As you'll remember I visited the Handmade Fair last year on my trip around London. This years event had expanded a bit (a lot more food stalls - wood fired pizza, yum!). There were many of the classic traders as well as plenty of new faces.
But there was an extra reason for me making this trip (and suffering the consequential sleep deprived meltdown on the way home). I entered a competition that the Handmade Fair was running on their twitter and instagram using the hashtag #lovehandmade. They asked for the nation to send pictures of their handmade items to be judged by Kirstie Allsopp herself, with the finalists receiving complimentary tickets to the fair. So hence, I got selected and this happened -
So as you've probably gathered I submitted a picture of my costume from Shambala this year, and after being selected it was only appropriate that I man up and wear it on the day. We were told to assemble at the press tent for 10am (which is why I had to get up so early - takes a long time to get from Cardiff to that part of London). Kirstie pulled up on her golf cart (and I mean pulled up, for a moment I thought she was gonna do a drive-by), took one look at my costume and appeared to be in total shock.
Both Kirstie and the other finalists were all really nice. I'm not one to gush just because of celebrity, I was more concerned about not saying anything stupid or inappropriate, but she genuinely was a pleasure to meet. She asked loads of questions about how (and why) I made the outfit, even showing me some pictures on her phone of an outfit it reminded her of. Near the end of our time one of her assistants reminded her that she had to pick a winner, and although all of the other entries were of top quality, she said that I should win just because of sheer bravery. A few minutes for some photo's, and that was that, off she zoomed in her little golf cart. I was a little bit in shock after it all, and especially at being decided as the winner. I don't have a competitive bone in my body, so the most important thing for me was the fact that she approved of my work (with the acknowledgement that you maybe have to be a little bit crazy to wear this sort of thing). So with that done, we went about enjoying the rest of our day at the fair (with some VIP passes thrown in!!!).
There were loads of great stalls in the 'shopping villages', but if I have to pick my favourite, it would easily be this one by Best Of African. They had loads and loads of these bead and wire sculptures on display and everything was seriously impressive.
This warthog was one of my favourites, and I'm sure from the picture you can get an idea how much time one of these pieces of art must take.
I thought this funky dinosaur was particularly cool, and in my opinion for such large beautiful sculptures they weren't ridiculously priced either (this was one of the larger pieces). I was aching to buy one of them, but my lovely wife politely reminded me that only last week I was moaning at how little space I had to work with in our flat, and that maybe buying a massive bead elephant wasn't going to help matters. So although I didn't get one for myself, I made a point of taking some photo's and grabbing their card for future reference, for when I live in a warehouse or something - one day I will have a huge studio room!!!
So what did I buy, yeah that's right it's the obligatory haul photo. Well, after my recent splurge on a loom I was actually quite restrained. I bought a cool little bowl weaved out of sisal grass, a clever needle threading gadget, a bargain load of seed beads for two quid, a little pink plastic mouse brooch, and a fairtrade ethical necklace made out of Tagua Palm seed (which is being used as a natural alternative to ivory) from artisan life - check their website, they have some gorgeous products. Oh, and we also got a VIP goody bag with some nice little extras in it.
So that was my Saturday, pretty intense but very enjoyable. I wore my costume for most of the day but it got to a point where I was too hot and wanted to actually get on with some shopping, so changed back into my normal clobber. We stupidly forgot about the talk we we supposed to go see until it was too late, but did have a great day out anyway just walking around looking at everything (oh and I bumped into the brilliant Mr X Stitch again, such a great bloke).
Big thanks to Kirstie, her team and all the other finalists, I had a great day.
Peace out y'all x