Tis the Season For Tie-Dye Vending

Matt dyed 60 items yesterday.  I think that has to be a new record.  I don't even understand how it is possible having helped him dye 40 items in a day once.  THAT seemed crazy enough.  Perhaps he has been replaced with some sort of tie-dying cyborg.  I'll have to check later.  In any case, we are going to be well prepared for tomorrow's Strawberry Festival. 
Matt and his mountain of white yesterday morning.  I never thought he'd actually get it all done.
We started our 2011 tie-dye vending season with a total bang.  Last Saturday was SpringFest, possibly my favorite vending experience, and it far exceeded our expectations.  It is held on the lawn of a historic home in Billings called The Moss Mansion.  It is like vending in a park.  Trees and shrubs, soft green grass underfoot, beautiful landscaping, birds, beautiful building as a backdrop.  It is also really close to our house making it super convenient. 
The only photo I managed to snap of our booth at SpringFest.  It was too busy!
It was so sunny and perfect all day Saturday and it was as if everyone had grown weary of the cold and rainy spring and came out in droves.  We are hoping for something similar tomorrow, but two weekends in a row might be asking too much. 
I was able to have a brief visit with my friend Chelsey whom I don't get to see much.  Another perk of vending....friends come to visit!
We really enjoy tie-dye vending.  Matt hopes to transform it into his full-time job someday.  (Well, actually it would be a part-time job still as he would also be part-time chef, gardener, repair man, carpenter, etc).  We get closer to thinking it possible every year as well sell more tie-dye, produce more food, and live more simply.  After each event Matt says something about how sitting outside selling his own products is a whole lot more satisfying than moving boxes at Fedex.  I'd really like to help him achieve this dream.  I would really like it more if Matt didn't have to work nights at Fedex either.

Sometimes the days vending can get long.  Sometimes in the middle of winter it is hard for me to get fired up to build up our tie-dye inventory.  In the end though, it is mostly a fun way to make a little side money, do a little camping and traveling, and spend time together.  And *knock on wood* we've so far never lost money at an event.  Not to say we've always cleaned up either.

I also like tie-dye vending because I like street and craft fairs in general.  I like to see what the other crafty folks have been up to.  Every show I find some item which absolutely blows me away.  At SpringFest it was the creations of a woodworker from Red Lodge, MT.  He had some pieces made from bocote wood which was so stripped it was incredible.  We purchased a spoon and the cutest little butter knife that we think will be swell for backpacking.

We try to purchase something at every fair we participate in.  We sure like it when people buy things from us so we figure we want to support the other artisans as we are supported. It makes for great gift shopping.  We've found some rather unique gifts that were perfect for so-and-so at fairs.  It thrills me to be able to do so much positive with one purchase when I traditionally have dreaded buying gifts because I was always at a loss for what to get.  In this mode of shopping I support a local artisan, my friend gets a unique gift, and I am relieved of the pressure when Christmas/Birthday/etc season rolls around.  It has fast become one of my favorite things about vending.  That and kettle corn.  As soon as we make our first sale we buy kettle corn.  It IS the breakfast of champions if anyone asks.

Bartering is even better!!! 
Every bead on this purse was handsewn on my a woman from Lewistown.  She got each member of her family a little something from my booth and I got this wallet/purse.  It is small enough to fit into my pocket--a requirement of mine. It sparkles in the sun in a way that this photo does not do justice whatsoever.
SpringFest had some super performers this year, including my sister-in-law's belly dancing troupe. 
My sister-in-law Bek.
I really, really enjoy belly dancing.  It is so interesting how one can train the human body to move.  I certainly can't move like that!  I also really like all their skirts and scarves and jewelry.  They are all so beautiful.  Its something I've considered taking a class in, but really, I DON'T need any more hobbies.....  The music and dancing is something I enjoy about the fair scene as well.  Local musicians, tiny tap dancers in adorable outfits, fiddles players in kilts, street theater-- I like it all.  I am easily impressed, I suppose, by that which I cannot do....which is a lot.
Our friend Athena.
I think it was the combo of stunning red hair and tie-dye outfit, but this gal was my favorite dancer of the day.
We have quite a line-up of fairs this year, including a couple we've never done before.  In June we are vending three of the four weekends!  It going to be a crazy summer!  Between camping and vending and concerts and gardening, boy we are going to be busy and happy!

Yesterday as I was walking home from work I spotted a young boy folfing in the park who was wearing one of the shirts we sold at SpringFest. 
I took it as a good omen, quickly snapped a photo, and walked off before giving anyone the chance to think I was somehow a creeper for taking photos of random children at the park.

Here is hoping for sunshine.  Tie-dye sells so much better in the sun.  Not to mention I am happier.  : )


  1. Two of the craft shows/festivals where I was a vendor were held on the grounds of mansions. They were special events to me, much better than pavement where some festivals were held. I had return buyers for all the years I was a vendor. Finally, when I was about 45, I had had enough and wanted to return to school like I had always planned. The heat had gotten to me so at the Helen Keller Festival that the EMTs were called.

    All the crafts,especially the wood crafts like you got thrilled me and came home with me. I, too, bought gifts but mostly for me. My friend had me buy all his gifts at craft shows. I took my two girls with me to Opryland Hotel arts and crafts show. When the nine-year-old discovered she could trade my crafts with other crafters, she went crazy. I think she got every penguin in the place. She was smart! She looked for little girls and asked them if their mother would let them trade--their penguin for my Cabbage Patch Clothes.The fourteen-year-old was way too cool for that!

    My fibromyalgia just got the best of me after my masters and of course, I had other jobs, but right now, if I could, going to craft shows and festivals once in a while would be good for a part-time job. Of course, I would NOT be making CP clothes.

    I loved your post and pictures, especially the dancers.

  2. Have you all done any snow dying? I've been watching video's on You Tube on how to do it and am now hoping we see some snow next January or February as I would love to dye some cotton yardage this way for quilting. Your tie dye is GORGEOUS! And I LOVE to attend craft fairs when ever I can.

  3. I love reading about your way of life, seems so far from how my husband and I live. Sometimes I get lost in the grind, but I'm still young.. I ought to make time for more hobbies :)

  4. I'm so proud of you and Matt Beth. :) You two are so inspiring and your tie-dye is amazing! I love visiting you at these festivals- What a great way to spend the day!

  5. Chelsey - Thanks so much for your sweetness and for always coming down to say hello. It is always a treat for us!

    Adoseoftlc - I am glad you like the blog! However, if it is any consolation I sometimes read the blogs of others like Rhonda at Down to Earth and feel quite far from where I hope to be someday too! Fortunately, we are both still young which we must use to our advantage as we work to get there! Yes, hobbies! Soemtimes it seems I have too many hobbies! I recommend something that you not only enjoy, but that serves a purpose. I am just starting to knit for example because it seems a very purposeful craft, especially in Montana! I really want to learn to make socks! That is my goal. Tie-dye is the only craft we get paid for, but the others, like gardening especially, we can sort of "put to work for us" in a way that makes them a good pay off in addition to fun!

    Becky - Snow dying! Sure, I would learn of such a thing just as the weather is heating up! I will have to look into this come winter. Maybe we can compare notes if you get snow too! (Are there years where you don't?!)

    Parsimony - They are fun, but a lot of work. I imagine fibromyalgia would put a damper on it quite strongly. Your daughter and I apparently share a fondness for penguins! And bartering! It really is the best.

    Thanks to you all for your compliments on the tie-dye. Practice really does pay off.


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