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Handmade Markets review

By Kerces - 22 November 2008 30

In case you missed the great upswell of publicity among Canberra’s crafty scene, the inaugural Handmade Markets were on today at Albert Hall. (In fact, they’re on until 6pm if you happen to be reading this before then).

Albert Hall was a sort of compromise venue for the markets after they couldn’t get the permanent home in Gungahlin they wanted. Unfortunately, it’s not the best venue and with more than 50 stalls, the markets appear to have already outgrown the hall – before even finishing their first event! Of course, today’s bad weather did mean there were few stalls outside, but you don’t want to rely on having outside stalls with Canberra’s winters.

That said, the stalls that were crammed into the hall were of fantastic quality. I have become somewhat disillusioned with Canberra’s markets lately but the organisers here obviously put a lot of effort into vetting the stall holders. Who knew Canberra had such a trove of talent! Most items were reasonably priced (especially important with no ATM anywhere nearby) and many of the stall holders were happy to take orders.

There was an abundance of jewellery and handbags and while it was fascinating to see all the stalls and craftspeople for the first time, I suspect it might get a little samey if they all showed at the next markets and the next and the next. There were a lot of amazing textiles — obviously the ANU art school is having an influence — and a lot of the designs would have made gorgeous shirts or skirts but had not been used that way. I would like to see more clothes (there’s few local designers I have bought from before at the bus depot and Gorman House markets and there are more coming out of CIT every year) but I suppose the need for fitting rooms would have complicated things further in the crowded space.

The small food section in the kitchen smelled marvellous. They had a whole range of fresh food on sale, including plowman’s lunches, rice paper rolls and dolmades. I had a cup of cauliflower and blue cheese soup with cajun-spiced croutons and it was absolutely delicious, welcomely warming on this chilly day and only cost $3.50. There were also gingerbread houses, wines and “Crankypants” chutneys, jams and spices.

The next markets are February and I thoroughly recommend them.

UPDATED: Many thanks to poptop for sending in photos from the markets. Slideshow below:

What’s Your opinion?


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30 Responses to
Handmade Markets review
Gungahlin Al 10:05 am 24 Nov 08

Yes – have a look at the slideshow. There were some well made garden bench seats outside, and some fairly good bowls and things with the same vendor (I think).

Inside a guy had some nice little jewellery drawers band-sawed out of some great (and seriously heavy) timber – great quality work. My boy loved the one with the secret box inside.

Good to see some good quality timber work. Often markets have bowls and things with very poorly finished goods that don’t even have all the chisel lines sanded out for instance, but still with “Manuka” prices.

However there could be a lot more woodwork if venue size wasn’t so limited. Add some more variety from the jewellery.

On timber, gotta admire the timber guy from Bodalla camped in the Goorooyaroo Reserve parking area on Horse Park Drive selling slab timber over the freezing weekend. One 3m x 1m by 80mm slab of timber was a bit worse for wear after being blown 20m away…

For anyone chasing slabs of redgum, red box, camphor laurel, etc for building their own tables etc, he told me he’d be back every second weekend (the other weekend being reserved for fishing). $300-600 for a big table-top slab, angle grinder with a wire wheel to clean up the sides (or straight cut if natural edge isn’t your thing), 5×5 posts at each corner ($45 pm), 5×2 planks around the sides and across the middle ($45), and a whole lot of sanding and wax rubbing, and you’ve got yourself a dining table that would cost $2000 from Eclipse.

Granny 10:04 am 24 Nov 08

I believe there was one stall selling smaller woodwork items, and there were some nice wooden benches for sale out the front of the building.

farnarkler 6:08 am 24 Nov 08

Was there any woodwork there? A couple of my father’s friends are big into woodwork; cabinet making, that type of thing.

This market is the type of thing Canberra needs more of.

Granny 12:34 am 24 Nov 08

The origami stuff was way cool!!

colormonochrome 12:30 am 24 Nov 08

Ha, I’m the maker of the origami/puzzle jewellery, so there’s a massive smile on my face right now to see my work in the photo and a cool comment. ^-^

The markets were really good I think, it was a nice change not to have to sell along side cheap imported stuff, and see all the different things that Canberra locals are making. I do agree that there were a few things that were probably stretching the locally handmade definition, but on the whole I think it was a fantastic event and I can’t wait for the next one.

Gungahlin Al 8:16 pm 23 Nov 08

Yep – Albert Hall was too small. But the craft was good – some was pricey, but other goods were quite affordable. Significant other is sporting a gorgeous bangle of multicoloured glass beads right now.

I hope that ACTPLA and TaMS get their various bureaucratic acts together pronto so these markets can get a permanent home and Gungahlin can get an ongoing attraction that can really help bring people into our town centre to help the struggling businesses survive.

Woody Mann-Caruso 6:57 pm 23 Nov 08

Some of it was very cool (the origami / puzzle-piece stuff, for example), but most of it was the usual beads and bags and the rest was really pushing the definition of craftsmanship. Somebody else’s fabric stretched over a frame? Wooden letters for spelling kids’ names? Sleeping bag for your Barbie doll? A button glued to a ring? I was hoping for etsy or craftzine but got Better Homes and Gardens most of the time.

The chai was awesome.

Footloose 5:41 pm 23 Nov 08

I had a quick visit on Saturday and thought there was heaps of really, really nice (and expensive) things.
However, I would say that the term ‘handmade’ was not entirely appropriate for some stalls. Still good looking stuff though.

seekay 11:03 am 23 Nov 08

We bought a bundle of Christmas presents. A hippie-free market – bliss!

Granny 11:17 pm 22 Nov 08

I got a fantastic pair of earrings – couldn’t stay long because I had three engagements today, but was really impressed.

My favourite stalls were Bespoke Jewellery and Rockstars and Royalty – just breathtaking! – and the very awesomely cool Karmen Sega handmade leather slippers and stuff.

Well done, Market Girl!!

: )

Snarky 9:52 pm 22 Nov 08

Hi I-filed, thanks for the clarification – it’s a market for local artists (I did try to find out from the website, but it was somewhat sluggish earlier today under the weight of new visitors I guess). I still think there’s some nice stuff at Bus Depot but do take your point about some doubtful provenance. See you at Handmade in February, I guess 🙂

I-filed 6:31 pm 22 Nov 08

Snarky, the Bus Depot markets are a joke. There is absolutely no real requirement that the products are local, and who knows how they get away with it. One stall I know well carries a single product to ‘justify’ the label locally made – they dye a single tub of Indian-made rayon scarves once in a blue moon and call that local. Another stall carries 99% South American imported silver and stone jewellery – and a single token tray of perfunctory strings of beads, reluctantly made by the stallholder. Another stall carries 100 per cent child-slavery-made hippy stuff. Yet another carries Byron Bay hippy clothing (made in Bali). I’m surprised you can’t see the difference between Handmade and the Bus Depot misnomer just from the photo gallery!

Bel 5:19 pm 22 Nov 08

Gorgeous kids clothes. I would have liked to have seen some more food stalls but it was really nice otherwise!

Snarky 4:52 pm 22 Nov 08

The craft in the photos looks great, and best of luck to all concerned, but how do these markets distinguish themselves from the existing Bus Depot markets? There always appears to a very wide range of high quality arts and crafts there too. What’s the impetus for a new market?

poptop 4:26 pm 22 Nov 08

How cross was I that those pink tiger slippers only came in kids sizes. So cute!

Agree with everything Kerces says about these markets – high quality, interesting stuff, already too large for the Albert Hall [which is a real shame] and effectively no clothes for grown-ups [an even bigger shame].

The coffee out the front was as good as promised and they had soy milk – which pleased one of my companions. The barrista was extremely charming, which is always bonus.

The weather and lack of space conspired against anyone wanting to linger over their snacks.

Congratulations to Market girl and her helpers – great market. I’ll be back in February!

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