Shoppers urged to support NI craft community this Christmas...here’s a few to get you in the festive mood
Craft NI has launched its annual Christmas campaign to urge shoppers to buy local and support Northern Ireland’s talented craft-makers this festive season.
Recognising that people are starting to shop more sustainably and want a truly unique gift while supporting a local creative business, the body responsible for the promotion and development of the craft industry here, is aiming to shine a spotlight on local makers with its ‘Buy NI Craft’ campaign.
From beautifully handcrafted pieces of jewellery to bespoke textiles inspired by Northern Irish landscapes and truly unique, personalised Christmas decorations that add luxury to your home, there is something truly personal to be found in purchasing a one-of-a-kind gift this year.
Craft NI director, Katherine McDonald, said: “It is important that we support local business this year more than ever before, as makers begin their recovery from the closures and restrictions of the pandemic. It is fantastic to see this year many Councils and venues supporting local makers with the return of some of the fairs and markets that couldn’t take place last year. It’s so important for the craft economy for makers to be able to showcase their beautiful work at a physical event and connect with people who love craft and value the unique and handmade.
“Craft retailers in Northern Ireland have more than ever to delight shoppers this year, and many makers and retailers are selling online, so we can window shop Northern Irish craft from home too.”
To help get you in the Christmas spirit, Craft NI will be profiling the range of festive craft events taking place throughout Northern Ireland, from studio sales, workshops, fairs and markets. Here are just a few:
Christmas Artisan Market at Castle Ward, December 3-5:
The National Trust is organising a stunning Christmas Artisan Market this year at the beautiful Castle Ward, Strangford. You’ll find a handpicked selection of local designers and artisan makers in the stable yard, from glass and ceramic makers to woodworkers and painters – it is set to be a great day out full of locally handcrafted Christmas gifts to choose from. Castle Ward’s tea-room will also be offering a selection of festive hot beverages to keep you warm, along with locally sourced, seasonal hot food.
Weave a Christmas Willow Reindeer, December 4:
Start the festive season early this year by weaving a willow reindeer with Clive Lyttle from Welig Heritage Crafts. In North Down Museum Town Hall, The Castle, Bangor, Clive will guide you through the stages of traditional weaving and construction to produce your very own creation by the end of the day. The perfect decoration to add to your home, or even as a special gift.
Christmas Meet the Maker at Marble Arch Caves Visitors’ Centre, December 5:
Meet local craft maker Rachel Leary at Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre. It’s a great opportunity to watch her ceramic pieces come to life as she works, hear stories of how she takes inspiration from the majestic countryside of Northern Ireland and learn about some of her techniques used in her pieces of ceramics. You can undertake a little Christmas shopping of your own as you check out her pieces as you stroll around the Marble Arch Caves gift shop.
Benefield Spencer Glass Holiday open studio/Christmas sale, December 11:
Benefield Spencer Glass invite you to their holiday open studio and Christmas sale at 10am. Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer will conduct ongoing narrated demonstrations of glassblowing on their open studio day, allowing the public to watch this process and ask questions, and offer a range of samples, prototypes and studio seconds for sale at discounted prices. Glassblowing is part of the industrial heritage of Ireland that has all but disappeared, and the demonstrations offer a way to experience this rarely-seen activity in a safe, relaxed setting.
Craft NI is not only asking local people to actively support independent businesses and makers across the country by shopping local but is also encouraging the public to use the hashtag #madetogive online to raise awareness.
‘Gift Differently’ and ‘Buy Local Craft’ aims to help makers in promoting their handmade items across their social media platforms using the uniquely designed ‘Buy Local Craft’ digital campaign badge and to highlight their investment in online retail.
In support of this, Craft NI recently launched its updated Craft NI Makers Directory. Live on Craft NI’s new website, the Makers Directory is an online platform that enables makers and their audience to stay connected like never before.
The Directory hosts over 60 extremely talented Northern Irish designer-makers with more to join over the following months. The Directory members were selected through a juried process and represent just some of the talented designer-makers in Northern Ireland.
Katherine added: “Through the ‘Gift Differently and ‘Buy Local ‘ campaign, we aim to celebrate just some of the outstanding work that goes on throughout Northern Ireland and showcase our talented makers and the beautiful pieces they make. At Craft NI, we will continue to champion our local makers and designers who produce work to the highest quality, and we hope that shoppers think outside the box, and shop locally for their friends and family this year.”
All upcoming events are available to view on the Craft NI website www.craftni.org
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