Folksy Ltd

Art trail advice and ideas please!

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #1

In a few weeks I’ll be taking part in a local art trail. I’ll be opening my home and have invited 4 other artists to join me.

Never having done anything like this before, I wondered if anyone had any tips, ideas or advice. For instance, should I offer refreshments, if so, should I charge? I thought I might set up a craft table for people to try some felting - or is this asking for trouble?

Any thoughts appreciated.

(Roz) #2

Not sure about the refreshment idea but regarding the felting I would just say the following - if it is wet felting be prepared for a wet soggy mess! If needle felting I would be cautious, those needles are very sharp and once someone has stabbed themselves that needle should be destroyed and not used by anyone else due to the possibility of cross infection of blood born diseases. I would think theoretically you should provide one needle per person and destroy them afterwards as you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of any stabbing! Also I’m not sure where you stand if say someone stabs themselves and the wound later becomes infected - are you covered by your insurance? Don’t want to be a damp squib but better safe than sorry.

(Sasha Garrett) #3

I take part in my local open studio scheme every July which is probably similar. Signage is key, make sure you have an obvious flag/ banner ideally that people can see as soon as they turn into your street, my scheme has a standardised yellow flag that we all display so people know what to look for. I only open up part of my house which is accessed via the side gate/ patio doors so have bunting and (lots of) arrows for people to follow so that they know where they are going, I then put large ‘private’ signs on any door that people aren’t allowed through as I don’t want them wandering round the house. If there are set opening hours then make sure you are open and ready for people during those hours (I’ve had people in a car waiting for opening time to start), there will also be stragglers who turn up just as you want to close so make sure you have some food ready to be reheated as I doubt you will want to cook when they are gone.
Since my scheme is in the summer and I live in Cambridge where most people cycle I offer homemade elderflower cordial as it can be hot and thirsty work going round all the studios and I don’t charge for it. Some places do cream teas and do charge but I don’t have space for that.
As for the craft table idea - I wouldn’t do it. I normally have some of my work there to be worked on in between visitors so that I can talk them through it (and fill the time between visitors) but invariably the person who wants to talk to you about a commission/ buy something turns up at the same time as someone would need supervision on felting let alone the health and safety aspects that Roz mentioned. Having examples of the tops (?) so that people can see the other colours could be very useful as it might triggr the ‘oh could I have that but in this colour…’ conversation (I have my folders of unset rocks on the desk for that very reason). Paper and pencils to distract any kids is a good idea - I normally leave the OH to deal with them.

(Helen Smith) #4

I know some people on our local open studio tour do offer tea and cake to encourage people to stay around longer but with 4 other artists as well have you got space? Last year I shared a space with 4 others and we were quite busy enough without.

I think a demo table showing how you do it rather than a have-a-go table might be a better option.

As it’s your first time, I’d be inclined to keep it simple so you can get a feel for how many people you’ll get, what they’re interested in, how long they stay etc.

Make sure you and the other artists have public liability insurance, just in case.

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(Elsa Fuster Mears) #5

I don’t really do much needle felting so wouldn’t be offering it. But you’re certainly right about the dangers!

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #6

I’ve had some corex signs delivered today and our house name is clearly signed so I think it will be enough for punters to easily spot us. But something a little more personal might be just the ticket! I do like the cordial idea… Perhaps making something similar to offer cold will be enough. Just need the sunshine to linger for a bit longer now!

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #7

I think the general thought is not to offer a crafting table but rather a demo of work… So I will happily take the advice and keep it simple!

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #8

Silly thought but crucial… Should the front door stay open for people for wander in and out or do I leave them to ring the doorbell when people arrive?

(Sasha Garrett) #9

I leave the patio doors open so that people can wander in and out but I station myself next to the door so that I know how many have wandered in, no one sneak in and I know when they have all left (I also have my body guard in the other room to act as drinks manager and to warn me when they are coming up the front path). People can be put off by a shut door but in this weather I know why you might prefer to keep it shut.

(Grimm Exhibition) #10

Do you need insurance for a trail?
My old boss has organised many trails, in and around Henley. Signs are a great idea, my boss used a sandwich board(I think that’s what they are called) at the end of the road and she tied balloons to the road sign.
She offered refreshments, I don’t think she charged.
I think she gave a free greeting card to viewers just for turning up.
Im also thinking about your floors, will they get filthy with more foot traffic than normal?

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #11

Thanks for your concern over my floors. Thankfully they’re all hard floors which are easily mopped so no worries there.

I’m still toying with the idea of asking for donations for refreshments available (cordial and homemade biscuits) or does that seem too tacky? I guess if all 5 of us involved bring a little sweet treat it won’t seem too daunting a task to cater for the weekend for free.

(Eileens Craft Studio) #12

You can always leave a pot with a little sign saying, ‘donations’ as most people do like to leave something for a biscuit and a drink at these sorts of things. That way you leave it up the the individual.

(Jan Ryan) #13

I think an open door is very welcoming but it depends on how your house is laid out, you wouldn’t want anyone walking in and going anywhere that’s out of bounds.
I think cordial and biscuits sound good. It would do no harm to have a donations box as Eileen says.

(Grimm Exhibition) #14

How about selling the biscuits as part of the items on sale in the trail, seeing as they are homemade. Tea and coffee could be free but people pay for food.

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(Elsa Fuster Mears) #15

I’m now thinking of only having a jug of lime/ginger/mint water and a plate of biscuits for people to help themselves to. I think that’ll be the easiest option. I don’t fancy the idea of tea/coffee being spilled over anything precious. Argh!

Thanks to everyone for their input.

(Helen Smith) #16

Having public liability insurance is a condition for joining our local arts trail/open studio tour and I think it is a wise thing to have even if the organisers don’t insist on it (they probably should). You need it for most events these days anyway.

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #17

I already have public liability in place as I take part in art fairs that insist on it. It covers me for this event too.

(Rosesworkshop) #18

Not just public liability, what does your house insurance say about having the front door open and strangers wandering about? Is it possible to separate off the “Open” area and lock doors to other parts of the house? What about toilets? Do you have pets? I think these trails are wonderful if you have a standalone studio, but you are very brave inviting the world to your house :smile:

(Elsa Fuster Mears) #19

Thanks for your input. Our home insurance covers us for ‘strangers’ as we already run B and B rooms from the house. But I have decided not to leave the door open and instead, have visitors ring the doorbell to be let in. At least on who is coming in. To be honest, as were out in the sticks, I don’t think we’re expecting a constant flood of visitors.