Sunday, 5 February 2012

My Purchases at the Craft Show

After having a day’s rest, I was finally able to unpack my box of goodies from the Craft Show on Thursday. Please see my previous post for details of that, and it will make sense of this post, hopefully!

I mentioned that I got some Really Useful Boxes. These are such a clever invention! Somebody has really thought about this. They are lightweight and strong, transparent (so you can see what’s inside them), many different sizes and shapes, stackable, and have clever locking handles that keep the lids on. They are infinitely versatile and definitely Really Useful! I was delighted to find a stand at the show that had them, and decided to buy a few to start me off. I’ve had a shopping basket open online for them for a couple of weeks but preferred to see them in the flesh first.

I bought 2 long thin ones which are designed for standard rolls of paper.

I am highly delighted to discover that they fit exactly into my old wooden shelving system. If I want to get other boxes, say twice the height and half the length, I know they will fit too. I have separated my rolls of paper into gift wrapping paper, and art paper. So great to have my paper rolls organised at last, and not collapsing all over the place any more!

Then I got 2 smaller, more square-shaped ones, for general storage.

Eventually I want to get rid of this old computer desk as I no longer need it, and it sticks right out into the room. It is piled high, mostly with boxes of mixed media stuff, and I hope one day to get more organised and store this stuff better (more Really Useful Boxes??)

I’ve had my reserve supply of glues and double-sided tapes, foam tape, foam pads, etc. rammed into a cardboard box (like most of the stuff in my somewhat chaotic ARTHaven!) and decided to get a box for those.

At the show, I also bought some more Pinflair gel glue and photo glue as I get through a lot of this, and some more double-sided tape.

The other box, the same size, I bought with 2 organiser trays. One tray goes in the bottom, and the other sits at the top, with a flange around it which rests on top of the box, and the lid holds it in place. This one I have filled with all my Stickles, alcohol inks, Distress Stains, glitters, Rub ’n’ Buff, etc.

I stocked up on quite a few Distress Stains that I was missing, and have yet to put labels on the lids of these.

I bought a few smaller ones for pens, brushes and pencils, which are on the shelf above my main work table, in easy reach.

It will be really nice not to have that heap of stuff in that corner, which kept collapsing every time I tried to reach for anything!

Finally, I bought a really dinky little one to keep Sheba’s accessories in – her spare blades, blade holders, embossing tools, etc.

For some time now I have been following Colouricious on Youtube – they produce high quality videos of workshops and interviews with textile artists, all of which are so inspiring. I was delighted to see that Jamie Malden was at the show with a Colouricious stand, complete with her famous Indian woodblocks for fabric printing, so I treated myself to some! They also print well on paper, I am told.

They are hand carved in Indian hardwood and make a beautiful impression. You can see them on the Colouricious website.

Jamie loves to embellish her printed fabrics with machine embroidery. Years ago I tried my hand at free machine embroidery but then got into other things and never really followed it through, but I am keen to try again, so I picked up a few gorgeous shiny rayon and metallic threads at the show, along with a new, slimline embroidery hoop.

Finally, on Stef Francis’ stand, I bought a few things for mixed media art and creative embroidery – she sells amazing silk products, both dyed and undyed, including silk cocoons and silk carrier rods. These latter are formed during the silk spinning process (see my previous blog post for details) and they can be used to create amazing effects in one’s work. I love it when things that would otherwise be considered rubbish and thrown away are turned into something beautiful!

These silk carrier rods are in the bag in the centre, with the cocoons on the right. At the back on the left is a sheet of mulberry bark (bleached – it is a buff colour naturally) which can be teased out – like the rods, it is softer when damp – and dyed, and used for backgrounds and textures, and as a substrate for embroidery.

At the front is a skein of sari ribbon, created from strips of sari fabric from remnants left over in the manufacturing process – mixed fibres, gorgeous rich colours with the odd splash of metallic fibre – no two skeins are alike! Good enough to eat!

I love shopping at craft shows, because you never know what you are going to find, and what ideas are going to inspire you. I always go armed with a list – things to stock up on, like glues, cardstock etc., and I take a list of colours of things that I have got, and what gaps need filling (e.g. Distress Inks) so that over the past few shows, I have now managed to get the complete set of Distress Inks, re-inkers and Distress Stains, which are all bread-and-butter materials which one can’t do without! Last year on one stand was a huge bin full of Stickles, and I bought loads of them in different colours. Most stands have excellent offers, with good reductions when you buy in quantity, and of course, at the shows there is no postage and packing to pay. There are great bargains to be had, with many things being sold at special show prices.

It is also lovely to be able to handle the things “in the flesh” – now that our local craft shop has closed (not that I was able to get to it very often) I have to do nearly all my shopping online, and it is not always easy to judge the quality of things unless you can see them and feel them.

For someone virtually housebound unless my hubby takes me, it is also the most tremendously enjoyable day out for me! I just love mingling with all the “crafty” people, exchanging ideas, chatting, having a good laugh, learning so much from the demonstrators, and just being caught up in the general atmosphere of the show. In my experience, most crafters are friendly and generous with their ideas and their time, and it’s great to spend time with them.

We only have 2 shows a year in Exeter, and it is unlikely that I shall ever make any of the big ones like the NEC or Ally Pally, but I value our local ones so much! Roll on September!!


  1. Are you sure you haven't got a shop in there?! Pleased you were able to stock up. Excited to see what you are going to do with all of these new things! x

  2. My word, you have been splashing the cash and such wonderful buys as well, I'm another storage addict and find the Really Useful Boxes just that - incredibly useful. Love, love that sari fabric ribbon and it has been on my list for ages now. My absolute favourite of your buys has to be those wooden stamps - am off to browse the site now - think you may just have 'enabled' me to spend a bit more money on those.
    Have a good weekend and keep warm
    Ann B

    PS Exeter and East Devon - my favourite parts of the country, Spent many happy holidays in the area near Honiton

  3. Was lovely to see you. I saw you a few other times whizzing off to different stalls. Really glad your RUB stash is started - you'll find you buy more and more - you can never have enough! Mum & me had a lovely time - we bought some of the wooden stamps too - we saw them being demonstrated with angelina fibres which gave a very pretty result.

    Lucy x

  4. Jealous of your awesome purchases! You know I am in the process of having my craft room decorated, gonna get some really useful boxes for storage ;-) xxx

  5. Thanks for your comment on my blog :) We used to have the Really Useful Boxes in my old job (knitwear design) and had them displayed on Rapid Racking full of sweaters and yarns. MMMMM!!! I'm hoping to go the Knitting & Stitching Show this year, whether I can mange it or not! xxx


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