Items filtered by date: March 2016
In the two months we spent preparing for our trip, one of the things I spent the most time planning was how I was going to run a handmade business whilst travelling Australia in a caravan. The idea of having a Tree & Pixie stall at markets all over the country really excites me. I love what I do and having the opportunity to take my products to hundreds of different places and expose them to thousands of different people is truly amazing. When you’re a crafter and run a handmade business you do what you do for love, not money. What I do probably won’t make me rich, but I get real pleasure not just out of being creative and making beautiful things, but also from seeing other people enjoy the things I make. I hope to bring the things I make to as many people as possible over the next year.
A week and a half into our trip and I’ve set up a Tree & Pixie stall at one market so far, in Mudgee NSW. My plan is to find a market around every two weeks to hold a stall at so I have time in between to create stock, look after the kids and enjoy our travels. I made quite a bit of stock before we left home, but had to maintain a balance between having enough to fill a stall and website, but also not have it take up too much space in the car. Mudgee markets were very successful and I found that I hadn’t quite made enough stock and that the car (thankfully) had a bit of empty space meaning I could make more stuff before the next markets.
We’ve spent the past 3 days staying in a lovely little caravan park in Armidale, NSW. This meant we’ve had mains electricity, access to running water and a laundry, perfect conditions for creating fabric button accessories and tie dying clothing. In two days I have tie dyed twenty two items of clothing and made twenty fabric button hair clips and ten bookmarks. There’s still more to do, but the messy part of the job is out of the way.
Before we left home, I thought long and hard about how I was going to tie dye clothing on the road. I set myself up with a couple of buckets with lids and stocked up on dye and salt. Yesterday I put my new set up to the test and tie dying whilst camping was easier than I expected. Our caravan has hot water, so I could fill up the buckets and mix the dye at our campsite. I just used the laundry sink in the caravan park to rinse the items when I was done and chucked them all in the industrial washing machines. I even found a great spot inside the caravan to hang up the clothes to dry. The only thing I forgot to pack is an iron, so I might have to pick one up along the way. I think I’ll very quickly get used to doing this on the road.
In many ways, tie dying has proved easier to do on the road than making fabric button accessories. It takes up quite a bit of space to lay out all my fabrics and design each item and space is something we don’t have much of these days. It hasn’t helped that the weather has been rainy and miserable. Thankfully the caravan park we’re at has a large rec room that seems to be empty at night. Once the kids were asleep, I sat down in front of the TV in the rec room with a glass of wine, some leftover Easter eggs and spent a good couple of hours crafting. Space! Me time! Bliss.
The one thing I didn’t think through before we left home was gluing together my fabric button accessories. The glue I use is industrial strength. You shouldn’t breathe in the vapours and it takes 48 hours to set. At home I just glued everything outdoors and then left it all my garage to dry. The only solution I came up with for completing this process on the road is to glue everything outdoors and then sit it in a container (with predrilled aeration holes) under the caravan for two days. The only problem is that the container I have brought with me can only hold around 20 items at once. I wasn’t anticipating selling so much at each market and having to make so many items as once. I guess I need a bigger container.
I’m sure in time I’ll streamline the whole process and find my feet when it comes to crafting and running a handmade business whilst on the road. Even with the challenges of such a confined and unique space, it really is a joy to be creating beautiful objects for others to enjoy. I can’t wait until our next market. Northern NSW here we come.
As our date of departure draws near, I have begun to reflect on the planning process that has occurred over the past two months. Everyone always wants to know how to plan such a big trip. They ask questions like: where do I begin? What needs to be done? How can we do it too? Whilst I am not going to answer those questions in this post, I will list 5 parts of the planning process I have found the most difficult.
- Caring for Children
Our children are young. Our eldest is 3 and our youngest is not quite 1. There is only so much self-directed play that can be expected of children so young. Planning such a big trip has taken a lot of work. One thing I found incredibly frustrating was the fact that I never got a chance to complete a job in one sitting. Every time I started to pack something, or organise something I would get interrupted. Nella would wake from her nap or Jarrah would ask me to play with him. I think it took me three days to pack 3 boxes in the kitchen! To add to my frustration, less than two weeks before our departure date both kids contracted a tummy bug and required extra attention and care. Everything takes longer with kids, and not just in the planning stage either. It’s good to remember that once we’re on the road, everything will still take longer with such young children. If Google maps says a drive will take 3 hours, I think I’m going to expect it to take 5 hours with kids!
- Paperwork & Phone Calls
When we decided to travel around Australia and I envisaged planning our trip, I always imagined purchasing the vehicle and caravan and packing everything. These are the exciting and tangible jobs. What I never really thought about was the stuff behind the scenes. I have spent hours and hours on the phone and internet over the past two months doing boring paperwork. I have spent my time organising car insurance, caravan insurance, contents insurance, transferring registration on vehicles, organising storage, Centrelink payments, applying to teach in different states (so I can work as a casual teacher on the road), disconnecting our internet and electricity, cancelling our lease etc. These jobs had to be done and I didn’t enjoy a single one.
- Deciding What to Pack
Whilst this part has been exciting, it has been difficult too. Our caravan only has so much space, and trying to decide what we should take with us and what can be left behind has been very challenging indeed. I’ve packed my own clothes 3 times and I still think I might have packed too many. We’ve never been caravanning before and have only been camping a handful of times since having children, so working out what we need is definitely going to be trial and error.
We haven’t even left yet and we are way over budget. I am talking at least $10 000 over budget, which for low income earners like us is HUGE. I am the money manager of the family and I run a tight ship. My husband loves telling everyone how much more money we have, now that I manage our finances and I happen to agree with him. I pride myself on writing a bloody good budget. We sat down and wrote a budget when we first made the decision to travel and have revised it numerous times since, but expenses have kept popping up that we never even thought about and boy have they added up. Some of these include: vehicle and caravan modifications, car servicing, transfer of registration, mobile business overheads, roadside assistance and the list goes on. I am hoping that our on road budget will be more accurate than our planning budget.
- Time Constraints
Most people take a year to plan a trip like this. We took less than three months! We spent a few weeks looking for a caravan and as soon as we’d bought our van, we set a date to leave 2 months later. This has meant that much of our planning has been rushed and has meant that it has been more expensive. We haven’t always had the time to shop around for the best deal, and have even had to ask mechanics, caravan repairers and auto electricians to bump us up in the queue so that work can be done before we leave. We also ran out of time to do a test run in our caravan which means the day we leave our house for a year will be our first day travelling in a caravan. I think our first few weeks on the road will be a steep learning curve.