This year I will be taking part in the North East Open Studios arts festival in its 15th year. Artists across Aberdeenshire have opened their studios to the public for nine days in September, to celebrate the wealth of artists, craftspeople and makers in this area of Northern Scotland.
This will be my first year at NEOS and I’m honoured to be showing my work with potter Fiona Duckett at her beautiful studio and gallery in a converted chapel, Watergaw Ceramics.
The gallery will be open September 8th-10th, and the 13th-16th from 10am to 5pm. You can also join us on the opening Saturday the 8th for special libations and some music in the late afternoon from Gerald Duncan on guitar and Neil Hankin on banjo.
Over the Easter holiday weekend I peddled my wares at the British Science Fiction Convention, also known as Satellite 4 or Eastercon for short. This is my third year of selling at Eastercon, and it remains my favourite show.
Sometimes when I tell people how great selling at Eastercon is, they are confused. But this is my demographic– imaginative readers, fans who are enthusiastic and full of wonder– my work appeals to these folks, and I am one of them. There is a sense of authenticity being there. The cons are volunteer run, putting paid-for events to shame– the difference? Vendors are not seen as paying customers but as fellow fans in the community. I’ve sold at many other events where stalls were pricey and as a vendor you just weren’t treated with respect or consideration.
I don’t do a lot of events, as the my internet shops keep me very busy. Live selling is a different way of working, especially for an introvert like myself. You bring all your hard work with you, you set it up so it’s enticing and then you sit there for hours, days. You’ve gotta have something in common with the folks coming to your booth, something to chat about. Eastercon is perfect for that. Now people know I’ll be there so they come to talk about what they are reading or writing and the panels they’ve been to. There is a real feeling of community. Folks will come modeling new purchases or ones from years back so I can see them. I love this part of live selling– you get to actually see your creations as they were meant to be worn– by people who love them. What also amazes me about this crowd is they immediately get that mine is a small, fan-run, one-woman handmade business and the people who come by my stall want to support that.
Of all the places I’ve sold, Eastercon is the place where I see people in love picking out things for their beloved. This is a regular occurrence at Eastercon– I kid you not! Romance is alive and well in fandom. It’s become my new benchmark for making– could someone give this to the love of their life? If the answer is yes, then it goes on my stall and in my shop.
This weekend I had a stall at the Proudly in York Pop Up Mall at the 14th century guildhall in York– the Merchant Adventurers Hall– a fitting place to celebrate York’s small businesses. The event was friendly, warm and well organized– really what you’d expect from the wonderful folks at One&Other Magazine who were the driving force behind the event.
My stall felt right at home in the gloriously light, high-ceilinged medieval hall. I was reminded again how this city and its ancient histories are constantly informing my designs and creative choices.
I was struck by the diversity of the stalls– many were representations of independent High Street shops with a presentation of a smaller version of their shops, others were small makers and handmade businesses like myself taking advantage of this opportunity to gain more exposure in the community. I felt a special affinity with Sonia Curry, the dressmaker behind Rowan Tree Designs who was also knitting at her booth, displaying a selection of her crocheted jewellery. (I always knit at my stall– it keeps my hands busy during the inevitable lulls). Frank and Olive Crochet were teaching folks how to hook and selling cute handmade baby clothes with a stall overflowing with granny squares.
I have to give a big shout out to to of my favourite stall neighbors, Bluebird Bakerywho kept us fed with the most deliciously, freshly-baked and locally sourced carbs you could dream of. I didn’t even know their was a Real Bread Campaign in Britain, but now I do. From their website:
Bluebird Bakery was born from a desire to re-establish the connection between what we eat and where our food comes from. By using local organic flour, wild and organic yeast and employing traditional long-fermentation methods, we create hand-crafted loaves which need no flour improvers, saturated fats or other additives. Most of our loaves are suitable for vegans.
Also thanks to Sal and Jason of Swirl Clothing. Who have helped me in myriad ways, not just with this stall but with others as well– they are great members of the small business community. Plus, she designs lovely dresses– I was wearing one of her lovely frocks on Saturday!
I’m very excited to have a stall at this event celebrating Small Businesses in York. You can read more about the event on the Proudly… website. The event will take place in the glorious Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, from 10:00-15:30 on December 7th. The the 14th century hall was originally a meeting place for Medieval merchants– the perfect venue to celebrate the vibrant independent businesses of York. “Merchant Adventurers” were seafaring merchants who brought back goods from many places to sell in York– they were traders with “an adventurous spirit”. What a wonderful company– not just the current traders but to be part of a tradition that spans centuries. I’m proud to be included.
TLast weekend the Feral Strumpet stall was in action at the On the Edge Festival in Leeds. This new arts fest was held at Templeworks, an artspace in the old flax mill, which was designed to resemble the temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt and built at the height of the industrial revolution in Leeds. Famous at one time for “the largest room in the world” an the sheep which grazed on the roof. It was a pleasure to sell at this festival, as we were blessed with the sun on that day and everyone was in a lazy Sunday mood. The Feral wares were well received and we enjoyed the other traders, all DIY peeps. Vegan food from That Old Chestnut was a highlight.
The Feral Strumpet banner was made by installation artist Edith Abeyta.
I have no plans to sell at another live event in the near future, but you can still shop at my Etsy store.