West End Fair Week 3

It has been over two weeks since I packed up my temporary origami boutique at the West End Fair but it feels like only yesterday. Not least because of the recovery time, packing away time and re-organising and tidying my studio time, but now I feel recovered and organised again. Ready to face Christmas....well almost.

It was the first year that I had done the full 23 days of the market and it was incredible just how much of every waking moment it takes up. I know that I would not have got through it if it had not been for my amazing neighbours; bringing hot chocolates & donuts, helping to manoeuvre the wooden doors, playing shopkeeper for toilet breaks and in general keeping spirits high with excellent banter!

So here is a BIG thank you to Andy, Mike, Jenny & Mika my immediate neighbours as well as the many stallholders in the Boardwalk and Weekend Marquee.

If you didn't get a chance to say hello, here they are...

Andy of www.underthekitchensink.com
Jenny of Jenny Moodie Designs
Mike of www.wudwerx.co.uk
Mika of Mayovich Art

Til next year

Hannah x

West End Fair Week 2

Well, week 2 of the West End fair is done and we are heading full speed into the last weekend. I can't believe how quickly it has gone. I have been kept thoroughly busy keeping up with the restocking and Mamma bY Mi has been wonderful helping out at the stall for a few days. Did you meet her? She is quite the sales women.

In the past week and a bit I have had donations of Liberty cotton from ex-colleagues, propositions of science/art projects involving light sensitive electrodes, and countless other conversations with customers about the varying degrees of success they have had folding paper origami.

One of the things I am frequently asked is "have you made everything?" To which I answer "Yes, of course, everything is made by me!"

As all the fairs I do are explicitly for artists, designers and crafters, I have always seen this question in the light of did you make the origami or are you manning the stall for someone who did? But last week I saw the question in a different light.


"Did you make this?" 

Surely this is obvious? Apparently not.

This was posted on Facebook by supposed supporters of crafts in Scotland, who also run markets throughout the year for people who hand make items to sell.

 I have decided not to name them to avoid further embarrassment to their members.

My first reaction to this was that I was personally offended. Do they include me in the "so many traders"? How could they possibly think that I could be "buying in" my pieces? I have spent years and months building my business and making everything I sell.

When you run a business where you are personally hand crafting everything, your personality is entwined with everything from the products to the packaging, signs and website and as such any criticism is felt personally.

My second reaction was anger that the Poster should force me to defend me and my business against this accusation made without evidence. The post does not name a specific market or business, however, by omission it implicates every stall holder at every market in Edinburgh at this time. By my estimate this would be up to 250 artists, designers and crafters, and "so many" could mean 20-30% "buying in their stock". Later correspondence with the Poster indicated that they had suspicions over just 3 or 4 stalls, that's closer to 1% or 2%

I believe that the sweeping statement above is highly irresponsible. Every market relies on the people who come to it and my fears are that if this kind of view takes hold visitors will be put off coming, fearing that they are being tricked. Lack of trust and confidence by the public would mean all crafts and all markets would suffer. Certainly if stallholders are selling pieces that they have not made this needs to be addressed. The correct way is to talk to the stallholder to understand what is being sold before parting with your cash, or if you think you have bought something that isn't handmade contact them and if you do not get a satisfactory answer contact Trading Standards. Please do not post irresponsible comments on social media which only goes to punish the innocent. Despite protests from many stallholders the Poster as not apologised, removed or clarified their statement.

So next time you are at my stall, or any others, please do ask "did you make this?" and I will happily say "yes!"

Thank you for taking the time to read this rather wordy post and if you have any comments please let me know.

Hannah x

West End Fair Week 1

Even though it is Friday today, today is day seven of the West End Fair and nine days since I started the set up.

So lets start at the beginning. Last Thursday I arrived with all my display and moved into what will be my home & hub until 25th August. 

will it all fit?
I knew roughly what to expect of my stall when I booked, however in past years I have been in what is called the Chinese Hat which provides a rain and wind proof home to 6 stalls. This year, as one of the many changes, 3D2D have moved the Hat and so I was to have one of the "shell units" or beach huts as I like to call them. This slightly more open aspect had meant I had to rethink my display as I didn't want to run the risk of my origami blowing all over Edinburgh!

So when I first saw the stall on the Thursday I had a quick look to double check that my display ideas would work and started home for an early night. That plan was quickly put binned as a last minute ticket to the Fringe Opening Party appeared and I jumped at the chance for a nosey around Summerhall. I felt a little scruffy having dressed for lugging boxes, but hey, it's the festival, there would be people dressed far more weirdly than me. The cabaret shows and live music were fab, I was only a little disappointed not to join the Red Door Gallery badge making workshop but I couldn't get near for the cool crafters.

Back to the West End Fair on Friday and the first thing to do was to sweep up the leaves that had accumulated over the weeks of the build. It takes two men over a week just to lay the decking! Next the wallpaper went up and the lighting cables arranged. I had been meaning to get new lighting this year but struggled to find what I wanted. After a chat from my neighbour Andy I now have a clearer idea of what to look for. The last job for Friday was to put up the shelves (more difficult than you think when the hut isn't level but you don't want things sliding off) then head home to print signs and try to relax before the 1st day of trading.

Saturday was an early start, this would be the reckoning, would all the stock fit and look good? Well it all fitted, I will leave the customers to judge the aesthetics...

 Trading was busy on the Saturday and Sunday, a great start to the market! The weekdays are quieter but it gave me a chance to do some hand sewing of much needed stock and to play with the display once I saw how customers used the floor space of my open, gallery style beach hut. The weather has been kind all week with just the odd drizzle and a short downpour yesterday doing nothing to dampen the spirits of customers and stallholders alike.

sun on the beach huts

sudden downpour temporarily clears the boardwalk
Yesterday was also the first day of the weekend marquee. Adding space for 20 or so more stalls and giving the weekends more of a buzz. Over the coming weeks I will be featuring some new faces and old favourites on the bY Mi Facebook page so be sure to check them out online even if you can't make it to Edinburgh.

Come along if you can and if not I will be back with more news from the West End Fair next Friday. I will leave you with a photo of Fudge, Mr Wudwrex friendly dog who visited earlier this week.

Hannah x