April’s Make Do and Mend Day! was on one of those surprise weekends when the sun actually shines and everyone comes out to play! For those of us who’ve been at Green Park on the second Sunday of each month since last October, it was the first market when we didn’t have to wear thermals – the venue may be undercover but that doesn’t mean it’s warm when the sun don’t shine. From the moment we officially opened at 10am there was a steady stream of eager visitors shopping, browsing, getting involved in workshops, laughing, eating, chatting – happy days.
This month we were lucky enough to have the Happy Inkers with us, three Bath Spa Uni Art students who regularly work with Julian House UK, teaching their clients how to screenprint. On Sunday they were running free screenprinting for children which seemed to be an instant hit and ran a printwork exhibition in the foyer, raising money for Julian House. They also showed adults and kids how to print cotton bags for £5 a time, something which appeared on quite a few blogs afterwards. Have a look at some beautiful pictures of their stall here.
We were also really excited about our student stall of the month, run by the Night Knitters, who had a fabulously creative display of teacup birdfeeders, covered notebooks, knitted mug cosies and the like. These three ladies drew a crowd, thanks to their quirky, original pieces and have a big future ahead of them. I think the key to their success was that their stall looked attractive but not over-fussy, with a few choice props (vintage typewriter and sewing machine) and products placed at different heights to make it look inviting enough to want to go and have a rummage through. This kind of display looks thrown-together enough not to make customers scared to come and touch and feel, but doesn’t look scruffy or uncared for – it’s an art. Of course this technique is not necessarily appropriate for every kind of stall, but I think it is successful for vintage and handmade sellers with smaller, varied pieces. What do you think?
Naturally, the rest of our sellers are of a very high standard too and we are delighted to have a great number of artists and skilled artisans among us, in addition to inspired home crafters, who never cease to come up with unusual, thought-provoking, pretty and practical ideas. Have a look out for original designs and illustrations on lampshades, aprons, bags, cards and so on – we really are the place to pick up something unique that you know has been created with love and skill and with a large amount of time spent on it too, much of it that never gets repaid financially.
There are a couple of other highlights I should also mention. The first was the workshop run by The Big Mend’s Scrapiana, a much-celebrated textile blogger and workshop tutor who holds free, monthly get-togethers in Bath and Bradford-on-Avon for people wanting to come and mend things and swap skills – darning, sewing on buttons, repairing zips, whatever. You don’t have to be a great sewer to get involved – it’s a bit like knit-and-natter but for needlework. I was so pleased that people came to the market especially to find it and now I hear many of them are going to join the monthly meet-ups. That is what the Bath Artisan Market is about – meeting people and sharing skills, experience and ideas, as well as shopping. And we want to create a fun, friendly, inspirational atmosphere too.
Secondly, we were delighted to have Jen Gale with us who is spending the whole year without buying anything new. She is writing a blog about her experience – My Make Do and Mend Year – but is also starting an “Upcycle Exchange” which we are talking to her about being a regular feature of the market as it involves recycling and affordability. Take her any of your unwanted craft materials for her to sell on – the twist is that her customers twill hen pay what they want. So if you come to the market and get inspired, mosey over to the pizza place near the Green Park Brasserie – she’s just beside it – and have a little look through her treasures.
And so, with April over, it’s time to focus on May, where we are focussing on flowers and all things planty. We’ve teamed up with Bath in Bloom who will be running gardening demos, teaching kids to plant, giving garden advice and judging a kids’ garden-in-a-seedtray competition. Find all details here. We’re asking all stallholders to bring flowers and wear them too to turn the heart of the city into a floral paradise. So if you’re coming along, why not join in and wear some too. Look forward to seeing you there!