I know that there are a lot of people out there who make jewellery as a hobby. The UK Beaders forum where I am a member has 2600 members (although not all of them are UK based), we have had several new jewellery making magazine publications arrive in the last year or so and jewellery making worshops seem to be popping up all over the place; clearly, making jewellery is very popular. I can understand why people take to this area of crafting more so than others; you can start making pieces with a few basic, cheap tools and online bead shops offer a wide range of choice of all things glass, crystal, ceramic, metal and wooden to create your own wearable piece of art. However, this success seems to be a problem when it comes to jewellery makers wanting to sell the fruits of their labour. It seems to be the case that you often either have to get in very, very quickly with your application, or have already had a stall at a particular event and therefore be 'known' to the event organisers to stand a chance at getting a place as a jewellery maker.
So what is the solution here? Some fairs do seem to be trying to accomodate as many jewellery stalls as possible by actively looking at potential vendors' work in order to make sure that of those they accept, they end up with a range of stalls - after all, there are so many different jewellery making styles/fields: beadweaving, wirework, stringing, precious metal clay, polymer clay, ceramics, textiles, silversmithing etc. I know I would not mind having a stall if I knew there were a fair few other jewellery makers there, but that they had different styles used different materials to myself. I would hope that this would be appreciated by those visiting a craft event too, it would, after all, go some way to ensuring that there is something to suit every budget and indeed, a variety of different tastes.
Another potential solution, and one that I recently Tweeted about whilst I was trawling for events, was this - why not have craft fairs soley for handmade jewellery?
I attended the Treasure UK event as part of London Jewellery week, which was an exhibition of jewellery - mostly contemporary or fine jeweller showcasing new and established designers for trade buyers to scout out potential new talent to stock or to talk commissions for special pieces, in addition to jewellery being on display and for general sale. It was a fantastic event with a wide variety of work and it seemed to be successful for many of the designers too.
So, my fellow beaders, why couldn't we have something like this for small-scale handcrafted jewellery designer-makers? We women do love our jewellery, so I see no reason why people would not want to attend a totally jewellery based craft event, especially with all the different styles and techniques we have to offer. If it can work at Treasure (didn't hear anyone complaining about there being "too many jewellery stands" - and me and the boyfriend were there for a good few hours looking and talking to the people behind the designs!) then I really believe we could make it work for us too. I have heard of a few of these kinds of events taking place in Northamptonshire with reasonable success, so I think it would be fantastic to have one in London. With UK Handmade and Handmade and Fabulous launching a campaign to get Queen of Shops, Mary Portas on the side of all things handcrafted, the handmade movement in general could do with as much promotion and publicity as possible, and I think a jewellery fair has the potential to really be something quite special.
In all seriousness, I would love to hear peoples' comments, ideas, feedback etc on the subjects raised in this blog so please feel free to post in the comments area or if you want you can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.