Saturday, 7 November 2015

Out and About :: The Second Handmade Fair

Last year I made the decision to go to the Handmade Fair just a few days before the event and because of that a couple of the sessions I was interested in going to weren't available. Overall my opinion was that it was worth a visit but there were a couple of lessons I learned.

This year I was pretty sure I wanted to go a few months out, but didn't want to book too far in advance. I did keep eye on the website about what workshops/sessions were available though.
What was most annoying about the build up was the incessant emailing from the Handmade Fair. There were so many emails that in the end I just had to unsubscribe from the mailing list as there wasn't the option to receive for example just a monthly update.

Other changes for the worse this year:
  • no option to print your tickets at home. Luckily I booked a week before the event, not sure what would have happened had I wanted to book the day before
  • change of location and Hampton Court Palace with no signs pointing you towards the new location. Granted had I looked around before entering the palace grounds I may have spotted it but still some signs in the grounds would have been useful for those of us who attended last year (I wasn't the only one to make this error - one of the ladies in my workshop was late for one of her sessions as she had gone to last year's site)
Grumbles out of the way, what did I think of it this year?
Well for a start, the increased number of food and drink vendors was welcome, although there were still queues, it was nothing compared to the queue to get a cuppa last year. There also seemed to be more places to sit. 

Last year I went on the Friday and arrived just after it opened. This year I went on the Sunday and arrived at about midday (due to booking on late workshops). However, at that time the shopping tents were heaving and with the narrow gaps between some of the stalls it was just impossible to get to see very much.

My first session in the Super Theatre was on craft photography with Lyndsey James which was just excellent and I hold that session responsible for helping to get my blogging mojo back. There will be a post on putting the tips from this session into practice soon.

Then I went to the block printing grand make. I wasn't particularly inspired by any of the grand make sessions (or at least the ones that fitting in with the Super Theatre and Workshop sessions that I really wanted to go to).

I learned a new skill and may make use of it in the future, but being more of a stitcher printing isn't (yet) my thing.

My final workshop was the last session of the day so between the Grand Make and Workshop I got a chance to shop. It was much quieter at this time and there was a distinct lack of buggies clogging up the aisles too. I picked up a few purchases, but nowhere near as many as last year.

Given the name of this blog I just had to buy this Elephant block for printing for just £2. It was from a stall that I didn't catch the name of and as I didn't splash out £6 for a programme this year I can't figure out which stall it was...

On it's own it doesn't look like much, but fill it with sparkly beads and it looks great. Purchased from Totally Beads. £2 x 2 packs = £4

When I saw these fat quarters on the Fabric Fox stall I knew I had to buy them. My initial though was to make some small purses with beaded/embroidered detail to fit in with the silvery printed pattern. £3.30 x 2 = £6.60

Last year I picked up a few small packs of vintage bits and pieces that I still haven't done anything with. But at £2 I couldn't resist buying this one - for those buttons along. Again, didn't catch the name of this stall ...

I bought a little pack of Christmas shapes from Artcuts last year that I made in to tree decorations. This year following my love for Mollie Makes 51 free kit, I couldn't resist this for £3.50.

I also bought a kit from Hobbycraft for £7 which you can see on the Hobbycraft website.

With lunch at £8, tea £1.50, fudge £3, can of drink £1.80, I reckon I spent about £40 on the day - about half of what I did last year.

Personally I felt there were far to many people selling finished makes. Being a maker myself and at an event dedicated to workshops for makers it feels odd that there are so many finished items for sale. I personally would like to see more suppliers in the shopping village.

The final workshop was needle felting. I picked this workshop as there have been a few needle felting projects in Mollie Makes over the time I've been a subscriber and I've never tried this craft so I thought I'd give it a go.

I was very pleased with the finished object and I've already given it another go with my Hobbycraft kit.

So all in all. Was the second Handmade Fair worth a visit?
I think my opinion is the same as last year. I like the fact it isn't just about one craft or type of craft. I like the mix of shopping and workshops. I'd learned my lessons from last time and minimised the time between workshops and that worked well for me. (Although one thing I hadn't considered before would be booking onto other workshops when I get there - something to factor into planning next year.) 
So yes, I think it is worth a visit, as long as you plan your day carefully.

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