Everything at Handm@de is exactly that, and by supporting Handm@de you are supporting local artists and crafters.
Oxford, with its thiving local suburbs and their communities, already has a great place to shop if you're looking for local produce - The Covered Market - which is open 6 days a week. With gift shops, cafes, clothing and food shops it covers a decent sized area - you can easily spend a couple of hours browsing and enjoying the atmosphere.
Have you been on holiday, and thought ‘I wish there was something like this near me?’ or been in an art gallery and thought ‘why can’t I afford to buy something original?’. Maybe you have thought ‘Someone should do that!’
Well, this is precisely what a group of four online sellers of arts and crafts thought when they heard about ‘We Make’ - a non-profit craft fair in central London. The only difference was that they decided to take action!
Their only link to each other was through selling online at Etsy – an American site dedicated to allowing individuals the world over to sell their handmade goods.
“While online selling is a great way to showcase my products to a worldwide audience, the various handmade sites are still building their reputations and aren’t yet very well known. This makes shows where the customer can pick up, touch & try on my items a far more valuable exercise” said one of the women behind Handm@de, “somehow this makes the product more real, more tangible – and as such finding a good, central and affordable fair is the small scale crafters equivalent of finding the holy grail”.
All too often fairs fall into one of two types, those that are very small, poorly advertised and well hidden in the depths of a village school, or those in Stately Homes, Castles and marquees. The latter often need a commitment of 3 or 4 days, and charge you hundreds of pounds to get damp for said days! Of course, other fairs similar to Handm@de are out there – you just need to know where to look.
After a few discussions and investigations into venues and their locations they hit upon the Town Hall in Oxford. Oxford is a truly beautiful historic city, with great shopping set amongst some of the most stunning architecture around – attracting hordes of tourists and locals alike. The Town Hall is set just off of the main shopping area and is, put simply, stunning both inside and out.
A lot of effort and hard work later, the day was a roaring success. They had expected around 400 to 500 people to have a wander around, but word had got around and there was a queue when the doors opened, after 1300 people had made their way through the doors they stopped counting!
61 stall holders took part, and covered a wide variety of art and craft disciplines, from felt-making, silversmiths, ceramists, photographers and jewellery makers. No re-selling is allowed at a Handm@de fair, all stall holders are the designers and creators of the goods they sell, this is the single most important thing about this project, and what makes it special. The Handm@de principle will help to enable local artists to show their products to a new and exciting audience, whilst nurturing a culture that is both green and supportive of local industry.
This year, the organising group has grown somewhat – with 8 people now behind the ‘Handm@de’ name. As have the number of fairs planned.
This year they have spread out and there will be 3 fairs, at Cambridge Guildhall on 4th April, Winchester Guildhall on 5th July, and Oxford Town Hall on 29th November. All of the events are of a similar nature to the original – they’re all in spectacular buildings in central locations, they’re all in cities that attract plenty of tourists as well as locals and students, and of course they’re all being arranged out of the goodness of the organisers hearts since they won’t make a penny of profit!