Annual Christmas Craft Fair Exceeds All Kinds Of Expectation

by Alastair Hamilton -

Shetland’s annual Christmas Craft Fair, a firm fixture in the islands’ calendar, was bigger and better than ever in 2016.

Organised by the volunteers of Shetland Arts and Crafts, the show featured just over a hundred exhibitors, spread over the two largest halls in the Clickimin Centre, with the smaller function room serving as one of two pop-up cafés. You can find the full programme here.

...bigger and better than ever...

All the exhibitors to whom I spoke were enthusiastic about this year’s event, for which attendances were substantially up on previous years. There were 750 admissions on Friday evening, for instance, a 50% increase on 2015.

And no wonder. The number of exhibitors was greater than ever, the range of crafts on show has continued to widen and, perhaps most important of all, the quality on offer was really impressive. The show is also a great social event, because you’re sure to meet lots of friends and catch up with their news.

...the quality on offer was really impressive...

This being Shetland, it was no surprise that textiles, in many forms, were very well represented among the exhibits. There were beautiful designs on show on many stands, whether in knitwear, crochet, weaving, felting, or ribbon. Jumpers and scarves were much in evidence but there were also hats, headbands, snoods, bags, rugs, cushions, blankets, lampshades, teddy bears, floral decorations and more.

...textiles, in many forms, were very well represented...

Wood crafts ranged from full-size hand-crafted furniture to wooden ornaments, some made from driftwood, and toys. There was beautiful glassware and pottery, too, and paper crafts in many varieties.

A number of stands featured painting, drawing, photography or various kinds of print-making. Several jewellers are active in Shetland these days and there were excellent ranges of pendants, earrings, brooches and much else.

Leather work and sheepskins were on show, too; and there were candles in many shapes and sizes. Some stands appealed to other senses: artisan chocolate and tablet, aromatherapy and soaps.

...some stands appealed to other senses...

There has always been a strong craft tradition in Shetland but it’s clear that the sector is burgeoning and that the depth and breadth of creativity become more impressive every year. Some of the craftspeople participating are well-established; others are relatively new to making and exhibiting. Although many exhibitors have lived in Shetland all their lives, many others are among those who’ve chosen to make the move to Shetland. They’ve found that their skills are very welcome and that there is a strong creative community offering support and inspiration.

...a strong creative community offering support and inspiration...

Certainly, the show left no-one in any doubt that this is a dynamic sector, inspired by Shetland to produce some really beautiful work.

Posted in: Creative Scene