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Handmade at Kew

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I found myself in a rather self-indulgent position a few weeks ago, when I caught note that Handmade in Kew was running that weekend.

With the thrill of having my very own charming Victorian flat still buoyant, I looked greatly forward to attending a crafts fair… purely with the intention of sourcing beautiful, hand-crafted, striking pieces to elevate the level of beauty in my living room.

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And so I embarked on the lengthy journey to the picturesque pastures of leafy Kew Gardens. I’d not previously heard of Handmade at Kew; a reason of which became apparent when I arrived – it was the fairs’ debut year.

Having previously scanned the list of exhibitors online, I spotted a few works that I knew were of interest to me, yet still, seeing them in reality was captivating.

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 A mixture of ceramics, glassware, jewellery and textiles were all in abundance, with flashes of interesting texture, finish and colour catching my eye.

Talking to some of the exhibitors only enhanced my experience, as I felt the passion they have for their craft inspiring. “Are you a maker?” One of the ceramicists asked me. The term struck me – such a literal title, yet one that evokes a real sense of aspiration in someone with a dormant creative flair.

The idea of not only creating things, but creating beautiful things by hand. Pieces made with love, care and feelings as beautiful as the pieces themselves.

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Being a lover of texture, the intricacy of much of the ceramic works was incredible.

These pieces by Adele Howitt remind me of a coral-reef-underwater-floral fusion; each petal-like detail pressed to create texture, or delicately flaired, creating a striking, structural work of art. There is purity in the white finish; only helping to enhance the delicate, ripples of texture.

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Elsewhere, I came across a surprising, yet striking combination of carved wooden vessels, laced with glistening, precious metals. The “maker” of these works was equally unexpected – a mature-aged man, master of Artist In Wood, who had been creating, and perfecting, his unusual pieces for decades. “There’s nothing like these out there. You may find similar, but they will just be bad copies” he insisted…. “Because, most people don’t have the patience to perfect the technique”, he continued.

I absorbed his words as both a general life-lesson and one specific to the field of craft.It reminded me of my own frustrations of having a love for artistic creation, with a lack of patience to hone a technique and produce anything of merit. Yet, it also instilled the reminder in me that with even with great passion comes much hard work.

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I was met with another inspiring story of hard work when I met Joy Trpkovic of JCT ceramics. Her stunning, copper-hued ceramics caught my eye a mile away; and it was hard to believe that such beautiful pieces originally evolved incidentally.

Joy trained as an artist who eventually turned her hand to ceramics. As she was at her creative peak of producing her works, a hand injury forced her to adapt her ceramic technique completely. She now creates stunning wall pieces inspired by delicate creatures of sea, along with hand-built vessels that glimmer in a gorgeous spectrum of coppers and blues.

Filled with lust and a clear vision of these gorgeous metallics catching the light in my own home, I purchased two of her pieces.

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Handmade at Kew was a collection of inspiring artisans who create beautiful pieces by hand –a quality we see perhaps too rarely these days.

Although not an easy feat, I endeavour to accumulate the patience to learn techniques that will hopefully, with time, produce beautiful pieces of my own. But in the meantime, Handmade in Kew is penned in the diary for next year.

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