Monday, 13 December 2010

Crafty Fairing

T'is the season for a squillion craft fairs! Yay! I remember the ones I used to go to when I was little with my mum at the Cliffs Pavillion in Southend. The vast majority of visitors were over 65 and the crafts on offer were so different, I can scarely draw a parallel with the stuff you tend to see today. I remember things like pebbles glued together with eyes painted on to look (very vaguely) like animals, and handmade wooden cheese boards with the word 'Cheese' burned into them. And those pictures made from lots of layers of the same image cut out and stuck on top of each other to give a wierd 3D effect. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED going to those craft fairs back in the day, and maybe those type of fairs still exist. They modern craft fairs can be a very different beast, eh?

Over the last few weeks, alongside my intrepid craft fairin' friend Michelle, I have been to a couple of fairs which I shall report on here. You might be all 'Big deal, Zoe. Why would I want to hear about craft fairs that have already been and gone?', well both of these are annual or bi-annual so you might want to store this info up for the future.


The first was MADE10, which is a yearly fair here in (not particularly) sunny Brighton, UK. Ok, I have to tell you something before I continue: tickets on the door were £6!!!!! If you aren't from the UK and don't generally deal in quids, that's a shit-load. Well, everything in UK is a shit-load of quids these days, but in my opinion that's way lots for what is basically merely entry into a building with the ability to part with many more quids on actual stuff. I got tickets in advance (I had to go to the box office though, you can't even buy these online!) which made them a slightly more palatable £5, but still...

Despite the (apparantly not) prohibitive cost, it was rammed in there! I'd recommend going early or later in the day, the crowds definately thinned a bit the longer we were there. But the stalls were slick, the whole thing was incredibly high-end. Some really incredibly amazing stuff and everything was really good quality, the very best of British Handmade, if slick is your preffered aesthetic. If you are into jewellery, I would definately recommend heading down there next year. See below for a couple of my favourite sellers who had stalls at MADE10 (click on the images for links to their sites):

The second craft fair I visited was Bust magazine's Craftacular in Bethnal Green, London, (England, UK, Europe, The Earth, The Universe etc. Did you ever write your address like that when you were little? I really am regressing today). I was so excited about going to this as I love Bust magazine and their approach towards crafty culture and beforehand I poured over it's site and checked out lots of the vendors links. Wierd fact: the Bust Craftacular was held in part of the same building as my old gym from when I worked in Bethnal Green a few years ago.

Craftacular was also rammed, it opened at 12pm and when I got there about 10 minutes to 12pm, there was a massive queue which curled round the side of the building. But the queue moved quickly and entrance was a much more affordable £2. What was pretty funny about this fair was that about 98% of visitors were cool, interestingly dressed chicas in their mid to late twenties. Bust readers basically.
There was a lot more interactive stuff like raffles and craft demonstrations, but not as much as I'd built up myself up to expect by pouring over the website so much. The stalls themselves were pretty cool with a good range of price points, but I would really have liked to have seen more variety in the stock being sold. I recognised many of the stall holders from my days selling at UpMarket and the Backyard market at Brick Lane, which disappointed me as I was hoping for a different experience from one you could have any Sunday if you bothered to make the journey to Brick Lane. I don't know why it should have surprised me, as surely there can only be so many hip designer/makers in the London area.

I will definately check this craft fair out again, and I think this one is a bi-annual affair so we won't need to wait a whole year. Has anyone been to the Bust Craftaculars in the US (or anywhere else if they have them)? What was it like? Did it live up to your expectations? What did you like/dislike about any of the craft fairs you've been to recently? Have you been selling at any craft fairs recently? How did it go?

8 comments:

tanitisis said...

I remember going with my mom to our local one, too (it was called "Sundog"). Wooden rocking-horses, and at some point my mom commissioned a little stepping-stool with my name in removable puzzle-letters on it. (Obviously this was delivered well after the fair itself)

A while back I went to a tattoo/art/related fair here that was $25 at the door... so I feel you on the sticker shock. Seriously, I have to pay money for the privilege of paying more money?

But I guess the door price is how the organizers make most of their money, as opposed to the vendors, or something like that...

didyoumakethat said...

Ooh, very glad to hear about both of these. Smiled a lot at memories of old craft fairs. You forgot the macrame owls, Zoe! (My mum made some and so did I.) And yes, the address writing. Brilliant!

Minnado said...

Yes, I used to do my address like that. I too was taken to lots of craft fairs as a child, some even at, dare I say it, folk festivals . I haven't been to a good craft fair for ages, but have seen some humdinger bad stalls recently...seriously though there are obviously different definitions of craft to suit different people and their tastes and your post made me think about that.

Roobeedoo said...

Craft Fairs have NOT moved on up here. They are to be avoided. Acrylic baby hats; soap made out of melted-together ends of commercial bars; lurid sparkley candles; "pictures" made out of thread stretched round pins; "jewellery" made out of pebbles with glued-on jump rings. mmmm!

[patty the snug bug] said...

I only made it to one craft fair this season (I did a post like yours, if you wanna see it Minnesota (United States, North America, Earth)-style! The one I went to was very cool, although, like you, I would have liked to see more variety. It was awash with owls, things made from sweater sleeves, and scary-cute-odd monster toys! There wasn't a fee to get in the door and at least in my area, that's not the norm (I don't think...) perhaps on one of the coasts?

On a related note, a facebook friend just posted an article that retailers CB2 (the Ikea-style Crate and Barrel) and West Elm (another furnishing, hip store) are stocking 'handmade' gifts in their stores. The article was sort of touching on whether it was craven, corporate, copying or a new breed of merchandising-types (hip 20 something Bust readers, perhaps?) who were just digging the vibe and supporting the handmade movement... I'd post the link but couldn't find it on her page!

Catherine said...

Haha ah yes The Cliffs Pavillion! I do seem to remember buying a shiny pebble animal with glued on googly eyes and glued on feet?? Mum and dad also sold at a couple around Southend or Leigh - jewellery, lavender bags, glass engravings etc. Memories!

bagqueen said...

I have been a regular craft fair attender since the days when they sold stones stuck together and knitted baby clothes made with horrible squeeky acrylic yarn to the present day and they have changed thank goodness. However, my surprise was not at the price in Brighton to get in but at the cheapness of the Craftacular in London, £6 isn't bad, at one time they were often £8-10 and trying to persuade a reluctant husband that this would be a good day out together, especially when they are summer fairs held in a field, is a particularly difficult job!! Add to that the exorbitant and dire refreshments often available and there's no cash left to buy any crafts!! But you do find the best jewellery at these places I find, if like me you are not a regular jewellery shop diamond ring type of girl!!

But all these things aside, I still love a craft fair and I'm tempted to them wherever I see them advertised, so I guess I'm just an addict.

Thanks for the blog, Merry christmas xx

Bethany said...

I'm in the US, and participated in the Craftacular in NYC for the first time this year. It wasn't everything I'd built up in my head from years of hearing about it, but was fun and still well worth my trip from Detroit, MI. You can read my review of it on my blog here

As both an organizer of multiple craft fairs a year, and a crafter who sells at even more, I think I have a bit of a different view of both sides, but most I've participated in the last 5 years have been a lot of fun and profitable (though I have also been to a number of flops). I think most are valuable in their own ways, though - even if sales aren't great that day, you may make a few regular customers out of it, or meet a buyer from a store that would want to work from you!

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