A Popular Piece at the Barn

This year at Blackthorpe Barn, as usual, the scarf that caught the attention of the casual passersby was not my favourite. You would think by now I would be used to the well known truth ‘to each their own’ – and so it was on this occasion the blue was popular and yet my favourite, the rich red, was not. I realise that this isn’t quite that simple as within different cultures, particularly where colour is concerned, some colours are more popular than others. For example, red is the most popular colour in China and is traditionally considered to bring good luck and success.

However, despite red being a Christmassy colour here in the UK, and, having several of my red scarves on display, it was this blue neckerchief that received the most appreciative comments, and sold first.

Perhaps it was the way I had displayed it draped across the source photograph of my homegrown flowers, clearing showing from where the colour inspiration had come. Perhaps this little detail intrigued people.

Also, it wasn’t as though it was the biggest one on display which naturally was another one of my favourites. This scarf of soft pastel pinks and lilacs on a parchment background only garnered a couple of appreciative comments and it didn’t sell.

After the weekend’s experience I would like to be able to conclude that I have a clearer idea of what my customers want to buy. However, each year the preferences are different. Fashion trends are ephemeral, and at the same time individuals have their own favourite colours and colours that suit them, and, in the end buying any clothing for oneself or as a gift is a matter of personal taste. And, what’s more no directive from the fashion police or Pantone ‘Colour of the Year’ folk will make somebody choose peach (Living Coral, 2019), or purple (Ultra Violet, 2018), or lime green (Greenery, 2017) if they don’t already like those colours.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

15 thoughts on “A Popular Piece at the Barn”

  1. I had to laugh a little in recognition of the impossibility of predicting sales or tastes, I know so well what you mean from my experiences! I also find that items Iā€™m not fond of get attention and sell whereas my favorite ones might languish. I certainly would not make much of a fortuneteller. Or trend predictor! All you can do is make good work and then …sit back and see. There is some mysterious force at work, I think sometimes, in how this whole art business works!

    1. Yes, I think for crafts people and artists there is no point in getting involved in trends and predictions (which are really another form of mass-market promoting and advertising). We should stay true to our own creative vision, produce work to the best of our ability and, as you say, sit back and see.

    1. Oo probably the latter. Sadly I am a glass half empty person. šŸ˜Ÿ But I will endeavour to recall the ‘disappearing off my shelf’ sentiment next time now that that response has been so visually suggested. šŸ˜Š Ta.

  2. I can see why your customers liked the blue scarf (sorry), though the red colours are very striking. I have a related pottery problem – one particular glaze and only that glaze is adored by my (very small) purchasing public, year in, year out, natives and tourists alike. So no matter how much I like the other glazes and styles I’ve made, I am stuck with that one!

    1. Yes, there is most definitely some work that has a satisfying wholeness about it that translates into an almost universal appeal. However, I can’t help but notice that popular work still has to fit within any current received expectation for a given craft. Maybe your popular glaze is like my blue silks, it’s not too challenging or too different from the mainstream.

  3. That merchandising was striking and eye-catching and came with a story (provenance) that the buyer could relate to friends, so I’m not surprised. And it is a beautiful scarf. I hop that overall the market day went well for you, and that even if you came home dead beat, your ears were ringing with praises for your amazing work.

    1. This year was a mixed year, and it wasn’t just my experience. We all did sell stuff, but we were mostly selling work at the cheaper end of our ranges. I think there were two factors that combined here. One is the uncertainty with the General Election on the 12th December with all the associated negativity surrounding Brexit and the other, and I think more significant, is the shift of the Climate Crisis from a background presence to the top of the political agenda. There’s the big question, ‘Do I/we want, let alone need, more stuff?’ And, also adding to this was that most of the people I spoke to were local with very few even coming from neighbouring counties and I didn’t speak to anybody who was visiting from London this year.

      1. If I wanted to have a job, I think I would go into the de-cluttering business. I have helped several friends through this transition, and am constantly amazed at the amount of “stuff” they accumulate. I doubt, though, that I would put a timeless, quality, hand-made, unique scarf in that category. Perhaps, though, the younger women are not so much the target audience, and that is reducing your market pool.

      2. Well, I am not making any decisions about anything at the moment. I will wait and see what the election brings and the fallout next year of all the Brexit mess, but I do think that the era of luxurious excess and conspicuous consumption is over most people.

    1. Oh the buying public are nothing if not fickle. We just have to work to the best of our abilities and see what comes back. I must say though I did meet some charming and civilised people who were kind enough to be very positive about my work which is always greatly appreciated.

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