I don’t do Craft Fairs!
Years ago, I used to attend local craft fairs but grew tired of poorly organised and more poorly attended events, where potential customers tried to barter with us for the “best price”, so I gave up on it completely as a source of income. In more recent years a few very dedicated volunteers who ran our regional open-studio network also ran a few craft fairs which I attended, but I found that as the quality of my work improved and as my typical retail price increased considerably, it was too far above what most visitors expected to pay. On the other hand, there are high-end craft fairs operated by organisers such as “Craft in Focus” and these are proving to be very successful events, but they demand quite a degree of commitment, both in advance and over the few days of each event, and these events rarely take place near enough to our home for us to consider them suitable. So I don’t do craft fairs!
It was, therefore, an unusual decision on my part to attend an event yesterday which resembled a craft fair and was well over 100 miles away from home. The event was “Repton Artisans” and the organiser was a true gent by the name of Howard, who I knew through his repeated visits for tuition and sometimes just for a chat; he asked me if I would take a display of work and I was happy to support his efforts. The venues was a wonderful new village hall and cafe which together formed an important community hub for a quaint village, just a few miles outside Derby.
Repton Artisans is an organisation founded by Howard and this is how they describe themselves… “Repton Artisans are a group of Repton-centric craftspeople and hobbyist who have a passion for creativity, problem solving and perfection. Our tight-knit community was driven even closer together during the pandemic and from the High Street to the cul-de-sacs, a plethora of talented and hardworking individuals emerged.”
Yesterday saw their first in a plan of annual events, an artisans’ fair at their village hall and I was delighted to be there, bright and early, at a little after 8:00 a.m.
What marked this event out as being different in my experience, was its quality. The venue was wonderful; right in the middle of a thriving community and with a really good little cafeteria in-house. Stewards promptly arrived at the roadside and helped to carry all my boxes of items inside and then advised me that all I needed to do was to ask, and they’d be there to take over if I needed a break at any point during the day. Furthermore, at the end of the day they were there to help to carry everything back to the car.
My display area was small and I did my best to fill it without making it look too muddled and overly-full; just a 6ft x 2ft table, but we did our best with it and had a very, very successful day, selling far more than I expected to sell, but also taking quite a few inquiries for tuition. In fact, one of the larger pieces that I sold will be taking pride of place in a minimalist household in Los Angeles in just a few days time.
So, who else was there? To be honest, I lost count. It was a remarkably well attended event, from both the point of view of exhibitors and of visitors. To my mind, the best display in the hall was of Howard’s own work as a builder of dolls houses…just look at this!
There were stick makers, a silversmith, quilters, a pen turner and a traditional turner, model steam engine builders, marquetrists (if there is such a word) sculptors in aluminium, a furniture maker, a wood carver, a pyrographer, an architecture-artist and a few traditional, more main-stream artists, a ceramicist and a guitar maker…and there were probably more!