On a sunny Saturday morning I found myself queuing to get into York Hall in Bethnal Green. There were bouncers on the door trying to keep pushers at bay, as people desperately tried to make it into the first 100 entrants who would receive goody bags. So where was I?An elite launch party?A London Fashion Week event?Some celeb filled after-party?Nope. I was queuing for a craft fair, ladies; the new word in cool. And not just any craft fair, this was Craftacular, the legendary event run by BUST magazine; the feminist publication for women 'with something to get off their chests'. Also present were the London Ladyfest team, pioneering the DIY movement and spinning some tunes for shoppers' delight.
The list of sellers and participants reads like an A-Z of who's who in the current crafting scene; from organisations like The Make Lounge running Fascinator making work-shops, to trendsetters Tatty Devine who invited you to colour in your own jewellery or stock up on supplies from their habberdashery. Eco- friendly fashionistas updated their wardrobes with upcycled, customised pieces by 'Dot your T's and Cross your I's' as well as recycled accessories from Uncommonly Beautiful. I fell in love with Lucie Ellen's badges and earrings cut from vintage ceramics; she wouldn't tell me how she does it without the china cracking; an insider secret apparently. As retail therapy goes, this is a bit of a double whammy; you feel good about your purchase but also about how it was made and where your moneys going. Buying these handmade pieces you can be confident there was no sweatshop involved, no products wasted and that you're actually supporting independent artists.
Chatting on twitter and shopping online is all well and good, but meeting up in real life definitely consolidates the community atmosphere amongst the crafters. I was thrilled to meet Gemma Correll, an artist whose 'Pugs not Drugs' products I've bought for many of my dog-mad friends, and Anna Popovich, who I've been working with via twitter. She's about to lend a dress to one of my clients, the flamboyant frontwoman of Gabby Young and Other Animals. Gabby and I have also set up our own craft collective called Gabberdashery, which featured in 'Lady Craft'; the zine created by the Ladyfest team and sold at Craftacular to raise funds for the LadyfestTen festival in November. (tried to scan the piece in but my scanner is bust)Its a not-for-profit event so they are always after volunteers; get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org You can subscribe to BUST here .