While job uncertainty has left consumers more wary about spending, crowds loosened their purse strings to shop locally at the Handmade Market over the weekend.
The quarterly event, held Saturday and Sunday at the National Convention Centre, showcased some of the best makers and artists from both Canberra and around the country.
As the smell of freshly baked cookies wafted through the stalls, a steady stream of visitors stocked up on jewellery, fashion, artwork, food, baby products and stationery.
Handmade Market founders Julie Nichols and Rachel Evagelou said they were thrilled with the turnout, with an estimated 18,000 attending over the course of the weekend.
“Right now more than ever it’s so important for people to support local,” said Evagelou.
“People will want to buy gifts and presents and you can do that knowing your money is going to go into the pocket of another small business, but an Australian business as well,” said Nichols.
One of the popular themes from around the stalls was upcycled pieces, with a wide range of bits and bobs transformed into beautiful jewellery, artwork, clocks and furniture.
Melbourne’s Anthony Whyte made the trip up especially to show at the market for the first time, selling his range of upcycled clocks from his brand Clockeyed.
Whyte’s range features everything from tobacco tins and road signs to vinyl records, cake tins and even thongs turned into timepieces.
“As an artist I’ve been working with road signs and street signs for the last 15 to 20 years and I needed something functional to sell at a market, because selling artwork is extremely difficult,” he said.
“I thought a clock is simple so I started chopping out circles of road signs and putting a clock in them. And I thought if I can put a clock in a bit of a road sign, I can put a clock in anything.”
Another newcomer to the Handmade Market was husband and wife team Rowena and Rick Beresford with Industriana, their range of homewares and upcycled furniture.
“We find all sort of interesting pieces for example an 1873 dentist drill base that still has the original painting on it and everything,” said Mrs Beresford.
“We upcycled it into a light, and we use these beautiful Edison globes to give them a really nice feel.”
The couple, who is passionate about antiques, also work with Mrs Beresford’s father to create their range.
“My 82-year-old father is a blacksmith using a mix of ancient and modern techniques. It’s really a dying art,” she said.
“He’s really doing amazingly, still creating these beautiful things that last for many lifetimes.”
Hailing from the Blue Mountains, the couple find their pieces in a wide range of places, and are always on the lookout for anything that could be turned into a piece of furniture.
“When we go away we just start hunting around and digging and looking for things,” she said.
The next Handmade Market will be held in September to coincide with Floriade.