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  1. visitcraftfairtitle

    Do you think craft fairs only sell shoddily made ‘old lady’ knits and things that you would never want to give house space to?  Well, think again.  The new breed of crafters are younger and more in touch with modern trends and styles. I have included some information about my fellow crafters at the Royston Craft Fair in Hertfordshire( as examples of what you might find at your own local craft fair.


    1.  Be surprised

    The quality of the goods on offer will be high and many (if not all, depending on the fair) will be handmade with great care.  You are likely to find things you are happy either to give house space to or proud to give as a present.

    giving a gift

    Image courtesy of anankkml at


    2.  Find something handmade

    With more and more high streets looking the same, it is lovely to find something completely original and handmade.  If you buy something from a craft fair it is likely to be a one off rather than a mass-produced item.


    Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


    3.  Buy local

    When you buy at a craft fair you will be supporting a small local business rather than a multi-national company.  I saw a post on Facebook a few days ago referring to farmers’ markets by the American organisation  It says

    farmers market

    Similarly, you could go to a high street store to buy your homewares and gifts OR you could support your local craft fair and keep local crafters doing what they are doing.  Unlike the multi-nationals, each and every crafter will be grateful for even the smallest purchase from their stall.


    4. Support a ‘cottage’ industry

    Many crafters are sole traders working from home or from a small workshop.   They may be mothers with young children who want to be stay-at-home mums, but want to earn a little extra money or do something for themselves; they may have been made redundant or decided to step out of the rat race for any number of reasons.  This may not be a reason to buy, by itself, but you know that every hand crafted item you buy will have a story behind its creation.  Do not hesitate to ask crafters about their work.  Even if you are not planning to buy from them today, they will be happy to talk to you about their work and the story behind it.  You are not going to get that in your local department store. The story may even make it more significant, either as an item in your home, or as a personal gift.



    5.  Find that perfect present

    We all have that somebody in our life who it is almost impossible to buy a present for.   You may be surprised by what you find at your local craft fair.  It may be something you had never thought of and certainly something which that difficult to buy for person doesn’t already have.

    man opening gift

    Image courtesy of stockimages at


    6.  It might be cheaper than you expect

    Are you worried that everything will be very expensive because it is handmade?  Well, you might very well be wrong.  Remember crafters do not have the overheads of major retail spaces.  Some crafters do it more as a hobby than as a living.  I have bought some beautiful greetings cards, for example, from a stallholder who just loves making them and only wants to be able to afford more materials – they were cheaper than anything I could have bought in a shop and each one was handmade and, therefore, totally individual.  Even those stallholders who are trying to make a living from their craft will be very price aware, and so you may find that you are pleasantly surprised by the value for money.

    corncrake for blog


    7.  Look now: buy later

    Now, as a craft stall holder myself, I would love you to come to one of the craft fairs I attend and to buy everything on my table.  I know, however, that the reality is going to be somewhat different.  I sell lampshades, which are not necessarily an impulse purchase.  I do have plenty of business cards on my table, though, so that, when you are redecorating or need a new lampshade, you might think of me when making your choice about a new one.  I know that you will already have seen the quality of my work and should, therefore, have the confidence to buy from me online.

     When you go to a craft fair you will find that the majority of the stall holders will have some kind of internet presence, whether it is their own website, or an etsy or folksy shop.  Even if they don’t, they will probably have an email address so that you can contact them afterwards.  This gives you the opportunity of planning your Christmas or birthday presents in advance, without spending the money right now.  When you are ready to shop, you will know what you are getting, because you have seen the quality of the goods in advance.

    woman working on laptop from hotel bed

    Image courtesy of


    8.  Get something custom-made just for you

    Many crafters will be happy to create something just for you, to your specifications.  Because each item crafters make is individual, it is often easy for them to be able to do something in different colours or slightly different in style.  I, with my lampshades, for example, am happy to use a client’s piece of fabric to make lampshades and you can, therefore, match a fabric to your other furnishings;  a teddy bear maker might be able to make a bear in exactly that colour your child loves, etc.  Do not hesitate to ask – many crafters will love the challenge.



    To find out which fairs I will be attending later this year, have a look at my Events page.  If you are looking for fairs in your area, check your local press or visit  (it is aimed at stall holders, but is also a great way of finding out about events in your area).


    If you want to keep up-to-date with my future posts, sign up to my blog at the bottom of this page.

  2. flattering lighting


    I mentioned in the About Us section of my website that I grew up with an architect and interior designer and do not, therefore, underestimate the importance of good lighting to the overall effect of an interior.  Designers take great pains to ensure that the lighting is carefully planned and thought-out as an integral part of their scheme.

     A few reasons, to begin with, why flattering light is important:

    • Firstly, good lighting can hide a multitude of furnishing and flooring blemishes.    Do you have wonky Ikea shelves, a slightly scruffy sofa or carpet past its best?  Bad lighting is going to draw attention to all of these flaws, but careful lighting can draw the eye away from them.
    • Soft lighting with a warm glow can help people feel more relaxed.  Think about the difference between dining in a fast food restaurant or your local Italian trattoria – one encourages you to eat up and get out, the other encourages you to linger over another glass of wine and to order dessert to prolong your evening out.  When you have guests in your house you want them to feel at ease too.


    Image courtesy of stockimages at

     Of course, if you are having your house rewired, there are all sorts of high-tech lighting options available to you (budget allowing).  A couple of things that I have lived with and loved are:

     (1)   At my parents’ previous home, all of the table lamps in the sitting room could be switched on and off from a single wall switch, as well as at the lamp – it was a quick and painless way to create lovely soft lighting.

    (2)   When I had electrical work done at my old flat, I had a dimmer switch added to the bathroom lighting.  This was a joy because I had lovely strong down-lighting for when I was doing my make-up but could have a relaxing bath with low lighting, at the twist of a switch.  I would now, in fact, include dimmer switches in several rooms (from sitting room to bedroom, given the opportunity).

     There are, however, things you can do at home, without calling in the electrician.

    three ls of lighting


     Light levels

    Think simply about the wattage of bulbs that you are using.  Harsh light flatters nobody.  Try  having more lights with lower wattage bulbs and don’t automatically reach for the clear bulbs - think about using bulbs with a soft blush tint, which are flattering to all skin tones.

    Downlighting (small bulbs recessed into the ceiling) are very popular, but I would always reserve them for functional areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms.  I want to see what I am doing while I am cooking and I don’t want to look as if I have put on my make-up in the dark (even if I would prefer to always see my face in soft focus).  In other rooms of the house, nobody wants to feel as if they are in an operating theatre!  The exception to this is when they are used for the highlighting of features – such as directional lighting on paintings.


    Layer your lighting

    What do you do in a particular room?  Consider this when considering your lighting.

    I wonder how much you use your overhead pendant light in the living room or bedroom?  I use mine only for the length of time it takes me to switch on the table lamps.   If the light from above is too strong it produces harsh light and stark shadows. 

     Think about your living room, for example.  What do you use it for?

    • Relaxing
    • Watching TV
    • Socialising with friends
    • Reading

     Think about layering light for these different activities.  Of course, if you use your living room for reading, or perhaps even working, you will need a stronger light.  Consider, however, having a strong directional light, such as an angle-poise, which will produce strong lighting where you need it but does not necessitate flooding the whole room with blinding light.


    Image courtesy of blackstock at


     If you have several points of light throughout the room, with different bulbs and wattages, you can create different lighting for different occasions.  A really great way of doing this is by combining standard lamps with table lamps.  Now, standard lamps may conjur up granny’s living room, but there are some really cool modern versions out there now.  I particularly like oversized angle-poise lamps.

     Lighting is flattering if it is placed at face level, so table lamps are ideal, particularly if you follow the guidelines on shades below.




    Lampshades can have a tremendous effect on the strength, tone and overall effect of the lighting.  It is all too easy to reach for a simple white or cream shade but you might find that a colour shade can be more flattering.

     You will find that when I photograph lampshades for my website, I include an image with the lamp switched on.  This is important as some shades look quite different when the lamp is on or off. (This shade, for example, looks very subtle when switched off, but the feathers appear much more boldly when the light is on).

    lampshade on and off


    If you choose an opaque shade, it will cast light up and down rather than through the shade, which may give less light, but can also create a more flattering result.  Although the shade below is not completely opaque, you will see how the light is dispersed at both the top and bottom of the shade.

    blue flower shade effect

     Deeper colour shades will filter the light and create a softer lighting effect.



    Choosing a bolder or more interesting shade also means that you can spend less on the lamp itself, because attention is directed towards the shade.

    If you have any questions about creating flattering lighting, do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

    I you would like to see more content like this, sign up to our blog at the bottom of this page.