Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hiya readers, how nice to find you here again. I have finally recovered from the Artisan Fair at The Old Slaughterhouse and thought I'd tell you all about it.
I thought it was time to give Caprilicious some more exposure in the UK - hand out a few business cards, a bit of banter with a few new customers, and a chance to do something different and step out of the comfort zone of the anonymity of the website - that was the aim of the exercise.
The day dawned cold, raining hard, with gusts of wind at 23 miles/hour. However, I am made of stern stuff, and once committed to something, will make a valiant attempt to see it through. My friend had come up from Cambridge the night before, and we made up a picnic basket with ham sandwiches, boiled eggs, crisps, and cans of pop, and by God we were going to have that picnic, even if it was more than slightly soggy.
Wrapped up like Eskimo mummies in fleece lined Ugg boots, many layers of clothing, scarves, wrist warmers and mittens, we resembled Michelin men bouncing off one another in the tiny marquee - and thank goodness we took these precautions as the temperature in the 'heated' marquee was abysmal on the first day. They had a few electric heaters that kept cutting out, and within a few hours we were frozen to the marrow and my poor hands were turning into claws worthy of the metal birds on the stall to my right! The ambient temperature was 4 degrees C, but with the 23 mph gusts of wind, it felt more like minus 4! I thought I could hear Mike muttering 'another fine mess.....', but no, he manfully helped me set up, and then went off for a brisk walk to warm up, pouncing on unwary people innocently wandering around Stratford town, handing out leaflets advertising the artisan market.
Next to my little stall was a tiny woman, all of 4'6", who made metal sculptures of animals. She had about six pieces on display, and she said she didn't expect to sell anything. She sat there, smiling serenely, attracting a lot of attention - her birds were beautiful, although the two large hares in her display looked extremely malevolent and had scrawny necks, as if they had been wrung in preparation for the pot. Each hare cost £2000 and she said she mainly sold her stuff through galleries, and was only there because she had a commission from the Old Slaughterhouse to make them a life sized metal cow.
Then there was the chap who had brought his girlfriends wares to the market as she was unwell - she makes mixed media figurines with lace and fabric soaked in an acrylic medium. The fabric is draped into position and fashioned into angel's wings, headgear and clothing for various figurines. When the acrylic medium dries, it goes stiff in the position in which it is placed. The figurines were elongated which gave them a look as if they had been tortured on a rack and consequently a bit of a tormented, lugubrious air, but he was a hardy soul - he remained standing for the whole of the two days, and stayed reasonably cheerful even though he made very few sales.
To my left was Anya, a painter who makes fantasy paintings from pictures of her holidays and sells signed and framed giclee prints. She went to great lengths to tell me haughtily that she didn't do fairs really, only sold at galleries, but she just thought she'd come along to this one. I of course, was suitably humble as befitted someone who was a new entrant into the artisan market enterprise and metaphorically kissed the hem of her jeans. Her son was a lovely young lad, and by the end of the second day, we were chatting away like good friends.
Anya's prints are very colourful and a bit Lomoish and if I had any space left on my walls, I might have considered buying one. I have linked the picture to her website in case you want to see more of her work.
There was also a lady who made pretty pots and another who had paper lanterns, a woman who sold knitted necklaces made of T shirt fabric, a photographer of landscapes, and an art gallery that was exhibiting a medley of wares with a bunch of stuff that seemed to have no connection to one another - possibly because they were all by different artists, in varying media!
It was cold, readers, it was very, very cold, and just when it felt like I was going to pass out, a bunch of musicians arrived to play Christmas carols. They started off well, until a flautist joined them, and then everything went to pot. The flute and the violin fell out with one another, and the sounds the violin made were approximately two and a half notes (and three beats) behind the flute. One of the ladies in the marquee took both her hearing aids out with a flourish, my friend went off for a long walk into Stratford town, Mike went out for a cuppa, and I collapsed in a fit of hysterical silent laughter behind my display.
My cats could have put on a more creditable performance and indeed, they do from time to time, just not to the putative tune of Good King Wenceslas. The poor deluded band leader had a smile plastered on his face, ( I wondered whether he had turned his hearing aid off too) and when they had finished (Hallelujah!) he asked if they could all have a coffee and a free mince pie, and off they toddled to receive their wages of sin.
I sold quite a few bits and bobs, chatted to a whole load of folks, handed out business cards and helped a lot of people chose Christmas presents for their loved ones. I met a Jesus lookalike in a beret, who was originally from Melbourne. He bought a pendant from me after asking for a long explanation as to how exactly it was made. By the time I'd finished my potted tutorial, he could have probably gone home and made one himself!
I asked him who it was for and he told me that he was separated and dating again. He was buying the pendant just in case he got lucky this Christmas. "Who knows??" he said, hopefully. I added a beautiful Indian cloth bag with a gold paisley border so that he wouldn't need to spend any time searching out festive packaging and could concentrate all his energies into finding and wooing a lady friend. He was a nice chap, and I wish him all the best in his endeavours.
Day two was much better, the heating had been sorted out, the wind that howled around the marquee threatening to lift it off it's moorings had died down, and we could even take some of our swaddling clothes off.
We had had to pack everything away overnight and put it all back up again, which wasn't much fun as I had loads of earrings to set out, but it was all done in record time and I was good to go by eleven o'clock. I sold a couple of pairs of earrings in the first ten minutes, so it was worth the effort.
The flautist returned, this time sans flute, but with a harp and gave a good account of herself, and even better the violinist stayed completely shtum while she played.
All too soon, it was time to pack up and I realised that I had quite enjoyed myself, despite the cold and the caterwauling. I had to get ready to go back to work on Monday morning, to a two hour IT training session first thing and I was exhausted and slumped in front of the TV every evening for most of the week.
Since then, a couple of people who bought jewellery from Caprilicious have emailed me to say that they had originally meant the pieces to be presents, but had decided to keep them for themselves as they had fallen in love with the jewellery, which is nice to hear.
I should have done a craft fair earlier on in the year, well before Christmas. Indeed, I did book a show in Leamington Spa with IK Events - the lady who ran the event company, Isobel Newport, disappeared with the money we paid her and closed her company. I now find that she has set up yet another company to run a carnival in Worcester in 2016 - if she repeats her performance with IK Events in her new venture, I predict egg on a lot of faces in the Worcestershire region. Anyway, that's another story.
This is the only piece I made this week - I called it Purple Reign after the amethyst beads, and the purple Czech glass rectangular beads. The electroplated quartz needles are a dull gold, so the whole piece has a muted bling factor, rather than being 'in your face'. Garnets and paler amethyst beads give the necklace added interest and the pendant is a hand carved black jade Buddha - he was once a prince called Siddhartha, who renounced all his worldly goods to seek Nirvana.
A handmade chain with a hook clasp means that the necklace can be adjusted into the neckline, and has a leeway of about four inches. Wear it long or closer to the neck, this one's a goodun - I know many a lady who will look fabulous in it.
That's it for this week folks. I need to wrap all my Christmas presents this weekend - I've been too busy with the show to do any of it apart from the little tree we have up in our porch - I do like to make an effort, albeit small. Mince pies need to be baked (Oh, the calories, groan!!) and I still have to unpack the boxes from the fair. Oh well, it ought to keep me out of mischief for one weekend at least!
Catch you next Friday, same time, same place. have a wonderful pre Christmas week