Sunday, 24 May 2009

Handmade on Saturday

The Handmade Market yesterday was a runaway success. I met Julie, the driving force behind it all, and if I remember correctly, she said there had been 3000 people by 11am. It was definitely packed. There were more stalls than last time I went: the hall was full and also the foyer and the area outside. Two coffee stalls had very long queues at 10.30am, and the parking was very difficult. B2 & I were very lucky to find one in the Hyatt carpark as some people left.

I love this because it is to crafts what the EPIC markets are to food. You can chat with the makers; they live just down the road. It's a personal connection, and it's more ethical. Not only do you save air miles, but also if you buy trinkets made in China, the working conditions are likely to be sweatshops. And of course, the whole market is a fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease. Four levels of win!

I bought a few things: a gorgeous onyx and grey agate necklace from cardog; a cheerful small bag in leather applique work from Karmen Sega; and a jar of lime marmalade from Crankypants. And a present for my sister. (Heheh, Gill, you have to wait to Xmas to find out what!) The picture at the top of this post is from Rummage - you can see more of their works at the link. It was my pick for the best stall of the day. Even though I didn't buy anything, the humour of it stuck with me throughout. Had that "I must not eat the cooking chocolate" cushion been in colours that I like, I would certainly have bought it.

Of course, picking one favourite was a massively difficult task. I fell in love with a photo by Col Ellis: a truly stunning double print of a tree trunk overlying sedimentary rock. Sadly it was way above my budget: it's one of his limited edition art works. It's not the one in the picture here - the one I love has a white Y-shaped tree trunk - but it's similar in technique. (Col, I grabbed this from your website, which I assume is OK since I'm crediting you & promoting you. If not, let me know and I'll delete it.)

I also loved the Born Again Books, reconstructing old books into journals with recycled paper. And Little Miss Cupcake, one of the few food stalls, with real and beautiful butterfly cakes. And Sinead Buckley's silver jewellery, and many more whose names I have forgotten to write down.

I liked the scented candles at one stall, but the owner's blurb put me off. She had a canned spiel about how terrible paraffin wax is, and how soy is so much better. And paraffin is made of, like, toxic oil sludge. So buy my stuff.

Wait, what? Paraffin? That stuff nanna uses to seal her homemade jam for storage? Paraffin is one of the least toxic substances known. It's actually named for that characteristic, from the Latin parum (= barely) + affinis with the meaning here of "lacking affinity", or "lacking reactivity". (wiki) It's not just in candles, it's cheese wax, and waxed paper, and milk and juice cartons. It's in cosmetics, especially skin and hair care. And it's even in sweets, fruits and medicines, as a totally inert glossy coating. We're talking tested out the wazoo, USDA and European and Australian food grade safe. You can eat a bucket of it without harm, not that you'd want to. If you burn it unevenly so that you get smoke, the combustion products may well be carcinogenic, but that applies equally to any oil, including soy. In fact, that applies to pretty much anything that burns, whether petrol, wood fire, steak, chargrilled veggies, or incense and smudge pots.

I'm not even convinced about the ecological argument. Soy is one of the nastiest monocrops of Big Agribusiness. It's a heavy water consumer, and also pesticide and fertiliser consumer and polluter. Of course you can reduce some of that by using a GM variety, which I expect the new age natural products mavens also wouldn't like. Paraffin, well, here we're refining oil into non-toxic inert matter. And partaking in the modern world's troublesome dependence on oil. Nothing's perfect. I'd need more evidence to make up my mind on that point.


Andrea said...

I agree whole heartedly that the market was fab!
Interesting take on the soy/parrafin debate. I didn't read the candle makers blurb but I am a firm believer in letting a product stand alone without the need for gult inducing hype - your comments re: parrafin make an excellent point.

BJ said...

... and thank you for the loots! Surely, surely, next year is 3rd time lucky.

As I burn my soy candle I shall watch it carefully for GM toxic by-product side-effects. Like.. setting the curtains on fire, making my hair go curly, upsetting the cat...

So far, so good!

Cath said...

It's quarterly, not annual. Next chance sooner than you think!

infoaddict said...

Damn. You WOULD mention that cushion on the day that I'm quietly breaking up a Plaistowe dark (cooking) chocolate block.

It's my work indulgence, 'k?? :)

Market Girl said...

What a great post. Thanks for coming along and being our mystery shopper! I am glad you enjoyed it as much as we did. we ended up with over 10,000 through the doors which was a little crazy!
Next one is Sep 11th & 12th, 14 weeks and counting. Cheers