While I presume having a beard was not a necessary pre-requisite (and there were one or two women stall-holders – definitely beardless) there was a definitely a bristle of beards about. More collective nouns for beards here. Just saying.
Saddle makers, scythe makers, furniture makers, jewellers, armourers, blacksmiths, boat builders, musical instrument makers (and players), carvers, builders, sewers, spinners, fletchers, hedgers, printers and cobblers.
I’ve barely skimmed the surface but suffice to say there were all kinds of makers and craftspeople at this year’s Lost Trades Fair, held in Kyneton, Victoria. And yes, the men were out in force. Forget the quilts and jams and cakes and embroidery (are none of those ‘trades’?) This time it was definitely the men’s turn, where they were free to ogle a wooden kayak (yes of course it was handbuilt) or dream of attending a knife-making course or consider spending 100 hours making a bamboo fishing rod.
A certain policeman of my acquaintance loved the Fair, but did idly wonder why the so-called oldest trade of all was not represented. He felt it might be a very popular stall…
It wasn’t just the sights that were interesting. The smells included scrumptious food stalls (all of the gourmet variety); the hint of fresh timber; and the tang of burning hoof (a farrier was there, hot-shoeing some patient ponies). The sounds were similarly amazing: hatchet into timber (the wooden spoon-maker); music (live folk bands); the steady thump of steam-driven machines; beautiful bells; the ring of hammer on iron; makers spruiking their craft; and everywhere the buzz of fascinated people.
The event was beautifully organised by local couple (and artisans) Glen and Lisa Rundell. My kids thought the coconut shy was an absolute highlight (a fundraiser for the local cricket club).
I was moved to think about how much longer everything takes when you are doing it by hand, but how much more time you might have for thinking.
If you love the bespoke and handcrafted, if you want to meet makers and traditional artisans, start planning your Victorian road trip. Kyneton is only an hour or so out of Melbourne, and better known destinations like Daylesford and Hanging Rock are very close by. In fact Piper Street, Kyneton is worth a visit at any time.