Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Ancient Art of Barter

by Staci L. Smith

Once upon a time, people exchanged goods for goods.  If you raised chickens, you’d trade chickens to the man who had cows, in return for milk.  Now you have milk and chicken, and he has milk and chicken……..Win- win!  How I wish we could barter like that these days.

Well, who says we can’t?

Now, trading is not new to me.  I often trade with fellow artists.  But let me tell you how it all started, how my eyes were opened to the world of barter and trade.   I was at an Art and Craft Show, when a friend of mine who also made jewelry, walked by wearing a VERY expensive handmade shawl.  I had been drooling over those shawls all day (thin loom woven with bead work…awesomeness).  She says, “look what I traded for”.  Hold on………..What?  Traded?  She traded with you, jewelry for that?  Really?  So my friend says, “yeah, I trade all the time”.  And that is how the door was opened. Wow!  It was so wonderful to think, my work for your work.   All you have to do is ask.  I went for it.  Now, not everyone wants what you make, or is able to trade, but most artists are pretty willing to trade.  So, each year I get lots of organic soaps, and Christmas presents by trading.  I have another friend who makes hand dyed and block printed kids clothes, who has probably completely clothed my kids for 5 years!  LOL! 
It can be as simple as this………………………….

A little while ago, I guess it was after the bead soup blog hop, I got the best email.  I mean, how could this not make you feel good about your work?  It said,

Hey Staci!

I just HAD to stop by your shop and tell you how INCREDIBLE your work is! I totally remember seeing your partner's piece with the wings! WOW!

I loved what you did with your soup and the way you patinaed your metal and pieced everything together !

You are SO talented!

xo Genea”
So, of course, I hop over to see what Genea makes on etsy, and wow, what doesn’t she make?  One of the things she makes is glass beads.  And then I remembered seeing them in the hop….Oh yeah, they were drool worthy.  She even had hearts with wings, and you know I love hearts with wings.

So I emailed her back- told her I love her work………………..and……………………..I would be willing to trade if she wanted to….beads for beads. 

I am so happy I took that step. We chose things we liked from each others shops, exchanged lots of emails, and really got to know each other bit through the whole process.  I told her a style I liked and she ran with it.  I want to share what she made for me!  Get ready to drool………………………….

I am so happy to have met such a talented artist, to have made a friend in this process of trade, and to know these are in the mail to me............(insert big grin here).

So- I didn't write this to brag (though I do love those beads), I want to encourage you to get out there and barter.  Even if things don't work out, it brings back something we have lost this day in age, and thats communication.  You make friends, you chat, ask each other questions, and get to know a fellow artist through the process.  And it feels good, its like giving gifts at Christmas time- and everyone is happy.

I am doing one last trade of the season with our very own Mary Ann Carroll.  We thought it would be a fun way to cross promote one another.  I don't think she trades much, but its for business, will be seeing some Staci Louise jewelry including her beads in the future too!

I will say this again- don't be discouraged if someone can't trade.  I know I can't always do it.  A lot of times I need my inventory in the shop, or for my don't take it personal.  Thank the person and keep in touch.  Perhaps in the future they will be able to.

So how about you?  Do you trade?  What was your favorite trade?  Have you met any new friends through the bartering process?


NEDbeads said...

Oooo!! What a lovely trade that is!! I trade quite a bit myself, and I've loved your components for awhile now. Come and see my shop if you like on Etsy; NEDbeads!!! I love this blog, and I love making handmade with handmade too! :)

Alice said...

My best friend sells a popular brand of cosmetics, and I have swapped a necklace she wanted for moisturizer that she sells.

That's been a while ago. Thanks for reminding me about this concept.

Izzy said...

Oh, I do love the barter system. I just recently sent off a little necklace to a friend who was loved it since it was created (it's a surprise). I figure since it hasn't sold, it must be hers. I'm asking, however, that she send an autographed (no, she's not famous) print of some artwork she's doing for a music video that her and her husband are working on. Her artwork is just adorable. I can do this because she an I are really close. I would recommend that you not do this to someone you don't know that well... =)

mairedodd said...

definitely love the barter system... but you are right, there are times when you can't - and it isn't anything against the other person... looks like you and genea both came out ahead... and like you said, you got to know her... it's always nice to expand your world one terrific person at a time...

Jo said...

What a great trade!
An online friend and I are trading some of her amazing ceramic cabs and beads for my silversmithing tuition, and a friend who sells semi-precious stones does the same. It works brilliantly for us!

MaCarroll Beads said...

I'm excited about it! I trade occasionally, but because I can't create full time due to being a teacher, I'm limited with what I have available....... Maybe more in the future....

Patty said...

I love to trade! It gives me happiness to recall the days when that's how the world worked. You trade eggs because you have them and your neighbor doesn't, and you receive things (even gifts of service) you could have never made yourself. It's perfect, and I love how this practice honors the special contributions that each person is able to make.

TesoriTrovati said...

It is great to trade. Sometimes that doesn't always work. I like to send things to people that I feel might have a connection to them, without the possibility of a trade. Sort of a pay it forward. And the funny thing is that I almost always hear back that this is exactly what they needed at the moment I sent it. How is that for serendipity?
Enjoy the day!

Genea said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful article, Staci and the Love My Art Jewelry team!

I agree that bartering is something that somehow got lost in time. I'm so glad to be "bringing it back".

It's so wonderful to trade things created from the heart with other creative people. There is such a deep connection and love exchanged in artworks.

I do agree that if you are interested in a trade talk back and forth a bit and don't be offended if someone can't trade ;)

I'm so glad to have made friends with Staci and to connect with our art!

xo Genea

Anonymous said...

I trade my beads,ornaments and small pottery all the time. I love being able to exchange a piece of my work for another artists work. I also love hosting swaps so that multiple people can trade their work. I've met some of my wonderful friends through online art trading.

WondrousStrange said...

I trade all the time:) Some of my most precious handmade items come from trades:)It is a real win, win situation:)

Kelli said...

Oh yes!!! I LOVE a good trade!!!
I've traded my jewelry for glass beads from another artist at a show. This Spring, I had a piece I'd made with one of her beads and she went NUTS over it, so I traded it to her for MORE beads, and a WONDERFUL pendant for myself!! LOVE LOVE LOVE trading!!!

Beadaciously Yours said...

I love the idea of trading. I haven't thought about it much. I will definitely need to try that. Thanks for such an informative post.

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