Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Steamer update - tips and things to remember

The Tulip Tree
I finally found time to use my new steamer (mentioned in a previous post).  It worked pretty well.  I had used a new sort of insulation (which looks like bubble-wrap coated with a thin reflective lining).  The steamer did a fine job of creating steam and steaming my silk, but it ran cold.  I use it in the basement/garage (aka my studio!) and it's darned chilly down there.  SO I wrapped another layer of the bubble-wrap insulation around it and the heat rose by 20+ degrees...almost to what I need it to be.  Thankfully the dyes did fine (I did steam both sets about double the amount of time recommended).  You can see more of my paintings on my other blog:

I'm guessing that good'ol fiberglass blankets work better for insulation - but I really didn't want to mess with fiberglass (and I'm allergic, so I've no doubt it would not be fun for me to do so).  But the bubble-wrap-looking stuff worked well enough for me - so I'm happy.

FYI - if you do build your own steamer and choose one similar to mine, there are few things to be aware of so please note:

1) You probably only need a 4 foot tall one (I did 5 foot because it was a single piece of pipe - the 4 foot option requires 2 2-foot pieces plus a coupler to join them).  Taller means you can do longer pieces of silk.. but it ALSO means you need a higher ceiling so you have plenty of room to get your steaming bag full of artwork in and out of the pipe without bending it or touching the sides!  Thankfully the majority of my garage has pretty high ceilings (of course my first steaming was in the lower area - so lesson learned).

My home-made steamer
2) Putting pennies in my rice cooker/steamer did not help me hear when the water was running dry (I guess they were supposed to bounce around and make clinking-sounds when the water got low - but it did NOT work for me).
3) Make sure your steamer bag is a good deal narrower in diameter than the pipe!  I made 2 bags - 1 wide and 1 narrow.  The narrow one held plenty of silk plus gave me more wiggle room (since I'm in the garage and the floor is at a slight angle, the bag leaned to one side but still had room to hang-free from touching the sides!).

4) Using a pillowcase for the steamer bag was a super-easy way to create a steamer bag for cheap.  I purchased a king-size pillowcase from Goodwill.  I washed it immediately in HOT water and bleach(I have to admit, buying bedding that is used does somewhat creep me out because of all the bed bug horror stories).  I turned it inside out and measured out the width I wanted... sewed it up one side and then cut up the side next to the new seam...and steamer bag.  I also sewed the other part of the pillowcase up making a larger-sized steamer bag.  So 2 bags for the price of 1 pillowcase from goodwill (less than $2 in cost - or $1 a bag!). 

5) All of the videos and blogs I saw used a hollow pipe to roll the silks around... but most of them pulled the pipe out before steaming.  I used a round closet dowel-rod that I happened to have in the shop.  It worked great! 

6) I have BAGS of clean mover's newsprint.. but it's all wrinkled from being used for multiple moves.  It worked just fine for steaming silk.  You put down a couple of layers of newsprint (I used three)  then place your silk paintings on the newsprint leaving a minimum of 3 inches between the paintings -- or better yet, 1 painting then 3 more sheets of newsprint, then another painting, then three more newsprints...etc.  Supposedly you can do quite a few layers that way.  BUT I personally wouldn't want to over-load it.  So I did 3 news print, a painting, 3 newsprint, another painting, and then 3 more newsprints.  Roll carefully around the dowel (you do NOT want wrinkles in your silk - they will be permanently steamed in!) and tape closed.  slide the whole thing into your steaming bag, and then carefully pull the dowel out.  Close the steaming bag and then put a cap of aluminum foil on the bottom and around the top of the bag to protect it from splashes and drips...and steam according to the dye or paint directions.

7) Don't leave the steamer unattended!  I stayed in my studio and did other things while the steamer was on.  And I'm glad I stayed!  I assumed I would hear the pennies  - but did not... And you have to be VERY careful when checking your steamer because you don't want to bump it and accidentally have the steaming bag inside swing and hit the inside wall of the pipe - water condensation from the steam would ruin your painting!!  Anyways, my steamer ran dry and I smelled something odd and noticed the temperature was seriously dropping - and that was my clue that I desperately needed more water in the steamer.

8) Have a way to get boiling water into your steamer WITHOUT having to remove the pipe!  I have a pretty large hole (about 4 inches wide) near the base of the pipe.  I keep it covered with insulation, but can remove the insulation to check the water level - and to add more water...although I needed a watering can to do so (my tea kettle just doesn't have a long-enough spout)!  It's best to add boiling water to your steamer rather than cool water because it will take a long time to heat up and you want to keep your silks steaming steadily.

9) I'm sure I mentioned a thermometer in my previous steamer post, but it is SUPER handy to have one in your pipe!  I had a hole just large enough for my digital thermometer to fit in - and I made sure to have a hole in all the layers of my insulation as well (which I marked with duct tape so I wouldn't loose the hole!).  I left the thermometer in the pipe the entire time I was steaming.. and every-so-often I would turn it on and check the temperature.  It was very nice to have it!

10) This probably goes without saying - but STEAM IS HOT!!  THE PIPE IS HOT!!  Yes, you could potentially burn yourself!  So please use caution and some sort of protection for your hands- (and maybe your eyes ) is advisable.  And along the safety notes - the taller the pipe, the easier it is to tip over!  I say this because YES, I managed to knock mine over - thankfully it was at the end of the steaming cycle... but still - scary!  Unbelievably, nothing broke!  It fell and hit a floor lamp, which fell and hit a table lamp, which fell and hit the floor.  But nothing broke. Not even the glass lid from the steamer that I covered in a towel (to help catch drips).  I was lucky - this time!   And I do NOT want to experience that again!

Do I have more tips - probably.... but having expounded at length.. I'm ready for bed! 
If you have any questions, please let me know!  I'd be happy to chat more. :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Make Your Own Steamer For Silk Paintings

I don't know about your, but I simply can not afford to buy all the fancy, wonderful toys needed to do any major art or craft project!

Additionally, I feel personally obligated to try and re-use (ie, recycle!) anything I possibly can.  So to support and maintain my own personal intergrity, I have decided to make my own steamer apparatus for steaming silk paintings.

I mentioned in the previous post that I LOVE, ADORE, AM ENAMORED WITH, (etc) silk painting.  And one of the best tools you can have (in my opinion) is a steamer.  Professional-grade steamers cost hundreds of dollars (way too much for my sad little wallet!).  And I know I could use the stovetop and a steamer basket - that seems somewhat risky to me and I don't want those dyes etc in my kitchen.  SOOOO... I took a page out of my friend Barb's page.  She made her own - and it works GREAT!  I thought 'how hard can that be?'  (of course it's ALWAYS harder than I plan on!!).

First I found a rice cooker at my favorite thrift store.  It cost me less than $10 (maybe even less than $5 - I can't remember the exact amount, but it was a good price!).  And it has a variety of settings which I tested at home... several of which boil water very nicely.  I just need to play with the settings once I'm ready to actually steam something.

picture courtesy of Lowes

Next I needed ductwork/pipe.   It's OFFICIALLY called Galvanized Duct.  I ended up buying a 5 ft piece with a 10inch diameter.  I think Barb's is 2, 2ft pieces joined together with another bit of ductwork - so hers measures 4ft in length.  (I didn't want to mess around with trying to join 2 pieces together - I figured I'd have enough problems making the thing without complicating it more).  

picture courtesy of Lowes

I bought some nifty insulation (which looks like bubble-wrap and is fiberglass-free) called Reflectix Insulation... I bought it in a narrower width (so it was less-expensive)  and I think it was 25ft long.  There's PLENTY on the roll to cover my steamer at least twice if I want to (I'm starting with one layer for now - I may create a removable blanket to use as a 2nd layer if I need to better-insulate it). 

Of course, I needed a few other things in order to make it all work including:
  • duct tape
  • metal sheers
  • a few nuts and screws (and a couple of washers)
  • a couple of flat-metal brackets
  • a couple of old towels
  • a drill 
  • a screwdriver or two (in this case, phillips head to work with the screws)
  • a socket wrench (to work with the nuts)
  • a needle and thread (I decided to sew the towels on rather than duct tape - I figure it won't come off as easily)
So there were 2 major obstacles for me - 1) putting the duct/pipe together (it came as a rolled sheet and I had to have help to join the sides together to form the pipe) and 2) getting the darned pipe to fit in or around my rice cooker.

The ducting has 1 end that's ribbed and seems like it SHOULD squeeze into a smaller-sized item (but it didn't until I used the metal sheers to cut some of the ribs all the way around the duct/pipe).  Once I cut the ribs, I was able to bend the ribbed portion in order to fit it into the rice cooker.  Unfortunately, the duct/pipe did not balance firmly on the cooker even with the ribbed portion shoved inside the cooker.  SO to help stabilize the duct/pipe, I added 4 metal, flat-brackets to the outside of the pipe - so that they attached to the duct/pipe right above the upper rim of the rice cooker.  Once those were added, when I slipped the duct/pipe into the rice cooker the flat-brackets act as flanges/stabilizers.

FYI - I also cut a square hole in the duct/pipe where the duct/pipe and rice cooker join.  I re-attached the cut-off piece with a screw and a couple of washers and a nut... so I can keep the duct/pipe sealed but spin the cut piece to the side and use the hole to add water to the rice cooker if I need to.  I also drilled a small hole about half-way up the duct/pipe so that I could stick a thermometer into the hole and check the temperature inside the steamer (my understanding is that the temperature needs to maintain a temperature of around 212 degrees at all times while steaming dyed silk).   I also sealed this hole up with a removable patch.  My final cuts to the duct/pipe were two notches in the edge of the pipe (at the top of the duct/pipe accross from each other) so that I can lay a piece of wood into the notches and not have the wood fall out.  I will be hanging a cloth-bag containing my dyed silk pieces from the wood - it's important that the wood not roll or move because you do NOT want the silk (nor the bag containing the silk) to touch the sides of the steamer... the moisture could ruin the artwork .

Once I had the duct/pipe fitting into the rice cooker and nicely stabilized, I covered the duct/pipe with the Reflectix Insulation using duct tape to join the sections of Reflectix together.  I made sure to cut holes in the Reflectix for the thermometer and at the base for adding water to the rice cooker.

Next I took the lid of the rice cooker and placed several towels around it - and hand-sewed the towels on... so the lid won't fall out and the towels will stay on.  The towels are there to help seal-in the steam, and to absorb moisture so that there are no drips falling back down on top of the silk as it steams.

My last job will be to make a long cloth bag to hold the dyed silk and which will hang inside the steamer.  I'm estimating that it should have a diameter or no more than 4 inches.  It will be closed at the bottom end and have a draw-string (and maybe a protective flap) at the top.

FYI, the process to place your silk into the bag is to:
  1. Fill the rice cooker with water and a few pennies (which will make sounds when the cooker is beginning to run out of water)
  2. lay down several sheets (at least 3) of clean, blank newsprint
  3. lay down a piece of dyed silk
  4. lay down 3 more sheets of clean, blank newsprint, 
  5. lay down your next piece of dyed silk
  6. continue this process for several layers ending with more of the clean, blank newsprint
  7. Lay a plastic tube (or wooden dowel) down on one end of the artwork/newsprint pile
  8. carefully roll the artwork/newsprint around the dowel making sure not to wrinkle anything.
  9. once rolled, tape the roll together so it can not come undone. 
  10. place the roll into the steaming bag, once inside the bag - remove the dowel.
  11. close the bag and hang carefully from the wooden cross-beam on the top of the steamer apparatus - making sure the bag does not touch the walls of the steamer!
  12. place the towel-covered lid on top of the steamer. 
  13. turn the rice cooker on to the appropriate setting for a low boil.
  14. let steam for a while and then check the temperature of the steam in the pipe.  Make sure it's 212... if not, turn the rice cooker up higher.
  16. The silk should steam for at least an hour - up to 3 hours --- depending upon the type of dye used (make sure to follow YOUR dye's instructions!!!!!)
  17. Add water as needed.
  18. Once your silk has steamed, turn the rice cooker off and let it cool before removing the silk.  You may want to test for color-set.. if it's not set, you may need to steam your silk further.
(if I've left anything out, please let me know!!)

Has it been a lot of work creating my steamer??  YES!!!  It's taken quite a bit of work to get (what I hope to be) a working steamer!!  But I'm rather proud of my creation - and the fact that I've used a recycled rice cooker and recycled towels to help construct it.  Best of all, the whole thing is costing me less than $50 bucks (probably closer to $40!!). 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Silk Painting - OMG how I love it!

Hello my friends, I have fallen well, and truly in love with Silk Painting!!   Last year I went to an artist retreat (had a wonderful time!!!!) and it was there that I was introduced to Silk Painting.

My very first silk painting


My very first painting was of a flower and I was very pleased with the result (except for the background color - I was in a rush to finish and ended up with a VERY intense chartreuse-yellow).

A large piece of recycled silk with snowflakes

My next set of paintings was experimental - an attempt to figure out how to use recycled silk for Silk Painting.


Recycled silk, brings with it a variety of issues including:

  1. Unsure if the silk is REALLY 100% silk (in spite of the tags stating they are 100% pure silk, I do not think that they always tell the truth!).
  2. Many items made of silk, have been coated in some kind of stain-resistant chemical which makes it hard for silk dyes to correctly penetrate the silk.
  3. Creating frames or other mounts to hold the smaller pieces of silk is somewhat challenging (for instance if I want to practice with a pocket from a silk shirt). 
  4. Most recycled silk items I have found, are colored rather than stark-white (the best I've found is a light beige).  This makes the colors of the silk dye appear differently than they would on pure-white.     and......
  5. It is often hard to tell what type/thickness of silk you are buying.  And the thicker the silk, the harder it is for the dye to penetrate the silk.
Snowflake Greeting Cards
In other words - I have had some pretty major challenges in getting the silk and dyes to behave the way they would on untreated, uncolored silks.  But it was fun to play with the dyes in spite of the challenges!  I took some of my experiments and cut them up into small chunks which I then attached to card-stock and make into holiday greeting cards.  I rather enjoyed the results!

My latest attempt is to paint my dog Sophie.  This picture was taken while the painting still was in the stretcher/frame (and still needs to be color-set and have the resist washed out).  I'm thrilled with how it turned out - of course, my critical eye sees things that I could have done better - or would change slightly.  But overall... a very satisfying experience!

My dog Sophie
My next attempt will probably be a floral-based piece... and then a couple of friend's dogs, and then a layered landscape of the Puget Sound.  Oh my.... yes I do have a LOT of ideas! he he he.  Of course, I'll have to fit all that in around the globe-lampshade orders I've received, plus I probably should pay attention to my "real" life (husband, kid, dog, and job, etc).  But, I've no doubt I'll be posting more paintings soon!

Thanks for taking a look!  If you're interested in anything I've made (or want to special-order something) - send me an email at:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Barbeque Cups

Barbeque Cups
I've had several requests for this recipe lately and thought I'd share it here as well. 

This is a tasty, easy-to-make recipe that is perfect for parties, brunches, or family meals. 

350 degrees for 15-20mins.
Ingredients Needed:
1-2 cans of flaky biscuits (I used Pillsbury, but any flaky biscuit would work)
1 pound (or more) ground meat (ANY meat will work - use what you prefer)
A couple of tablespoons Ketchup
A cup (or more) of your favorite BBQ sauce
A teaspoon onion flakes (or onion powder)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup frozen or canned corn (or fresh corn kernels if you want to take the time)
Shredded cheese (I use cheddar but any meltable cheese should work).

Utensils needed:
Muffin tin(s)
frying pan
spatula or scraper
Stovetop & Oven

  1. Place ground meat in frying pan and cook on medium heat
  2. When ground meat is cooked, add ketchup, onion flakes, and brown sugar and cook for 2-3 more minutes
  3. Add enough BBQ sauce to thoroughly cover/moisten the meat with sauce (but you don't want bbq soup!) and add the corn
  4. Cook at least another 4 minutes, mixing occasionally to keep it from sticking to the pan (add more BBQ sauce if the meat starts to dry out)
  5. Once cooked, remove pan from heat and let cool while you start the next steps
  6. Open can(s) of biscuits
  7. Place each biscuit into a muffin cup and press in to form a cup-shape
  8.  Spoon meat mixture into each cup (trying to distribute the meat evenly between all the biscuit cups)
  9. Place in oven (you can follow the biscuit directions on the biscuit tin) and bake for 11 minutes at 350 degrees. 
  10.  At the 11 minute mark, pull the muffin tins out.  Each BBQ Cup should be a light gold-color on the outside at this point - if they are still raw-looking, return to the oven and keep cooking until they are a light golden brown
  11. IF the BBQ Cups are a light golden brown, sprinkle shredded cheese on top of each BBQ Cup. and return to oven to finish cooking.
  12.  Cook another 4 minutes (or more)  until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble.
  13. Remove the muffin tins from the oven and let cool 
Now the BBQ Cups can be eaten (MMMM!!!  I prefer to eat them right away)... or saved in the refrigerator or freezer and reheated later. 

 As a side note, I think you could fill these with a variety of other ingredients (such as refried beans, rice, meat, and salsa - for a Mexican-based flavor, or perhaps sweet & sour sauce and chicken for a asian-based flavor).  Also, I think you could cut the biscuits in half (or maybe quarters) and use them in mini-muffin tins.. for an appetizer-sized option.  Hmmmm.... I may have to try a couple of these options myself!


I'll never go back to plastic for painting (at least at home)!

As a self-professed queen (or perhaps princess) of recycling and upcycling, I LOVE it when I find a new use for tossed-out items.  And I LOVE IT even more, when my idea far-exceeds my expectations!

 My saki cups in a mini-muffin tin

Case-in-point... my beloved saki cups and other white, ceramic items (like mini-plates).  The saki cups started my now-obsession with white ceramic items to be used as holders and mixing-cups for paints.  Their only downfall is that they are breakable - and they are heavy, so packing them for traveling is difficult (although I do pack them when I go on artist retreats!).
Little ceramic plates & bowls

My latest addition, a deviled-egg tray
Why ceramic?  Because it cleans like a dream!!  My silk dyes and watercolors easily rinse out (no scrubbing needed).  And even better - my acrylics just wipe out (even dried-on!!). LOVE THEM! 
To make them extra-steady (and easy to move around on my table), I put them all in a mini-muffin tin.  I decided I needed a couple of mixing trays and ended up with a nice variety of little white-colored plates which are great - especially for mixing acrylics. 

THEN I found the white-colored, deviled-egg tray!  PERFECT for mixing small amounts of silk dye or watercolors!!  LOVE IT!! 

A small selection of various recycled items I'm using.
Not only does the ceramic clean up beautifully, but because it's white, you can see the actual colors of the paints and dyes!  And while ceramic is really too heavy to travel with, it is perfect for home-use because it's harder to knock over and spill! 

So now I have a fabulous set of white ceramics to use with my paints and dyes.   FYI, while I found the saki cups at a thrift store, I have also seen them for-sale at Uwajimayas.

Now I'm off to work on my next silk painting!
ttfn (ta ta for now!)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I've learned about farmers markets, craft fairs, and holiday bazaars.

Hi All!

I've had a wonderful fall and winter so far!!  I finished my farmer's market circuit this summer and learned SOOOO much!!  Some of what I learned helped my during my craft/bazaar circuit this fall and winter... but as is normal for me, I apparently had a LOT more to learn!

So here is a partial list of knowledge gleaned:

Farmer's Markets:
Walls up because it was pouring rain!
  1.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest (or ANYWHERE with damp summers) - make sure you not only have a canopy, but also have sides for your canopy!
  2. Even with sides on the canopy - in the rain, your items WILL get damp - and damp equals warped papers and possibly even damaged items. 
  3. Farmer's Markets are usually very long days with few breaks - but lots of lovely people to talk to!
  4. I was at smaller Farmer's Markets and did not realize that most people that come to those markets ONLY come for the food and flowers.  They loved to look, but rarely bought anything.  (I rarely sold more than $20 more than the Farmer's Market Fee.).  I would advise trying to get into larger Farmer's Markets that specialize in having artists and crafts there - although.......
  5. .... smaller markets are a GREAT place for you to try out your display set-ups, to get feedback about your products, and to get a better idea about your prices and which products will sell.
  6. I worked VERY hard at creating an inviting and eye-catching display and received a LOT of wonderful compliments about it - but again, rarely sold products (which was partially based on price, but was also at least partially based on my displays - which apparently were great to look at but didn't invite people to want to touch ...and no touching means - no personal or emotional attachment to my products - which in turn meant no sales...more on that later).
  7. It's super-important to have a display set-up that one person can easily set up by themselves (unless you are a big business and can afford to hire additional help).  Mine was not hard to set up, but was super-time-intensive and exhausting.
  8. Be open to new ideas and trying new things.  After my first couple of Farmer's Markets, I realized that I had a LOT of little kids walking by but I had nothing for them to buy.  I quickly whipped up some hair clips and hairbands that were cute and inexpensive and quickly became my best-selling items!  Which brings up my next item....
  9. ...Be sure to have a few items aimed at kids - and located on displays at their eye-height!  When the kids are drawn in, so are the parents!
  10. Get a Square or some other credit card device so you can accept credit cards as well as cash!  So easy to use and there are a lot of people who just don't carry much cash AND....
  11. ....POST signs that state what types of payments you do accept.  People often won't ask - and I didn't have it posted at the Farmer's Markets... but did later at craft shows - and I made a LOT of sales from people who made comments like "oh I am so glad you accept credit cards because I didn't have cash to buy anything and was going to leave until I saw your sign".  
  12. Bringing something to do is a great way to kill time between customers - but keep it oriented towards your business. Reading a book, playing on your phone, or doing something not related to your business looks like you really don't care about what you're selling!  On the other hand, working on one of your products gives you something to do, makes more items for you to sell, and gives you another opportunity to chat with your customers about what you're doing/selling. 
A tiny space (4x4 table) at an Elementary School
Which brings me to Holiday Bazaars and Craft Fairs:
A larger booth at a high school

  1. Verify your spaces!  And IF they are not the same size as your "normal" set-up, PRACTICE setting up your displays in the size they are giving you.  Most Bazaars and Craft Fairs have strict rules about the size of your booths.  Farmer's Markets don't seem to care much if your tables or displays stand outside the perimeter of your booth - but the fairs and bazaars do - often because of fire code rules.
  2. Along with verifying your spaces, verify what they provide!  Many offered to provide tables for a fee (which makes your set-up easier --- but then you're stuck with their sometimes-crappy tables) and most offered to supply chairs for free (which meant I didn't need to lug around mine!)
  3. If possible, try and visit bazaars and fairs the year before you start - so you can get a real idea of how the booth spaces work, what kind of other vendors might be there, and how many customers you can expect.  I had tiny booths and super-low fees at some places and actually made more money there than I did at the places I had big booths and high vendor fees!
  4. Know when you need to apply for the Holiday Bazaars and Craft Fairs!  What I didn't realize is that the more popular ones often take applications 6 months in advance (and I wasn't thinking of applying for Christmas Bazaars when I was working my tail off at Farmer's Markets!)
  5. Another thing to know about the booths is that many of the booths I was at were squished together (and I had several instances where other vendors actually crowded my space, then when I was setting up and trying to move things - I was bumping their items and actually ended up breaking one thing - I felt terrible ...but it was an accident that could have been avoided if they hadn't been crowding me).
  6. Displays are important... very important... but while I had eye-catching displays, I found that people responded best when many of my items were in piles or bowls rather than up on the walls or screens/displays.  I sold a LOT more of my necklaces when they were just lying on the table instead of hanging on my wall displays.  I sold a lot more of my floral hair-clips and my holiday gift tags that way too!
  7. Having items for males is an important thing too!  MOST booths are oriented towards women.  I listened to a LOT of men commenting how bored they were and I watched many roll their eyes when the women they were with wanted to go into another booth.  I had a LOT of guys wandering into my booth because I had a wall of items that were unique, eye-catching, and attractive to males as well as females... but I didn't have enough smaller items that were attractive to males (and especially younger men and boys)... I did quite a few shows at schools and probably could have sold a lot more if I'd had a few more masculine items. 
  8. I found that time flew during Craft Shows and Holiday Bazaars.  I didn't have time to do much more than restock and sell while I was there - which is fabulous but if you think you're going to get pricing done (or other little chores done) between customers - I wouldn't count on it! 
With their heads buried in food or books, this booth rarely had customers.  

      9. Be engaged, SMILE, and look at your potential customers!  If you do have down time, try not to spend it on your phone or with your head down too much. STAND UP, move around, and try and look busy (even if you've neatened-up your stall 40 times, do it again! Being up and moving is more inviting that sitting and giving the appearance you're not engaged.  I had several vendor/neighbors who did that and I heard a lot of comments from customers about how those vendors looked bored or grumpy.  And after chatting with those vendors, I know they didn't sell much!

The biggest thing I've learned is - if you're not having fun at the markets, bazaars, or fairs (especially during down-times) - then you shouldn't be doing it!!   
Personally, I don't think Farmer's Markets are for me.  Many of my items are easily damaged by water, I didn't make much money - especially for the amount of time I was there), and the days were long and hard.  I enjoyed being there and it was hugely educational for me... but I doubt I will do them again.  But I did love the Craft Fairs and Holiday Bazaars - they were fun, busy, and I did ok financially.  So yes, I will probably do those again!

I hope you found this somewhat helpful - I'd love to answer any questions you might have.
Happy 2014!