Thursday, July 7, 2011

Handmade heaven

I have a theory.  Actually I have many, but one is that any shop that calls itself a "shoppe" is sure to be as grim as a very grim thing.  For a sad period of not-too-distant history the same could have been said of any market with "craft" in its name.  But only folk with their heads in holes won't have noticed that this is no longer the case.  "Craft" is no longer a C-word.  Whatever you call it, the resurgence of the scene where individual people design, make and sell stuff, especially where they sell it themselves at markets, has been one of my favourite aspects of recent world history.

So after leaving behind New Zealand's thriving scene, and having also shopped at fantastically tempting design, handmade and contemporary craft markets in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, I was very keen to check out the Perth scene.  I have not been disappointed. Here is my pick of the local markets.

Perth Upmarket (above) is something of a phenomenon.  This quarterly market has grown to the point where it now has 150 stalls.  The location is the lovely Winthrop Hall and the grounds of the University of Western Australia.  I attended the most recent market not as a shopper, not as a stall-holder but as a stall-holder's trusty assistant as my friend Denise was a first-time Upmarket stall-holder selling her Lulu Tissu wares. Perth Upmarket also now run various pop-up and themed markets at other locations.

Unwrapped pops up at various events and locations around the city. Unwrapped says it aims to provide a platform to showcase new, undiscovered design talent. They currently don't have any upcoming events listed but I hope they do soon as their mix of stall-holders is fresh and interesting. (The picture above is of Shaggy Mafia's P50 T which is my son's favourite top.)

Bazaar (above) is an annual pre-Christmas market in the grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre.  Now some of you will know of my dislike of markets that charge an entry fee as another of my theories is that the higher the market entry fee then the grimmer the goods will be. You may also know of my dislike of outdoor craft markets and extreme dislike of markets with centralised payment systems.  Well I had to take a deep breath and just get over myself as Bazaar has all three.  The outdoor thing wasn't an issue as summer weather here is quite a reliable beast.  The quality of the goods on offer meant that it was worth forking out the entry fee (only $2). A couple of my favourite sellers were Eucalypt Homewares and Old Grey House textiles.

However I did find that the centralised payment system meant that I simply didn't make all my usual small impulse purchases, especially as I was there with my daughter.  There was no way I could sneakily buy presents for her by lingering at a stall where she had admired something, and for many other small purchases I couldn't be bothered with the hoohaa.  Even so I'll still definitely go back to Bazaar again this year.

Made on the Left describes its aim as "to support all creative designers and events showcasing independent labels".  They do this through running regular markets but also by writing an excellent blog covering all sorts of things of interest to local artists, designers and makers.  Their blog is a great place to find out about other markets, pop-up shops, exhibition opportunities, calls for submissions and a variety of miscellaneous interesting goings-on.  Although their market is smaller than some of these others, it is the one I've ended up spending the most money at. One time my haul included two hen's teeth items: T-shirts for a girl who doesn't wear pink, purple or anything flowery, but isn't into boys' clothing and who doesn't wear anything with a visible logo. Both T-shirts were huge hits (Lisamax's "For today I am a robot" pictured above) but that jolly girl keeps growing.  She and I will be shopping at Made on the Left again this coming Sunday to say hi to Denise and to hopefully score some great gear. (Made on the Left, Sun 10th July, 11am-5pm, at one40william)

One thing I have learned about the markets here is to buy stuff I like when I see it as many of the stall-holders are pretty tricky to track down later online.  In New Zealand it was a doddle to track down sellers on Felt, Toggle, Endemic World or Clever Bastards, but I haven't found it quite so easy here.  Some local designers sell on Etsy,  Madeit, or Indie, but many more just sell online through their own websites or not at all.  Like so many things around here I wonder if this is actually a problem or an opportunity....  Either way, I now know to go to Perth markets with one pocket stuffed with cash and the other with a notebook as there is certainly plenty here worth buying.

Pic at the very top is of Tim Whiteman's Protea lightfittings which I spotted and admired at Bazaar.  At the time I had no need for them, but I am about to attempt to prove another of my theories (that it is possible to turn a sow's ear house into a silk purse house) so happily now I do.


  1. Hoorah hoorah for all these lovely crafting markets. Will be happily skipping around 'Made on the Left' this Sunday with my kids, who may or may not think it was a good idea to come along!
    Daisy Jane

  2. Have fun and hopefully they won't beg you to buy too much stuff. Maybe spot you there.

  3. Thanks for poppoing in to see me at Made on the Left, it proved to be yet another good opportunity to showcase and sell my creations. Thank goodness there are people motivated enough to support people like me and others

  4. Hi Denise, So pleased you had a good time there. Wow this market has grown. It was great but we still didn't manage to get anthing for the blokes in the household. Hopefully next time.

  5. Hello Deidre
    I had never heard of this market until I read about it here. Wow. It was great! If only our Mandurah market was this cool.

  6. Hello Suzy
    Yes our local market is definitely in the "problem or opportunity" basket. I'd love to see one of these markets do a pop-up in Mandurah.

  7. Thanks so much for the mention in your Bazaar write up. Hopefully I will see you back at the end of this year. Tanya (Old Grey House)

  8. Love your work Tanya and wild horses wouldn't keep me away from this year's Bazaar.