Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Handmade Fair - September 2016

The Handmade Fair Logo

I can't believe it's been a year since our last trip to The Handmade Fair! This year we weren't blessed with the same beautiful weather, rendering my obligatory bunting pics a little soggy...


The Handmade Fair - signposts and bunting

Despite the monsoon-esque weather, everyone was in amazing spirits and ready to start a weekend of crafting, shopping and fun at Hampton Court, kicking off with a Kirstie Allsopp Q&A hosted by Catherine Dean from Molly Makes.

The Handmade Fair - Kirstie Allsopp and Catherine Dean

Kirstie was lovely and the Q&A really showed us what a busy, clever lady she is. I have no idea how she balances her on-screen TV work, her production company (Raise The Roof Productions), being an ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy, raising children, living in two places on opposite sides of the country and heading up events like the Handmade Fair. I am never allowed to complain that I'm busy again. Ever. I assume at some point she fits in sleep, and miraculously still finds time to work on crafting projects!

The conversation covered pretty much everything, from explosives to mosaics, shirt dresses to sea swimming. We learned about teddies in jeopardy, filming a New York Christmas show in unseasonable heat, the pursuit of snow, Kirstie's Christmas plans and some tips on bringing up boys (handy for me over the next few years!)

Our main Super Theatre show was a panel hosted by Etsy and The Great British Exchange about how to turn your craft into a business.

The Handmade Fair - Etsy and The Great British Exchange

From left to right we have:
  • Louise Walker, who runs Etsy knitting kit shop Sincerely Louise
  • Georgia Wyatt-Willsmore from Wyatt and Jack, who makes amazing bags on the Isle of Wight from re-purposed fabrics like deck chair canvas or bouncy castle PVC
  • Matt Hopkins from The Great British Exchange, a company that acts as a conduit between artisans and big retailers to help them reach a bigger customer base
  • Sarah Hewett from the Community Programmes team at Etsy who offer support to craft businesses
  • Kirsty!
The panel had plenty of advice for any fledgling craft business, most of which can be found in the Etsy Seller Handbook. It was great to hear success stories from Louise and Georgia and it's really inspirational to see people making their living doing something they love.

Still avoiding the rain, we headed into the giant shopping marquees for a nose around. There were so many clever people selling beautiful things that it was hard not to buy too much!

This Hannah Bass cushion reminds me how much I really want to go and see this part of Canada (and I really love the colours too):

The Handmade Fair - Hannah Bass Vancouver cushion

Some cute little craft kits from Hawthorn Handmade:

Handmade Fair 2016 - Hawthorn Handmade kits

Pam and I were caught giggling at the Floss & Mischief stand over Genevieve Brading's new cross stitch book I Got 99 Problems But A Stitch Ain't One and picked up a signed copy each. Also, she had an amazing hairband!

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Genevieve Brading - Floss and Mischief

Time for some lunch, and just like last year the Fair provided a huge selection of food trucks and stalls to choose from. Here's the Deco Bar from last year, but this time with added rain on the lens!

Handmade Fair - Deco Bar

Handmade Fair - Food truck

Handmade Fair - Coffee

Handmade Fair - artisan food

Time to make something! Our first workshop of the day was a very breast-based cross stitch lesson with Mr X Stitch to support the Pink Ribbon Foundation (in association with DMC). We used handy water-soluble stick-on patterns to plan our designs and then spent a nice calm half-hour stitching away in our nice cozy tent, while the rain poured down outside.


Workshop complete, it was time for more browsing. StitchKits (designed by Ruth Craig) had a lovely stand for their contemporary cross stitch kits:

Handmade Fair 2016 - StitchKits by Ruth Craig

The Skelter stand provided ample opportunity for me to get some pretty rainbow photos, with plenty of button-based colourful creations on offer.

Handmade Fair 2016 - Skelter campervans

Handmade Fair 2016 - Skelter rainbow buttons

I'm slightly in love with Nicola Hanrahan's bird-and-baked-goods combo artwork. If you look closely you might see a puffin on a muffin. Genius.

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Nicola Hanrahan

Some very relatable sentiments from Walter & May:

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Walter & May

An almost-Tom-Baker-Doctor-Who cow from Lauren's Cows - Doctor Moo, apparently!

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Lauren's Cows

Some amazing fabric from Fabrics Galore that makes me wish I could quilt or make useful things:

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Fabrics Galore

The Annie Sloan tent was amazingly colourful, encouraging everyone to make-over their tired old furniture (and everything else, by the look of it) with a lick of pretty paint.

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Annie Sloan

We popped in to the Creative Rox tent for a die-cutting demonstration run by Sizzix. After a lot of hard work winding card and cutters through the Big Shot machine, we turned this little pile of bits into a dream catcher pennant:

The Handmade Fair 2016 - Sizzix demo

Last on the menu for the day was our 'Grand Make', making an an interchangeable velcro flower headband with Christine Leech from Stick Up Collective. Not my greatest work, admittedly, but it was fun!

Handmade Fair - Velcro flower headband

Flowers complete, it was time to head for home. Even in the pouring rain we still had a wonderful day. The Handmade Fair is a great chance to try new things and pick up some inspiration and I'd definitely like to head back next year. Fingers crossed for sunshine!

Handmade Fair - Cotton Reels

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