As part of my research for this blog- and part of my research for Makers & Friends, which brings UK designer-makers to the High Street, I’ve been to craft fairs in Wales, Scotland and England- only need to visit 1 in Ireland to make it a clean sweep 🙂 Here are some of the craft fairs I visited in 2016:
- Made London
- Handmade Edinburgh
- Crafty Fox
- Renegade London
- Etsy Local
- Etsy Craft Parties in London, Portsmouth and Brighton
- Country Living show (not really a craft fair)
- Exeter Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts show
- Great Northern Craft Fair
- Made by Hand, Cardiff
- Handmade Fair
- etc †
Entrance of the fair- there is a really cool pink crafting caravan and a HUGE Hobbycraft stand
I can definitely say, as both a consumer-appreciator of crafts & handmade items and a maker myself, the Handmade Fair was far and away my favourite. And obviously I’m going to tell you why in this post 🙂 But before I do, here’s some background information on the fair.
It’s brought to you by Kirstie Allsopp. If you’re Brit born and bred, this may mean something to you but as a transplanted Londoner, it didn’t really say anything to me. I knew of Kirstie more for her Location, Location TV show than her making skills 🙂 (But I’m now a big fan!) Set opposite Hampton Court Palace- 0r at least it was in 2016 (It’s been so successful they’ll be holding fairs outside London in 2017 as well)- it can be a bit of a pain to get to. This year there was some major problem on the roads and half of us ended up missing the morning sessions. However, the Info Booth was really nice and actually offered me a free ticket for the next day to make up for it! There’s also a quilting shop in the village High Street (5 minutes walk from the fair) if you’ve not gotten your fill of crafty- things at the fair 🙂
Why I like, no LOVE, the Handmade Fair
- There are tons of fun makes!
If you buy the full ticket, you get to take part in 2 making sessions. For each session, you get to choose from quite a few options! I ended up choosing gilding and Cricut. Sadly, I missed gilding due to the issues with transport in the am.
As for the Cricut session, well, to be honest, it was more a marketing session! We got a pack of pre-(Cri)cut papers and were given instructions to assemble it into a scrapbook style notepad. The only thing that saved the session for me was winning a Cricut paper cutter- a lucky lady won an actual Cricut machine! Not everybody walked away with something but enough people did that I was impressed by how generous they were 🙂 However, this year, I’m probably going to try another make 🙂
- Great selection of maker, at all price levels
There are enough designer-makers exhibiting that the Fair feels buzz-y and interesting, yet still curated 🙂 Special mentions of Rosana Clare & Chau Art (she does the most amazing paper cut cards) who participated in my previous Makers & Friends pop-ups! 🙂 (Shameless plug: we bring designer-makers to the High Street- get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more! :)) Even better, there were many affordable makers- unlike fairs such as Made London & Handmade UK (reviews coming soon)- I enjoyed those exhibitions very much, and the quality of the work was very high- but so were the prices!
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Despite seeing a ton of stuff I loved, I decided to be good and keep to my budget so only came home with this yummy smelling soap, made in Scotland
- Excellent networking
Although I usually eschew the word networking, as it has (to me) overtones of superficiality/ hypocrisy, I realised I was naturally networking at The Handmade Fair. I guess when you’re passionate about something, it comes naturally! Pretty much all the major players in the craft & DIY world were there, from pom pom queen Christine Leech to Hobbycraft, Mollie Makes and more!
I ended up finding several wonderful partners through the Fair and even made some contacts within Swarovski, who have now expressed an interest in developing DIY kits for projects such as the ring shown below. YAYYYYYY. That was without doubt, the BEST moment of the fair- maybe my entire blogging lifetime! 🙂 I CAN”T WAIT till the 2017 fair to get to meet more cool people who love the same thing that I do! 🙂
This is the ring I made using Swarovski crystals which I wore to The Handmade Fair & that the Swarovski team liked. Yeah! 🙂 The easy tutorial for the ring can be found here
The food at the Fair is quite pricey and doesn’t taste great (around £7 for a small plate of paella) so maybe grab some grub before you arrive 🙂
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