"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)
Sunday, 2 May 2010
Vintage And Handmade
Vintage isn’t just antique, it has to be lovely and charming and more often than not very, very kitsch; ornaments, pictures, china, toys, books, clothes and fabric, a lot of fabric. It’s often items that you or your family used to have, or that remind you of things you had, as a child. Sometimes it’s that particular thing you used to look at with envious eyes; the toy in the toyshop; the little china dog on your Nan’s mantelpiece; the doll your next door neighbour had that your Mum wouldn’t get you (obviously, in my case the “doll” was Major Matt Mason’s arch enemy Scorpio but you don’t see Major Matt Mason or any of his colleague or indeed his arch enemy at V&H fairs unfortunately); so, it can be stuff you always wanted when you were younger but you never got. By its very nature vintage takes you back, quite often its items from the 1950’s, ‘60's and ‘70’s but people of our age now have to come to terms with the fact that vintage can sometimes mean things from the 1980's too, which comes as a bit of a shock at first. Anyway, that’s vintage but what about handmade?
You’ve probably seen those shops full of lovely things, nice little knick-knacks that you’d love to have but often can’t find an excuse to buy for yourself. So sometimes you and I, I’m not immune, venture into these shops looking for gifts for someone else. Sometimes end up buying a thing that you like, but not necessarily a thing that the giftee would like, so in effect it’s like buying a thing for yourself and keeping it at your friends house, which is fair enough as don’t friends sometimes do exactly the same? I think you’ll find they do. Well, the handmade side of V&H includes a lot of those kinds of items, often extremely well made and quite beautiful. They can range from simple craft items to works of art in their own right. There are a lot of talented women, and it is mostly women, out there doing really superb work.
The world of V&H combines the best of both of the above; lovingly selected vintage items sold alongside beautifully made things, all on the same table. If there is one word that sums up V&H for me it would be nice. Nice is something of an underrated concept. I like nice; a nice cup of tea; a nice cuddle; a nice time; yes, I like nice and V&H is nice; nice people with nice things for sale.
Mrs Kitsch (that's her lovely table above) and I used to do a lot of craft fairs, which I think is a very different scene to V&H. I’ve now attended a number of V&H fairs and often see something I would love to have or maybe I spot something that is particularly beautiful. Whereas, I’ve been to a lot of craft fairs where I haven’t seen one single item that interests me, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that V&H is like a craft fair, they are not the same.
As I said, it’s mostly women that do V&H and they’re also different to the craft crowd. Some of them are just a little a bit dotty it has to be said but frankly that’s not an unattractive quality in my book. Their wardrobe is also much better than the craft lot; lovely vintage dresses or things made from vintage fabric as opposed to the aged hippy look. This goes for the women that attend the fairs as much as the women who take part in them.
And because everything on everyone’s tables is so lovely (a fine example above being the pin cushions that Mrs Kitsch makes using tiny vintage ornaments), they all end up spending money on each other’s stalls, coming away from each fair with new things for the home, or materials for the next art project, or just something to sell on their own table next time. It’s recycling taken to a whole different level.
I love going to these events. I have to be very strong and not buy up loads of stuff myself, but you also meet such lovely people. One woman who had a table next to us was called Claire, she lives in Kent and she knows Billy Childish! Her son is best friends with his son. Apparently, Billy Childish does wear those World War 1 clothes most of the time. Brilliant. Then we sold this fantastic old jigsaw puzzle to a woman who works at the American Museum in Bath, a place Mrs Kitsch and I love to visit, so we chattered to her for a bit too. You might even see our jigsaw puzzle (a brilliant 1950’s map of North America with Canada highlighted in “empire red”) at the museum at some point in the future. How brilliant is that? Very, is the answer.
I’m not sure anyone makes much of a living from V&H fairs, even on a good day no one is going to get rich. Even doing a lot of fairs and having other outlets, like Etsy, especially in today’s economic climate. But then so many worthwhile things don’t make much or even any money, at least that’s my experience. And the V&H fairs are worthwhile, not just for the obviously pleasure that most of the participants get out of it, but also for the many people who attend them and purchase that something special, something you simply can’t get in a shop in the high street and certainly not in a shopping mall. They’re also an outlet and showcase for some very talented artists and creative types. So three good old fashioned cheers for the vintage and handmade fair.
Recommended blogs to find out more about V&H: vintageandhandmade.blogspot.com and kitschandcurious.blogspot.com