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Craft Local :: Contemporary Crafting in Scotland

by Folksy Support

Written by Jay Anderson

Felt Landscape Necklace with Sheep

Following on from my personal take on the upsurge of craft fairs in Scotland I decided to find out what it’s like from an event organisers perspective.  Having just helped out Kirkcaldy with their first pop up shop by trying to support Veronique and Janine of  The Jazz Emporium , I got a taste of the huge task organisers experience. Not only the PR, marketing, organising tables, support materials, finance, decorating etc but also dealing with our artisan egos (yes, we all have a wee one hidden inside that creeps out just when we get the dodgy corner or the stall near the bathroom – although I think that’s quite a good one now when I saw the number of people who passed the maker’s table that was placed there!)

I contacted the brave and the good asking them if they thought there had been an upturn in craft fairs? It was good to hear that most of them thought there had been one. People have always been on the lookout for unique, well made, beautiful products, although over the last few years people have become more aware of the provenance of things which they buy and want to know who made it and where the materials came from. There’s definitely been an increase in interest for handmade goods and away from sweatshop labour.

The organisers thought people were looking for well made, stylish, usable, good quality and value for money, although what that actually is varies greatly. People are definitely not after crocheted potholders and toilet roll covers…. work needs to stay interesting and varied.

I wondered if there was a central point where anyone organising one in Scotland could inform people of what’s happening or is it word of mouth?  Amazingly, the feeling was there wasn’t – there are a few places to go – Central Station, Craft Scotland etc. There is no one place that would have a definitive list. Most mentioned that they found out about new fairs through word of mouth, so networking is key. From the business side Craft MBA was mentioned and a free resource such as Businessballs.com and your local library (to get some general books on project management and basic business skills).

Out of the blue

I asked them if they knew of other organisers and names such as Made in the Shade, Magpie Market, Granny Would Be Proud, Dundee Jamboree & Tea Cosy were mentioned along with. 2D-3D, Craft Fairs Scotland and Out of The Blue.  Perhaps some joined up thinking might help organisers and makers if this type of thing did exist?

What of the future?  Well it’s exciting, with new fairs popping up – numbers increase & events can only get better. We are seeing a trend towards smaller pop-up events organised by groups of like-minded designers and makers as opposed to the larger type of craft fairs in town halls etc and this is great for both customers and designers.

So, will I continue to build my work through craft fairs? Hmmmm, I’m still on the fence with that one. As long as I continue to enjoy what I do and not start to produce work that I think will sell, I’ll see what comes along and where it takes me.

Thank you to all the event organisers who took the time to answer my questions!!

More about the author –

Folksy Sellerred road design offers an original, eclectic range from vintage textile artwork, contemporary mixed media, graphic design, illustration to commissioned pieces. My fun illustration side creates the ‘Ziggy and Friends’ range of cute animals as party badges, sweet little pocket mirrors, illustration prints and handmade cards with a Scottish twist. See! I told you it was eclectic! Check out the red road design blog for more details

If you are interested in posting a Craft Local piece about your own area of the UK, perhaps looking at the availability of contemporary or traditional markets and other on and offline resources for it’s artists and craftsmen, please get in touch with hilary@folksy.co.uk with your ideas.

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Kirsten aka Quernus Crafts January 11, 2011 - 11:31 am

Another great article, Jay, thank you! UK Handmade are setting up local group websites, and perhaps having a Scottish one to pull together all those great resources under one roof would be a good start. Interested?!

red road design January 11, 2011 - 9:23 pm

Thanks for commenting Kirsten! I still think people never read these! Great to hear UK Handmade are ‘joining up the thinking’…… might be interested.

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Kathy January 11, 2011 - 10:50 pm

Great to hear the crafts are alive and well in Scotland. I am proud to say I have Scottish roots. My grandfather was born in Edinburgh and my grandmother in Dundee. Their last name is Hughes. They came to the US through Ellis Island.

Sandie Russo January 12, 2011 - 1:34 am

Great article, Jay! I think it is always worth the effort to try to build a co-op of like-minded people. It sounds like what you are wanting to do could be done with a website clearinghouse type of thing where all craft fairs and events could list their events, with the website helping with advertising the events in the areas where the events were happening. It’s very possible with the right people to be a huge success! Good luck with your creative endeavors. :o)


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Aileen Clarke Crafts January 12, 2011 - 8:22 am

Another great article Jay. I’m just thinking this morning how I’d like to sign up for a few fairs this year but have no where to go and look to see what’s on in my area. I know that a few of the smaller fairs prefer to work on an invite basis only whereas others are desperately looking for vendors. It’s definitely a word of mouth thing at the moment. Or organisers are trawling sites like Folksy looking for makers in their area to approach. It could really be a two way thing….makers who are up for doing fairs could sign up to such a site so that organisers could easily find them?

Aileen Clarke Crafts January 12, 2011 - 8:25 am

Forgot to say thank you for featuring my new sheep on necklace! : )

Jane January 12, 2011 - 10:21 am

Great post Jay! Really interesting to hear a bit more about what goes on in the world of craft fairs. As a seller I have barely dipped my toes into that pool (I’ve come to the conclusion that my work is so ‘niche’ it doesn’t tend to do well at these events) but as a buyer I do love to attend them, & rarely come away empty handed!

Astrid Weigel January 12, 2011 - 5:00 pm

Thanks for a really interesting post! I’m always on the look out for good craft fairs to take part in!

Assja January 12, 2011 - 11:51 pm

That was an interesting read, Jay! I was last year trying to figure out whether craft fairs would be the way to get my craft work boosted. First thing I had to find out that there no place which held all the information. It really is about networking, it seems. Living on Arran doesn’t make visiting craft fairs easy (you have to balance the costs for ferry, travel and overnight stay against what you might take in). Apart from that, I can say that even the two small craft markets on Arran which happen regularly from Mai – December are worthwile. I think local markets are a good way to get regular costumers where you live. For my part, I can’t afford to buy a shop, so our local markets are a good thing to show my products and spread the word.They are essential in building my business in connection with my online-shop on etsy, folksy, twitter, facebook and blogging. And they’re always a good reason to meet other creative people. I love attending them!

Emily January 13, 2011 - 11:58 am

Great article Jay! It’ll be interesting to see what comes up in 2011, there have unfortunately been a lot of venue closures (especially in Edinburgh) hopefully that will spurn some really interesting artist-led events :)

Rebecca Davis (craftscotland) January 13, 2011 - 12:27 pm

Hi Jay,

A great article, it’s always good to have a focus on all the talented people making craft in Scotland!

At craftscotland we have a Whats On listing service, covering the whole of Scotland, which anyone can add events to by emailing info@craftscotland.org. We profile up and coming events on our Facebook pages, which again anyone who’s a fan can also add information to. We use twitter a lot as well and try and retweet things as much as possible.

We’re always looking for more events to add to our online list, so if you know of anything coming up please always send it through and encourage others to do so. We like to encourage joining up as much as we can!

Lots of people visit our site (over 100 did on Christmas day!) so it’s a great place to get things listed.

We’re in the process of developing the site as well which will make things like adding events easier and even more interactive, supporting an online (and offline) Scottish craft community.

I was DMed this link via twitter, so the social networks work too.

I hope this helps.

Keep up the great articles, provoking the conversation and the lovely work. :)

Janine & Veronique (The Jazz Emporium) January 14, 2011 - 10:27 am

Really interesting article Jay! Thanks for including us….we’re sure 2011 will be an awesome year for craft in Scotland.

Good luck with all your future projects! Sure we’ll see ya around at fairs :)

Janine & Veronique

Yvonne (Marshmallow Moon) April 11, 2011 - 4:29 am

That was a very interesting read. As someone just starting out, I am looking for craft fairs and have been finding it very difficult. It definitely seems to be a word of mouth thing or an invite only. Somewhere central that listed local events would make things so much easier especially for those just starting out.

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