Every September I struggle to know what to get my mum for her birthday, luckily we both share a passion for crafts, so with The Handmade Fair falling in September, it's the perfect outing. I have sort of moved away from physical presents in the last few years, instead focussing on experiences instead which we would not normally book tickets for ourselves to go to. The fair is now in its third year, showcasing all that it handmade with lots of small businesses and artisan food stalls selling their wares.
Coming from down south it was a bit of a trek to the fair but it was totally worth it. The rain was falling when we managed to get our way through the busy traffic of a Friday morning, lucky I had pre-booked parking so felt slightly happier when we reached the entrance later than originally intended. We had hoped to make it to see Kirstie open the fair but it was not to be!
Our first talk wasn't until 11am, so we had a bit of time to nose around and find our bearings. First stop, the hobbycraft tent and with the cute pink Libby rose van it was hard to miss! There was Pom Pom makers, wool, demonstrations and helpful staff to get us in the maker mood.
The Handmade Fair site is compact so it was not too much of a walk to the Super Theatre. Also despite the rain there were walkways between most tents which was better than I feared as neither my mum or I had prepared for the sudden change in weather (seriously, summer to Autumn in 24hrs!).
Kirstie was chairing our talk in the super theatre and she was so lovely! She is just like on the telly, warm, gorgeous style and friendly :D There were 2 Etsy sellers, someone from the Great British Exchange and Etsy. It was a great reminder about making sure you tell your story and using all the resources that Etsy have on their site to support all small businesses.
With only 15 mins before the next workshop it was a brisk walk to the grand makes tent to make cute needle felted bees. This workshop was full and it was easy to see why, the lady demonstrating was really knowledgable and who doesn't want a cute bee!
This craft is great at the end of a working day to de-stress, just moulding wool with a needle to create gorgeous animals.
Of the two bees that we made, one stayed there and joined the others on a tree, the other gets to come home. Eliza has taken ownership of the one I made and now it's her favourite toy!
Next stop, lunch! With lots of artisan food stalls to pick from, it was a hard choice but I went for pizza, hand stretched and topped, it was beautifully thin and hot!! There was two sets of undercover seating so we didn't have to sit out in the rain which made a big difference when it's chucking it down.
The whole site was decorated with bunting, Pom poms, crochet flowers and balloons. It was lovely to see the effort and thought that had gone into each tent.
The Mollies makes tent was even serving tea in Vintage China teacups and had the brightest painted dresser that I have ever seen, definitely inspiration for me ;)
At the upcycling workshop, Printing for Interiors, I got to meet Annie Sloan! Of course I adore Everlong Paint but it was Annie Sloan paint that I started my upcycling journey with. So it was really nice to finally meet her and I even lent her my phone charger! She went to take a photo and her phone had run out of charge, I always keep a charger with me, as when I'm posting to Instagram the battery goes so quickly. I like to think I saved the day ;)
At the workshop we cut Lino to make a print and then used black paint, with the roller to apply it to a wooden frame. Annie leads a great workshop and of course is very knowledgable, after the prints we used random household objects to print in a blue/green colour.
I am not sure it's a technique I am going to use often but it was really interesting!
Next stop, visiting the two shopping tents, filled to the brim with small businesses. The first time we visited I couldn't even move down the aisles as it was so full! Some of the stands were also running workshops, so if you only got an entry ticket there was still lots to see.
I also made made sure I went along to see the Walter & May stand as I follow Beth on Instagram so it was great to meet in person :) There was also Little Ragsmith, Katie Essam and Suzie Bee who were my particular favourites.
Many of the stands had a beautiful set up, which made you just want everything. In particular the block craft stand was super popular! Block printing is definitely one of the popular crafts as their stand was bustling the whole time.
Then it was back to the Super theatre for our final talk, this one had actually been released after I booked our tickets but mum and I did not want to let go the opportunity to see Cath Kidston and Kirstie having a chat! They were both really down to earth, discussing parking tickets, new shops and we even got to see what Cath had bought from the shopping tents (it was the largest apron I have ever seen!)
There was also this amazing ombre crochet flower wall to the side of the stage which was simply stunning. It must of taken hours to create and then assemble.
After this, we were both pretty worn out from all the crafting and so it was a quick stop for the Rainbow cake that we had been eyeing up all day (what birthday treat is complete without cake?!) before making our way back to the car for the long journey back down south.
Did you go to the fair this year? What workshops did you do? Let me know in the comments,