Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Fair
Wow, what an epic day of craftyness, shopping, making, thinking, doing and inspiration!
So, to review the fair – I have my cup of Yorkshire tea in my lovely Emma Bridgewater mug (of course! See later in the post…) and to make sure I don’t miss anything, I am going to try and go through this in a blow-by-blow chronological order… I always knew The Handmade Fair would be a great day out, but I think you aren’t prepared for the sheer number of ideas and things to see and do until you are actually there!
I went full force into booking into pretty much as many different workshops as I could possibly get my hands on. The main ticket included one ‘skills workshop’, one ‘grand make’ and one ‘super theatre’ event… but I additionally booked (on the day) three more workshops – I kind of wish there could have been two of me so I could go to more, but I had to be brutal and pick the ones that really stood out for me. So, here goes:
9.30 – The fair opens, with a welcome from Kirstie, great jazz singing and much delight! Then…quick! Book as many workshops with spaces as I can… at only £10 each for around 45 minutes of crafting, often a new skill to be learnt and inspiration to be had I think this is a bargain!
9.45 Skills Workshop – Christmas Crackers with Zeena Shah
We started out with lino cutting – picking out our own design, carving it into the lino – and using ink stamps printing on to paper we would use to make the crackers. I wasn’t actually expecting lino printing to be part of this particular workshop – but it was a lovely surprise. I haven’t done it in years and you can get some lovely, quick and fun prints – it has already got me thinking how to incorporate this technique into my own creative workshops – which actually, is kind of the point of this whole fair, right? Getting you thinking in a new way, inspiring you to try new or retry old techniques, and to think how you could use them for yourself! Zeena was great – very clear with what we needed to be doing next – which once we had printed our paper, we rolled up, tied the crackers with some hessian, added a snap and et voila – crackers!
11.15 Skills Workshop – Biscuit Icing with Biscuiteers
So, when I saw you could go to a workshop on a how to ice with them, it was of course a must! We started out with a beautiful bag and box – containing four delicious butterflies. A great technique demonstration for ‘flood icing’ and creating some fabulous tricks with cocktail sticks to make the icing look like real butterfly wings. Impressive! As we didn’t have access to an oven to dry the icing afterwards, we were just working with the thicker outline style icing which dries alot quicker. It meant we couldn’t try some of the techniques demonstrated – however, it has certainly got me thinking of when can I next have a reason to bake biscuits just to try them out! Perhaps I don’t even need a reason – make them just because I can! We just had some fun piping, getting messy, and admittedly one of the butterflies didn’t make it home… in fact it didn’t make it out of the workshop – they tasted delicious! 😉 The rest were saved for when home and even now I think there is only one left. Art you can eat! Perfect.
12.30 Skills Workshop – Wedding Fascinators by Harriet
Starting out with the ‘do’s’ and ‘do-nots’ of birdcage veils – we learnt how to sew the veil in to the ‘correct’ shape (no horn shapes allowed!) Considering it would take Harriet far (far!) more time to create her beautiful fascinators I was surprised to find how quickly we had created something that vaguely did resemble a veil! Then we selected our fascinator base, and sewed our veils into place. Next – and the most fun bit I think – the decoration. There was a lovely selection of buttons, and some ribbons to make into flowers/loops/whatever we wanted really! I didn’t get time to finish this within the allocated slot, but I was allowed to take away the remaining bits and I will certainly be finishing this lovely craft at home. The workshop definitely got me inspired – I plan to make a fascinator for the next wedding invite!
Lunchtime! By now, I was certainly ready for a lunch break – and what a great selection of foodie delights. Crepes, posh burgers, pies, ‘pimp my porridge’, fresh smoothies, wood fired pizzas… makes your mouth water! I went for the Soulful Foods truck and their onepot Moroccan Chicken Tagine. I certainly wasn’t disappointed – chunks of chicken, vegetables, apricots and almonds all served with some British spelt and red quinoa! Sounds perhaps very ‘healthy’ but wow, the flavours packed a punch!
2pm Skills Workshop – Christmas Garlands with Rebecca Moyster, Bon Bon Balloons
This was a riot of colour, bright foil, ribbons, cords, cut out stars, hearts! Rebecca briefly explained what we were going to make, and the majority of the time was dedicated to the actual making part, which was great! We made handmade tinsel, and lovely little festive bunting style garlands. It was a very simple craft – but has got me thinking of ways to incorporate this into my own Christmas tree. Perhaps swapping the foil for fabric, and the cord for hessian for a more natural look. Fabulously festive and fun!
Would you believe me if I told you that literally within 3-5 minutes we had created a rose from ric rac ribbon? Well that is exactly what we did – a simple technique that was surprisingly effective. I am thinking to incorporate the one I made into the fascinator from earlier! Jane was so much fun – telling us how to produce a last minute gift and the wrapping all within a few minutes with a speedy envelope technique. Great stuff considering there must have been a hundred people to teach in one make!
5pm Super Theatre – Kirstie and Emma Bridgewater
The piece de resistance for me, and a great way to finish the fair. I was lucky enough to be sat in the second row, and was a good hour listening to the life and times of Emma Bridgewater. How she set up the company, her full undying love for her Stoke-on-Trent factory, and for buying British. Some good advice for women in business, some very comical anecdotes of growing the business whilst juggling childcare and life in general. Just lovely and once again, feel inspired – this time to push forward with my pure vision for The Crafty Lass. As Emma said – if you can see it, you’ll get it.
In between all the making and eating – there were two shopping ‘villages’, an Artisan market place – full of lovely foodie things, a Hobbycraft tent, a Mollie Makes cafe – various other make and do tents – no rest for the crafty!
The husband did very well out of the fair too, not only did I get out of his hair for a few days in London, I also purchased some amazing ‘Espresso’ chocolate from Seed and Bean (it was hard to pick which of the many, quite unusual flavours!), an Oatopia Energy Ball made from Raw Cacao and Almonds, AND a delightful ‘Man Cave’ wooden carved keyring from Betty and Dodge. I had to get some good pressies to make up for the ‘7 days til Handmade Fair’, ‘6 days til Handmade Fair’, ‘5 days…’ ok you get the picture!
All in all, as expected a great – long – day. Top tips for next year: wear comfy shoes! Make sure you take plenty of cash…most places took cards, but a few didn’t. There was an onsite cash machine – but as expected there was a fee – so get organised in advance and nip to the cashpoint before arriving. You certainly will want to book/buy things! And, perhaps consider going on more than one day – to allow you to try/see/make/do more things! I certainly will be going again next year.