Industry News & Reviews

A Review Of The Handmade Fair (Our Mummy And Daughter Date)

On Saturday the 19th of September my daughter and I drove to London to experience Kirstie Allsopp’s ‘The Handmade Fair’ at Hampton Court Palace. We had a lovely day, but also came away with a few niggles & tips, so I thought I’d do a review of The Handmade Fair to tell you all about it!

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Handmade Fair is a 3 day event with talks, workshops, and ‘grand makes’, as well as stalls selling handmade supplies and finished items – with lots of stalls doing demos too. We won the tickets from Hester’s Handmade Home on Instagram, though I did see quite a few people running giveaways for the tickets in the run up to the event!

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

They were entry-only tickets, which meant I’d have to pay extra to go to any of the talks, workshops, or grand makes. I didn’t bother upgrading our tickets as my daughter couldn’t join in with the crafting – children under 12 couldn’t participate in workshops due to ‘health and safety’ reasons. It seems a shame that they don’t have at least one child-friendly workshop a day, as my daughter is a super keen crafter, and it’s good to nourish the next generation of creative minds!

We didn’t make it to the fair until 11.30am, as we got stuck in a ridiculous amount of traffic – the last little bit of the journey from the M3 to Hampton Court should have taken 15mins and actually took 1 hour and 45 minutes! The last 30minutes was driving from the full-up green car park to the further away blue car park. I may have cried a little bit when they said the green car park was full. I know the Handmade Fair organisers can’t help the traffic (there was extra traffic because of rugby and other events), but you would think they could find a venue with a bigger car park for all the attendees. It wasn’t like they were using the grandeur of Hampton Court Palace at all, as the Fair was over the road from that, on ‘the green’ which, let’s face it, is basically a field. A new, more accessible venue next year please?!

Anyway, rant over. We made it to the fair eventually, and wandered around to start with, checking out the lay of the land. This was made easy due to the colourful and iconic signposts:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

We spotted that a couple of tents were doing free workshops, but it wasn’t the right time to start one, so we went for a look around the shopping tents. We found lots of lovely stalls – here’s a few of them:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Top left = Cool Crafting (where we got some cute wooden buttons / pendants), top right = The English Stamp Company (where I bought a stag stamp), bottom left = Ruby And The Crow (where we bought some gorgeous ribbons), and bottom right = Peach Blossom (where we didn’t buy anything though I was seriously tempted as it was all so pretty!).

We popped by a couple of the stalls doing free workshops – Craft Asylum and Janome, but their next workshops were full. So we continued our wander and stopped by the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint tent, where you could paint the furniture pictures on the wall. Little Miss really enjoyed this. Someone had already painted a bit of blue on this side-table, but she painted the rest green and orange, then I added white polka-dots to the blue bit. We were there for a while!

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

(Speaking of Annie Sloan paints, I just saw THIS BLOG POST by Kat at Housewife Confidential, re-doing a piano stool with pink and yellow paint, and it looks awesome!)

After that we headed to the Press Tent, where Louise from the BLoved Blog was running an Instagram #InstaPrettyParty workshop for bloggers and other interested people to attend. Louise was lovely and inspiring, and she’d set out a very pretty worktop to kick-start our ideas for flat lay photography:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Little Miss was very well behaved – while I listened to the workshop she was doodling in my notebook, looking very pretty against the tent backdrop:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Though her floral dress didn’t match the wall paper quite as well as Louise’s:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

I wrote a post (HERE) back in May about how I was interested in using photo props and experimenting, so I really loved this workshop. Louise also gave great tips about scheduling your instagram photos and what times to post them, etc. It was fun to be in a room of other excited bloggers too! The BLoved Instagram account is HERE if you want to see some of their photos.

After this we visited the Mollie Makes tent, where Little Miss did a bit of colouring, and I browsed the books and picked up a free banner-making kit. It was also somewhere that you could get a cup of tea and a bit of cake, though when we were there they had run out of teacups!

We headed to the Craft Asylum tent for the next workshop but it was full again. So we ate a bit of our packed lunch, then went back there again for the next workshop – arriving half-an-hour before it this time to be sure of our place. A queue formed behind us so it was definitely the right decision – if you want to attend a free workshop, get there at least half an hour beforehand!

The tent was decorated beautifully with paper lanterns and rosettes:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

The lovely Katie Skilton (who I met at Creative Exchanges in April) was running the workshop to make a paper rosette. Me and Little Miss made one as a team – I did the dangerous craft knife bits, and she did the fun sticking and stamping:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

We also bumped into Dorothy Wood and Suzie Candlin who I’d last seen at Creative exchanges too. It was really fun spotting people who I knew and introducing Little Miss to them!

By now we were beginning to feel tired, so we had an afternoon super-treat of a pancake for Little Miss, and Churros for me. Another tip – make sure you do a lap of all the eateries before you choose where to eat, as there are so many delicious things to pick from. We made good choices – wow they were yummy:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Then we wandered around the stalls some more. We thought about going back to the Sizzix or Janome tents for the free workshops, but decided we didn’t want to spend the rest of our time waiting for a spot and then doing the 45min workshops. So we just spent a bit more money instead! We’d gone to the fair with a £50 budget (hubby actually took my cards away and made me take cash, very sensible of him), but we managed to get a lot of things for our money! Some were chosen by Little Miss, and some by me:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

The banner kit is the free one from the Mollie Makes tent, and the Reloved magazines were in a £5 goody bag with some ribbons and buttons. The Craft Asylum deal was the best in my opinion, and 4 stamp sets and / or embellishment sets for £10! We each chose a stamp set and a embellishment set from there.

When it was time to go we stopped by Hampton Court Palace for a look. Little Miss was unimpressed – unless a Queen lives there then it’s not really a palace, apparently! She did like playing in the wooden carriages outside, and we took a few selfies of course:

A Review Of The Handmade Fair at Jennifer Grace Creates

Then we walked back to the car park… which I admit didn’t seem so far away now that we weren’t in a hurry! Thankfully there was no traffic on the way home, so we got back at a reasonable time, feeling very happy with our purchases and our mummy & daughter date!

The best bit of the day? When Little Miss looked up at me (I think it was when we were in the Annie Sloan tent) and said:

“Mummy, this is just the perfect place for us to be!”

My heart just melted. There’s my girl!

We would definitely go to The Handmade Fair again. But I’d love them to include a workshop that kids can join in with. And I think a new venue with more parking would be good, but I guess they need to make sure it’s accessible by public transport too. I did consider taking the train but it cost more and would take longer (when there’s no traffic). Perhaps I might brave the train journey next year.

Did you go to the Handmade Fair? Would you like to?

I hope you have a lovely, crafty, day.

Jennifer x

Industry News & Reviews

Fun at CHA UK Creative Exchanges 2015

It’s been quite a long time since I went to the CHA UK Creative Exchanges event, way back on the 18th – 20th of April. But I never wrote about it on here – when I got back from the weekend I was straight into preparing for my Focus Your Craft & Soul blog event, and since then everything’s just been so busy.

So here’s a little run-down of how my weekend went… I warn you this is a long post!

Fun at CHA UK Creative Exchanges 2015

I arrived at the hotel (The Coventry Holiday Inn – Academy) with time to spare, so I had a cup of tea in my room and perused the timetable:

A cup of tea at CHA UK Creative Exchanges 2015

When I headed down towards the conference suite I stepped out of the lift, and straight away I spotted some ladies who I thought I recognised from the FB group we had been chatting on in the run up to the event. Claire Newcombe, Clare Brown, and Jaine Drake all knew each other, online at least, as they are all on Sarah Hurley’s Design Team. But they were all lovely and let me join them for the evening. I am so grateful to them for letting me tag along! Here’s a photo of me with Claire (the tall one on the left) and Clare (on the right):

Making new friends at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Over the course of the weekend I got on particularly well with Claire. We seemed to have a similar family / craft life balance, the same nerves about the weekend, and the same drive to make our crafting become our work life too. It was great to be able to talk to people who ‘get’ what you are talking about!

The Saturday evening was fun and relaxed (there were no talks to go to). We had an introduction/welcome talk, dinner, a decopatch crafting challenge, networking, and sponsor demos. Here’s our messy table when the decopatch activity was in full swing:

Decopatch Challenge at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

We were all decorating cupcake-shaped boxes!

I also went to a demo for Indigo Blu, led by the fabulous Sara Naumann. We were each given a FlitterGlu starter kit and taught to make a couple of cards using the kit plus a few extra items (like stamps and paint):

Indigo Blu FlitterGlu Starter Kit

I loved the blue & gold card – bold and bright! You can see another card I made with the kit HERE.

There was also a raffle table with lots of prizes which got drawn throughout the weekend. I was happily surprised to be the first winner of a big prize – I won this Grand Calibur by Spellbinders!

Winning a Grand Calibur at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Thank you so much to Personal Impressions for sponsoring the prize! I was so excited to win this. I’d just been saying about a week beforehand that I wanted to get a manual die-cutter as I’d seen some dies and embossing folders I liked. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to play with it much, nor money to spend on the dies I wanted. But I will definitely get round to using it and sharing some projects with it on here!

We spent the rest of the evening chatting all things craft. My ‘Mummy’ gene kicked in and I tried to help tidy up too, but Craig wouldn’t let me… I’m glad he didn’t really as it was nice to just sit and chat!

The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast. I’d arranged to meet the lovely Sue from Stamping Sue Style and we had a nice meal and gossip. After a morning welcome talk it was straight into the schedule of informative talks.

I’m not going to write about every single talk I went to, because there was 8 of them and that would take ages. Here’s a list of what I went to:

 Social Media – How to manage your online marketing
Pitching To Craft Manufacturers
An Introduction To Licensing
How To Get Published in Magazines
Intellectual Property Q & A
Design Teams, What You Should Know
Legal Tips for Setting Up A Business
Your Creative CV

I’ll tell you about my favourite two talks.

The first was ‘An Introduction To Licensing’ with Helz Cuppleditch. I was gutted that I missed the beginning of this talk – I had a pounding headache after the first 2 talks of the day, and I thought that there was a time slot when I wasn’t worried about any of the talks, so I went to my room to have a lie down. But when I got there I suddenly realised I had the time slots confused and I was actually really looking forward to this talk, so I had to run back downstairs. I’d missed the first ten minutes or so. But what I did hear was so interesting – it was all about how she designs artwork for companies like Trimcraft. She talked about how to make a repeat pattern and other design tips. As I’ve been designing my own things over the last year or so, and want to do more, this talk was perfect for me.

The other was ‘How To Get Published In Magazines’ with Lara Watson, the editor of Mollie Makes. I had a little bit of a fan-girl moment for this talk, as I used to read Lara’s old blog when she was part of the Scrapbook Inspirations team, and had felt so pleased for her when she’d announced on social media about her becoming the editor for Mollie Makes. So I was excited to meet her! There were only a few people listening to the talk (she ran it again later in the weekend so I think more people went to that one), so we all sat round and had a friendly talk about things. Her presentation was spot on and I made lots of notes. She was so lovely and friendly and made me feel like I COULD approach magazines, with the right plan in place. Thanks Lara!

We also had a couple of keynote talks for all attendees. The first was with Leonie Pujol, who was funny and also made you think. I liked how she said that our industry will keep us young – it keeps your brain ticking over as there’s always more to learn!

The other keynote was with Zoe Arch about Pinterest. This was really interesting as she had loads of good tips on using Pinterest, for example that specific board names are better than vague ones – eg. a board called ‘boots’ is more likely to come up in searches than one called ‘shoes’. The main tip was to think about what you might type in when you are searching for something, and then making sure you are using those phrases in your board names and pin descriptions. She was another lovely person to meet:

Meeting Zoe Arch - Pinterest Ambassador at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Sarah Hurley also talked about the Designer Accreditation program that CHA UK are starting, and how it is important to CHA UK to focus on designers and bloggers as well as suppliers and shops, hence why they want to run weekends like this one. I wrote down this quote from Sarah:

“Even if you love what you do, you should still get paid”

Which I keep remembering every time I read a tweet from an artist that’s been asked to work for free. It would be good if there were more opportunities to earn from creativity!

Here I am with Sarah Hurley, and Craig De Souza from CHA UK. I’ve been following Sarah’s career for years, and I’d been talking to both these lovely people on FB in the run up to the weekend, so it was great to meet them both. They were both so brilliant at making sure everyone was happy all weekend and that things ran smoothly (along with Sara Naumann who was organising things too, I just didn’t catch her for a photo):

Meeting Sarah Hurley and CHA Craig at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Aside from the talks we had a few other fun activities too. There was a onesie party on Sunday night – we all had bunny rabbit onesies on! We were decorating them with fabric paints too, which turned out a bit messy as they took so long to dry. The better option was getting your name put on your onesie using the Cricut Explores that Suzie Candlin had brought along and set up on behalf of Cricut. I helped people use them when Suzie wasn’t around! Most people had their name in glitter vinyl on their onesie. Here’s a photo taken by Laura Strutt at @madepeachy:

Onesie Party at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

I had a lot of fun with Jenniffer Taylor from the Great British Sewing Bee that night, just generally being silly!

Meeting Jenniffer Taylor from The Great British Sewing Bee at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

I think she was going for a zombie-bunny look to her outfit!

A bunch of us stayed up late drinking wine and chatting some more too:

Onesie Party at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Overall the weekend was fabulous. It was informative and enjoyable. There were a few things I didn’t like about some of the talks – eg. a couple of the speakers kept going off on tangents which were not as interesting and made me confused, and I definitely preferred the talks with powerpoint presentations to those that didn’t have them – partly because I’m a visual learner and found it easier to absorb info that way, and partly because it helped the speakers stay on topic.

The venue had both positives and negatives. The food was really good and all the staff I encountered were helpful. The conference suite was well set out with good space to move around and mingle. But there was very little natural light (hence why most of my photos are blurry), in fact some of the rooms the talks were in had no windows at all, which made me feel a bit claustraphobic. Which is probably why I had a pounding headache on day one. I don’t think there’s much that can be done about this though, I’m sure most hotel conference suites would have similar problems. Plus if you had more natural light it would make it harder to read a powerpoint screen! So I just need to take more headache tablets next time.

There were so many wonderful opportunities to meet new people, to try out and maybe win some crafty goodies, and to learn lots and lots and lots about the crafting industry and how to turn crafting into a business. Plus we all got an amazing goody bag too:

Goody Bags at CHA UK Creative Exchanges

Weren’t we lucky?!

There are so many other people I met that I haven’t mentioned yet, like Katie Skilton, Dorothy Wood, Linda Simpson, and the lovely ladies from Bella Crafts. If I’ve forgotten anyone else I’m sorry! It was great to meet everyone.

If you want to go to the next Creative Exchanges event then you can contact CHA UK. It was announced HERE that the dates for next year are the 23rd – 25th April 2016. I will hopefully be going again, I certainly want to!

If you have any questions let me know. Have you been to any blogger meet ups or events? Did you enjoy them? Would you like to go to Creative Exchanges?

Jennifer x