Craftacular Hath Been

15 December 2013

Well now, what a marvellous way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And as it was in the run up to Christmas (traditionally a period called Advent, I believe) it proved a useful way to gather up many gifts in one fell swoop. Huzzah for Craftacular!

It was a good balance of hip and homely. I think the picture above of the Shoreditch Sisters' WI Christmas tree juxtaposed with bokeh'd elegant types sums up the vibe. There was a good range of objets d'art on offer, all produced by local artists and crafty types. Workshops created spaces for making and proved a healthy complement to the all the stuff that one could buy.

Any quibbles? Just one. The raffle was online only. So no frenzy of raffle ticket lines for me nor the slightly thrilling thought of possibly losing the winning number because it got lost somewhere in the bowels of my handbag.

Craftacular London in Bethnal Green's York Hall, December 8th 2013.

There was such a good range of works from ceramics to textiles to jewellery that there isn't the space to write about everyone. So I'll just keep to my personal favourites. Here we go:

Georgia Bosson  started a theme of strong colours and confident patterns in the textiles that defined Craftacular. With the unexpected mixed media addition of perspex stitched on to her origami-inspired cushion cover. Originally trained as an embroiderer in Manchester, Georgia recently came to the wonderful world of screen printing. Although there's the opportunity to print patterns ad infinitum Georgia made a conscious decision to limit print runs in colour ways. Thus there's no chance of an awkward "Oh! But I've got that cushion cover too!" moment when visiting a chum's residence for high tea. Rather an envious "Oooh" may emit forth from sulky lips when the exclusivity of said cushion cover is announced.

A cushion cover worthy of cushion cover envy. 

Bright and bold prints adorning Georgia Bosson's tea towel packs.

Kangan Arora and Jonna Saarinen had a joint venture stall. Jonna's "hundreds and thousands" adorning cushions, tea towels and trays worked magnificently with Kangan's bright and bold hues. And the pom pom fringing was a triumph.

Kangan Arora and Jonna Saarinen put together a fun collection of soft furnishings and other delights for the interior.
From textiles to jewellery now and I was keen on the stuff by Bobbin and Bow. Not only was there a whimsical Victoriana / Edwardiana feel to the work BUT maker Karolina Merska is another art historian who left the world of academia and has embraced all things crafty and beautiful. YES. I approve muchly.

But back to the jewellery; Karolina dyes found and acquired lace motifs in bright hues before setting them as statement pieces. Her stall presentation was also stunning, simple but effective thanks to the basic principles of complementary colours (art history again) and the use of old books.

Simple but effective jewellery and stall presentation by Bobbin and Bow.
Continuing the jewellery theme we move from haberdashery to porcelain. Quite a contrast in texture and look. Ceramicist Jade Gallup of Me Me Me originally trained as a sculptor before finding her métier in smaller creations. Here pastel colours contrast with striking geometry and linearity in brooches and necklaces whilst other works include tiny 1970s-esque toys or chunky gemstones.

And I love the fact she deploys the "I" word in her etsy spiel. "Iconography", people! Aby Warburg and Erwin Panofsky would be fascinated by how artists of today reuse and reimagine the images, symbols and icons of the past, helping pass on these visual echoes to new generations.

Geometric ceramic jewellery by Jade Gallup of Me Me Me.

Ahem. Sorry, got a bit carried away there.

Back to Craftacular and the James Brown stall. Witty, informative and striking prints abounded and - I do agree with the comment of one customer - it was distinctly masculine. For, quelle surprise, this craft scene is somewhat dominated by women. Which is fine, but we do tend toward different sorts of aesthetics and subject matter to chaps*. How many men do you really know want statement tea towels and crocheted hair clips in their lives? Not many I reckon.

So it was refreshing to find pieces made by local chaps that other chaps will appreciate and us womenfolk will approve of too. And listeners of Radio 4 will be salivating at the prospect of a map showing where the mythical regions of the Shipping Forecast actually are. "Dogger", anyone?

James Brown's prints. Informative and appealing.

Next up, Duvet Days.

Amazing. Just, amazing. Take kids duvet covers from the 1980s (Hellloooo My Little Pony/ Thundercats / Transformers!) sourced from ebay, charity shops and jumble sales...

... then turn into early 1990s inspired crop tops and trousers.


And if you're not brave enough to sport a crop top, word is there are plans afoot to make children's clothes out of said duvet covers. Little girls' shift dresses out of a Transformer cover?

As I said. Amazing. Just, amazing.

And of course there was Christmas-themed baked treats provided by the Bake and Crafthouse of Cranbrook. Yuletide "huzzahs!" all round, methinks.

Christmas baked treats from the Bake and Crafthouse

*Cue comments of heated outrage about gender inequality or casual generalisations but it's too close to the Christmas holidays for me to respond with any vim and vigour. I'm sleek and round with mince pies at the moment and it's not event the Third Sunday in Advent yet. I'll see if I can find a peer reviewed article and possibly create a footnote at some point in 2014.

(Images: Zoë F. Willis)

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