All photography by Amelia Gregory.
My ability to get out and about has been seriously curtailed over the past few weeks by the need to get my new book finished, but last weekend (but one) I was pretty determined to make it along to the Bust Craftacular at Bethnal Green’s York Hall, if only for a mad dash around the stalls.
Inside the old Victorian hall it was absolutely heaving with craft enthusiasts – mainly women (many with small children in tow) but also a small peppering of arty looking boys. It was like entering a multi coloured kaleidoscopic alternative universe where crafting & handmade reigns supreme – bright things everywhere vying for my attention amidst a frantic din enhanced by a backdrop of very loud music.
So, I whipped around the regimented rows of stalls as quick as I could, taking notes of the best stuff I found so that if you didn’t manage to make it along you’ll be able to sniff out the best stuff online. Keep in mind those last minute Christmas gifts you might need to buy as you take a gander through this little lot:
Vic Lee makes printed scenes of well known hipster (can I say that in the UK?) London districts such as Broadway Market and Kingsland Road. Perfect for the East End man in your life – because let’s face it, most of them feature East London. The limited edition prints are produced on cotton paper and screen printed with environmentally friendly water based acrylic inks. They look really stunning up close, and also caught the eye of Jessica Furseth when she visited the East London Design Show.
Xiang Zeng is a textile designer who has produced a range of lovely printed cushions and make your own soft toy bear kits. Really cute, they look pretty easy to make so would also be perfect for and a crafty friend or even a handy older kid.
I picked up a business card for Seaside Sisters at the Fabric Nation stall… so I am not entirely sure who to credit these wonderful owls and cushions to. Their stall was a brilliantly over the top feast for the eyes in an already overwhelming place. Loved the stuff they make from old vintage fabrics.
Andrea Garland fills old tins with natural skincare goodies: what an amazing idea but no doubt a huge amount of hard work to find all those fab tins. She’s a trained aromatherapist who makes all her products from scratch in Hackney with as many organic and fairtrade ingredients as possible and I am very pleased to learn that none are tested on animals – but I guess that scenario is far less likely when using these kind of ingredients anyway – just one more reason to buy natural beauty brands. She sells at Liberty, Urban Outfitters and at Tatty Devine, and Viola Levy also gives her a mention in her run down of top natural beauty brands earlier this week. What a find – it goes without saying that her stall was very busy.
Looking for a nice little purse, or perhaps a unique oyster card holder? Jill makes the perfect thing: I was utterly transfixed by her beautifully laid out stall, featuring an array of charming goodies with graphic printed animal designs that would suit a man too. She also did a nice line in limited edition screen prints.
Dot your Teas and Cross your Eyes is a fashion and accessories designer by the name of Chloe. Her bold spotted print designs embellished fabulous silky dresses and she also makes some fabulous recycled fabric pom pom fascinators.
Now for the craft loving man in your life: Urban Cross Stitch create cross stitch Star Wars kits. A wonderful meeting of 80s pop culture and the noughties crafting craze: what better way to inspire a bloke to get into this most relaxing of traditional techniques.
Last but very much not least, just as I was rounding the corner to leave I chanced upon James Ward’s plates, featuring an assortment of friendly animal characters accompanied by immortal phrases such as ‘I eat my cake in my pants’. Perfect for the parents who have everything but would nevertheless quite like to add to their piles of amusing kitchen ware.
Gratuitous cake photo…. yum yum. Now what are you waiting for? Step away from the High Street and support these talented artists and makers this Christmas… they are only a click away.
andrea garland, Beauty, Bethnal Green, Broadway Market, Bust Craftacular, craft, Dot your Teas and Cross your Eyes, East London Design Show, Fabric Nation, fairtrade, James Ward, Kingsland Road, liberty, organic, owls, Seaside Sisters, Shop Jill, Skincare, Star Wars, Tatty Devine, Urban Cross Stitch, Urban Outfitters, Vic Lee, vintage, Xiang Zeng, York Hall
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