Friday, 20 May 2011

Spirit of Summer Fair, or escape from the charity shops

In addition to my marathon wander around East London last weekend I also went to the Spirit of Summer fair at London Olympia for a few hours. Whilst the ticket prices for shopping fairs like this are always on the pricey side - about £15 - I usually manage to obtain free tickets, and on this occasion was lucky enough to have been sent complimentary passes by one of my favourite online gift companies, Plum and Ivory. Spirit of Summer (and similar events like the Country Living Fair) are excellent for sourcing unusual presents, and discovering new companies and products you'd have difficulty finding on the high street. It's a great way to support smaller British businesses, and I came across all kinds of wonderful crafters, designers, and artisan food makers.

These patchwork style tiles were £5 apiece, but I know some of you shabby chic and quilt lovers are drooling! They are beautifully made by Welbeck Tiles in Cornwall. They did garden birds in addition to the florals, and have many more designs on their website, but my favourites were those copied from vintage postcards.


This is Brighton circa 1910

Postcard style tiles £10 each

They had virtually every British seaside resort you can imagine, and I think one or two would look lovely just propped on a shelf. Some were the back of the postcard, so you see the 1/2d stamp and read the message. I enjoyed Archie's card to Mum and Dad that he was having a lovely time, and had "got all burnt up!" They will even make you tiles from your own postcards if you can't find what you're looking for.

There was also a presence from interiors magazine favourites such as Jan Constantine. The ladies on the stand were a bit dubious about my camera - but as Jan's new designs are already available in the catalogue and on-line, I think I managed to convince them that I wasn't planning any kind of industrial espionage! Of course, if anyone is inspired to get their felt stash out after seeing this picture I can't be held responsible...

I guess my willingness to buy helped as well! I've always liked her cushions - yes, I know they're everywhere, but hey - although the hefty price tag of around £60 for a small union jack design has put me off up until now. But at the fair I found this 'make your own' kit - everything you need to stitch one at home, and for the special 'show price' of £20.

So, watch this space, surely even I can manage this?

On to some other stalls I visited:

 Lovely thrown porcelain by Linda Bloomfield.
Everything is hand made and dishwasher and microwave safe.

I spent a lot of time ruining Beyond Fabrics' display by unfolding
all their gorgeous materials, but the stall holder was very patient and I did buy!

Totes, trugs, plant holders made by recycle-recycle
Everything is made from recycled rice bags as part of a fairtrade project in Cambodia

Rice sack washbag with carved coconut hook

Reverse of their waterproof fold-up picnic rug

I have seen these kind of products before but the quality was excellent, and everything looked extremely durable. The bright colours are lovely too.

I of course went to Plum and Ivory's stand to thank them for the tickets and to check out their new range of 'affordable luxury gifts'. They have something for every budget - from delectable cashmere ponchos, to hair slides and book marks made from vintage fabrics.

Wrap around leather bracelets

Pashmina style pure wool scarves

Vintage fabric bookmarks and hair accessories

Cashmere poncho

I'm excited to say that I'll also be posting about a Plum and Ivory giveaway in the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

I am beginning to collate all the prospective swappers details now so apologies if I haven't been commenting on your blogs as much as usual. The swap seems to have generated a lot of excitement and I will do my best to make sure that everyone gets to take part, but it will depend on numbers and of course countries of swappers involved, so please bear with me! I will try to let everyone know their swap partner by next weekend, but as the numbers are getting quite large it may be the second week in June when I return from my holiday - will keep you posted!

If you'd like to take part, please ensure your blog is linked up to your profile so I can find you when you comment - and active bloggers only please.

Lakota x

Opinions on the fair are my own. This is not a sponsored post.


  1. What a great day out. Lots of gorgeous pretties. Those tiles are beautiful. Wondering if they can be made at home or if you need some sort of special equipment.

  2. looks like you had a great day - with lots of ideas to inspire you!

  3. Wow - that fair looked incredible!! What gorgeous stuff!

    Thanks for your comment on my post! I know what you mean about the crochet - I don't really understand the UK/US thing either. For example, I believe that a double crochet (which is the term I use) is also called a treble - but I'm not sure which term is UK and which is US! It can be quite tricky to figure out on your own. Don't give up, though! Keep using your books and trying online. Most of the time I'm trying to crochet, I have to keep checking online how to do certain bits, and I only do basic things!

    Hope you have fun making the Union Jack cushion!

    :o) x

  4. What a lovely couple of outings you've had recently, I'm quite envious. Were the prices all quite reasonable? Don't know about you, but lately I find myself thinking anything over a fiver is a rip-off! Too much charity shopping has it's side-effects.

  5. so lucky to get a free ticket to the spirit of summer fair! i must £15 entry is quite hefty, not to mention if you want to buy those delicious gorgeous handmade items that are quite expensive too (to me anyway hehe) but i'm so drooling over the vintage postcard tiles and those bookmarks and hair accesories, i'm obsessed with the cushions and boy the price put me off too but i cant wait to see what you make from the cushion kit, it looks awesome on the cover! i've been eyeing a few crates on ebay for awhile, love how they display the recycle bags in it! xx Susan

  6. Looks like a good day out, would hurt my bank balance though! Scarlett x

  7. I was so excited to read your post Lakota, because the other day at the oppy I found two union jacks exactly like the pink and aqua ones in your pic (minus London 2012). I bought them with the plan of sending one to you and one to Scarlett, but I was slightly unsure if they'd be your cup of I know. Yay! Will
    send them over asap. I think it's so cool that I bought them and then a couple of days later there they are on your blog!!!

    p.s. I really like those tiles. Alot.

  8. oh and I love those postcard tiles too x

  9. Predictably the vintage postcard tiles are SO up my street :-) The patchwork ones would work as some stunning coasters too. I love everything you've snapped at the Plum and Ivory stand and the recycled rice bags are just fantastic! :-)

    Jem xXx

  10. Those tiles are incredible! So beautiful - what a great idea! Looks like a fab day out.

  11. Gorgeous stuff! I love the postcard tiles, how clever are they! I bet it was brilliant, I would have been in heaven!

  12. I love those postcard tiles, they are so ingenius and pretty. That picnic rug would come in very useful for the festival season, too. I'm very happy to pay more for ethically traded stuff but tend to buy them in India where the mark-up isn't quite so high.
    Lovely choices and a fab day out. xxx

  13. I couldn't read any more after seeing the recycle recycle stall. Do they REALLY use comic sans? Oh my - I might actually cry.
    I LOVE those vintage postcard tiles - weird that they have stuff printed on the back - aren't tiles meant to stuck to walls?
    Can't wait to see your cushion too - Ben has a union jack fetish. If they have skulls on he's even happier!

  14. Lucky you, I was hoping to get there too but wasn't in London this week! It looks like a lovely fair x

  15. I'm a font nazi I have to say - I work in a school where everything is comic sans - I hate it!

    Ben and I are obsessed by fonts, one of the things we bonded over was our love for Gill Sans - don't ask - we're geeks!

    Ah yes - the easy crafts - hurrah! Well I'm going to step out tomorrow with my fabric flower in my hair and see what happens!

  16. i am soooo glad i didn't go as i would have spent a fortune! i love welbeck tiles, a friend showed me them a little while ago and would love to be able to afford to re do my bathroom just to have them. Great pictures. xxx

  17. POSTCARD TILES!!!! PATCHWORK TILES!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  18. What a great day out you had. Those patchwork tiles ooooohhhhhhhhhh there gorgeous i would love those in my bathroom please ;-)) have a great weekend, dee x

  19. The fair looks amazing - I LOVE those tiles, I will have to look into those a bit more.
    Now following you as well x

  20. Thank you so much for this little look into your day, it looks wonderful and yes we could have bought something from every stand lol thanks again,just lovely.

  21. Wow, the fair sounds great. I can't get over what an amazing simple and beautiful idea the tiles are. xxx

  22. Superb day out, love those tiles!

  23. Lots of loveliness here but i think those tiles really stole the show! It would be amazing to have one of your own too.
    Looking forward to seeing your Jan Constantine cushion, I'm sure it will be ace!
    Getting v excited about the big swap - I've popped the button on my blog ;-)

  24. Love those postcard tiles. Looks like there was loads of gorgeous stuff there.

  25. Oh I am crazy for those tiles and the cusions because really you can never have enough!!

  26. Spirit of the Summer Fair- why did I not know about you! This looks like my type of fair, I will have to look out for the dates for next year. Also I have been looking for wooden spools for ages to display my mahoosive ribbon collection, just had a quick browse at beyond fabric's site - Yah I've found some! Thank you. Bx

  27. That is the kind of show you will relive in your dreams for months after!


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