So, a long long time ago (May of last year) I spent two amazing days zipping round London exploring the awesomeness of the first ever London Craft Week.
On the first day I met so many interesting people, chatted to loads of different makers about their work, oohed over some incredible craftsmanship and got to peek behind the scenes of some fascinating spaces, it was wonderful. (You can read all about what I got up to on the day one here and here).
After that busy day I made the not entirely sensible decision to stay up late watching the election coverage... then had trouble a) getting out of bed the following morning and b) tearing myself away from the news of the (dramatic!) results. I'm glad I did though, because day two of London Craft Week was jam-packed with great stuff.
Once I'd finally got up and on a train and into London, my first stop was Trunk Clothiers, where the founder of (ki:ts) was demonstrating the art of hand stitching leather and showcasing his (then) current belt collection. It was so interesting to see the work in progress.
Next door, jewellers Cox + Power were running an open house, so after admiring their collections in the shop visitors could see the workshop where all that loveliness gets made.
Something that came up again and again during London Craft Week was how today's fine craftsmen and women are creating inventive, modern pieces but drawing on traditions, skills and techniques that stretch back hundreds of years.
At Cox + Power it was fascinating to hear how little a jeweller's workspace and tools have changed over the centuries, and we had a great chat about makers and making and the things that connect us all (whether we're making fine jewellery or cute stuff from felt!).
My next stop was the Contemporary Ceramics Centre which includes an exhibition space and a shop filled with gorgeous ceramics. The Centre is just opposite the British Museum, but I had no idea it was there as I always approach the Museum from the other direction. I will definitely be taking a slight detour and popping in here again in future!
After oohing over the beautiful ceramics, I headed down the road to a shop that I'd walked past many times on my way to the British Museum but never visited before: Cornelisson & Son. This is a truly wonderful little shop! There are so many art supplies squeezed into the space, everywhere you look is a riot of colour and creative possibility.
They sell some very specialist supplies here, but lots of more accessible ones too. Even if you have no interest in art it's worth a visit, just to see the shop's original drawers and storage jars filled with a rainbow of pigment. If you are a creative type though (and if you're reading my blog, the chances are that you probably are) what a pleasure it would be to shop for even something as small as a new pencil sharpener in a place like this!
After filling my brain and eyes with all things colour-related, I walked up the Tottenham Court Road to Heals where textile designer Gemma Kay Wagget was spending the afternoon demonstrating screen-printing and giving tips to people who wanted to try printing for themselves.
Sadly I missed the demonstration itself as Gemma was taking a well-earned break, but I picked up a lovely notebook she'd screenprinted and a copy of Hole & Corner - a beautiful magazine "celebrating craft, beauty, passion and skill".
On to my next stop: the British Library, where weavers from Dovecot Tapestry Studios were working on a hand loom and discussing their work. We didn't get a chance to talk about much though, as a very loud fire alarm went off and the building had to be evacuated! You can see a short video about one of their projects here and see more of their work here.
As the Library emptied out and the fire engines arrived (to what I'm guessing was a false alarm as they left again pretty soon afterwards!) I headed down the road to The Crypt Gallery, a unique and highly atmospheric exhibition space under St Pancras Church.
This was the venue for the MAKE / CREATE exhibition, a collaborative exhibition between fine artists and makers that explored the intersection between traditional craft and contemporary art. I'm not the world's biggest contemporary art fan but this was a really rewarding (and slightly spooky) exhibition to visit.
Then there was just time for one last stop before I headed homewards: the Art Workers' Guild where some of the members were chatting about their work and giving tours of their meeting hall.
After all that, you might not be entirely surprised to hear that I decided to stay home and rest instead of attending some of the weekend's events!
This year London Craft Week will be taking place from 3rd-7th May. Visit the London Craft Week website for more info and to check out this year's programme of tours, talks, workshops, demonstrations and other event.
P.S. You can read more about the places, events and makers I visited during London Craft Week in part one and part two.