I finally made it to The Handmade Festival in September. It’s been on my wish list for the last few years. I persuaded my sister to join me – Dee is a super talented painter and beauty salon owner, so I knew she would love it too. It's a three-day weekend event. We went on the Saturday and couldn't have wished for a better day. The sun was shining as we left Brighton on a super early train, armed with coffee and bagels.
The festival – which was founded by the queen of craft, Kirsty Allsopp – is in its sixth year, and beautifully situated on The Green opposite Hampton Court Palace.
There was a definite festival vibe when we arrived. We grabbed a coffee and sat in the beautiful sunshine, planning our day around the workshops and talks.
The largest of the tents housed two Shopping Villages, full of designer makers and their gorgeous handmade products. There was so much to see including beautiful fabrics and ribbons, artisan candles and handcrafted ceramics, along with an array of kits and crafting tools.
One of my favourite stands was Artcuts, they make contemporary wooden shapes and embellishments. I found the cutest ball of yarn stamp there.
The Artisan Marketplace was packed with culinary treats, including Welsh cream liqueur, Jamaican rum cake, Edinburgh honey and handcrafted organic gin from Tooting. We didn’t sample too much here as it was our first stop of the day, en route to Liz Earle’s wellbeing talk. We didn’t think Liz would approve if we turned up tipsy.
Here we are near the front (the blond and brunette)! It was a brilliant session and we came away with lots of tips and even a few recipes.
When planning the visit, we decided that one talk and two workshops each would be enough. We wanted to enjoy the day and take it all in, rather than rush from one thing to the next. That plan worked well, as we didn’t have many gaps.
The workshops are a great way to try out something new. I like lots of crafts but my favourite is knitting and Dee loves crochet; so, we deliberately avoided the yarn-related sessions! Our first workshop of the day was beginners brush lettering, with the talented Rebecca from @bettyetiquette. Our briefing included how to hold the pen at the correct angle. I’m not sure I ever got the hang of that! It’s then all about thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. We practised drawing upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and finished off decorating an envelope. All I can say is more practice is definitely needed on my part. Dee was much better. So, as only sisters are allowed to do, I stole her beautifully decorated envelope at the end!
We went our separate ways for the last workshop of the day. Dee is a talented painter, particularly of people and landscapes (although she’s also done a couple of beautiful pictures of Coco). So, she couldn’t resist the watercolour painting session. Even though she’s at quite an advanced level, she really enjoyed this as a calming end to the day.
The biggest surprise of the whole event for me was the ‘get creative with clay’ session which I had booked as something to keep myself busy while Dee painted. But it turned out to be so enjoyable. I really lost myself in that tent for an hour. No talking (mainly as my chatterbox sister was otherwise engaged), just kneading the clay until it became pliable then rolling it out… it was very therapeutic. I made shapes (using cookie cutters), and created imprints and patterns. It was a new craft for me but definitely one I will try again. The session was delivered brilliantly by @thecraftylass (who was actually still on maternity leave – her baby sat in the corner being taken care of by grandad!) It all added to the charm of the workshop – my favourite of the day!
With more time, I would definitely have had tea and cake in the lovely Mollie Makes Cafe, and tried my hand at one of the English Stamp Company workshops. In a one-hour masterclass, you learn how to get the best from stamps and how to emboss, and also create a set of cards to take away.
The whole day was full of inspiration from the talented artists, creative small businesses and everyone who came to support them by learning new skills and buying their products. A truly handmade-with-love festival.
And who doesn't love a Snapchat filter...