With Christmas close at hand (yes, I went there, Tesco has been blaring the music since midnight on October 31st), thoughts have started straying towards gift ideas and trying to find unique gifts that friends and family will love. I spotted the Glucksman Gallery in my alma mater UCC was holding a Craft & Design Fair last weekend and thought it would be a good idea to check it out, to see if I could spot some gift ideas from local craftsmen. I was not disappointed.
The craft fair took place over three floors and there really was a little bit of everything thrown in. From silk scarves ornately decorated, to hand bound notebooks, to beautiful jewellery with intricate detailing, not to mention the selection of prints and furnishings for all tastes and colour schemes – there is something for everyone.
Starting with jewellery, of which there is an incredible selection for all tastes, I was particularly drawn to these necklaces from Ariane Tobin, who had a large variety of designs on display.
More gorgeous necklaces from Koko Designs, a Donegal based company, showcasing the designs of Karen O Kane who works primarily in glass and painted silk – there are also some incredible handbags that I had to force myself to walk away from before the urge to have all of them got too intense. (If you have better willpower than I, or a happier bank balance for handbag shopping, you can see them here)
A big fan of dainty handmade jewellery, I really liked the Hanna Tommola range which are made in Cork. The display was beautifully laid out and had a bit of something for all tastes. It made me want to re-pierce my ears just to have those gorgeous earrings! Even though I don’t wear rings, these ones definitely caught my eye – such beautiful workmanship. If you have a very special someone and you’re looking for a unique gift that will set them apart, this is definitely a good place to start. As well as these gorgeous designs, a bespoke design service is also available.
Now for things for kiddies – see, even on a child free day, he’s never far from my mind! Lately we’ve been looking at doing up our toddler’s room in a fireman theme and when I spotted the artwork by Milis Print Work, I knew that this was an essential addition to the room! They have such an incredible array of images, but the little firetruck is perfect for our theme! I’m also eyeing up their customised name prints for around our apartment to put our stamp on the place. They’ve got a fab store on Etsy as well as selling at different craft fairs, they’re well worth a browse!
I saw these wonderful creations for kids and fell in love – so many ridiculously cute things. Scatterpillar Creations have come up with an ingenious idea – turning kids drawings into plush toys – bringing them to life and making the most of kids imaginations. The samples at the fair were models based on drawings that creator Jacinta Leigh’s children came up with – Lula, Flowery, Funk and the Angry Eyeball among others. These can be purchased in a variety of formats – cushions, full size softy toys, or in Lula’s case, her head as a softy by itself, with lovely plaitable hair. Imagine your kid’s reaction to seeing their doodle becoming a proper soft toy – so exciting! I imagine that orders will be flying in, with last orders for the on-site creations to be 10th December with commissioned stuff before that, so best to order early to avoid disappointment!
Similarly, this fab section of crafts, stuffed animal plushes and cushions from Magic Forest Toys caught my eye and made my bank card quake in fear in my bag. I mean, look at the elephants! The foxes! All of the cute things that I really have no room for but really want to fill my house with. These would make amazing gifts for kids or teens, something bright to put in a bedroom or around the house that they’ll love! Their stall also won my “Best Business Card I’ve seen in ages” commendation – so beautifully done and such good quality! I’d highly recommend checking them out if you’re looking for unique gifts that are a bit different!
My best friend Riona is a lover of butterflies, so this stall from Belinda Northcote Designs had me thinking of all kinds of gift ideas for her this Christmas. Another Cork designer, Belinda’s studio in Shanagarry creates beautiful silk scarves, vibrant prints and a number of other things besides, including really cute oven mitts! My personal favourite was this print, named Heartbeat, which not only came in prints and mini prints, but also in a fabulous silk scarf. As well as having a studio open 7 days a week, and attending Craft fairs like this one, you can also buy online from them, so if you spot something for your botany and butterfly loving friends, you can make sure it’s under the tree for them this year.
These are just a selection of the wonderful gift ideas which I came across on the day of the craft fair; the ones which really caught my eye and got me thinking of the perfect present ideas for the people I love (and maybe a sneaky one or two for me). Hopefully you’ll see something you (or someone you care about) will love – they’re definitely something different, something unique, and Irish-made to boot.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite pieces were – have you seen any of these artists work before? I’m constantly looking to check out new things so I’d love some recommendations in the comments!