I love craft. It’s in my blood: my mum always has at least five cross stitch pictures on the go at any one time, as well as patchwork, knitting or any number of other projects. My dad calls craft ‘tatting’ for some reason. He doesn’t get it, but I do. Handmade things are just so special, I think they have a bit of a magical quality to them.
I have a cupboard full of my own crafts and crafting materials, which include paper cutting, lino printing, embroidery, cross stitch, painting, drawing, washi tape, and of course the inevitable mending pile. I rarely get the time to use them, but they’re there, ready and waiting for me.
I subscribe to Mollie Makes magazine, and although I rarely have the time to actually attempt the projects, I love looking at them! I spotted an advert for the Handmade Fair in one of the magazines, and just had to go. I found a few other willing wannabe crafters and we planned a lovely girls’ day out. It did not disappoint.
Our first Skills Workshop was making paper pompoms in the Papercraft marquee with the lovely Juliet Carr, so a nice relaxed start to the day.
We had time to make the corsage-style pompom below, and a round one to hang up, and also took home the rest of the two sheets of tissue paper, so we could make some at home.
Then it was time for breakfast, and we thought we’d start off healthily with some yummy porridge.
There were loads of food trucks to choose from, so we planned out what we’d have for dinner too, as we had a walk around.
We had to be careful that we didn’t just sit around eating all day – spoilt for choice springs to mind!
Next on the agenda was looking around some of the amazing stalls and stands. Some were offering free workshops, but we already had quite a crammed schedule, so we didn’t go to any of them. There were two huge marquees called “Shopping Villages” both full of tempting goodies to buy, from books to prints, materials to jewellery, handmade toiletries to children’s clothes… pretty much anything you could wish for as a crafter!
Here are just a few of my favourites… I could have spent THOUSANDS!
Soon enough, it was time for our Grand Make with The Arty Crafty Place! This was block printing, which took place in another large marquee.
There were saucers with aubergine, white and gold acrylic paint, each with a sponge to dab the paint onto the stamp. It is pretty much like potato printing, but the wooden stamps were works of art in their own right. The blocks are hand carved in Jaipur, and fair trade. It’s best to print onto paper or card when it was over a piece of foam, so each of us had a foam mat at our place, to make sure we got nice crisp prints. I borrowed a chevron Christmas tree stamp from the lady opposite me, as although I did like the one at my space, I prefer something a big simpler.
It was fun, but a bit of a rush – before we knew where we were, they were asking us to finish! This is a really fun, simple craft, and I could imagine Ava loving it.
Next on the the agenda was our Super Theatre session with Sof McVeigh and my girl-crush Kirsty Allsopp in the big top. This was really fun, and interesting, watching them make handmade natural beauty products out of lavender and oil, amongst other easily available ingredients.
I love natural beauty, so took loads of notes on my iPhone. We have lots of lavender bushes in our garden so when I get some time (ha ha) I hope to make some myself.
After a bit more shopping, it was time for our last Skills Workshop, and the one I had been looking forward to most! It was lino printing with textile designer Zeena Shah. I have been Instagram-stalking her for a while now, and have one of her beautiful printed birds. It was great to meet her and find out she was just as lovely as she seems.
Each place setting had a small piece of easy-cut lino, a cutting tool and some red and green and metallic ink pads. Zeena suggested we carve some simple shapes to make Christmas cards, and reminded us to carve away the negative space, so that we were left with a positive print. I started off with a simple heart and star, to get my hand in, as it’s been a long time since I did any lino carving. I was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures, sorry. Carving away the soft lino is really addictive, I actually enjoy that more than making the prints themselves! After making my Christmassy shapes, I went a bit off brief, and attempted a flamingo. I didn’t get a chance to finish it in the workshop, but I had all the tools at home so finished it the next day.
After all of this, we were pretty shattered, having spent the whole day there. But we went home feeling really inspired and excited. There is a Christmas version of The Handmade Fair in Manchester in November, so I am very tempted to go to that one too!
Now for a few extra pointers if you’re thinking of going next year – as if you need any more persuading!
The toilets were really good. I know this is a random thing to talk about, but I don’t like going to festivals because of the horrid loos. The ones at The Handmade Fair were good though, a bit like you’d get at a marquee wedding. A bit tiny, but clean, with plenty of loo roll and soap.
We saw quite a few people with small children and newborns. They all looked like they were having fun, but personally I was glad I’d left my girls with Ryan for the day, so I could relax and concentrate. If I I’d taken Ava and Thea, I think I would have been really stressed out in case they broke something! The Shopping Villages were really packed, so I wouldn’t have fancied taking the girls in there, especially not with a pushchair. But when they are older, I will definitely take them as I think they would love it!