So call it sour grapes that I am still so completely messed up by their success. I am messed up not so much that they had crowds three deep around their little table calling out orders while I had my usual trail of nice people who admire my stuff but do not so much of the "buy." Nor am I really that messed up that they sold completely out of their stuff by 11:00 am, clearing at least a thousand dollars, and then didn't stick around in the hot sun like they're supposed to so that the fair doesn't have holes in its display and look crappy, but called one of their middle-aged sons to come and get them and take them home. No, what I am really messed up about is the fact that they did all this, had all this success, were the hit of the fair that day, by selling...little stuffed chickens. Two colors of fabric, stitched in a triangle with a little beak and comb stitched on. Stuffed chickens!
It made me doubt my place in my local craft community--I spend quite a lot of my free time making funky, ironic, kitschy jewelry and household goods, with very modest success, but these ladies, Just Us Chickens (of course), had people absolutely hysterical over them. One grandma wouldn't let her two grandsons have any of my marble-ized reclaimed crayon hearts at $1 each, snapping at them to put them down, but next door at the chicken table she bought them each a $7.50 stuffed chicken and had them pick out one for their mother. Another older woman, out with her daughter, refused to pay $7.50 for a stuffed chicken with a strawberry-printed fabric, but as she and her daughter walked away, the older woman saying, "Maybe I'll come back later and buy it," the middle-aged daughter responded, "If it's still there," and the woman stopped right in front of my booth, actually blocking access to it, pulled out a ten-dollar bill, and instructed her daughter, "Go buy me that strawberry chicken." While the daughter did so the woman stayed right there, blocking my booth, staring vaguely off into the distance.
And the chickens brought people such happiness! Sometimes somebody gets really tickled at my stuff, like if they find a record bowl made out of their favorite record, or when they see a cool T-shirt quilt, or a bumblebee necklace, but it always seems really personal when they do, as if I've made something just exactly for them. But everybody loves chickens, it seems. One woman delightedly announced (I'm a shameless eavesdropper) that she'd set the chicken on her computer monitor at work, and every time she looked at it she'd smile. Another woman said that she'd give the chicken to her mother to put on the table next to her recliner, and every time her mother looked at it she bet she would just chuckle. I'm telling you, this chicken business was off the hook, and I had just no idea.
So I'm toying with the idea--this coming craft season, should I have my own stuffed animal? Made with recycled T-shirts or felted wool sweaters, of course. And what animal? These ladies used a pretty common pattern for theirs (sour grapes requires me to inform you that creating an object from a pattern you did not create is technically not allowed at many craft fairs), but to spend the time to create a pattern, I'd need to be pretty passionate about the animal in question. But if selling is the goal, perhaps I shouldn't trust my own pretty "unique" tastes.
Here's what other people have. BuyOlympia.com has these gorgeous reclaimed sweater owls, selling for $22 each. So that idea is taken. But aren't they beautiful, and so well put together? UncommonGoods.com has these elephants and lions for $26--a little too elaborate for me, and I'm not in love with the realistic coloring. But that's two other animals out.
Hmm. Willow and Sydney are both big into dinosaurs, and Willow is a big fan of buying a toy dino at Goodwill, taking it home, poring over her research tomes to match a picture with the toy, and then spelling out the name for me to label the bottom of her toy dinosaur with its actual real dino name--ah, we love learnin' around here. Stuffed dinosaurs might be pretty sweet. A diplodocus first, then maybe a triceratops, and perhaps a saltasaurus--if I can get some rhinestones...