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As regular readers will know I spent last weekend as a volunteer at the first ever “Handmade Fair”.  The idea was to offer a huge crafty “get together” for crafters and non-crafters alike to learn from each other, share ideas and embrace the amazing feeling that crafting gives you.

What were the best things about this amazing event? It is very hard to even know where to start. In no particular order…

(Please excuse the photo quality but the iPhone was the most practical thing to carry with me as I dashed around!)

#One – The People

There were the most amazing people in attendance.  I was manning the information point inside the front gate for most of the weekend and people were (almost without exception) lovely.  Easy to talk to, friendly and interested.  The staff from the events company (Brand Events), the exhibitors and teachers, everyone.

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The queue eagerly waiting to get in on the final morning.

As for my fellow volunteers… words fail me.  They were an AMAZING bunch.  Hugely talented, great fun and we were all united by the sisterhood of the Pink Hi-Vis Vest!

The prestigious Hi-Vis Vest!
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The prestigious Hi-Vis Vest!

 #Two – All Crafts Were Embraced

There were workshops on cake decorating, sewing, needle felting, furniture upcycling, crochet, origami, printing, jewellery making, calligraphy, decoupage, knitting, embroidery, making bath salts, gift wrapping, the list goes on… (No wonder Il Magpie loved it!)

Chalk Paint Workshop with Annie Sloane
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Chalk Paint Workshop with Annie Sloane

#Three- The Food

There were loads of amazing food vendors to suit almost every taste.  French, Indian, Gluten Free, Mexican, I could go on and on!  There were amazing mobile bars with clever mixologists and to put the icing on the cake they all seemed to have the most amazingly cute transport!

#Four – The Venue

Where else can you come to work in the morning and be greeted by two bewigged gentleman taking the morning air, or make a new avian friend on the way home?  Hampton Court was a truly beautiful and inspiring.

Hampton Court in all it's glory.
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Hampton Court in all it’s glory.

A morning constitutional!
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A morning constitutional!

#Five – The Decor

There was bunting galore,

Custom made, beautiful bunting.

There was washi tape,

And there was origami!

They even thought about how to divide up work stations and protect the surfaces (brown paper and butcher’s twine anyone?!)

One of the "Grand Make" tents ready for action.
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One of the “Grand Make” tents ready for action.

#Six – Kirstie Allsopp

The amazing Ms Allsopp was around all weekend.  She was warm, funny, friendly and inspirational.  She always had enough time for people (much to her assistant’s dismay at times!) and may have the world record for the most number of “selfies” taken with her in one weekend.

She hosted the “Super Theatre” all weekend in conversation with many famous crafters (Annie Sloane, Cath Kidston and Kaffe Fassett amongst others) and  refereeing “mash ups” where different crafts competed for supremacy.

Despite this busy schedule she still managed pop up everywhere and even ran a surprise workshop (which I happened to be taking as one of my “perks” for volunteering!)

Kirstie's Surprise Glitter Bauble Workshop.
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Kirstie’s Surprise Glitter Bauble Workshop.

Me getting in on the act, photo by Sheree Green - Molloy
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Me getting in on the act, photo by Sheree Green – Molloy

#Seven – The Exhibitors and Shopping

There were the most amazing range of exhibitors in the “Shopping Villages”.  Etsy were there and even ran some craft entrepreneur workshops.  There were craft supplies of almost every type and a huge range of very talented crafter selling amazing works that took your breath away.

The thing that impressed me most for a show with the motto “Everyone has a craft they can do”, there were lots of crafters who had made up kits of their designs for those just starting out to buy and follow instructions until they got comfortable with their own crafting “skin”.

#Eight – The “Annual”

As I was selling show guides (or “Annuals”) I was really relieved that they were a publication I could really endorse.

They were half show guide, half “Molly Makes” magazine.  There were the usual maps but I really liked the alphabetical list of exhibitors (with their contact details) which meant I could put a star by the ones I wanted to get Christmas presents from and not have to carry lots of things!

The cutest "Annuals" ever!
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The cutest “Annuals” ever!

Not only was there that but there were some very stylish “makes” in there.  A knitting pattern, a cross stitch chart, a paper craft mobile and other items.  There was something worth taking away and keeping to remember the day by.

#Nine – The Experts

Almost all my heroes were there; Annie Sloane, Zeena Shah, Mr X Stitch, Kaffe Fassett, Jane Means.  I even got to meet some of them they were generous with their time and expertise, many of them even ran workshops to let you into some of their secrets!

Experts pitching in and sharing their secrets.
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Experts pitching in and sharing their secrets.

#Ten – World Pomination!

The event saw a world record attempt for the most woolly Pom Poms strung together in a continuous row.

They were everywhere all weekend and you couldn’t help but smile as you saw them.  It was even fun being part of the the team sewing them all into one long string.

Sewing up the Pom Poms, does that make me the Pominator?
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Sewing up the Pom Poms, does that make me the Pominator?

I was one of a two person team counting them with another amazing volunteer because we were “independent” (i.e. not employed by the organisers) and we counted THOUSANDS of them!

and because I cannot resist…

#Eleven – The Atmosphere

The whole weekend was so inspirational, positive and buzzing! I made crafty friends I hope to keep for life. I got to experience many new things, see how a large show like this works behind the scenes.  I had more fun than I have had in ages and even better I got to craft!

 

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