Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

South Hill Park Craft & Design Fair

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 5 minutes.

by Lauren Denney

South Hill Park Craft and Design Fair took place at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell on 17 & 18th November 2012.

South Hill Park Craft and Design Fair will always hold a special place in my heart. It was here that I took part in my very first craft fair back in 2005. Seven years on it’s still my favourite show for selling, and buying.

South Hill Park Arts Centre is steeped in local history, the magnificent eighteenth-century mansion houses rooms of distinction which the craft show bring alive. There is never a dull moment at the arts centre. They offer hundreds of events, including music, drama, comedy, musicals, dance, workshops, cinema and loads more. They also have a dedicated art gallery with a variety of exhibitions throughout the year.

The show attracts a variety of sellers from all over the UK and is a highly recommended show to attend. There is a loyal fan base who attend every year without fail, it’s nice to see those familiar faces year after year.

Saturday got off to a flying start with enthusiastic buyers armed with their empty shopping bags queuing at the entrance. As usual there were a variety of crafts to drool over. There are approximately 50 makers that took part in the show producing knitwear, ceramics, jewellery, felt designs, stained glass, wood, prints, and so much more I can’t list them all!

It was hard to pick just a few makers that stood out as the quality of craftsmanship was is so high. One stall holder that stood out was Amy of CoCo Crafts.

Amy was in the room next to me with her fabric handbags, purses, baby clothes and a whole lot more. Amy is a clever lady, she has a good range of products at various prices and offers off the peg options as well as an ordering service if you wanted something specific. She always has a handy swatch of lush fabrics to hand. Amy makes the most adorable reversible children’s dresses and bags with the most fantastic fabric, inside and out!

Amy also names all her products, of course one of my favourites is the Lauren Ipad case.

Visit Amy’s Folksy Shop CoCoCrafts

One of my craft fair neighbours was Veryan of Beady Pool. Veryan makes a range of jewellery from hand selected lampwork beads.

It was lovely listening to her telling the story of who made the beads, the batch size, the makers speciality and technically how they are made. She really knows her stuff and engages with the buyer giving a story about each piece she has made. The detail in the lampwork beads is totally amazing, so intricate and beautiful and all so individual. Veryan has a great eye for colour and too, her stall layout worked really well (and her matching dress!).

With a range of earrings, bracelets and necklaces there is so much choice from Veryan. I’m rather keen on these hammered silver bracelets, making them sounds like a great way to vent your frustrations! I love the addition of a few beads and a charms.

See more of Veryan’s work in her Folksy shop Beady Pool

An all-time favourite maker of mine is Jules Hogan. Jules produces a variety of colourful knitted textiles, wrist warmers, scarves, cushions, lavender hearts. Jules has such an eye for colour and pattern and uses the most luxuriously soft wool that makes you want to touch everything she makes.

It seemed that buyers couldn’t get enough of Jules wrist warmers, they were flying off her stall for Christmas gifts. Luckily I took this picture before they all went.

Jules is big on sourcing British materials and uses a re-conditioned vintage, hand-powered knitting machine. Her striking designs really do get people talking.

Visit Jules Hogan’s folksy shop

In all the years I’ve been selling at shows I’ve not found a show where so many people want to engage with you. The visitors at this show love to talk about how you’ve made what you’re selling and really appreciate what you are making.

The show has a unique layout due to the individual rooms the mansion house has. Luckily for the visitors they get a leaflet with map so they don’t miss any exhibitors. The leaflet provided is also one of my favourite from shows that I’ve taken part in as it clearly lists all makers and their contact details. I get quite a lot of follow up after this show, some of which comes from the leaflet. I feel it’s important to credit the makers and provide something for visitors to keep to refer back to once the show has finished.

One of the other benefits of having a craft show in such a functional space is that the centre were running drop in courses on the day and have an amazing bar and cafe. I heard a lot of praise for the workshops over the weekend, a great way to distract Dad and the kids. The back of the building has a sun trap patio and a huge amount of space to enjoy. With such a big show it’s nice to have a break at the cafe half way through.

Overall this was a great show. It wasn’t the best show for me this year in terms of sales but the quality and diversity of work and being with some great people made the weekend very enjoyable. I’ve already noticed an increase in online sales and enquiries.

There is no doubt it’s hard getting out there selling but the buzz that you get from meeting people who love what you make is worth it. I love imagining all those lucky people who get given presents for Christmas that have been purchased from me or other makers. These shows do provide a lot of after show sales and having an online shop does help. There were quite a few customers asking if they could buy online so it was a good opportunity to spread the word about

Huge thanks to Lauren for covering this event for Folksy. You can browse Lauren’s Folksy shop here.