Crikey! A lot has happened since I last blogged. We’ve had Brexit! The most momentous decision ever made by the British people! Whatever way you think of it, whether it is the right decision or the not, remains to be seen. We’ve some troubled and interesting times ahead that is for sure.
Leaving all that behind and moving onto something cheerier and far more interesting: it is just over 3 months until the 27th Craft, Gift & Food Fair in October! It is all very exciting! I am kind of on count-down mode now. Yay!
Organising has been well underway for quite some time. We are more or less there; it is just those last minute things such as advertising and promotion that I can’t really do until nearer the time. I shall be launching our new look poster shortly and a full on advertising and promotional campaign in September both on Facebook, Twitter, the media and other on-line sites.
Gotta say, it is such a relief to be in a fortunate position of being full with lots of talented and gifted British craft makers and designers so early on in the year. I am thrilled to announce we have a handful of new crafters for 2016. We have Amanda Banham Ceramics, DizzyDollyLou, Itooshi-Soo, Finesse, Little Tinkers Gifts, Sam Flind Artist, Katy’s Textiles, Annica Wheatbags, Charms and Nails, Sazzle and Mogie, From the Heart and Luna Bear Gifts. Some of these amazing crafters were featured in my last blog back in April.
Then some more familiar faces are back such as: Glyn Hall Wood Turning, Taylor Made Cards, The Other Mrs Beaton, Natalie’s Fairy Knits, Kiss-Air Candles, Flutterby Bags, In Stitches, Sally Thake Jewellery, The Fabric Vase Company, Toddle Togs, ArtisAnn Crystal Jewellery, The Healing House, Sarah Jameson Creative, Nicci Barrett Phoenix trader and Ella’s Bookshelf the Usborne Books. Plus many more…
Alongside the crafts, there are some tasty food producers, all fairly local (well apart from the obvious one) so you don’t have to worry too much about food mileage if that does concern you. In the food hall this year you will find unique and luxurious chocolates, delicious and creamy cheesecakes, mouth watering cupcakes and all things cakey and pudding like, preserves and spiced, full of flavour chutneys and sauces. Greek delicacies such as Baklava, artisan Cretan biscuits, Cretan olive oils, stuffed olives and peppers, artisan goats and sheep cheese and Greek Delight. Then we have the real satisfying food! Sausage rolls, scotch eggs, walnut, celery and apple rolls, sweet potato and black bean rolls, pate, meat and vege pies, quiches, steak and kidney puddings, ready meals, etc.
So all in all, we’ve got quite a wide range of stalls for you all to shop at!
Please! Come and support our lovely, talented local crafters and producers. I feel very passionate in supporting our small businesses and hobbyists. The time they spend in researching, designing, sourcing materials and creating something unique, something beautiful, something special, is phenomenal. The majority of our crafters/designers hold down full time jobs and spend the wee hours and weekends creating something that they truly love and is close to their hearts. Now that is what I call real dedication.
You may say that homemade craft is expensive, but look at what you are getting for your money, a bit of someone’s passion, time, imagination, creativity, something special and unique, something that is of excellent quality and will last forever, something to treasure.
We are hoping to have WiFi up and running so bring your plastic friend (s) with you. However, just in case please remember to bring a fair amount of cash or a cheque book as stallholders may not be able to take electronic payments because of our poor network coverage in Balsham.
So do you want to find out a bit more about some of your designers and makers? They all have an interesting story to tell. I’ve selected a few and will feature a few more in the next one which will probably be my last blog.
Itooshi-Soo is the world of hand sewn quirky and unique creatures made from a mixture of ‘Upcycled’ and new materials, using traditional home skills by machine and hand embellishment. Itooshi-Soo is probably best known for the family of Tikapea sock creatures. Like us they need an occasional cuddle. You may also be tempted by one of Itooshi-Soo’s tiny bunnies or a Midge which both have big eyes and are inquisitive creatures just waiting for a warm and friendly home.
Sue says “the fascination for me is that when I’m creating something, I’m never quite sure how the finished piece is going to turn out.I start by choosing colours and textures of fabrics and trimmings and its personality develops during the making process. That’s what I love the most….”
Sarah Jameson Creative
Sarah graduated with a 2:1 in Textile Design and Surface Pattern. She has since worked as a freelance Textile Designer specialising in children’s designs and as a mural artist working in schools. Sarah now works out of her studio in Ickleton where she paints canvases and slates for craft markets, commission and exhibitions. Her portfolio also includes sign writing, painted furniture and painted MDF cut-outs. She describes her style as ‘representational rather than realistic’.
Sarah has a very simple and stylised drawing technique and works with simple shapes and combines them with layers of bold colours to create texture. Inspiration is taking from all around her and finds the colours, shapes and patterns in nature, scenery and food really motivate her. She has a newly discovered passion of ‘Upcycling’ finding discarded items and incorporating them into her work or simply painting a design straight onto them and giving them a new life.
Various types of wool: Merino, Shetland, Jacob, Cheviot, Wensleydale and Black Hebridean are used to make beautiful hand felted pictures, wall hangings, cushions, bags and cards. The majority of Beverley’s work is created using the wet felting* technique and some are also embellished with machine embroidery and silk. Beverley’s inspiration comes from the natural environment: landscapes, plants, animals and birds and tries to recreate the fell and atmosphere of a scene, whether it’s the grandeur of the mountains of Skye or sheep grazing in a Suffolk field.
From an early age, Beverley has always enjoyed working with fibers and fabrics and loves experimenting with the colour and texture that wool offers. Due to the nature of wet felting, she can never be absolutely certain how my “felt paintings” will turn out. As a result, no two pieces are ever the same so each item is unique.
Wet felting: You need wool roving (washed and combed wool but not yet spun into yarn) soap and warm water. A surface with some kind of texture like a bamboo mat or a bubble wrap or the lid of a plastic box… anything with a surface which can take water! The process of felting itself happens when wool gets wet, it’s microscopical scales open and by rubbing it with a bit of pressure, these fibers get interlocked. The soap acts as a lubricant so the rubbing and interlocking is easier.
You know how you are not supposed to put a wool jumper/sweater/pullover in the washing machine? If you do, you end up with something half its original size. Well, that’s because the wool has felted with the warm water, the soap and the movement and rubbing against other clothes inside the machine!
By rule, when you felt something, you always have to take in account around 30% or shrinkage.
Little Tinkers Gifts
Karen has always had a natural talent for drawing and by the age of 12 she was already receiving commissions to draw people’s much loved pets.She started her business in the late 80’s and quickly acquired a weekly stall at London’s Covent Garden.
Over the years as her business evolved, she realised there wasn’t any decent handmade gifts on the market that children could afford to buy.
Karen now produces a cute range of gifts, which are mainly for children to give to all their friends and family. Most of Karen’s evenings and weekends are taken up with making her crafts as she spends her “normal” working hours, her day job, which she loves just as much, supporting Deaf and Autistic individuals, many with additional needs.
Kiss-Air Candles hand makes natural soy wax candles infused with fabulous and unusual fragrances.
Their candles are strong and fill the whole room when they are burning. This is just one of the reasons Kiss-Air started making candles. The other was that they were inspired to create a range of candles infused with fabulous and unusual scents after the candles they had made as gifts one Christmas were a real hit.
So, after months of researching, experimenting and testing, Kiss-Air Candles launched in March 2013 with a collection of nine true to life scented candles from the traditional Lavender and Coconut to the more unique Cut Grass and Really Rhubarb. Eighteen months down the line and that range has expanded to over 25 fragrances with new scents being continuously being adding each season, and new products are now available in the form of votives and the ever popular wax melts with more home fragrance products in the pipeline!
Each candle, votive, wax melt is carefully handmade by Kiss-Air in Cambridgeshire using natural soya bean (vegetable) wax which gives a cleaner burn and fabulous scent throw to ensure the candle can be smelt and enjoyed by everyone who enters the room. All of their candles are presented in gold tins wrapped in eye catching bright labels that carry the Kiss-Air Candles signature heart and bow design so they not only smell great, but look fantastic in any room too!
Rural Magpie is a store or rescued treasures and hand painted furniture pieces.
Located in the beautiful countryside of North Essex/South Cambridgeshire border, Rural Magpie offers an eclectic mix of fine quality one off pieces of pre-loved modern and vintage finds from ceramics and glass wear to hand painted restored furniture as well as beautiful pieces of jewellery.
If you want to renew a piece of furniture, Rural Magpie also offers a painting service.
If you wish to help save the environment, then look no further than Rural Magpie. They would be happy to consider relieving you of any wooden furniture pieces, ceramics and glass as well as any broken jewellery.
Follow Rural Magpie on Twitter
Katy never really showed any creative talents when growing up but over the past few years, she had felt that there was something she wasn’t doing.
Katy keeps down a very busy job at an equine hospital but felt she needed something to take her mind off her job. She loves to travel but the travel itch subsided as owning a home couldn’t mean that she could chuck everything into a backpack. Inspired by her grandmother who was a seamstress she decided to buy a sewing machine and her small business has gone from strength to strength.
“I have such an overwhelming feeling of achievement after making something someone wants to buy. That is what motivates me.”
Katy hand makes cushions of various sizes, fabric quilted noticeboards in a range of fabrics, children’s aprons, hessian shopping bags and door stops.
Katy’s is on Twitter, why don’t you follow her and her creations.
Sazzle and Mogie
Mo and Sarah are a mother and daughter team. For years we both dabbled in many hobbies like sewing, mosaics and general crafts. We have learnt and enjoyed a lot of different things along the way. In 2014 Sarah got married and decided she wanted something different and personal in her wedding bouquet. This started her love for felt flowers. Since then they have strived to perfect their flowers and to find their own look and uniqueness!
While they both work on the felt flowers which are really Sarah’s passion, Mo still loves other crafts especially around vintage items. She up-cycles some fantastic vintage irons and keeps her hand in sewing and then decorates those creations with a flower or two.
Sarah loves felt flowers and admits she doesn’t have green fingers and is useless at keeping plants and flowers alive. This way she gets the best of both. Secondly, Sarah is a hayfever sufferer and she gets all the beauty without the sneezing. Lastly, there are the conservation issues. She is aware picking wild flowers as well as the mistletoe depletion has an effect on bee and insect numbers. So Mo and Sarah, in a small way are providing an alternative. Apart from anything else, felt flowers will bloom all year long so you can have sunflowers at Christmas, if you wish!
Luna Bear Gifts
Luna Bear Gifts is a family business. Everything Luna Bear sells has been designed and made at her home in the Essex countryside. Launched in 2014 still running alongside her “proper” full-time job Sharon aims for Luna Bear Gifts to support the family full time.
Ever since Sharon was a little girl, she enjoyed making things particularly sewing and inherited a love of fabric from her mum. Having run out of friends and relatives that she could bombard with various sewn items, the natural progression was to start making the things she loves to make and sell them on. To begin with it was a mixture of items but it soon became apparent that the majority of items that were being made liked by customers were homewares. Whether it was pot holders, tea towels or noticeboards, the kitchen-wares were an immediate hit both online and at the local farmers’ markets.
They now have been joined by cushions, coasters and carrier bag holders. Inspiration usually comes from fabric that catches Sharon’s eye and thinks that would make the perfect pot holder, tea towel or place mat.
If you like what you see and you want to know more about our lovely stall holders or just keep up to date with the fair, please do follow us on Facebook.
Back to Home.
Meadow Primary School PTA, High Street, Balsham, Cambridge CB21 4DJ
Charity Number: 1148295