Peek into the world of Zalisander
  • The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2014 (Old Granada Studios, Manchester)
  • Author avatar
    Lex Watt
The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2014 (Old Granada Studios, Manchester)

It's taken me a few days to get this blog up because I was 'recovering'. I tend to feel quite drained after large exhibitions. This is, as my boyfriend assures me, because I am a 'last minute Lex'. I persist in believing that I have ages left, until I look at the calendar and realise I have three weeks to finish my latest stand design, get my photoshoot images printed, and restock after selling/sending most of my wares away to exhibitions elsewhere. The mad rush begins, culminating with me in my once clean studio, surrounded by sawdust and paint pots, with a face blackened by polish; Sitting- staring at a pile of shiny jewellery, like a deranged, sleep deprived dragon!

I get there in the end.


The Show

Each morning during the exhibition I would arrive early, so that I could snoop around at the wonders on offer and document my favourites. I tried to be fair and choose something from each discipline but you may notice some patterns after a while, as I intend to regularly blog about my crafty excursions.

In no particular order:

  Wapentac/ Alison Counsel  (Metalwork)

Alison is an RCA trained metalsmith who creates stainless steel sculptures of contour maps, that are like nothing I have ever seen before. What really caught my eye though, was her collection of steel botanical illustration sculptures. In box frames or little seed jars, these pieces are a curious mix of modern materials and techniques blended with natural history style illustrations.

I'm hoping to get a few for Christmas, as I think they would look fantastic in my new place!


Jennifer Holsey  (Textiles)

Jen (may I call you that?) designs and creates her own brand of luxury scarves made from Alpaca Wool, Cashmere and Silk, all meticulously handwoven on a loom that she has named Wilf! Jen was my stand neighbour at the show and after three days of peeking at the scarves, occasional surreptitious stroking and deliberating over which design I liked the most, we decided to do a trade. (My favourite perk) I chose the silk scarf in a shimmering silvery lavender,  with colour flashes and a weave pattern that looks, to me, reminiscent of herringbone. Whilst this was my favourite, the choice wasn't easy. Her honeycomb patterned  'man' scarves would look just as great on a lady and be ideal for the coming weather at very reasonable prices for individualistic handmade accessories.


Chris Boland (Jewellery)

Chris's work beguiles me, I have viewed it at other exhibitions but as each piece is unique, there is always something new to see. The jewellery is made in a mix of precious metals, all slightly rough hewn and alluringly assymetrical, with the emphasis placed on the gemstone. The stones he uses are large and quite extradordinary in cut and colour and It's obvious to me that he chooses them with great care. The Silver parts are often oxidised to provide contrast, and what a contrast it is, when paired with that high carat gold or those amazing rocks!


Yuyu/ Jules McKeown  (Surface Design)

Enter the world of Yuyu, where all is very colourful! I want to say the patterns were slightly retro, but they were far too modern for that comparison to stretch far. Made from digitally manipulated images, Jules applies her designs to homewares such as cushions and lampshades, wallpaper and even notebooks. The designs are characterised by being incredibly bright and beautiful, bold, fun, often floral and ever so slightly, dare I say it, psychedelic.


Katherine Lees  (Ceramics)

Katherine creates charming little ceramic pots and vases based on Victorian bottles. She then screenprints her work with the narrative that surrounds the object. There is a prevalence of bird motifs and keys, which makes me think of the book 'The Secret Garden', but these designs are too lovely to be kept secret!


Helen Tiffany Glass  (Glass!)

Based in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, Helen makes kiln formed glassware from recycled materials. I love her choice of colour pallette and the pieces themselves remind me of spryrograph patterns, with a nod to geometric arabesques. Helen also produces a range of vitreous (glass) enamel jewellery that is well worth looking at, click on her name to go to her site!




  • Author avatar
    Lex Watt

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