After attending the taster event at the V&A this summer, I was delighted to be sent a press ticket to the Fair itself. A day of crafty goodness is always nice and I was very curious to see what this new event would be like...
The fair was held in the grounds of Hampton Court (which you know I love) and although the morning started out a little chilly and overcast, it soon warmed up and we had lots of autumn sunshine.
You know you've arrived at a fun event when this is the first thing you see - hundreds of pompoms!
The Fair was very making-focused, with each ticket including a "skill workshop", a "grand make" and a talk or other event in the "super theatre". Unfortunately I missed my super theatre session thanks to the traffic (rats!) but I arrived in plenty of time for my "grand make" - making origami flowers.
The "grand make" aspect of this (hundreds of crafters all making together) didn't really happen as there were only a couple of dozen of us making flowers that session... but it was still fun to sit and make some origami for half an hour.
Samuel from Sesame's Origami was a great teacher, and very entertaining giving us lots of tips and chatting about his origami business. Apparently his most common customer is husbands buying bouquets for their "paper" wedding anniversary. He talked us through folding a little paper t-shirt, then a paper tulip. Here's my tulip...
... and here's how a whole bunch of the tulips look when made with pretty multicoloured origami paper:
You can find lots of beginner-friendly video tutorials on Samuel's website, along with info about his upcoming workshops.
After making my tulip it was time to explore the Fair!
You had to buy a show guide (£5) to get a map of the site, but luckily it was quite easy to find your way once you'd walked round once and got your bearings and there were lots of friendly staff around to ask for directions if you got lost. There were two big shopping tents and some smaller tents where things like drop-in workshops and book signings were happening at various times during the day.
My first stop was the Etsy tent, where a selection of Etsy shop owners were selling their wares and folks from Etsy's UK team were running business workshops and answering peoples questions about opening a shop.
I loved Neon London's bright stationery, Anna Wiscombe's charming wooden jewellery and Spin City's yummy handspun yarn.
Throughout the day I bumped into lots of lovely people I know from Etsy and blogging, and spotted lots of famous faces from the world of crafting - including Tilly who was teaching a sewing masterclass.
As well as taking part in drop-in workshops and the three sessions you signed up for as part of your entry ticket, you could buy tickets on the day for extra "grand makes" and "skill workshops". Each tent had a blackboard up outside listing the times and details of the events happening that day and the number of tickets left, so you could see what was still available.
Lush were running drop-in workshops including one on making hairpieces with fresh flowers which really added to the "crafty festival" vibe of the day as there were lots of people walking round with flowers in their hair!
Food-wise there were lots of food trucks and a vintage-themed tea tent (with live music, which was lovely). The food was a bit on the pricey side but there was lots of variety and I had some seriously delicious icecream (yum).
The two shopping tents were packed with a mix of different vendors - handmade and indie-designed products rubbing shoulders with vintage loveliness and crafty supplies like fabric, sewing kits, yarn and scrapbooking supplies.
Here are some snaps of just a small sampling of the wares on show...
... vintage pretties at Simply Vintage Designs:
... awesome giant knitting needles from Rachel John, handmade treats from We Make London, paper loveliness at Paperpoms, and sweet homewares by Jessalli:
... coastal-themed decorations by The Wooden Fish Company and fab dolls & felt mobiles by A K Traditions:
... colourful craft supplies from one of my blog sponsors, Blooming Felt:
... gorgeous block printed designs by Molly Mahon, deliciously scented soap by Odds and Suds, colourful haberdashery from Millie Moon, and beautiful homewares & prints by Sarah Hamilton:
As always at events like these it's so nice to be able to chat to the makers and artists about their work. It was especially delightful to see some printing and painting in progress at Red Hen Originals.
After lunch it was time for my "skill workshop": lino printing with Zeena Shah. This was a huge amount of fun - I blogged about it earlier this week - but it was a shame we didn't decorate something that we could have taken home with us.
Finally I met up with Fiona for a cuppa and a chat about bloggy stuff in the Hotchpotch Vintage tea tent.
Just look at those cakes! Yum. Our tea was served in vintage teacups too, which was lovely.
Then it was time to head home, tired but happy. I have my fingers crossed that there's another Handmade Fair next year as this one was a lot of fun!
Disclosure: I attended The Handmade Fair as a guest of the organisers who sent me a free ticket.