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Friday, 14 October 2011

London's First Renegade Craft Fair

Designs by Tee & Toast
I’m desperate to go to America…for crafting purposes. It’s home to huge mega craft stores, houses oddles of indie crafters, craft celebrities (Martha Stewart, Crafty Chica) and new crazes and products you can’t get over here. When I first saw images of the Maker Fair in Craft magazine (one of the fabulous US craft mags that is distributed in good book stores on these shores) I was amazed by the standard and originality of the work being sold. Then a couple of years ago I was first in the queue when Bust magazine came over and hosted their first ever Craftacular (another great American craft fair.) It was held inside York Hall, Bethnal Green and was HUGE!
The renengade queen

This Autumn (last weekend) it was the turn of Renegade to visit us and bring their quirky indie craft vibe to bustling Brick Lane, east Londen where crafters from around the globe gathered to sell their wares. I was so excited, I visited (and shopped) both days!! Pictured is one of the organisers who insisted on looking anonymous. Renegade started back in 2003 in Chicago and focuses on DIY craft culture of the highest standards. Any old crafter, can’t just pitch up a stall, they have to prove their work is original, unusual, and carries with it the full DIY ethos. The selection of work is balanced offering prints, textiles, fashion, jewellery, interiors and papercrafts.

Milliner Janine Basil
I was soooo happy to meet Janine Basil in person, she is a milliner extraordinaire who’s Batman inspired work I discovered in her Etsy and Folksy stores. As regular readers of my blog will know, I am Batman obsessed and I treated myself to a beautiful glitter Bat hat from her stall. Image to follow when I wear it out. (Someone invite me to a Halloween party please!!). Check out her work online, it’s fabulous!
Art collector Matt

In tow I had Art collector Matt who is always on the look out to extend his ever growing collection of fine art and prints (he nearly owns enough to fill a gallery and has been known to queue for 'buying' at 4am in the morning on more than one occasion.) Completely overwhelmed by the standard of the work, he was super excited but found it hard to decide. In the end he opted for three pieces. The first one is to remind him he should buy a dog one day.

Artist Katie Mac
Then it was on to another wonderful print stall where Katie Mac’s colourful creations including one about fidgeting, were on his list.
Artist Todd Stewart
Finally he bought a screen-printed poster (the Man Man one) designed by Todd Stewart. I suspect he would have bought plenty more if he’d brought extra money!
Illustrator Kate Sutton
Inspired by the feeling that maybe I should own more ‘art’ and not just crafts, I bought this adorable hedgehog picture by Kate Sutton. Oh my! Her work was outstanding, I wanted to buy everything! If someone wants to buy me a present, you can get me anything she has designed. (Thanks!)
My free alpaca bag!

Kate was very sweet and gave me a free alpaca tote bag to carry it home in.
The Make Lounge crafternoon
London’s crafty hub The Make Lounge were one of the stalls running free workshops where  needle felted woodland animals were the order of the weekend.
Janine felting an Ecuadorian bird

My craft pal Janine and I couldn’t get into the British 'woodland' mood (she had just returned from Ecuador so her mind was filled with tropical images) and I was drawn to bright pink felt so she made a jungle bird and I felted a flamingo.

Huge blooms decorated the walls

For such a huge space, the fair was smaller than I expected (not on the same scale as the Bust Craftacular) but this had it’s benefits that you could properly focus on each stall. It certainly set the bar for craft markets in the UK to measure up to, it really was ‘high end’ DIY crafting yet extremely well priced. 

Renegade: you're welcome back
Until Renegade come back and see us in the UK again you can either attend one of their fairs in the states or shop for art and craft by their favourite designers in their online store
Thank you for visiting the UK! 

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