Crafting on the Road

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.

 

 

 

One Week in and we're still alive

  • Time:Monday, 29 February 2016 00:00

We’ve been on the road for just over a week and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to sit down at the computer and write. Our first week as a family of four, living on the road in a caravan, has been a bit of a whirlwind. We never got a chance to take the caravan for a test trip before we packed up our lives, so we’ve learnt how to use the caravan whilst travelling.

Our first four nights were spent in caravan parks in Western Sydney and on the Central Coast, saying goodbye to our families. We ate a lot of food, the kids had late nights and we celebrated Dianella’s first birthday not once but twice; once with Dave’s family and then again with mine. After leaving the Central Coast we drove to Mudgee, a country town in NSW where we used to live. We parked our caravan in a friend’s yard and then celebrated Dianella’s birthday again, with more cake. This time it was her actual birthday though. She must think that eating cake every day is the norm for a one year old.

Tree & Pixie debuted at the markets in Mudgee on Easter Saturday and boy was it busy! My new compact market set up worked out well, but I hadn’t made enough stock. I sold out of quite a few items and learnt that I need my set up to be compact, but not so compact that I run out of items and miss out on sales.

After Mudgee, we stayed a night at a friend’s place on their farm. We ate a lot of food, drank wine, played scrabble and the kids spent most of the time there running around naked and being totally feral. It was lovely.

Finally on Easter Monday we were on our own and headed bush. We camped out at Washpool Camping area in Towarri NP (near Scone, NSW). It felt so good to finally camp out in the bush instead of caravan parks and friend’s yards. As a family, we’ve done plenty of camping over the years but have never owned a caravan. Sleeping in the bush in a caravan felt like absolute luxury. We have a fridge, running water, hot water and electricity. I am so glad we chose a caravan and not a camper trailer.

As I write this, we are in a caravan park in Armidale NSW. It’s raining, the kids are asleep. We’re warm, and dry and incredibly happy with our new lives.