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wallabies's avatar

What can I make (and possibly sell) that doesn't require much space or equipment?

Asked by wallabies (1068 points ) April 7th, 2012

I have a small space to work. I move a lot so don’t have any tools or anything. But I crave a hobby where I can make something that requires an eye for aesthetic. Ideally, I would be able to list whatever I make for sale on a site like etsy or man a booth at a weekly open market or something, just for fun. I want to make a quality product – not just fun “arts and crafty” things – with a long shelf life and easy to transport. In the past, I’ve done a lot of baking and cooking, sewing, furniture restoration, car body work, etc. but none of these are very portable. Soapmaking looks like fun, but requires a lot of ingredients and so many people are doing it at the moment. If there were some kind of community workshop I would definitely make dresses or furniture. What are some other options? It definitely should involve making three dimensional useful objects (as opposed to 2D art prints or something, which I have no experience in). I don’t mind buying a few small tools, etc but don’t want to have to make a large investment, as I will be moving again soon!

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20 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

I was going to say chocolates. Hand made chocolates command such a high price. I do realise you would need equipment though AND you have already done the cooking type thing.

What about jewellery making? Beads for instance, necklaces, bracelets, earrings?

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wallabies's avatar

@Bellatrix I tried making chocolate a couple times, and it was a disaster! I can make most recipes fairly decently on the first go, but chocolate shut me down, lol. But I have seen people selling fleur de sel caramels on etsy, and have tried some locally that are delish. Maybe if I can perfect a recipe, that would work for me? My current locale is known for sugar cane production and salinity issues, so that might not be a bad idea at all! My kitchen situation at the moment is not conducive to heavy cookery, but I kinda want to move anyway…

Have you or anyone else tried making caramels before? (I have and it was also kind of a disaster as I didn’t have a thermometer and they didn’t “set”, plus the flavor wasn’t quite right, lol). Any other ideas on things I could make (doesn’t have to be edible, just useful and awesome)?

SmashTheState's avatar

When I was in prison, everyone there made dreamcatchers. They would pull individual threads from their sheets and blankets, a few at a time so as not to be noticable, and dye them using pen ink or fruit drinks. For a frame, they used the hard plastic rim of fruit drink containers. Some of the dreamcatchers were quite elaborate and strikingly beautiful. Most of the men would mail them as gifts to family and loved ones on special occasions like birthdays. The screws seemed to turn a blind eye to it, since it wasn’t hurting anyone and it kept the men occupied through the long, empty hours.

Seems to me that if you can make dreamcatchers in a bare concrete cell with nothing but found materials, you should be able to make them easily at home and sell them at a flea market, craft shop, or swap meet.

Mariah's avatar

Jewelry! If you get really into it you may eventually end up with a large bead collection, but as a beginner you don’t need much and it is so fun and easy. You can’t do it wrong – everything’s up to you.

jca's avatar

Jewelry is good, except there’s a lot of it being made. I like the chocolate idea – for caramels you would need a thermometer. Why not jewelry and chocolate?

28lorelei's avatar

Knitting and crocheting is good, but takes a lot of patience and time. I like the jewelry idea too. Also, chocolates are always good…

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Candles or soap making both require basic equipment and sell well at weekend shows.

wilma's avatar

You might try felting wool and making purses, bags and other useful items from the wool.
You can go to thrift stores and find 100% wool sweaters. You felt them in a washing machine and then cup them up and re-sew into bags etc. Decorate with buttons and appliques. It is cheap to do, and recycles materials that are already made.
You can also do this with old denim jeans, cut them up and sew them into bags and purses.

Judi's avatar

I have a friend who does pretty good with her hand made jewelery on etsy.

Judi's avatar

@SmashTheState , I volunteered in a women’s prison and it was amazing the beautiful things those women made out of nothing. Pure creative genus. The beautiful intricate roses out of kleenex! They said that some prisons had a gift shop where the inmates could sell their crafts and add money to their accounts.

Roby's avatar

Bird houses and bird feeders are a good bet, You can find countless of designs on line.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here’s an idea where there is definitely a need: adult bibs. After spending every day with Mom in a rehab center, it was noticeable that they are a necessity. Often, patients are sitting at an angle that isn’t easy to feed oneself. In nursing homes, coordination is limited based upon eyesight, arthritis, etc. Not only are they simple, it wouldn’t take much cost- or supplies-wise to make them.

jca's avatar

You could do baby sized bibs and adult sized bibs.

augustlan's avatar

If you have an open market nearby, how about cupcakes? Your caramel suggestion made me think about it… best cupcakes I’ve ever had were salted caramel ones. Delicious!

noodle_poodle's avatar

Cooking is great but be aware that it can have unexpected worries about food health and safety standards, allergic reactions and so forth. Its truly sad but these days (in the uk anyway) they are debating about people being allowed to sell home cooked food as there is no way to tell if the food was prepared in a safe and hygienic environment. It sucks, but then somebody claiming you poisoned them and trying to sue you would also suck in the extreme.

jca's avatar

@noodle_poodle brings up a good point.

Whatever you choose, it seems the equipment and the know how are only ⅔rd’s. The other third is the vision, the creativitiy, the uniqueness of whatever you make.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

And don’t forget the whole marketing aspect.

Bellatrix's avatar

You said you wanted to make things that lasted but back on the cooking thing, cakes. If you are creative, make birthday or special occasion cakes. There was a store here that made birthday cakes – they were mud cakes but they were decorated in chocolates and then covered in all sorts of lollies. They were a riot of colour and quite stunning.

I got my daughter a cake for her birthday with a huge guitar made of chocolate on top. The cake was stunning but it also tasted heavenly. I would have paid three times what that lady charged me for that cake. She went out of business because she didn’t market herself well and wasn’t charging enough.

Back to the chocolate idea, if you are creative you can charge a lot for handmade chocolates. I paid over $40 for a small box for my daughter when we were away. It was a special treat but people will pay for quality and uniqueness.

You would need to check out the health regulations though.

Jeruba's avatar

Chocolate jewelry! Edible bracelets! Yum. Sign me up.

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