Oxfordshire Makers Market

Last Saturday I visited the delightful Relics of Witney as they hosted the annual Oxfordshire Makers Market. If you haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Relics, there are few things I would recommend more highly on a rainy afternoon than rifling through their unique collection of homeware, paints and curios. Stockists of Farrow & Ball, Little Greene and their own range of blacksmith made furnishings, they are a “must visit” in West Oxfordshire for interior designers, DIY dabblers and the house proud.

It was a dreary day outside; cold and drizzly, but Relics was warm and lively with the bustle of friendly stallholders and excitable patrons. The air was filled with the comforting combined scent of fresh bread, buttery fudge and wood shavings (that sounds weird, it wasn’t). I can never help but feel in awe but exceptionally envious of talented craftspeople, those types that can pluck an idea from somewhere in the back of their minds and then knit it or bake it or screen print it.

Customers and craftspeople at the Oxfordshire Makers Market.

I could list every artist I spoke with here, and talk about their abundance of handsome wares for hours, but I have a feeling I may lose your interest. So instead I’ve nailed it down to five of the charming brands I stumbled across, that I think you might just fall in love with:

Florence and Moose

Purveyors of concrete goods, Florence and Moose immediately caught my eye as a lover of anything even slightly industrial looking – unfinished, exposed. The designer, Charlotte, has produced a range of decorated concrete homeware, including plant pots, coasters and candle holders. Each item complementing the next, but striking when used alone. She uses metallic paints to add a stylish and luxurious feel, and geometry seems to be a key theme. I bought my sister-in-law two plant pots for her birthday, finished with painted copper bands at the base. I know she’ll love them.

Nong Smitinand Flowers

Nong’s beautifully autumnal floral stall was the first thing I saw as I entered Relics. A mass of Chrysanthemums, Succulents, Brassica Black Harry (seriously, look it up) and marvellously unruly and rustic winter wreaths, Nong has an inimitable approach to flower arranging, demonstrating how pristine perfection is nothing compared to thought-provoking wildness. My mum purchased a bunch on the day and has proudly displayed its rich golds, reds and oranges in front of her fireplace since.

Some of Nong Smitinand’s stems. Minor Objects

It would have been easy to overlook the Minor Objects stall as a lone craftsman quietly whittled away at locally foraged wood. But there he was, and there I stood for ten minutes watching him (yes, probably a bit weird), as he shaved and shaped and sculpted the earthy material in the way that felt right to him. His collection boasts butter knives, spoons, cheeseboards and much more that wouldn’t look out of place at Bilbo Baggins’ dining table. I haven’t purchased anything from him yet, but I will.

Emily Marston Studio

Emily showcased a range of her small batch hand-built ceramics – pots, mugs and Christmas tree decorations, all striking in their smooth line simplicity. She has a penchant for creating a rippling marbled effect in the paint she uses to decorate them; her pieces are each distinctly from the same “family”, yet wholly unique. I feel that the collection has a Scandi vibe – minimalist and exuding “hygge”. Another favourite stall of Mum’s, she picked up one of the biggest pots on offer and is currently rearranging her entire dining room around it.

Larder & Tuck Box

I’d previously had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the lovely Gemma of Larder & Tuck Box at the Oxfordshire Makers Market in 2016. She specialises in homemade, refined sugar-free treats, including granolas, chutneys and honeycomb. I felt a little guilty at the indulgence of visiting her stall with the explicit intention of buying a slice of chocolate orange fudge for my husband and I to enjoy later, but at least safe in the knowledge that there are no hidden nasties! We’d tried the fudge before but I also picked up some rose honeycomb this time, made with local honey. It felt so decadent, a real treat. Our friends loved it too.

Dark chocolate and macadamia toffee from Larder & Tuck Box.

I try to shop small and local wherever possible and feel incredibly lucky to live in an area so rich in talent for making stuff. As Christmas approaches, Oxfordshire becomes awash with fairs and markets celebrating local heritage, skill and diversity. I hope to visit some of them in the coming weeks, mulled wine in hand, and I encourage you to do the same.

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