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Features / Biggest ever craft fair attracts the masses

This year' craft fair attracted 130 exhibitors - Photos: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsThe 2015 craft fair. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE COLD and blustery start to Saturday morning did nothing to deter throngs of visitors from descending on Lerwick’s Clickimin Leisure centre for this year’s Christmas craft fair, writes Genevieve White.

Jeanette Nowak was one exhibitor who was delighted by the rain and wind outside. “I love the fact that it’s bad weather,” she said, indicating her range of rings and earrings crafted from the sea glass and pottery she finds on the beaches of Yell.

“I’m thinking of all the things which will be washed up on the shore for me to hoover up.”

Jeanette Nowak: 'I love the fact that it’s bad weather'

Nowak exhibits under the name Hjarta: a Shetland word of Norse origin meaning “of the heart”. Her work is based around the sea and the land and is completely inspired by and sourced from the land around her home in Yell.

“My work is all connected with nature” she explained, pointing out her beautifully displayed baskets made from nettles and necklaces made from rowan berries.

A few stalls along, the jewellery in Glansin Glass lived up to its name, forming a sparkling display in shades of blue and turquoise.

Artist Cheryl Jamieson admitted to a lifelong fascination with glass: “I used to collect glass, but hadn’t realised how attracted I was to it until I started to work with fused glass in 2007.”

Jamieson was particularly keen to point out her ornamental tammie norrie glasses: exquisite objects inspired by the pattern and colours in puffins’ beaks.

“Glass is so unpredictable – you never know how it’s going to turn out. But I must say, I was absolutely delighted by the tammie norries.”

Designer Julie Williamson with a customer.

The lampshades and cushions at Julie Williamson Designs contained images inspired both by the local landscape and by Whalsay designer-maker Williamson’s own personal memories.

“The images are hand drawn, and then digitally printed. The products themselves are handmade”, Williamson explained.

“Each design has a story or memory. This lampshade, for example, tells the story of the year I entered a fishing competition. I only caught one small fish, and so I got the booby prize!

“Many of the designs have Fair Isle patterns in the background – I don’t have the patience to knit, so I draw the patterns on.”

151114 Morwenna Garrick: 'playing and experimenting with colours'.

Morwenna Garrick’s stand showcased cushions, blankets and babies’ blankets, all handwoven in a combination of lamb’s wool and Shetland wool.

Garrick professed a love of “playing and experimenting with colours”, and this passion certainly shone through in the range of vibrant colour combinations displayed around her.

Garrick studied textile design at Shetland College, before moving on to complete an Honours Degree at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee. Her website will go live at the beginning of next week, and she hopes to get an online shop established in the future.

Over at Arabella’s stand, designer–maker Kathy Nicolson’s eye-catching bags were attracting well deserved attention.

“I love bright, colourful things,” Nicolson said. “I’ve been making bags for five years. It all started when I made one for my stepmother. In the end, I couldn’t give it to her – I liked it so much I had to keep it for myself!”

Shetland Arts and Craft Association secretary Wendy Inkster: 'extremely high quality craft products'.

Fortunately for us, Nicolson has since learned to let go of her work. Visitors could choose between bags, purses, mobile phone covers and nappy bags.

The laminated cotton Nicolson buys in from America makes these bags perfect for the wet Shetland weather too. A new addition to the Arabella line is a range of soft Shetland Tweed purses, made extra luxurious with the addition of a band of velvet.

Arts and Crafts Association secretary Wendy Inkster professed herself to be “delighted” with the success of the craft fair.

“We have 130 exhibitors this year – that’s 45 more than we had last year. Over 30 of them are exhibiting for the first time. Not only do we have extremely high quality craft products, but I think that the quality of the displays improves every year too.”

The Christmas Craft Fair continues until Sunday at 5pm. Do you want to experience the diversity and quality of Shetland’s craft scene under one roof? This is your chance.