I had a trip out to Manchester yesterday to visit the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. I went for some inspiration and ideas for setting up an eye-catching stand, looking at potential for displays, furniture etc
I was previously unaware of this event, and found the details in the latest issue of Craftseller magazine. The show spans 4 days at Spinningfields in central Manchester and this was its fifth year. There were around 160 exhibitors using a real variety of media and materials.
I didn’t know what to expect really but was surprised at the lack of papercrafters exhibiting. There were a large number of jewellery stands, with a varied media base of metalwork and glass as well as plastics and felt. There were furniture makers, basket weavers and knitters, all with items ranging from moulded wooden lightshades to recycled plastic and fabric coasters.
There was a lot of recycled crafting. It was interesting to see how many things had been made using old maps and newspapers! My other key piece of learning is that many crafters have greetings cards and gift-tags as ‘extras’ in their product porfolio. With prices being quite high for handmade goods, having some ‘pocket money’ buys proves a real winner. It means people can take a way a product with all the contact details and will bring customers back to view a website and browse for more substantial products. I myself purchased a lovely Christmas card from a ceramic artist – rjhceramics.co.uk – which has a small ceramic tile with a snowman on it.
As I said initailly I was looking particularly for ideas for displaying crafts. I was most impressed with the small size of each of the stand spaces and the innovative ways people found to use all the space provided. I think my favourites were the rjh ceramics stand which was an antique dresser with cards in the drawers, and then this use of old suitcases to show recycled products.
I left with lots of contacts and ideas. I’m already looking foward to next years’ show. My most memorable impression though is that there is a real love of handmade individual crafts. I am enthused and love how many talented creative people there are in Manchester.