In the weeks leading up to Christmas, members of the TOAST community gathered with independent makers to celebrate creativity and craftmanship at the Toast Festive Market in Coal Drops Yard. Emerging from the husk of London’s derelict railworks, the centuries-old place of transit and former coal store has established itself over the last few years as a cultural hub in the heart of the capital.
Over five weeks, the market welcomed a changing programme of makers showcasing a range of unique handcrafted gifting and decorations, from recycled jewellery designers Corrie Williamson and Sally Lacock to hand-crafted leather accessories by ALS London, Kate Sheridan and Francli Craftwear. There were illustrated cards, prints and hanging decorations made in Cornwall by Megan Fatharly and Philippa Thomas’ nature-inspired prints.
Unique pieces for the home ranged from hand-painted lampshades by Hattie Eavis to one-off quilted textiles by Rebekah Johnston and crafted wooden objects by Jack Wheeler and Ewan Craig. We were also joined by ceramic artists including Bert Jones, Ali Hewson, Jess Adams and Rya Nicholson. Alongside these independent makers, we showcased TOAST gifting and festive decorations.
The market provided a platform for makers who have collaborated with TOAST past and present, alongside new emerging makers. TOAST New Maker Hiroko Aono-Billson presented her collection of drawings and ceramics and enjoyed meeting other makers and visitors in person. Hiroko is inspired by her mother’s collection of functional Japanese ceramics and her pieces are crafted from terracotta clay. She explained that “to gain immediate feedback on my work was invaluable.”
Emma Aitchison, who had her sustainable jewellery inspired by the natural world at the Festive Market, says, “it means a lot for smaller brands to have the support of someone like TOAST.”
Alongside the Festive Market, we offered a series of events including maker-run workshops that provided a moment of calm and reflection in preparation for the festivities ahead – from creating a restorative homemade winter recipe with Hackney Herbal, beeswax candle-making with Wax Atelier and crafting jewellery with Studio Rua.
Ruth Leach from Studio Rua welcomed the opportunity to meet our shared community, “we mainly work solitarily so it was great to make connections by meeting fellow crafters and customers,” she says. People who came along to Ruth’s guided workshop made a pendant using wax casting – a time-old technique where metal is poured into a mould made from the impression of a wax model. This process leaves subtle fingerprint impressions, traces of the movements of the maker’s hands.
Visitors were also able to enjoy musical performances from the east London choir Hackney Harmony. The diverse and vibrant singers performed a beautiful collection of songs from around the world including gospel, Arabic and Hebrew – all with a central theme of unity and connection.
Through the Festive Market, we hoped to provide a unique opportunity to switch-off from electronic devices, support independent makers and become more connected in person.
Read a selection of the best cultural sites at King’s Cross in our TOAST Guides.
Photography by Safia Shakarchi.