Thursday, 30 May 2013

St Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely

On Saturday 1st June I shall be at the Etheldreda Fair in Ely with my ARC Jewellery stall and I thought it would be a good idea to find out a bit more about St Etheldreda before I go.  

I knew she was responsible for the construction of a monastery on the site where Ely Cathedral now stands, where she lived as Abbess for the latter part of her life but I didn't really know very much more about her than that.  

In brief....St Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, was born around AD 636 in Exning, Suffolk.  She really wanted to pursue a life of worship and become a nun but was forced into marriage at the age of 16.  It was her husband, Tondberht, who gave her the estate of Ely (then known as Elge) as part of their marriage settlement.  During her marriage to Tondberht, which ended after three years with his death, Etheldreda was allowed to live life as a nun.

Her second marriage to Egfrith (who became king of Northumbria) ended with her fleeing  (disguised as a beggar) back to Ely to seek sanctuary from her demanding husband.  Etheldreda and Egfrith had married when he was just 15 but now, in his twenties, he wanted (demanded) more from his marriage and wife (who was now Queen of Northumbria).  Etheldreda was determined to continue with a life of celibacy and worship and in AD 673 she built the monastery in Ely where she lived until her death (from a tumour) at the age of 43.

It's a fascinating story about a very strong willed woman who was determined and suceeded to live the life she chose for herself.

To find out more about St Etheldreda follow the links below...

ARC Jewellery will be at the fair on Palace Green (in front of the Cathedral) on Saturday 1st June 2013 from 10am - 5pm.

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Selling at Craft Fairs...

It has been a very busy bank holiday weekend of decorating, gardening, socialising, making jewellery and attending a local craft fair to sell my work.

There were a reasonable number of people mooching around the craft fair but not so many people buying.  Several of the visitors to the event were saying that they would love to treat themselves (a friend or loved one) but have just received their BIGGER than expected winter fuel bill or increased council tax bill so treats are off the shopping list for now.  Understandable in the current economic climate.

I have also read several comments recently on blogs and in forums suggesting that craft fairs, especially the smaller village or church hall type events, have had their day.  I have heard people say that there are just too many around, a lot of people jumped on the band wagon hoping to make a quick buck from them, they started cropping up all over the place and because of that they are losing their appeal.  

I do hope this isn't the case. 

I am a member of a craft group that hosts a monthly fair in St Ives (Cambridgeshire, not the one in Cornwall) and it's as much a social and networking event for the members as it is a place to sell.

Many of the members have been going for a number of years and great friendships have been formed through their shared interest in art and craft.  

It's also a great opportunity to get direct, face to face feedback from customers and other stall holders about designs, techniques or ways to display work.  Of course there is the chance to get feedback when selling online and I have received some wonderful emails and thank you cards from customers but it doesn't quite compare with seeing someone with a great big grin on their face as they walk away wearing a piece of my jewellery. 

I do hope that the genuine craft fair where you can buy direct from the maker (not those selling mass produced imported goods) are here to stay. I really enjoy going to them both as a seller and as a buyer and the fact that people are still attending and looking at what's on offer means that they are interested, even if they aren't always in a position to buy.


I have been adding to my bracelet collection; all are available at on Etsy or on Folksy.