The Broken House: Square paper mache boxes, painted white, bright red, and black. They have been sanded and stained for a time worn look. These are great for storage or your little keepsakes:)
It’s October, which means only one thing in Manchester – the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair is coming! During 22-24 October, a wide range of British designer-makers will descend on Manchester’s Spinningfields to showcase their talents to an incredibly captive audience, me included of course. I’m so pleased that my city is playing host to such a great event, as it really emphasises the growing handmade community outside of London.
The inaugural GNCCF was held at Manchester Grammar School in 2008 and relocated to Spinningfields for the 2009 event. Organisers Ann-Marie Franey and Angela Mann came up with the idea for the event during their visits to London’s annual Chelsea Craft Fair (now Origin). They felt that there should be an event of similar standard in the North, and just a short while later, when their children were older, the idea of GNCCF came into fruition. Ann-Marie and Angela spent more than a year carrying out market research with potential exhibitors and visitors before deciding to go ahead.
Manchester was chosen as the fair’s venue due to its ease of access to visitors from Cheshire, Yorkshire, Merseyside, Derbyshire and Lancashire. Hosting the GNCCF in the city centre also helps to boost the local economy, and moving the fair to Spinningfields proved to be an excellent business decision as it doubled the audience to over 6500 in 2009. 8000 visitors are expected to attend this October.
Applications to exhibit at the fair are invited from designer-makers of ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, wood, metal, jewellery etc. and exhibitors are chosen by a panel of industry experts. GNCCF has already built up an excellent reputation in the UK and this year’s show was vastly oversubscribed, with 160 exhibitors making the final cut.
Ann-Marie and Angela undertake most aspects of the organising themselves, and with five children between them it’s no mean feat! However, the long hours spent working on the event paid off in 2009 when they saw the queues of visitors excited to get in and received excellent feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike. The ultimate payback for the pair is that they get to share their passion for contemporary craft and hopefully engage new audiences.
I’m certainly looking forward to this year’s fair, as it will be bigger than ever before with two show pavillions. One area will be entirely dedicated to Great Northern Graduates, a showcase of the best graduate students from the region’s craft and design courses. There will also be a jewelry making workshop – I’m off to check that out!
What do you think makes a great craft fair? I’d love to hear about your experiences – post here or send me your tips for making the best of an event via Twitter to @elliethouret. I’ll include the best tips in an upcoming post!
In our busy lives these days, we use a lot of disposable things without giving them much thought at all. So much is single-use, single-serving, throwaway packaging—things that are (hopefully) recyclable and that (hopefully) wind up in the recycling bin.
The great thing about today’s eco-friendly artists is that they see a lot of our everyday trash as raw material. Instead of heading to the recycling center (or worse, the landfill), our single-use, throwaway “stuff” gets a beautiful new life as housewares or wearable art.
Take the plastic bottle, for example. We use a lot of plastic bottles. Somewhere near 28 billion single-serving water bottles are used each year in America alone. Yet less than 20 percent of them are recycled. Some estimates are as low as 12 percent.
Armed with a heat gun, or tools as simple as a pair of scissors, artists are making some incredible items out of those bottles. gulguvenc (photos above and below, left) uses a heat gun to shape PET bottles and then pierces them to create amazing bowls and jewelry.
anettesplastics crochets old plastic bottles into amazing jewelry forms like this necklace (above, right) and the rings below, while both arnym (below, left) and ArtworkbyKD (below, right) cut shapes from old bottles to make their jewelry.
The great thing about plastic bottles is that they can be recycled. They can be made into new bottles, or processed into other raw materials, like craft supplies. There are plastic bottle yarns out there now, and felt and fabric made from recycled bottles. But recycling, like the production of the bottles themselves, takes up a lot of energy. Keep that in mind the next time you reach for a bottle of water. It might be worth investing in a reusable bottle to complement your new handmade purchases!
Bottle rings and fruit bowl above also by anettesplastics.
One of the great advantages of handmade cosmetics is having the ability to speak with the maker about the product. Knowing what is in your cosmetics and what isn’t is as simple as asking the question. And many disclose product ingredients in their entirety, and pride themselves on product safety.
Legislation protects cosmetics wearers in the United States to some degree. But mercury has been found in mascara in as late as 2007 when Minnesota passed a law banning mercury in cosmetics.
Most makeup manufacturers have phased out the use of mercury, but it’s still added legally to some eye products as a preservative and germ-killer, said John Bailey, chief scientist with the Personal Care Products Council in Washington. That group doesn’t track mercury in beauty products and favors a national approach to regulating cosmetics, instead of laws that vary from state to state.
Please welcome Chelsey Mona to Try Handmade. She’s a jewelry designer and a blogger, and has done a great job describing her new column to you. Leave her a comment to welcome her to the site, and tell her if you have any shops to suggest!
You know the feeling you get when you introduce your best friend to a new band she’s never heard of? Or you when you discover that little hole-in-a-wall restaurant that makes THE best blackberry pancakes? Well, that’s what Freshly Made is all about. I get the privilege of introducing you to new artists that haven’t been discovered yet, the rare diamonds in the rough that are beautiful but little known.
As new artists get started, they’re still learning how to publicize their shops. They’ve made amazing stuff, but how do they connect with you? Let’s face it, most artists would rather be in the studio and though they may be used to the show circuit often times new artists have yet to learn the mysterious ways of selling online. Plus most websites that feature handmade items usually focus on shops that already have a following. While those artists are certainly deserving, it makes it really hard for new artists to break in. So how does the new artist get heard? We here at Try Handmade will hand them a megaphone.
Each week I’ll be featuring a new shop that hasn’t yet had a lot of online sales. I’ll be bringing you the freshest shops where the paint has barely dried, the wire has just been cut, the stones have just been set and the last threads clipped. Together we’ll go on an expedition to discover great new artists while giving a voice to those shops that need the publicity the most.
I am so excited to be a part of the Try Handmade community! I hope you’ll share your secrets with me, too. If you have a favorite hole-in-the-wall shop that should be featured or you have one yourself, please let me know in the comments below. I have a lot of shops in the queue to feature, but I know I wouldn’t have discovered half of the independent artists I know if I hadn’t been introduced by other people. Let’s build this up together!