Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Remembering The Handmade Fair 2014

So, two weeks ago I was running around like the proverbial fly with a blue bum in preparation for the first ever Handmade Fair presented by Kirstie Allsopp.  (For those of you not living in the UK, Kirstie presents a series of TV programmes with an emphasis on traditional crafts and upcycling.)

And now its all over and I'm just back from hols and feeling very odd!

I haven't had a chance until now to blog about the fair - or blog about anything at all lately to be honest - so here goes.

The Fair was held in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace - a magnificent pile once owned by King Henry VIII - and it is quite stunningly beautiful.  As I grew up nearby I used to go there as a child, but through adult eyes it seemed so different - more spectacular if anything.

Strung with heaps of colourful bunting, all the marquees looked lovely as we set up on 18th September - a day so hot and sunny it could have been July.  A few teething issues with unloading times made the whole thing slightly fraught - sitting in a hot field for over two hours was not the finest start when you want to feel all Zen to set up your lovely bijou little stall - but eventually (if rather sweatily) everything got done.

So - the Fair began on the Friday and ran for three days. Visitor numbers were good, with Saturday being the busiest.  I was so grateful that I'd invested in a dinky little Paypal card reader, as sales have been lost in the past when people ran out of cash.  I was also delighted to sell a necklace from the brand new Fables range!

Getting to grips with the card reader.  Photo by Skye Pennant
'The Watcher In The Woods' one-off resin and semi-precious bead necklace - SOLD to the lady with the excellent taste
Rushed off my feet - and loving it. Photo by Skye Pennant
I felt that there was a strong sense of mutual support amongst the exhibitors and I was lucky to have some familiar faces there - Tina Francis Tapestry and Victorious Bee - as well as making new friends Joanna Clark Design, Lorna Bateman Embroidery and Honey Bee Beautiful.  I was also incredibly touched that Mary Ann Nelson from Zarafa Designs, one of the Fair's Experts and the lady who taught me how to use resin, came and found me and said how proud she was that I had gone on to make resin jewellery and that she always encourages her students to look at my website.  This was such a lovely boost and very flattering.  I picked up lots of info and tips as well as having a good laugh with my fellow stallholders.  I also bought some gorgeous make-up bags from the very talented Punto Belle - who designs her own fabric before making them into a range of bags.  These are ostensibly PRESENTS, but I don't know. I'm not convinced they'll be received, if you get my drift.

Medium Make-Up Bags by Punto Belle.  Photos by Punto Belle.

IDIOT MOMENT - missing an opportunity to say hi to special guests and my ex-employers Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably when they popped into the West Tent on Saturday.  I umm-ed and aah-ed, thought they might walk past me later, but didn't, so I blew it.  I used to work on mosaic projects with Kaffe back in the late 1990s, culminating in Gold Medal winning garden at the 1999 Chelsea Flower Show, which is where these pictures were taken.

Late on that day, there was a bit of a party for the exhibitors to make up for some of the problems people had been experiencing.  I have to be honest here and say some people were very disgruntled, and later several people from the event's organisers went round asking for feedback on how things could be improved for everyone in the future.  Kirstie made an appearance and was mobbed, there was food and wine on offer and it was just nice to spend a bit more social time with my fellow exhibitors, as there was little time for that during the busy days.

I was most intrigued with Kirstie's amazing pompom embellished shoes.  This was a nod to 'World Pomination' - the fair's attempt to make the world's longest string of pompoms.  Members of the public were asked to submit three pompoms each, which would then be added to the string.  I think they did make it in the end!

Kirstie Allsopp's (very blurry) pompom shoes

The pompoms looked so pretty laid out on the grass in the sunshine and wound round the trees.

So all in all, it was an experience, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating but I came away feeling that I learned a lot and that what I'm doing is worthwhile.  Will I do it all again?  I'm still deciding.

The new look Shark Alley stall. Photo by Skye Pennant
I guess that means it's over.

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