Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Honiton Textile Fair

Today I have been working in Honiton again. This time at the regular Antique Textile Fair held three times a year at the Markarness Hall in the main street. It was an early start for me, getting up at 5.30 a.m. and leaving the house by 6. The drive down the coast road was not pleasant with plenty of rain and thick mist all the way. It is every stallholders nightmare to be unpacking stock in the rain and this was the case this morning It usually takes about 2 hours to unpack and set up the stall before the public are admitted, but Honiton is slightly different in that the front door to the Hall is open all the time and people wander in and out while you are unpacking and setting up. This is not my favourite scenario as I am in a mess for longer than I like to be but sometimes quite a lot of business is done early in the morning and as I am there to sell things I grin and bear it!! Honiton Textile Fair is a very relaxed event and I don't feel too bad if I am still up to my knees in unpacked boxes and bags at opening time!! It is usually slow to start and this allows us stallholders to have a cup of tea and some toast before we get busy.

In spite of the weather there were quite a lot of people about including some of our usual trade customers looking for stock for their shops or Fairs. I sold several of my 1960's dresses and a lovely 1920's pink devore velvet wrap with lovely long fringed ends to one of my trade customers who had travelled up from Taunton especially. It is always very satisfying to know that you are off to a good start and all the expenses of the day are covered. The high price of fuel is now making us think about how far afield it is sensible to go. As well as selling I have to think about buying and sometimes this is quite difficult to do
because I usually only buy what I like myself. Sometimes this makes it hard to pass it on.

One of the main things that I like about Honiton is that there is an interesting mix of people and styles, which makes for very desirable 'objets trouvee'. Today was no exception and I bought several things. An eclectic mix. From one lady I bought a pair of magnificent Tailor's shears for £8 - what a bargain - and also from the same lady I bought the most scrumptiouus indigo tie dyed strip pieced linen wrap from Mali. It has some damage but I never worry about that as it has many stories to tell and it feels so soft to the touch. I shall hang it somewhere so that I can gaze at it with great satisfaction before I decide what to do with it. The answer will be 'probably nothing' as it is too nice to sell on!! My real prize today, and the one that will keep me excited for a long time was two pairs of shoes. One pair are silk brocade dating from about 1770. They are truly scrumptious. They are not in perfect condition but they are over 250 years old. The silk ribbon on the backs of the heels has started to shatter but the rest of the fabric is fine. The only other damage they have is woodworm in the heels!!! The other pair are a little later - probably early 19th century Regency. They are a very fine duck egg blue kid. Absolutely flat like ballet pumps. These have no damage except for the absence of stitching around the top of one of them has perished. Neither pair look as if they have had much wear and if they have been worn it has been indoors only. These are my 'perks'. I have bought them for my collection. I have a 1770 Spitalfield Silk brocade sack bag dress and the brocade shoes can now be kept with this. I don't have any Regency costume yet so the little flat pumps can be the start. I have a small (about a dozen or so) collection of period clothes ranging from 1770 to 1920 and I get asked by women's groups to take it along to their meetings for them to see and learn a little more about clothes of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Eventually I suppose I shall get rid of it all but at the moment I am trying to fill in some gaps datewise to make a comprehensive collection.

My other purchase was a 1920's Singer hand sewing machine! It works perfectly and is going to live in my garden studio so that when I need to do some stitching I don't have to cart everything back to the house .

So the moral of this story is if you are interested in Textiles or are a Quilter, Embroiderer, Textile Artist, Designer, do please go and have a look if you see an Antique Textile Fair advertised in your area . You never know what you will find and you may just find something that will spark your creative juices and lead you on an inspirational journey.
We Textile Dealers are a happy, interesting bunch with lots of knowledge about our particular passion which we are more than happy to share. We are fair with our prices and will not rip you off - sometimes things are sold on for almost the same price as they cost once we have had them long enough to satisfy our habit!!
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