Canberra Handmade markets shift craft up a gear
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Canberra Handmade markets shift craft up a gear

Canberra can seem a desolate place on long weekends, but not if you know where to look.

Thousands of shoppers crushed into the National Convention Centre for the Handmade Canberra market, where Australian designers spruiked their wares.

A former bicycle mechanic, Ivan Hackel said he noticed the amount of waste thrown out at bike shops.

A former bicycle mechanic, Ivan Hackel said he noticed the amount of waste thrown out at bike shops.Credit:Jeffrey Chan

Just don't call their goods ''handicrafts'': as market co-owner Julie Nichols explained, the products on offer were a cut above the typical ''trash-and-treasure'' fodder.

''When you say 'handicrafts', people think crocheted doilies and toilet-roll holders,'' she said.

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Yet not a doily was to be seen: rather, the 150 stalls contained jewels worth $5000 and beautiful bespoke furniture, as well as more affordable items such as clothes, art and hand-crafted chocolates.

Ms Nichols said the quarterly event attracted crowds of up to 15,000, while the stallholders ranged from weekend hobbyists to those with multimillion-dollar businesses.

Many of the designers were Canberran; the rest had travelled from interstate to try their luck.

One of those, Melburnian Ivan Hackel, proved a hit with the capital's hipsters. His business, Tread & Pedals, sells discarded bike parts that he and his partner, Emma Dinkgreve, ''upcycle'' into clocks, jewellery and accessories.

A former bicycle mechanic, Mr Hackel said he noticed the amount of waste thrown out at bike shops and thought ''there must be something better I could be doing with that''.

He and Ms Dinkgreve now transform worn tyres and oily chains - ''cleaning would be the biggest part of the job'' - into ''sustainable designs for him, her and home''.

''They say Melbourne's a bike city, but Canberra seems even more bicycle-friendly,'' Mr Hackel said.

The next Handmade Canberra market will be on the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June.

Markus Mannheim edits The Public Sector Informant and writes regularly about government.

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