Urban Makers East


Last weekend (the 3rd-4th of June) Urban Makers East was having a Maker Market over in the Mile End Ecology Pavilion, and of course I had to go and check it out. I was a little dubious as to what exactly the event would be about: would it be a craft fair, or something more professionally based?

Anywhere else and it would probably have been called a Craft Fair, it turns out.

The majority of stands there were selling items that had some element that was hand made, whether this was hand made ceramics, water colour prints, hand sewn bags, or digital artwork. There was a huge variety between the types of work shown, and it was nice to see some more digital work placed equally next to bespoke jewellery makers and traditional media artwork.


What struck me was how local the market actually was. It was East End and London designers, artists, and makers. Limehouse Ceramics (www.limehouseceramics.com), who was there selling handmade mugs, soap holders, jugs, and all sorts of ceramics, created all of her pieces in the studio in her garden just down the road. Those I managed to have a chat with about their work all seemed very enthusiastic about the fact it was a local market for them. 

Urban Makers East was originally founded in Bow, which isn't too far from Mile End itself, and for a local centre close to Bow the Ecology Pavilion seemed perfect. It helped the weather was gorgeous that weekend. I didn't enter the park through the main entrance, and so I did have a bit of trouble finding the entrance to the market—which goes to show just how well it's hidden in the environment. 


Wainwright Bookbinding (www.wainwrightbookbinding.com), who is based in Walthamstow, East London, even bought their small press to personalise their notebooks with them, rather than simply stocking a small selection of different names. On the other side of the room Fauna (www.thefaunashop.com) was selling and talking about indoor gardening in beautiful second hand or locally made ceramics. 

One of the things I love about events like craft fairs is being able to actually talk about the items being sold with the people making them who are enthusiastic about their little area of expertise. Kat&Kin (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/KatAndKin), who sold painted ceramics and prints, was able to tell me the inspiration for their King, Angel, and Mother tile series and the process she took for inspiration, and although she writes a description of the inspiration in the item description, it's more personal to hear it from the arist herself. (She visited Glasgow's world-famous Burrell Collection and took inspiration from their medieval stained windows, repainting similar figures in a slightly more modern style, if you were wondering.)


I did make a few purchases myself, one from the aforementioned Limehouse Ceramics, which has been squirrelled away as a present for my sister, since events like this are the perfect way to grab gifts for people that they definitely won’t have seen before. I also bought a selection of badges for a collection of mine from Rowan Tree Cards (www.rowantreecards.com) and more presents in the form of coasters from Geeky Little Monkey (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Geekylittlemonkey). 


The original poster I saw advertised around 80 designers makers and I left feeling a little disappointed at the number I saw in the building. It wasn’t until I looked on the website for the organisation after the event that I saw the makers were spread over the two days, swapping out with other makers between the Saturday and the Sunday. I felt a little bit cheated! On the one hand, not going on the Sunday meant I didn’t end up spending more money than I should have (again) but it also meant I didn’t get to see the full range of makers that the Urban Makers East was supporting. 





It was still a wonderful place to visit for the day—I'm a little upset that after the end of the month I'll no longer be local to visit another one! It's the perfect sized market for a quick trip, but I wouldn't consider it a ‘stop and stay for a few hours’ event that a lot of fairs try and create purely because of the size. Here's to hoping it can get bigger and better in the next year! 

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