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Handmade Market rocks the Yarralumla Woolshed

emd 12 September 2009 71

Oh. My. God. If you’ve been to Handmade Market this weekend, you probably have sore feet, an empty wallet, and the warm inner glow that comes from retail therapy supporting local crafters.

I should state at the outset that I’m a very bad consumer. I don’t buy much stuff (compared to my female friends), and when I do buy it’s generally at the cheap end of the market. But Handmade got me using my calico shopping bags to take home a few goodies. Here’s some of the great stuff that I spotted at last night’s twilight market:

  • Jackson & Kerr organic cotton t-shirts for men and women. The ones I saw were priced at $50. Lovely soft feel, nice designs. Looks like it’s a collaboration between Amy Kerr from Moyou and Megan Jackson.
  • Anthony Hill – Canberra author of books for little kids, teenagers, and adults. He signed a beautiful picture book for my daughter’s birthday.
  • Polbymade had the most stunning dark green silk dress with wide white neckline and waist sash. I think I need one of these dresses.
  • Redmag had the most gorgeous handmade soft toys, with button eyes and pretty cotton fabrics.
  • Little Angel Little Devil is one I hadn’t seen before – handmade baby clothes, hairclips, wraps etc. Quite reasonably priced, and because it’s handmade using whatever fabrics inspire Rachel, you won’t see another toddler in the same outfit as yours.
  • Kemarre Arts had things more suited to gifts for older women – handmade glassware, screenprinted scarves and shawls, and wall hangings. Made by indigenous artists living in Canberra.
  • Rebecca Vavic, another local artist, was there with her baby sleeping in her arms – a beautiful thing to see. Her smaller affirmation pieces are my favourite. The whole mixed media, collage style really fits with the mish-mash of things that make up life.
  • Sydney crafters Born Again Books had a great selection of journals made from the covers of vintage classics. The journals made from grown-up titles were filled with pages made from 100% recycled paper, while the kids journals had Little Golden Book covers and eco-friendly bagasse (sugarcane pulp) paper. I got a notebook for the resident IT worker at our house, with a cover made from an old 5.45″ floppy disk.
  • Rockstars and Royalty have got to be the coolest couture designers in Canberra. I want one of their dresses, and I don’t even like weddings! Actually, what I really want is a tiara. To wear while vacuuming.
  • RedInstead had quite a large stall, with pretty handcrafts (some made by Jen herself, others from places like Larkmade), and craft kits so the inspired shopper could go home and make their own.

I’ve forgotten her name, but there was a busker there playing guitar and with a beautiful voice. Right in front of the Lindsay & Edmunds fair trade organic chocolate stall – a very nice place to stand indeed 😉

There was also wine tasting, Real Chai were there, and Cranky Pants catering for those who can’t shop on an empty stomach.

I had a great time bumping into nearly every woman in Canberra (well, all the nice ones anyway). And I wanted to go back again today, if only to check out what was on offer from Tango & James (Canberra’s Got Style). But when I got out there at 11:30am, there were cars parked all the way up Cotter Road, and I knew it would be elbow-to-elbow shopping inside.

Let’s hope that the huge numbers of visitors to the market today mean they can move to holding them more often. Clearly a quarterly market with this level of quality and value for money (yes, more expensive than Target – value is not the same as cheap imported crap) is not enough to meet demand in Canberra.

Oh, and I LOVED the new venue! Sure, Albert Hall is convenient for catching the bus. Maybe ACTION should put on a special Handmade Market bus service next time? But walking through the woolshed with the smell of lanolin and well-aged fertiliser really made me feel at home (I grew up on a sheep farm), and appreciate that the people selling their wares really do work hard to produce something that is a joy to use and to look at.

So who else wants to see Handmade happen more often in future?

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71 Responses to Handmade Market rocks the Yarralumla Woolshed
Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 8:10 am 14 Sep 09

No-one every claimed all profits went to charity. Julie has always donated a portion to a Motor Neurone Disease cause. But it’s her self-employed job, and power to her for making something that is clearly a notch above other offerings.

Having the additional stalls in marquees certainly would have made a great atmosphere, and spread the people around a lot more.


On Gungahlin, while we all make jokes about north Cooma and the like (outside peak commute periods) it really isn’t very far from Tuggers. What is it that Canberra people have against a 30 minute weekend cruise, yet they are happy to camp out in their car for 40 minutes twice a day every day on weekdays? Does being stationary in a car vs actually moving cause some distortion of the space/time continuum of which I am not aware?

We have been blessed by the LDA with this useless expanse of paving in the centre of our town that is good for nothing else EXCEPT a market. Yet when a market came along, certain blocker wannabe bureaucrats in TAMS and ACTPLA put every damn wall up in front of her possible. Strong support from the community, from local town businesses, and calls for help to Andrew Barr and Jon Stanhope all amounted to nought.

Because the blockers had time on their hands. They only have to keep throwing up the walls until the proponent runs out of time/money/sheer willpower to go on. A 5-minute email or letter with some more walls every three months or so makes a whole lot of work magically just go away.

So the vibrancy, the economic boost for all our struggling town businesspeople, the bringing of people into Gungahlin who might not have otherwise ventured north, and the social engagement that would have come from it, all have been lost. Who knows – maybe even the odd departmental secretary could have gone along, and thereby realised Gungahlin wouldn’t be a bad place for a departmental relocation?

Thanks blockers. Your petty efforts and lack of vision have been more far reaching than you could possibly imagine.


emd emd 11:06 am 14 Sep 09

On the location, I think I would probably drive anywhere in Canberra/Queanbeyan for Handmade. But I do like locations with lots of trees around, and the smell of sheep doo-doo. Reminds me that I live in the “bush capital” after a busy week of urban living. Hall markets also have a nice outdoorsy atmosphere. I do think Gungahlin lacks a market though – even Tuggeranong has a monthly indoor market (which I haven’t been to, no idea what it’s like). ATM access does help though – I bet sales would be higher if people could get more cash out when they see something they simply MUST have.

I’ve only ever organised small events, but it looks to me like Handmade would be expensive to put on. Venue hire, advertising banners, very expensive public liability insurance (she charges stallholders $20 for the day’s insurance – cheapest I’ve found on my own was $120 for the day), staff to keep it running smoothly on the day and clean up after the hordes leave… I think she does well. And she’s never claimed the whole event is for MND, but has been great in donating over $10K to the cause.

I’ve never had a stall at Handmade, but I know lots of the other stallholders – Canberra is a small community. These people really do spend months working every night, usually after their kids go to bed, to have a stall full of well-made goods for Handmade. I am happy to pay a realistic price – not a cheap import price – for their hard work. Especially as it means I don’t have to get out the sewing machine myself after the kids go to bed. I also don’t mind the occasional Canberra-designed made-in-fair-trade-workplaces stall.

Genie, I think the tone of some of your comments here has been unnecessarily rude. If you want to take it further, Julie at Handmade is easily contactable through her website to let her know what you think could be improved.

sepi sepi 1:42 pm 14 Sep 09

Emd – you would like Tuggeranong homestead market – it is in old farm
sheds as well with a few cow pats to step over on the driveway in. It is a very small market, but nice knitted baby clothes, 3.00 finger puppets, cheap plants and a bit of fruit and veg.

I-filed I-filed 6:22 pm 14 Sep 09

byt2007 said :

I completely disagree with Genie’s assessment of many things being factory-made: the lady with the felt products also displays at the Gorman House markets, and the way it works is that she designs the products, and they are made as a fair-trade enterprise in Nepal. The impression I have got from past conversations with her is that they aren’t made in a factory at all, but in a village. I’ve bought some lovely things from her in the past for my nieces.


Definitely needs verifying by the market owner, or this could go the way of the farmer’s market with unscrupulous traders: unless there is another Gorman House seller of these products, this stallholder buys from a huge importer – he is flash as a rat with a gold tooth – and there’s no way she could know what conditions the items are made under, as they are centralised in bulk and imported by the container. As for “made in a village” – that’s a meaningless attempt at a distinction, as village cottage craft situations can be cruelly exploitative and involve child labour. I’ve actually heard a stallholder at Gorman House markets spinning a line about “fair trade”, but I guess it may not be the same one. Fair trade items are always labelled such.

I’m relieved to hear that the vast majority of the stallholders – possibly all bar this one – are bona fide.

Handmademarket Handmademarket 1:22 pm 15 Sep 09

Thanks emd, and so many more of you, for such a great post about Handmade on the weekend. Oh and the fabulous female busker was Sarah Daphne Foo.

I am so pleased that %99.9 of you had a fabulous time and enjoyed the new venue. We worked very hard on establishing the woolshed especially after the huge success of Albert Hall. We had just over 6 weeks to completely find & move to the new venue, design and print new postcards, new banners, signage, change insurance, contact everyone to let them know etc. It was a mammoth job but one we did very well it seems!

We realise there are now a few new things to work on, like an ATM, parking and dust and how to best control the amazing crowds we attract, we are constantly reassessing how we can improve Handmade for both the consumer and the designer.

I would like to clarify a couple of things for everyone, and of course all of this information is on the website you would only need to take the time to look, We have NEVER said that all profits got to charity, Handmade has offered us the chance to be able to raise funds and awareness towards this horrible disease that did indeed take a very close family member of mine years ago. If you feel we do not raise enough money for them then feel free to donate yourself! We don’t give a percentage of the stallfees to MND we always run a raffle or competition where ALL of that money can go to MND. This in turn raises much more money.

The other point I would like to make is that the criteria to attend Handmade is “goods must be designed and or made by the stallholder” if they do not make the product they must say how they design and then get it manufactured and the reasons why. Satllholders goods must also fit into the mix already on offer at Handmade. We can only take a person at their word and we believe we are putting forward a very good mix of designers.

As for Gungahlin Handmade was never going to be held there, we wanted to custom design a local market that would have similar values but more suited to the local community, support the local shops and designers. Handmade was always going to be the “big sister” of the Gungahlin market.

I hope this has cleared things up for MOST of you. Once again thanks for supporting Handmade.

pepmeup pepmeup 3:14 pm 15 Sep 09

the Lindsay & Edmunds fair trade organic chocolate stall import all their base ingriedients from holland, melt them and re shape them. what a great little local cottage industry

I-filed I-filed 6:38 pm 15 Sep 09

Handmademarket said :

We can only take a person at their word …

Sorry to carp, but not so! It’s important to verify the source of “fair trade” products, or you’re helping an unscrupulous operator to devalue the fair trade market and effectively steal money from people working for bona fide organisations that capacity-build in poor places. It should be pretty straightforward to require verification if your felt trader is claiming their products are supervised in Nepal. If they are operating off their own bat and not following the “official” fair trade path, they would have to be travelling to Nepal and have all sorts of photographic evidence and a paper trail to show you. IF you are turning a blind eye, sorry, but that might put your whole market into a different category from the “only nice people” requirement …

Handmademarket Handmademarket 8:09 pm 15 Sep 09

How on earth did you read “blind eye in there” If someone tells me that they are doing fair trade, show me the information I require and then produce the photographic evidence I ask for then I take them at their word.

For Goodness sake people it’s a bloody market. We are not running for president!

Danman Danman 8:48 pm 15 Sep 09

Gunghalin Al, sounds like you want to have some kind of Guerrilla Weekend Markets at Gunghalin, if so, I’d be a loyal customer 🙂

COuld be kind of like those Guerrilla raves the kids arrange these days, short term notice spread virally by SMS 😛

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 8:55 pm 15 Sep 09

So I could design something, have it knocked up in a sweatshop in China and sell it as ‘handmade’?

I-filed I-filed 9:28 pm 15 Sep 09

Handmademarket said :

How on earth did you read “blind eye in there” If someone tells me that they are doing fair trade, show me the information I require and then produce the photographic evidence I ask for then I take them at their word.

For Goodness sake people it’s a bloody market. We are not running for president!

You’re saying you asked for evidence and they produced photos and a paper trail? That’s to be commended.

Thumper Thumper 9:51 pm 15 Sep 09

WMC, it would appear so…

Handmademarket Handmademarket 9:10 am 16 Sep 09

Or not, WMC and Thumper…..

Have a great day everyone, see you all at the next Handmade.

rottweiler rottweiler 11:30 am 16 Sep 09

Danman said :

Gunghalin Al, sounds like you want to have some kind of Guerrilla Weekend Markets at Gunghalin, if so, I’d be a loyal customer 🙂

COuld be kind of like those Guerrilla raves the kids arrange these days, short term notice spread virally by SMS 😛

Gungahlin already has a craft market held on the last Sat of every month. However it struggles to run without stallholders and shoppers.

astrojax astrojax 1:36 pm 16 Sep 09

i can see that a market, without stallholders or shoppers, would face some existential difficulties…

Genie Genie 2:33 pm 16 Sep 09

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

So I could design something, have it knocked up in a sweatshop in China and sell it as ‘handmade’?

Not China – Nepal… whole other country….

I-filed I-filed 5:56 pm 16 Sep 09

H-h-hang on a second Handmade!

Here below is your post from last year. Looking like pretty slick, heavily commercial marketing ploy to me. You priced the stalls at $110, and then when someone (Genie) queried that as a heavy price, you came right down on her head about it at the time, citing a non-profit motive to justify the price. It looks as though your strategy is paying off handsomely, and that the “motor neurone disease fundraiser” is now limited to a basket of (er, donated) goods you raffled? What proportion of the stall takings are still going to charity?
When and how, Handmade, did you switch from “designed to raise the profile of MND” to “a simple for-profit using MND as an angle to market corporate social responsibility and hook in those “nice people” you appear to have been cynically targeting all along?

Beyond endangering the “fair trade” brand, you’re also risking the credibility of hand-made everywhere. Who wouldn’t prefer to deal with an honest commercial trader than a commercial venture masquerading as a fundraiser?

#8 posted by Handmademarket
13:01, 17 Nov 2008

Good Morning Genie,

so glad to have such an insightful positive person so interested in the fundraising efforts being done for Motor Neurone Disease. That’s right, I am not making a profit from this event. handmade is designed to raise the profile of designers in the region and MND.

Market Girl

pepmeup pepmeup 6:26 pm 16 Sep 09

This market must be run to make money.

It seems to be doing a really good job as well, most Canberrans are over paid and under worked so need things like this on the weekend to fill their time and take their money. Then they can retreat to their airconditioned house via a ride in there (never seen dirt) SUV. once home they can feel good about helping small businesses and start bashing anything big business does.

pepmeup pepmeup 6:28 pm 16 Sep 09

more over,

Its exactly the same for farmers markets, Canberran want to think they are helping the small guy. They also have to fill in each weekend with something!

I-filed I-filed 6:56 pm 16 Sep 09

There’s a further Handmade mystery. Handmade, you claimed that the first market raised $4,000 for motor neurone disease. I see from your post #25 above, that you have changed your tune from last year’s “we’re not making a profit” to this:

“We don’t give a percentage of the stallfees to MND we always run a raffle or competition where ALL of that money can go to MND. This in turn raises much more money.”

Where on earth does the claim arise, that running a raffle at a market will raise “more money” than even just a percentage of stall fees? Handmade, please back up your claims with some figures and some transparency.

I’m further concerned by your early claim that your fundraising would benefit “local families affected by motor neurone disease”. The contradictions in your posts and claims lead me to wonder whether, like so many infamous “charity” exercises in the United States, the money you raise is handed to a family that has personal links with you, rather than going to sufferers via a registered charity.

You refer readers to a registered charity to donate to, but it isn’t clear that you are in fact donating via a charity.

I’m sure most would agree that there are issues to be clarified here, so could you answer a couple of questions?

1. The $4000 you told us was raised for motor neurone disease at the first Handmade – did that go to a registered charity to distribute, or did you hand it to a family you are related to?

2. How do you arrive at the claim that a percentage of stall fees would raise less for motor neurone disease than a raffle, given the size and success of the market?

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