s fifteenth year, and our third, and it has grown larger and better every year we’ve been.  This was the first year both Stephan and I had wares to peddle, and the first year I had so many booth helpers.  It all added up to a lot of fun.

What made the biggest difference, I think, is that I had two booth helpers throughout the convention.  Our friends Denis and Chrissy came along, and with them on hand, we had four adults to cover the booth the entire weekend.  That meant Stephan wasn’t stuck on Ben patrol the entire time.  It meant we both got to go to lunch together one day.  It meant I got to spend time with my son outside of the vendor’s hall for the first time ever.  I can’t thank the two of them enough for their help the entire weekend.

SCA costuming at Midwinter.
SCA costuming at Midwinter.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed gaming cons.  Midwinter’s focus is on LARP, but it has programming dedicated to board and video games, as well as a strong reenactment presence thanks to the SCA.  So while there is a costuming contingent, it isn’t a costume heavy convention.  And the convention has a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  I found myself joking and laughing, things I hadn’t done in a long time.  I managed to deal with the little anxiety that cropped up throughout the weekend, which means that medication and therapy is working for my mental health issues.

The Milwaukee Hilton is a beautiful hotel, with lots of ornate staircases and decor, as well as hallways and seating areas for hangouts.  I spent most of my time in the vendor hall, which was placed in a baroque fantasy of a ballroom with chandeliers and gold molding on the ceiling.  The hotel staff was super friendly and helpful, a big plus when you are attending a convention where there can be tension between fans and non-fans.

That same weekend there was a girl’s volleyball conference in the hotel.  This led to lots of interactions with non-gaming people.  I witnessed an abundance of stares and whispered comments, but I was never the target of them.  In fact I had several women approach me to ask about what was going on.  I think the pink hair establishes me as part of the “weird people” but that my size and gender makes me non-threatening enough to be approachable.  This isn’t the first time I’ve played ambassador for the geek community.  Back in 2002 at ConJose in San Jose, I fielded questions from people on the street who saw me wearing a badge, but not a costume (no pink hair back in those days).   And the fan side of things gave as good as they got on the passive aggressive front.  I overheard one LARPer bragging about having invented “Trolling: the LARP” where he and his friends paraded past groups of volleyball players and parents in their costumes and played their characters to an exaggerated degree.

Creeper
This was Ben’s favorite costume, by far. “Next year I want to be a creeper, too. And then we can creep together!”

I only ran into one instance of bad customer behavior: a woman incredulously demanding to know if “that ruffle thing” truly was $75.  When I confirmed that, yes, I do charge $75 for my bustles, she huffed off.  I know that prior to her asking she had snapped a shot of the bustle (the flash is a dead giveaway) and suspect she’ll show the picture to a sewing friend and ask if said friend will make one for her.  I wish her good luck with that.

I did overhear another customer ask the vendor next to me if they would get a discount on a $20 item if they carried it around the convention and told people where they would get it from.  There seems to be this belief among a certain set of attendees that vendors are starving for marketing and will give away their wares for word of mouth advertising.  I have never once met a vendor who has done such.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there is one or two who have, I just have never encountered them.

The only other annoyance was the number of times people congregated in front of my booth and blocked access to it.  That is easily dealt with.  I whip out my phone and ask the people if they could move because I want to get a shot of my set up.  Nine times out of ten the people realize they were blocking the way and move on apologetically.  The tenth time, the people move, but with resentment at having been asked to move.  Either way, it’s not skin off my nose, I got them to clear the way.

The final attendance count was just shy of 1100 members.  Not a bad showing.  I made just over 50 cents per attendee (which is about what I plan on making at any convention).  It was less than I had hoped, but I didn’t have any big items with me this time around.  There’s time before the next convention to get plenty of coats made up for off the rack purchases.

roach and the orc
I found an orc!

According to those we talked to, Midwinter has seen an average of 10 percent growth in attendance each year.  It’s clear that they do a lot of work not only in planning great programming, but also in advertising their presence.  They do a lot of social media work, have a strong Facebook page, and got the convention covered by local TV press.  It is a lot of work, but it is paying off for them.

I mention this because over the course of the weekend I was approached by two different conventions about vending.  Both are brand new, both are asking for $200 for booth space.  One mentioned on its website that they expect anywhere between 350 to 2,400 attendees at their first con.  Think about that for a moment.  Presuming that they reach their minimum number, and that I make 50 cents per attendee, I will lose money attending that convention.  The other is one  could see slightly better numbers, but it is still the first year, still untested, and still not worth paying that much for a space.  When conventions charge that much for a space, with such low numbers, it is clear they are looking to cover their costs on the backs of their vendors rather than through ticket sales.

We’ll be back to Midwinter next year for sure.