Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Fair 2015 Hampton Court Palace
There are some days when it feels like everything is against you and you need a light at the end of the tunnel. The opening day of The Handmade Fair was one of those days for me. Manic school drop off, deadlines and a tortuous journey along the A303 that took 90 minutes longer than it should have.
But it was so worth it. I actually squealed, yes squealed at the entrance marque, filled with brightly coloured bunting, the most enormous ruffled paper flowers and marbled balloons (I need to get me some of those babies!) and greeted the friendly ticket collector with the hugest grin. At first she seemed perplexed that I was just arriving with a mere hour and a half to go but quickly realised I was bursting with excitement and directed me to the two ginormous bunting adorned tents filled with row upon row of B.E.A.U.tiful makers, designer and crafters peddling their wares.
There is everything you could dream of if you appreciate all that is handmade and vintage. I was overwhelmed with the talent under the canopy walls, stunning ceramics, lovely lampshades, divine home decor and super stationery!
I whizzed around as fast as my legs could carry me trying to take it all in, seeing and saying hello to as many stall holders as possible and snapping as much as I could to share with you, because you almost need to see it to believe it.
There was no, dare I say it, tat. Just row upon row of independent British artists and designers, craft enthusiastic and a few big name brands pepper potted in between. I felt like I had stumbled into the wind down hour a little, everyone had worked hard, had travelled, set up their stands and been on their feet all day as the first day crowds poured through. But by 4.30pm they were relaxed, tired but happy. All chatting with one another, laughing, telling stories about their day. It had a wonderful community feel, like I had stepped into to the brightest coloured exclusive club.
I raced on round to the press tent to say hello at last to Louise from B.Loved Blog who I follow on Instagram and couldn't resist her #Instapretty table where you got to help yourself to a variety of gorgeous, sparkly fabrics, stripy straws and fabric samples and create your own vignette for Instagram. I loved looking at all the comments from happy snappers who had filed in and out of the floral wallpapered tent all day.
My eyes darted widely for those last couple of hours of the show. The auditorium in the big red circus tent was full of eager attendees listening to Kirstie herself so I took the opportunity to potter around the fair site, taking in all the different food stalls, you've got to love a vintage vehicle or two, and sashaying to the jazz music rippling out of the Airstream pop up cocktail lounge.
I spent my precious time at The Handmade Fair wishing I could come back the next day! There was too much to squeeze into a mere 2 hours, I could have spent the weekend there with all the different workshops, tutorials and master classes. If you are planning to go to the next fair check out the schedule beforehand and plan what you might want to see. Some sessions are free like the Janome Sewing Masterclasses but there are some sessions you pay a little extra for, so look through the schedule for the Super Theatre, Grand Makes and Skills Workshop. I would definitely upgrade to a VIP package to be spoilt with afternoon tea in the VIP marquee, with gorgeous posies on the tables and bottomless tea.
So here's just a peek at what you missed out on...
There were experts I was dying to listen to, my favourite British brands including Annie Sloan, and favourite Instagrammers including Will Taylor from Bright Bazaar! I will absolutely be back next year, there's too much I missed out on.
Check out the amazing line up of speakers who would you like to see back next year? It was wonderful to meet fellow bloggers Bespoke Bride and see their super colourful stand with Cricut. There was so much creativity in the canvas tents you couldn't help but leave bursting with inspiration, laden down with shopping bags (it's amazing how much I can buy in 45 minutes I tell you!) and desperate to write down all your new ideas. I have a notebooks scribbled with pages after my trip to The Handmade Fair and over the next few months I am going to start blogging them. Sometimes to feel truly yourself, to let yourself run free with ideas, you need to surround yourself with like minded people. And everywhere I went there were new friends. A couple who recognised me from following my Instagram account and made me blush, I met a wonderful exhibitor from a local shop Gathered with her stunning range of gift wrap and exquisite stationery, stumbled across some eye poppingly talented artists including The Paper Hare and I now have one of her beautiful seahorse prints to admire every day!
If you can't wait to visit next year's fair then you are in luck! If you can get to Manchester keep the 20th-22nd November free. Kirstie is hosting The Handmade Christmas Fair at Manchester Central. Book your tickets here. There's so much to learn, to indulge in. I loved seeing best friends, mothers and daughters husbands and wives and everything in between walk around the fair arm in arm, giggly all the way to car park, rooting through goody bags, admiring their creations. Trundling past food stalls that made your mouth water as you walked by, so many fantastic independent artisans, foodies, people passionate about the food they bake and create and serve with love to you.
Here are just some of those talented people:
If you spot your work in any of these photos please let me know and I will make sure I link to you.
What a treat to experience just a hint of what this magical fair has to offer! Thank you so much for inviting me.