Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, twice a year hosts the Crafts and Design Fair at City Hall called Handverk og hönnun in Icelandic. Icelandic artists from all over the country come together at City Hall to sell their unique products. Here you will meet designers from the North, South, East and West parts of my country.
At the sales show you will find woollen and leather goods, jewellery, clothes and shoes, artwork made from horn and bones and paper, wood-carving and pottery.
It is a great venue for getting acquainted with what the designers and artists in Iceland are working on and creating.
You might even find a unique souvenir to bring back home from your visit to my country. Now, let's have a look at some of the booths!
One of the booths at the fair caught my attention (well, all of them did, but this one in particular) as the models in the photos hanging on the walls of the booth were of my first cousin's daughters :)
This was the booth of Guðrún Kristín Sveinbjörnsdóttir - but Guðrún created a small clothes collection for girls of 2-12 years old, made of wool and organic cotton.
Guðrún has quite a good selection of woollen cardigans and cotton trousers and every piece of clothing is hand-made by her with a special attention to not harming the environment in any way.
I very much like her romantic style, but you can see her collection of clothes on the website daughter beloved.
Another booth caught my attention as it had fish-skin ties in many colours for sale, which is a new conception. All these ties are made from salmon skin and lined with wild silk. It is a great idea to make use of all the fish skin from the large fishing industry in my country.
Nowadays using fish skin instead of leather has become very popular and bags and even boots are made from fish skin.
My husband, Jón Víðis Jakobsson, had a booth at the fair at City Hall this year, where he was selling Origami earrings, an original design of puffins and Origami wedding decorations.
Back in 2013 I visited this fair with my brother and his 3 young daughters. I lost track of them in the crowd and found myself waiting for them in front of the Origami booth of Jón Víðis.
Apart from being an Origami wizard he is a professional magician and I had seen him performing at my brother's wedding and at my nieces' birthday parties. So I decided on waiting for my family in front of his booth to show my nieces that he was not only a magician but also an Origami master.
He didn't know me back then but when he noticed me waiting in front of his booth he gave to me an Origami bird he was making. A year later we got married :)
When we got married all our wedding decorations were handmade Origami decorations and 1,000 white whooping cranes were made and mounted at the venue at Sólheimar eco village.
And all the women at the wedding got Origami earrings in the shape of a raven :)
So you can see that visiting the Crafts and Design fair can make quite an impact on people ;)
The proprietor of the Fræðasetur um forystufé - the Study Centre on Leader Sheep (wethers), Daníel Hansen, was a special guest at the fair. He had been invited all the way from North-East Iceland to introduce the leader sheep to us.
I had visited the Study Centre back in 2014, when it had just opened, as I wanted to learn more about this special and unique breed of Icelandic sheep, which behave more like dogs than sheep really.
The Icelandic sheep are direct descendants of the settlement sheep, which the Viking settlers brought with them to Iceland back in the 9th and 10th century. These sheep roam free in Iceland in summer time and are independent and lack the horde mentality.
The leader sheep are very intelligent and courageous. They set the pace and care for the horde and have great leadership and initiative.
Another extraordinary feature of the leader sheep is that they can predict the weather. Some of them have lead their horde to safety through blizzards, fog and all kinds of bad weather. They are taller than ordinary sheep, leggy and have a royal kind of look to them, plus that the wool of the leader sheep is softer than the wool of an ordinary sheep.
What Daníel had brought with him from North-East Iceland was all things leader-sheep related; wool and woollen products, hides, silver earrings in the shape of ram testicles, bones etc.
In the photo with me you will see Daníel and the woodcarver Sigurður Petersen.
The woodcarver and former fisherman Sigurður Petersen had an interesting booth at the sales show. His carvings are ever so cheerful and fun.
Sigurður is a former fisherman and a captain on seagoing vessels. After he retired he started carving wood and joined many a wood carving course.
I think he is a natural. He uses raw material, mainly birch from which he magically creates all kind of figures. He works from his garage and calls his business Gluggagalleríið or the Window Gallery. I love his work and would not mind owning one of his colourful characters.
By the way, at the sales show I found out that his son-in-law is one of the investors of Guide to Iceland, that his daughter had been to class in college with my husband and that his grand-daughter went to class with my niece - what a small world we live in here in Iceland :)
Brynhildur Reykjalín Vilhjálmsdóttir had a booth next to my husband's. She had come all the way from Ólafsfjörður in North-Iceland with her clothes line, lovely dresses, purses made from lamb skin and leggings.
She had designed the leggings especially to hold in the "problem" areas, i.e. the stomach, which I think we women can all (or at least most of us) relate to.
Brynhildur had lost 30 kilos and had designed these supportive leggings for herself and the word spread. A lovely lady, whom you can visit when you travel up north. Her collection is called Bryn Design and you can contact her on Facebook.
Other artists were f.ex. Erna Jónsdóttir with her ceramic collection, Jón Ólafsson with his big selection of Icelandic (and some Norwegian) birds, but his birds are on sale in Hólmavík in the Westfjords of Iceland in summer time.
Icelandic craftmanship is ever growing and I always look forward to seeing new ideas being born. What I especially like about such sales shows is that the artist himself is on the spot and the passion for his/her work shines through, which I always find very intriguing.
So if you want to buy authentic local art and get acquainted with the diverse Icelandic flora of handicraft and artwork from all over Iceland, then do pay the Icelandic Crafts and Design Fair at City Hall a visit. It is held twice a year, in May and November, and lasts from Thursday until Sunday from 12:00-19:00.
Also note that there is a free bus departing from City Hall directly to Kringlan Shopping Mall Mondays-Saturdays at 12:00 and 14:00 with a return from Kringlan at 13:30 and 15:30.