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Opening Ceremonies – Open Call

Calling all makers, creatives and artists!

Blockfort Gallery, in association with the Midwest Craft Conference, is seeking entries for Undeniable Thread, an exhibition featuring works of art that utilize craft mediums as social or political discussion points. Throughout history, the use of art and craft in creating discussion around social and political issues is undeniable.

Inspired by the 2018 curated exhibition, Making Change at MODA put on by friend at 2020 breakout instructor Betsy Greer, Undeniable Thread seeks to highlight current uses of craft in modern discussions.

Works of artwork for the exhibition may range in medium and content, however, both evidence of craft and it’s social or political discussion will be considered when selecting works for this exhibition. Works will be selected by the Midwest Craft Conference team and aided by Blockfort Gallery.

Artists are able to submit as many works as they would like, with the knowledge that the selection committee may only select up to two pieces from any one artist. Blockfort Gallery takes a commission of 30% of the sale of work. Works should be priced accordingly. Works exhibited in the gallery will also appear online for sale on the Blockfort Gallery website for the duration of the exhibition. Artists are not required to price work for sale.

The exhibit will house a private reception for attendees as an opening ceremonies the Thursday evening before the conference. There will also be reception that will be open to the public.

Our call for entries will close November 30th with notifications going out by December 15th, apply here.

City Guides · craft shows · News · Resources

Fall + Holiday Shows around the Midwest!

The handmade season is upon us! Makers are working their magic building up holiday inventory while still hustling their way through the summer fairs and festivals. Fans of DIY can start planning their shopping lists while makers can explore new markets to sell their handmade items.

Want to make sure you get access to early bird tickets? Sign up for our emails to get details on the next con in 2020 — Early Bird tickets will go on sale September 1st!

Know any other indie craft shows that should be on our list? Add them in the comments!


Shop the Midwest Craft Con Trade Show

midwest craft con, author book signing, trade show

The Midwest has SO many great independent craft stores and boutiques. One of our many goals at Midwest Craft Con is to help connect these store owners with our  talented attendees.

Whether you’re looking to take a creative keepsake for a loved one, or pick up some books and products from our speakers for yourself, Midwest Craft Con’s trade show is a perfect place shop. You can stop by the trade show to shop from Friday 2 to 7 p.m., Saturday 12 to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

These are the shops you’ll be able to shop with during this year’s conference:

And there’s even more fun to be had:

  • Office Hours: Some of our speakers are open to sharing their knowledge with you one-on-one with office hours you can sign up for at the Con. The hours and experts participating will be posted in the Trade Show.

Al Hoff of Handmade Arcade on Drinking with Martha Stewart

Handmade Arcade (HA), founded in 2004, is Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair. Now in its 12th year, HA brings innovative crafters and progressive do-it-yourself designers to sell, their handmade, locally produced and offbeat wares at a bustling marketplace. HA is highly anticipated event that attracts more than 9,000 attendees in one day, providing craftspeople and artists working outside mainstream fine arts sectors with a grassroots, high-visibility venue to sell wares, build community, network and share their artistic practice. Handmade Arcade is run by a collective of creative Pittsburghers who have helped to shape and bolster Pittsburgh’s independent craft scene over the past twelve years. The group’s founders — who, along with new volunteers, still run the event today — were inspired to organize a craft fair of Pittsburgh’s own that would tap into a national movement and provide a welcoming venue for artists and shoppers to come together.

At Midwest Craft Con, Handmade Arcade members will be giving a Craft Show Booth Critiques workshop — email Tricia a picture of your booth to be considered for a live critique during the session! We asked founding HA member Al Hoff (bottom left in the photo above) a few questions:

Why do you do what you do?

​Honestly, I watch a lot of bad TV and I like to also DO something while I’m destroying my mind. So, I do little self-amusing crafty things.​

What’s your earliest crafty memory?

​Free-form, free-range childhood in late 1960s, early 1970s San Francisco. We did a lot of whatever, hippie-dippie stuff — finger-painting, nailing things to boards, gluing macaroni on paper, god’s eyes, sand candles, decoupaged bottles and cans, and turning six-pack rings into Christmas wreaths. ​

What crafty personality would you most like to get a drink with?

​Martha Stewart, just to see whether or not she’d pick up the tab. ​

What’s your favorite craft/business book?

​I’ll have to go way back, and cite random books I had as a kid — books that encouraged kids to do crafts, especially things with ordinary household objects or trash. Turn a toilet-paper roll into a dog! Make a necklace from pull-tabs. Fold paper into a battleship. I didn’t do any of those things so much as I enjoyed seeing all the potential.

What are your goals for 2016?

​I’m getting organized. No, really — this is the year.​


Holiday Craft Show Survival Guide

Craft show season is starting to ramp up, and if you’re a seller doing a different show every weekend, it can be truly grueling. But you have to perform at your best, because you might be making half of your annual income in the next two months. Here are our six best suggestions for preparing for the holidays so you have a successful selling season:

  • Set mini goals: Inventory production might seem overwhelming leading up to the holidays, but we find that if you break big tasks into bite size chunks, procrastination becomes much less of a problem. Rather than write “Make 500 things” on your to-do list, break it down into steps that you can more easily check off, like:
    • Print packaging
    • trim packaging
    • reorder googly eyes
    • fold cards
    • glitter airbrushing
    • eat lunch
      Don’t underestimate the satisfaction you feel from checking a thing off your list, no matter how small.
  • Do a trial run: Especially if you’re trying out a new booth or table setup, test out your design in your home before you take it on the road. See how long it takes to set up, and take pictures of how it looks when you’ve got it just right so you can remember which pieces go where. Also try packing it all up to make sure the gear fits in your car.
  • Don’t forget your email list: If you don’t yet have an email list, start one now. Have nice sign-up sheets visible at your booth or table. We love the email service Mailchimp, and Abby Glassenberg has great advice on building an email newsletter, which she’ll also be talking about at Midwest Craft Con in February!
  • Take time for self care: Holiday season can be crazy busy and stressful, so it is of the utmost importance to be nice to yourself. Do one thing every day that is just for you, whether it’s a long, hot shower, a delightfully strong coffee, a nap or a five-minute dance party. In the weeks before my big show, I try to make a bunch of freezable crockpot concoctions so that I’m still eating well when I don’t have time to cook. There are lots more good ideas for self care here.
  • Spread the word about your shows: On your store website and social media pages, be sure to let your fans know where you’ll be and when. It helps your fans buy from you, and I can tell you that craft show organizers love the assistance in spreading the word.
  • Make a list and check it twice: How many times have you packed up for a show only to realize when you arrive that you forgot your Square, your snacks or any change whatsoever? It’s happened to us more times than we’d like to admit. Crafty Supermarket created this printable Day-of-Show Seller Checklist to help crafters everywhere stay on track and have more successful shows! Click the image below to download the checklist (the file has two lists per 8.5″x11″ page) and print it out to use for your next craft shows:

craft show seller checklist

You are welcome to print this PDF out and share it with your crafty friends! The checklist is excerpted from The Crafty Superstar Ultimate Craft Business Guide by Midwest Craft Con co-organizer Grace Dobush.

Is there anything else you’d add to our list of suggestions for surviving holiday craft show season?