Attending craft shows

I’m just wondering if anyone attends craft shows with their GF. I hope to do so myself, I am just looking for ideas on how to transport and set up. It’s a bit heavy for me to move around, I am also concerned about the durability of the machine itself. If I can handle Transportation.

I think Photos, Movies, etc would be the way to go except for something like a week long maker fair indoors, and even that would take special planning. To pack up , unpack, set up have wifi etc. and then the same again to leave would take more time and risk to equipment than the average craft show would justify.

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I’ve actually been asked by a couple different local companies that put on different events and such (street fair, craft show, farmer’s market type events) if my laser was mobile. While, YES, it is, I have let them know it’s not easy to move, would need a proper place to set it up on a solid flat surface and all that. I think it would be much better if you could take some examples, and some small products to sell, and maybe have a video running on a tablet or something that shows off the actual forge. That’s what I plan on doing at some point soon, just need to find time to do it all

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Just the packing up for shipping, applying all the orange stuff, and all the foam. and handles etc was for me anyway far more effort than hooking up the wifi, and would have to be done at the start and end of each day. If there were a secure inside room and you had something like a Medical Gurney to move it about in the building, you could perhaps carry it off but then it would not be able to go home,

And of course temperatures both high and low would be a big issue.

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my goal was to make customized product “On the spot” I found 6 to 8 items with a quantity of 10 or more of each, ready for engraving, the customer can choose from 3 or 4 blank templates.

I don’t think that the Glowforge is the ideal tool for that and as you are only engraving a cheap fiber laser for marking only might be a better way to go and use the Glowforge for the cutting and other “prep” work.

In addition to all the set up/break down, and “weathering the elements,” you’ll need to be concerned about venting the GF so smoke isn’t blowing onto another vendor or into the crowd. And every time you move the machine, your alignment will likely be changed, both due to movement and to being on a new surface.

I’m sure it’s workable if you’re feeling committed, but I think that unless you’re going to a large multi-day festival that draws big crowds (like a county fair), the financial gain of having the GF on-site may be low. I know some people take orders for custom items at fairs (payment in advance) and either ship or arrange to deliver at a later date (possibly at your next show).

If you do it, I hope you’ll share back what works and what doesn’t!

I haven’t done it yet, but I’d suggest the following:

  1. Have 1-2 people with you. You can’t carry it by yourself. So you’ll need at least 1 person to help carry and possibly another person to open doors or otherwise clear your path.
  2. When you transport, lock everything… The gantry rail screws specifically. You don’t want anything to bounce around.
  3. Make sure the area or your phone has a good WiFi signal to give the Glowforge.
  4. If you’re not bringing a filter, bring your vent hose… This way you can at least run it behind you to help keep the smell a little distanced from the customers and other vendors.
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I have set up at a local MakerFaire. All of Tom’s suggestions are good.

It’s not a simple job, it takes time to break down at home, box up, load up, set up at the event, break down, and then set back up again at home. so i would only do it if it’s something that’s really valuable to you in some way.

for me, the opportunity to exhibit at the MF was enough. i don’t know if doing it would generate that much more $$, especially customizing on site. especially since most customizing is engraving and most engraving takes a while, unless you’re engraving small areas.

we used a 25 ft dryer vent hose to run the exhaust about 15 ft behind the booth and there were no booths behind us. it was a maker faire, so people expected smells, but a craft fair they will not, so make sure you have a place to run exhaust if you’re not using a filter. i would suggest only doing wood if you’re venting, since that smell isn’t too bad (and some people even like it). acrylic or leather would be much worse.

i brought a portable AC and used a UPS box to funnel the cold air under the right hand side of the machine.

pre make as much as you can. even premasking.

be prepared for weather. how will you cover up your machine if it rains? how will you get from your tent to your vehicle in a downpour while protecting the GF (and the box, since that’s valuable)? we had a huge tarp there for just that purpose (and i barely got mine back into my truck before the downpour hit).

do you have a hand truck? is it convertible to flatbed? if you rely on what they may have on site, you could be waiting a while (which is an issue if there’s bad weather).

bring a cooler with beverages/snacks. if you get busy, you may not be able to break away. i didn’t eat the lunch they brought me at noon until almost 4pm because i was busy.

i wish we’d had 3 people in the booth instead of just two. it was maker faire and we were demonstrating. so i was demonstrating non-stop, my wife was talking to people and helping manage the drawings i was engraving, and neither of us got a break.

if you have a way of using a monitor with a web cam showing the bed while it engraves, i suggest doing that. we didn’t, and people were crowding around the machine. it would have been better to put the GF back behind us with a web cam overhead showing a live feed on a monitor. i did have a portable USB monitor turned out to the crowd to show what was happening on my screen as i used the UI.

hope some of this helps. i was at a maker faire, which may be a very different experience than a craft fair or something like that.

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well its apparent that the GF is not the perfect toll for this. i will look for a more compatible laser.

i don’t necessarily think that’s true. i think the GF would be one of the easier laser cutters to set up remotely. it’s all in one piece. a different machine that may have multiple pieces to set up (air assist, cooler, etc) and a larger footprint would be at least as much of a PITA to set up. the one negative for the GF at one of these events is wifi.

fyi, here’s the thread from my maker faire experience.

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I disagree. But to each their own.

We had a huge local flea market in the area for years and years. It was legendary in the area, really. But it shut down last year. If it hadn’t I was going to open a booth there. I planned on marketing items I could do on-the-fly as well as showcase some “This takes a while to customize, so I’ll just ship it right to your door.” I haven’t looked for anything to replace that idea.

I love @shop’s idea of a live camera so people can spectate and increase interest in the booth!

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There is a Flea Market here with many advantages over most.
It is a solid Building, it has flat concrete floors and you can have your area chain linked and secure. But it is hot, above GF temps most of the year, humid so keeping a lot of wood there tricky. There is a business selling engraves of Yeti stuff with a fiber Laser, but the prices are rock bottom so the Yeti stuff is about as expensive as it gets and still not much more than standard retail of that stuff. Really nice gifts are not in evidence.

I know most of the comments have been about how difficult and potentially not worth doing it is but I’ve done several mini-makerfaires and demos and have to disagree. Of course we all probably have different perceptions of “difficult” but I don’t think it would add much extra effort to the typical craft show prep & setup.

I did my first mobile-op back with a pre-release unit. That taught me the one critical thing to do - have a mobile hotspot. Set that up at home so you can switch to it onsite. Everything else is pretty normal craft fair setup.

Temperature is an issue if you’re outside. I’ve been fortunate a couple of times to have moderate temps in the low 70s. If it’s hot & you’re outside you’ll need a cooling solution - @shop has a really nice setup he came up with. Make sure you’ll have sufficient extra power if you need to go that route.

I have my own hand truck that converts to a flatbed. If you’re doing craft shows you likely have one already. Check to see that the GF will fit lengthwise along the bed so it’s easy to move. I can lift mine myself so I do it solo but it is a bit awkward so extra hands can be helpful. Normal craft fair setup usually has 2 people manning a booth anyway just for managing customers and bathroom breaks.

I am waiting for my GF filter so I toss the end of the hose into a big Rubbermaid I use to cart stuff (display items, samples, etc. The hose goes in & I toss a bunched up tablecloth/sheet into it to absorb any smells. Works fine for the jobs I do and no issues inside (I even did one in a converted large-home sized building and no objectionable smells.

I setup with a pair of 6 foot tables on an L. I put the GF and raw materials on the left table (it’s perpendicular to the walkway) and my stuff including a laptop and 27" monitor. I have my laptop mirrored to the monitor. I also have an HDMI switch with a webcam mounted on a gorilla tripod. I can switch between showing my customization work on the PC and the GF as it works.

I have the GF setup so I can pop the lid to put materials in but the button on the end so people can push the big glowy button.

I keep everything in the same size large Rubbermaid totes. That way I get a flat surface on the hand truck which makes things easier & fewer trips. If I’m outside & they don’t provide a tent or covering, I have a 10x10 EZUp canopy. I also have some leg weights to help keep it from blowing in the wind.

Bring extra extension cords. Everything else (coolers, snacks, drinks, chairs, displays, etc) is pretty standard craft fair setup prep.

Good luck and remember to have fun.

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I thought I would be able to manage taking mine to a show or two, but since I’m usually on my own, it’s not happening. I just make it clear I can offer custom work.

But great advice from others here already how to do it–but be sure it’s a very stable table that doesn’t flex under the weight so the machine does not “rack” and remains level and stable.

Be sure the event does provide power–may seem rather obvious, but don’t assume anything. Not all shows do provide power. Many shows you have to pay extra $ to order a drop. And do have your own hot spot capability–in case wifi is not available, or is not good enough to support the GF and sales transactions (e.g. Square)–you don’t want to affect the ability of other vendors to access wifi for their sales with what you are doing.

And recommend portable filter–you may be violating fire codes if you’re just exhausting into the public space (especially if indoor)–or at least make it less unpleasant for those around you at the show–other vendors cannot leave the area around you, like the public can.

Also have a curtain or something you can use to keep the device out of the bright light, since that can affect the camera performance and operation. Even within a pop-up canopy, depending orientation to the sun & its angle, it can get quite bright–but also be sure to have side walls or use (clear) shower curtains if there’s any risk of rain.

And be sure the show organizers know what you’re bringing, and that it’s not quiet–you want to be a good neighbor to other vendors, too–so they should account for all the noise & exhaust generation for your booth/table placement for the event.

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I should have mentioned this, too. i ended up draping a towel over the lid whenever i scanned so it didn’t get washed out, but a sidewall on the tent would have taken care of that.

also very good advice. i had a lot of conversations with the maker faire folks about noise, emissions, and power requirements. especially when i mentioned i needed power for not only the GF but for the portable AC.

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I don’t think the GF is the issue… there are just challenges inherent in lugging a laser around. I think the GF is great for demo work in comparison to other lasers I’ve seen, but it’s big and stinky (without a filter) and sensitive, and that’s true of most quality/safe lasers.

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I wonder if such a thing exists, and easily portable Laser. The only thing I really needed to do, is engrave names.

There are some very portable machines out there that are easily used on the go, but they are woefully short of power which makes them frustratingly slow. There may be some that are not, but I’ve had no experience with them.

Maybe a small CNC router is a better idea?

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