Wednesday, 15 April 2015

British Craft Trade Fair 2015

I have just got back from the BCTF in Harrogate. It took a lot of organisation to even get there because I do not have a car and Devon is 300 miles away from Yorkshire. I had looked into getting a train and decided I could manage it but not with all of my work, so I got the details of other exhibitors living near me and emailed them all asking if they could help.

Everyone was very kind and friendly and I received various offers, however the best one came from Matt Walsh, a glassmaker from Tiverton who very kindly offered not only my things a lift but also me, in exchange for some petrol money. Now that was sorted I had a lot of preparation to do as I had found out that I was in the show barely a month before it was happening!

I got busy designing the layout of my stand. My main objective was to keep the costs as minimal as possible as I had already to pay for my space, transport and accommodation.

In the end I managed to spend about £20 on everything, most of that was on velcro for the walls and 'S' hooks to hang my shelves from. I used an old trolley table and stool from home and bought white tablecloth for £1 a metre in a material shop in Exeter.

The shelves I made from rope and some nice pieces of ash I had bought years ago for making boards before realising the wood was a bit too soft. I also painted my own sign from a piece of old treated pine I had in my workshop.

We stayed overnight at a travel lodge to be there early Saturday morning. I found my space and was the first person in my row so knowing how easily distracted I am, I quickly got to work unpacking and setting up before other people came.

Here is my space. I realised it would have been useful to bring a step ladder. Luckily Matt had a spare one and lent me his.

Half way through the set up and I realised lots of people had arrived

I finished at around midday, it took me roughly 3 hours to arrange everything, I really had minimal display to put up as the boards were stuck to the walls with velcro and the trolley (which doubled up as storage for my snacks and price lists) was on wheels.

Here are a couple of close-ups of my final display

After my stand was set up I had a chance to see some of the other work being shown and took a few pictures which I hope to post soon. I am glad I did it then because from Sunday til Tuesday I barely left my stand and a lot of people covered up their displays once the show closed each day so I hardly had a chance to see anything after then.

Yorkshire is colder than Devon, I should have realised that before I packed one thin jumper and a light coat. I will know for next time.. I went for a wander round outside in the afternoon, it was a lovely day and there were always red kites circling above. I watched them for a long time sitting in the sun and admiring the view. 

Despite my rather minimal display (most of which fitted into one suitcase) and slightly unorganised ordering procedure.. The show was a success I managed to cover all of the costs involved in taking part and also made some money, which was the plan after all. I have a very busy few weeks ahead of me, following up new contacts, getting more wood supplies and making orders. I am thinking about re-booking next year.. hopefully by which time I'll have my own transport!

I also learnt a few things which I'll know for next time, having enough linesheets and pricelists is one of them.. I went with around 40 and ran out by Tuesday afternoon and had to email any others after that. A very useful thing was the free wifi which was speedy and a lifesaver for keeping me occupied in the quiet moments and also for certain iplayer downloads for the evenings..

Friday, 3 April 2015


Just been making some walnut boards, you can see the how the oil brings out the grain of the wood.

These are all from the same piece of wood

Monday, 23 March 2015

Coracle pt I

I am attempting to build a coracle, my mum has a large pond to paddle around on and wants to have a coracle to reach the pond weed in the middle and I always wanted to try to make a boat. 
In the UK, coracles are traditionally known as being Welsh and that's how I knew them, however they are also found in South East Asia. When I was in Vietnam I saw coracles on the beach used for fishing and I thought they were rather beautiful and practical objects so I took photos, also just in case I wanted to try making my own one day...


 Before I started, I didn't do much research- 10 minutes on Google images and how-to websites showed me they can be made from willow, and we have plenty of that in my garden, so I decided to just try. This might not end well.
I'm showing part 1 here in the hope that once it stops raining for a few days, I can finish it soon. I also don't have any material for the waterproof skin yet, traditionally it's an animal hide but as they're rather hard to come by, I'm going to possibly try calico and bitumen, that's if it holds it's shape..
Here's how it's gone,... I think total time spent on it so far has been roughly 2-3 hours.

Using a stick and some string I roughly marked out a circle and pushed the ends of 16 freshly cut willow sticks into the ground.

Then I took the opposite ones and folded them over to make a cross hatch woven base. I am making it upside down to use the ground as support rather than using strips of wood to form a wooden ring, according to The Coracle Society they're called the gunwhales.

I didn't really know how I should weave them but this looked more stable than just to have them all crossing over each other in the middle.

I have started to weave around the rim to support the dome shape but it needs more work. I also need to decide how deep to make it.

Anyway, watch this space for updates...

Friday, 13 February 2015

American Oak

Here we have serving boards of american oak with some quite impressive grain and colour pattern. 
NB the well-used candle prop.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

George Town

This old colonial town on the island of Penang in Malaysia is an exotic melting pot of Malay, Indian, Chinese and European influences. I took way too many photos of this beautiful place, especially the floor tiles.