Craftafarians: making a little go a long way

Arts and crafts are the thing. Katie Sampson on a home-made phenomenon

AT THIS TIME of year it's impossible to avoid the Summer Craft Fayre. Even the humble village fete has evolved into a showcase for amateur craftspeople, inspired by a crop of useful books with titles like Tassel Making For Profit. According to the Crafts Council, one in four of us bought a hand-crafted item last year and the number of registered craftspeople has risen by 20 per cent in the last 12 years.

But crafts are changing; gone is the hairy-armpit, roll-your-own image. The new crafts brigade are more likely to call themselves "designers". As Janet Fitch, chair of the Crafts Council Index, points out: "It's now very fashionable to be photographed in your foundry."

Throwing pots and hand-beating metal is becoming particularly trendy among the young, wealthy socialites known as Trustafarians (from their penchant for hanging out with, and concealing their trust funds from, the locals in the multicultural, bohemian atmosphere of Notting Hill).

Now meet the Craftafarians: young and well-connected, they have realised that with their social skills and good connections there is money to be made in making things. Crafty Craftafarians love networking, and inviting their families and friends, keen to patronise the arts and equipped with extensive disposable incomes, along to their sales. "At some of these sales one will notice very little buying and selling," one Vogue journalist observes. "They are really an elaborate excuse for a social gathering."

However, when the Craftafarians attempt to move on from private sales, they may run into problems. Lance Bowman, the British crafts buyer at Liberty's department store, has to be extremely patient with un-businesslike would-be suppliers. "People may find the notion of having their work sold in Liberty's quite glamorous," he explains, "but when I start talking about deliveries and mark-ups it's less appealing." Some are hopelessly off-beam; he remembers one degree student who was unable to understand why trying to sell glass bow ties to the store for pounds 80 each wholesale was unrealistic. He thinks a too-rarefied education is partly to blame. "Arts colleges encourage their students to indulge in ignorance," he says. "Naughty children can't be blamed if they've never encountered discipline."

Creativity aside, the reality of running a small business can be daunting. Isabel Hanmer, a silk printer from Islington, north London, says: "The business side can be a nightmare, daunting, difficult, and lonely." Christian de Falbe, who decorates frames in unusual finishes, including Dalmatian spots and leopard prints, knows the risks involved, having already had one business founder. "Forgive me for being cynical," he says, "but once the honeymoon period of selling to friends and family is over you discover that the outside world is a completely different ball game. I started out thinking it would be yummy to make a living as a craft person, now I would rather be a businessman being crafty to make money."

However, some young craftspeople clearly mean business. The Small Business Network (SBN) is a group of dedicated young Craftafarians whose wares cover all aspects of craft from hand painted dustbins and silk scarves to dog portraits and fantastical frescoes.

The idea, explains Anneli Pougatch, a photographer and a founder member, is to get the members together at two sales a year and then leave it to them to socialise and network on the basis of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine". "The ideal scenario," says Anneli, "is where someone contacts me to order wedding photos and I then recommend that they contact follow members for the engagement ring and the wedding dress."

Bridging the gap between college and the real world is one of the objectives of the New Designers Exhibition, currently running in London's Business Design Centre. The signs are encouraging; over the last three years, the exhibition's attendance has risen from 12,000 to 20,000. "Craft is enjoying a renaissance," says director Nicole Bellamy. "The more people buy, the more it creeps into the public's consciousness; people somehow have an innate deep-rooted appreciation for hand-crafted things." Good news for the Craftafarians.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

    £22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Controller / Manager

    £32000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Surrey based company in the rep...

    Recruitment Genius: Locksmith / Security Engineer - London & Southern Counties

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of home security ...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones