Misha and I spent Sunday walking around the Art Materials Live / Christmas Crafts at the Birmingham NEC. We had a great time, though we were exhausted by the end of it.

Anyhow, we thought we’d use this edition of Beady Eyed Craftster to show you some of the neat stuff we saw.

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Firstly, from the Craft Fair side of things:

• We loved these wooden bowls from Do Well Design – called ‘Knot Forgotten’ they use offcut wood from the furniture industry, producing some very well done designs.

• We also loved these oak swill baskets from Owen Jones. Oak swill baskets are made from oak and hazel to a traditional design: they’re really cool, and it’s great to see traditional crafts still going.

• We were very impressed by the work at Judith Swanell Ceramics, and we brought a lovely blue bowl – she doesn’t seem to have much of a web presence, but there are some contact details at the link. You can see a bigger picture of the bowl here.

And from the Materials side:

• There were lots of stalls selling beads, of course, but the one Misha found had the best range was Cookson Beads; she brought some stunning strands of wooden and semi-precious beads.

• I always need new paintbrushes and Rosemary and Co had the best selection at prices that were very reasonable, especially considering that they’re handmade. Much better than the cheapo ones I usually use!

• I’ve been interested in leather-working for a while now, and so we picked up a beginners kit at the Tandy Leather stall – another new hobby to add to the list. The guys running the stall were very helpful and enthusiastic – in an afternoon of sales pitches, they were one of the few that seemed genuinely interested in bringing new people to their craft, not just ‘shifting units’.

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