Santa Monica, CA again

20 June 2007

I adore Santa Monica! But the show there left me puzzling out what is hand-made today. When I first started selling textile art I puzzled this same question. I came to terms with what was in the market place and joined the community (more on the craft community later).
There were things in booths near mine that made me uncomfortable. One woman was selling silk scarves that she painted then pole wrapped– no shibori there. Just the look without the work.
Across from here a woman had prominently displayed scarves with shibori on them:
She told me that they were cotton viole and the shibori was done in Africa. Nice shibori, cheap labor.
The corner booth was occupied by Marla Duran of Project Runway fame.
She had ready-made shirts in rayon prints. Her clothes were probably sewn in the US.
No one can be expected to know all about every craft. The public used to rely a bit on the show jury to weed out the inappropriate stuff.
Questions that are rolling thru my head:
Are the show applications down that they have to accept these inappropriate crafts just to fill the show? I know some shows have a dirth of applications.
Is this all the public wants to pay for now, half made in the US crafts? I got endless new questions about starting with pleated fabric this time– why now not 10-15 years ago?
Now that our fashion industry is overseas, where are the small scale manufactures going to sell? Will these small scale manufactures flourish in this wide open field? Or will they need to be custom makers? Justin Limpus Parish say that most of her work now is custom mother-of-the-bride work.
Any thoughts?
A view from the Santa Monica Pier of the handicap accesible beach! There is hope to make it to the sea for all of our lives. Gotta love Santa Monica!


4 Responses to “Santa Monica, CA again”

  1. glennis Says:

    ok….some thoughts here.
    you said:
    “There were things in booths near mine that made me uncomfortable. One woman was selling silk scarves that she painted then pole wrapped– no shibori there. Just the look without the work.”
    I saw that booth too. I thought the pieces were beautiful. The fact that she applied the color separately from applying the texture made no real difference to me and less to the customer, I believe. She used a shibori technique, pole wrapping. That she used it in combination with painting makes it
    non -traditional I suppose but is that what made you uncomfortable? I thought her booth looked very nice and she looked busy to me.
    Yes, shows ARE down. Too many, too expensive etc. Vendors competing for buyer’s dollars and show promoters selling booth space to make a profit. Sometimes I think the promoters are the only ones making a profit at some of these shows! We are all looking for low cost ways to get our product out there.
    you said:
    “Is this all the public wants to pay for now, half made in the US crafts?”
    Perhaps it is. Maybe it is all they can afford. Maybe they don’t know or can’t tell the difference. That wouldn’t surprise me. How would the public know the difference seeing as so much arts education has been purged from public schools? Since show organizers are the jury in many cases, they are really there to sell booths, not to educate the public.
    Regarding JLP and custom work:
    As artists and makers who make/have made making a life’s work, part of that is adapting to a changing world- kind of like “for better or worse….”. Finding and growing a niche market for your work is probably a good thing for work struggling to compete in a global economy. I can do things for a customer that someone on the other side of the world can’t do- such as quick turn around on a colorway, getting a sample overnighted for tomorrow’s catalog shoot, my response time is faster and I can personalize my interaction with the customer. Not something you will often find dealing with China etc.. there are other things as well. It does cost money so we are left mainly dealing with those that have a little extra to spend. At least for now… I don’t wish to be doing anything else though!
    (sorry this is so long…it also won’t format paragraphs..)


  2. glennis Says:

    just me again…. perhaps my comments seem odd to some. it would be nice to hear some other voices.. there are quite a number of people who read this blog that have visited my blog since i posted my comment. i guess people don’t want to comment. i wish i could hear some other perspectives….thanks for this post Karren.


  3. Karren Says:

    I guess I wasn’t clear about my objections to the woman with the pole wrapped scarves. My experience is that with another vendor selling articles that look the similar to mine, I split the sales with them, that is my sales go down maybe to half.
    I don’t think that the show organizer should have two so similar vendors in one show– neither one of them do well. They should chose one or the other. I think the shows are desparate to fill the spaces, but it is a short term gain and a long term loss. I won’t go again, I can’t afford to.


  4. glennis Says:

    got it- yes, i especially though it poor judgement to place your booths so close together.. almost next to each other! some shows are big enough to support multiple vendors of similar product, some not. one show i know will ask if there is a booth you prefer NOT to be located next to/across from! at ACRE all fiber related booths were together- but i think it is a little different at a wholesale show and everyones work was significantly different although many were making scarves.
    thanks for the explanation.


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