We arrived back home this afternoon, tired, weary and footsore but basking in the warm glow of a very, very successful day yesterday.
Really good quality smaller fairs are the exception rather than the rule these days. With the advent of the internet and affordable websites for small businesses, it's no longer essential to exhibit at fairs in order to sell to collectors. The internet gives us all a shop window to the world.
However, as an artisan maker and long time collector myself, I know that nothing competes with actually seeing a hand made miniature, not to mention meeting the talented person who created it. Fairs are an excellent way of getting out there and communicating with the collectors, finding out what they like, and what they'd like to see next.
I attended my first specialist fair as an exhibitor in 1988, and can still remember the exquisite buzz when I sold my very first miniature creation to an enthusiastic collector. Over the intervening years, I've exhibited at many, many fairs, some good, some bad and some downright awful. Gone are the days when it was possible to attend almost any fair and find at least a handful of artisan makers to balance the steadily increasing number of stands selling imported, mass produced miniatures.
So to exhibit at a smaller fair with wall-to-wall artisans, many of whom only grace the hallowed halls of Miniatura or Kensington is a rare treat.
Not only does the February Thame Fair attract the cream of British miniaturists, it also raises substantial funds for the Breast Cancer Campaign, through miniature donations from participating artisans, which are raffled, a sealed bid auction and a variety of fund raising events on the day of the fair itself.
We really enjoyed the day yesterday, during which we were so busy we hardly had time to draw breath, let alone sit down. By the time we got back to our hotel at 5pm we were fit to drop. However after we'd put our feet up for a while, and cracked a celebratory bottle of wine, we felt thoroughly rejuvenated and ready for an evening out with good friends Celia and Robin, both of whom are talented miniaturists who just happen to live in Thame.
Being an exceptionally well-heeled neck of the woods in the bucolic Oxfordshire countryside, Thame is amply supplied with excellent eateries, one of which we'd booked for our post-fair celebratory meal. My pan-seared chicken with Marsala sauce was exemplary, and the white and dark chocolate mousse was.......quite literally........TO DIE FOR.
So, back home today, after braving the vagaries of the M40/M25/A21. I can't even get into the workroom at the moment as all of the display stand and stock boxes are piled up just inside the door. I'll sort it all out tomorrow, update the website etc, but for the balance of today I shall be mostly snuggled up in front of the TV, awaiting a delishus meal cooked for us by Small Dog's weekend pet sitters, with mayhaps a glass or three of wine. I might even permit myself the luxury of a proper lie-in tomorrow.......