Crafty Manolo » Creating a Demonstration Survival Kit

Creating a Demonstration Survival Kit

By Twistie

Photo via Historic Cold Spring Village

If you’ve ever demonstrated your craft in public, you know that it’s a far more perilous activity than most would suspect. In addition to the danger of losing your voice through constant talking, there’s the danger of losing materials to grubby hands or sticky fingers, and of course your mind when you spend most of the day answering the same three questions over and over and over and over and over again.

Then there are the crafts that leave us more open than others to minor injuries that require swift attention, though not grievous enough to warrant a trip to the ER, hunger pangs when things are just too busy for you to take a break, sunburn if you’re out of doors and nasty drafts if you’re inside… the list goes on.

But a few simple items packed in advance and used as necessary can help you make it through your weaving art demo safely and with a minimum of injury to you and to the public.

Food and water. Seriously. At least pack a couple energy bars and a bottle or thermos of water. Chances are that at some point you will be desperately hungry or thirsty and unable to leave your post. It doesn’t matter whether it’s because the person who was supposed to spell you never showed up, your breakfast was inadequate, there was a sudden rush of inquiring minds just as you were about to close down for lunch, or you didn’t think about eating until you looked up and realized it was four thirty in the afternoon and you’d been sitting there weaving since nine am. All of that can be sorted out and groused about later. Right now you need to take care of your body’s needs, and it needs fuel. Also, having a drink handy means that when you start feeling dry and your break is two hours away, you should be able to keep talking.

Throat lozenges. If you start getting a frog in your throat:

you’ll want a way to ease the misery and keep talking. If you know a professional singer or someone who does a lot of public speaking, ask them what they use.

Band aids, allergy medication, pain killers, hankies or Kleenex, etc. Look, you never know. Prepare for life’s little emergencies… like when you suddenly find you’ve gotten that special monthly visitor a week early in the middle of a demo, or someone’s perfume sets you off on a sneezing fit. These things do happen. Sometimes they happen all at once.

Sunscreen and/or a hat with a brim. If you’re working out of doors, these are necessary. And being of the Transparent Peoples who have just two skin shades (lily white and lobster red!) I learned this one very, very quickly. If, on the other hand, you’re working in a drafty historical building, bring a sweater, shawl, or other quick add on to keep you warm. I’ve had that come in handy in the spring as well as the winter.

Tags to identify the things on your table… especially the ones that could develop legs. These tags perform two duties: they allow some of the more observant observers to understand what the equipment is so that you can answer a couple less basic questions as the day progresses, and they tell anyone who might find your items shiny that you know what you have and where it is. Mind you, I’ve never actually had anything go missing from my demo space. Most people are pretty honest, I always had a partner, and anything of value was in a case that couldn’t go into a pocket easily. But fairs and celebrations bring crowds which raises the chances that some of those people are less than honest, and I’ve known a couple of crafters to lose an item or two from their displays. I don’t assume the worst of people, but I don’t see any reason to make it easy for them to disappoint me, either.

Your sense of humor. This is probably the single most important thing you can pack. As fun and exciting as it is to demonstrate your craft, the fact is that it can also be exhausting and sometimes frustrating. The less common your craft, the more misconceptions people have about it… and the more firmly they seem to hold those misconceptions. Even in a really great crowd, chances are one bozo will come along and say or do something that leaves you with your chin on the floor (or in the dirt!) for hours. When that happens, the best thing you can do is find a way to laugh about it.

It’s a heck of a lot less painful than banging your head against a wall.

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