HELD at Lerwick’s Clickimin Leisure Centre, the Shetland Christmas Craft Fair kicks off with an exciting assortment of artists, makers, knitters, bakers, jewellers and many more, welcoming around 600 people on its opening night yesterday (Friday), writes Erin Rizzato Devlin.
“There are around 90 stalls in the fair this year: you can find anything from jewellery to jigsaws. We are glad to welcome a good number of new people among the artists participating this year, compared to the last – it’s excellent”, according to the secretary of Shetland Arts and Crafts Association, Jennifer Tait.
She continues: “There are so many people coming from across the islands and it’s always amazing to witness how different they all are from each other.”
Elements from Shetland’s natural environment are a common thread running through the works of all these makers. For instance, jeweller Esmé Wilcock takes inspiration from the island’s landscapes when casting shells that she finds on the shores near her home into small amulets that preserve their diversity.
“There are two beaches in Hillswick where I go glass picking. Here I find pieces of glass that have had a previous life, somewhere far away, and my jewellery allows me to give these a second life and pass them on again’’, she says.
The talented array of local knitters that are animated by the islands’ knitwear and textiles traditions is interspersed with other crafts makers who are working with silver, wood, ceramic, leather and many more.
The craft fair also presents an occasion for artists who haven’t seen each other all year to come together and gather in the showcasing of their diverse works which, each with their unique materials and original designs, celebrate the seascapes and landscapes of their islands.
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There is also a stall dedicated to Shetland’s only screen-printing studio. Here Daniel Clark and Jono Sandilands from Gaada are showcasing the prints and publications of many creatives who have used the workshop for their works.
“We take pride in being quite a garish and different looking stall at this event. We have been at the craft fair for three years now. I feel very lucky to exhibit the prints and artworks of our creative workshop”, Daniel says.
As well as this, if you’re looking for a sip of island gin or some handmade chocolates, you’ll find this and more at the fair during this promising weekend.
In one of the new and popular stalls of this edition, you can taste a sip of healing fire cider from Suze Walker, a herbalist who grows many native or wild herbs in her garden in Shetland to make a variety of healthy tea blends.
If you’re looking for something musical, you can find handmade violins or even buy a personalised tune written by Inga Scott.
Along with this collection of craft, food and music, you can witness the wonderful bowls and plates made with the wood of real Shetland trees by woodturner A. S. Macleod from Whiteness.
Whether you’re looking to support local artists and makers from Shetland or begin your Christmas shopping with a locally made gift, this year’s fair has much in store for everyone. However, there is so much to see you cannot take it in all at once, you’ll have to come back again!
The craft fair will be open between 10am and 6pm on Saturday and from 11am to 5pm on Sunday at the Clickimin. Entry is £2 for adults, £1 for concessions.
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