Experiences not stuff for Christmas!

Buying someone a unique experience for Christmas, where they can spend quality time with friends and family is such a lovely idea!

“Fill your life with experiences, not things.  Have stories to tell, not stuff to show”.

In my family, we decided a few years ago to stop buying stuff.  Although the stuff was appreciated, it was often things we didn’t really need, or have space for.  As I live on a boat, I have very little space for material possessions.  The No Stuff Please rule began.  Now, each Christmas we put our pennies together to do something fun and different together.

We have been to see Cirque du Soleil in the Albert Hall, we’ve done a wire jewellery workshop in North Yorkshire, a craft course at Handmade in Netheredge in Sheffield, we hired a beautiful cottage in the Scottish Boarders, we visited Plockton which is a stunning coastal village on the North West Coast of Scotland and recently we treated ourselves to a hot, sunny week on the Greek Island of Kefalonia!  We have lots of lovely memories from these experiences.

Most of my workshop guests are groups of friends or families who come to spend some quality time together, doing something new and interesting.  Often women come on their own to my scheduled workshops and meet new people too. The fantastic thing about my job is, that I get to spend time with these great women, chatting, laughing, sharing stories and being creative in an inspiring space.  Maybe a gift of a craft workshop would make the perfect present for a friend or family member, and you could enjoy the gift too!

Crafts in the Valley offers gift vouchers that are emailed to you and can be printed out to put in a card.  I currently offer full day workshops in Fused Glass and Felted Textiles, at the Creative with Nature studio gallery in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.  Workshops start with morning pastries with tea or real coffee.  I provide lots of inspiration to help participants plan their creative work and the gallery is filled with beautiful art and craft work made by local artists.  During the workshop you work with top quality materials and equipment and can be given as much or as little support as you require.  Lunch is served at Kava cafe where you can choose from wholesome soups, bakes, pasta dishes and salads.  The food is delicious and you can have a cheeky glass of wine to help the creative juices flow!  After lunch I serve cake and coffee back at the studio while you finish off your creations.

Creative Escapism!

Check out my reviews on Facebook if you need further persuasion!

To buy a gift voucher follow this link CONTACT me through the website.

Avoid high street stress this Christmas, support small, local business and artists this year. xx

A new craft addiction!

I think I may have a new craft addiction…. Willow weaving! I recently went on an amazing craft weekend in Hereford at Woodland tipis and yurts. http://www.woodlandtipis.co.uk/tipis-and-yurts/ ,
In a magical setting, we had the opportunity to experiment with a range of traditional crafts; black smithing, hammering copper jewellery, willow weaving, green wood crafts, pottery, needle felting and recycled bug making! Willow weaving with Helen from Wonders of Willow was brilliant, I think I’m hooked! https://www.facebook.com/wondersofwillow/
Luckily, here in the Calder Valley we have the fantastic Joe Gregory who runs Creative with Nature. I can’t wait to go on her two day basket making course with my mum in February! Check out her courses.

Fused Glass Creations

Lots of fabulous glass work now fired and looking beautiful! All this can be created in one day, a coaster, a slump dish, a star, two pieces of dichroic glass jewellery and a decoupage jewellery box. And we still have time for lunch and a glass of wine!
More Fused Glass workshops coming in the new year under my new business name Crafts in the Valley! Workshops will take place at the lovely Creative with Nature studio in Todmorden.


Rainbow Felting!

I love this joyful, rainbow piece of felt created by Sian on Saturday’s Felting Workshop. Colour is so magical!

Check out her Facebook page for the Art and Craft work she does in Leeds – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1343678672396664/?fref=nf

Spinning Workshop with Linda Lewis

This weekend has been the first weekend of workshops after a summer of boaty maintenance and time out. The wonderful Linda Lewis is running a guest Spinning and Weaving workshop, so I get to be the student not the teacher!
It’s a weekend of wool with a Felting Workshop too.

Over the weekend we will be carding wool, spinning wool, weaving wool, wet felting wool, needle felting wool and free motion machine embroidering into wool! It’ll be a very wonderful, woolly weekend!

Linda makes spinning look like magic and so easy!  It is actually really quite difficult, you often feel like you need an extra set of  hands and fingers.  I very excited about having Linda come and teach this workshop, she is a very talented women, who knows an awful lot about wool.  We have plans to do a Weekend of Wool Course together in March 2018.  If you’re interested in booking, keep an eye out on Facebook and the website, more details in the new year.

Crafts in the Valley….. Moving to dry land!

I’m very excited to announce that my new land-based workshops – Crafts in the Valley will be based at the fantastic Creative with Nature studio and gallery in Todmordon.
Check out Joe Gregory’s amazing Willow Weaving Workshops and Art Gallery. Like her page and check out the brilliant work she does!

My first workshop here will be a Fused Glass workshop on Friday 10th November! If you’d like to take part PM me to book.

Crafts Afloat….. the end of an era!

Hello, Some news for you all… After lots of thinking, decision making and a good few tears, I have decided to move my crafty ventures off the canal and onto solid ground.

Crafts Afloat will soon be Crafts in the Valley.

It has been amazing to have owned the Crafty Snail and to have had so many wonderful people come and take part in my workshops.

The crafty love doesn’t end here, plans are hatching and developing so my workshops will continue. I’ll keep you all up dated.

I will be running workshops on the boat until the end of October, so book quick if you want to visit again or haven’t yet experienced the beautiful craft boat. I have limited spaces available, but may end up adding extra dates if necessary.

Thanks for all the support and love my boaty venture has received!

The boat will be being advertised for sale at the end of August and available for the new owner to take the tiller at the end of October. PM if you’re interested.

Guest Artist Workshops on the Crafts Afloat Boat

Crafts Afloat has recently introduced Guest Workshops on the craft boat.  This has been a great opportunity for our regular guests to come back and spend more time being creative aboard the boat, and for me to beable to take part in the workshops too!

Pat Akerman from Big Hugz Handmade has led two workshops in Needle Felting.  Needle felting uses special barbed needles and a selection of carded wool to create 3D pieces of artwork.

During the first workshop we made Felted Faces, most of the workshop participants made a version of a Green Man.

The second time she visited we created animals, I made a moon gazing hare, whilst other people made miniature replicas of their own dogs.  The process of making these animals, building them up, limb by limb is fascinating.  Sculpting the wool with the needle is such a fabulous process.  The wool is so malleable, it magically transforms before your eyes just by being repeatedly stabbed with a small needle.  Beware though, it is a very addictive process!

Pat is a brilliant teacher who patiently supports the group through the various stages, allowing everyone to have their own input in the creative outcomes.

Check out her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bighugzhandmade/

Upcoming Guest Workshops

Precious Mental Clay with Alison Zwaard from Handmade in Netheredge Saturday 3rd June (Fully Booked) – http://www.handmadeinnetheredge.co.uk/

3D Paper Cut Art with Heidi Vilkman Saturday 15th July (Places available) – www.heidivilkman.com



Happy New Year – Make time for making and creating in 2017!

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Hello, I hope this blog finds you all well and ready for the New Year. I hope it’s a happy, creative and prosperous 2017 for you all.  Many thanks to all the fabulous, crafty people who took part in workshops in 2016, it was a busy year with over 250 visitors to the craft boat!  The positive feedback has been amazing and definitely makes all the hard work of running a boaty business worth it.

I have found it so heart warming to see the positive impact creative activities can have on people’s well being.  Workshop participants always comment on how relaxed and inspired they feel after being engaged in making and creating on the boat. Immersing yourself in creative activity is fantastic for the mind, body and soul, and is so important in today’s hectic world.  We should all find time in 2017 for lots of Creative Escapism!

Crafts Afloat continues to offer a range of exciting creative workshops aboard the beautiful craft boat in Hebden Bridge.  The Crafty Snail and I are taking some time in January to do some boat maintenance and prepare for a new year of workshops and events. Workshops start again in February, I have scheduled in all dates for the rest of Winter and into Spring.  See my website Events Calendar or Facebook Events for workshop dates. I am currently running workshops in Felting, Mosaics and Beginners Fused Glass.  I will be offering one workshop each month in the different crafts, with further dates for full boat/private bookings.

During 2016 I continued to grow the Social Enterprise ethos of Crafts Afloat Ltd.  In November I graduated from the brilliant School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) programme which has supported and influenced the direction of the business.  During the course I meet some incredible people, fellow entrepreneurs, speakers, mentors and course leaders who have inspired and motivated me. I highly recommend this programme for budding social entrepreneurs!

Crafts Afloat has now had the pleasure of working with some great organisations including the Basement Project, Calderdale Carers, Woodcraft Folk, Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and Hebden Bridge Open Studios.  I am looking forward to continuing this work, gaining further funding and developing relationships with community organisations and charities in 2017.

Crafts Afloat hopes to see you all for more Creative Escapism in 2017.  If you are keen to be made aware of last minute cancellations and bookings on my workshops, please request to join my Facebook Group – Crafts Afloat – Creativity Makes People Happy .  If you are a charity or community group who is interested in accessing creative opportunities that improve emotional well-being please get in touch.

For more information and images about workshops, students work and events, visit Crafts Afloat website and the Facebook Page.

Experiences not stuff this Christmas. Some inspiration and ideas.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about buying “unique experiences” as gifts.  Lots of people read the blog, and seemed to agree with the idea.  I think it’s so important to spend precious time, and create happy memories with our friends and family, we should all find the time to do it more!

Having created a No Stuff Please rule in my family, we now put our pennies together and do something new, fun and exciting together.  For anyone who is struggling to think of what to buy someone this Christmas or for an upcoming birthday, I may be able to give you a few ideas based on some of my No Stuff Please experiences!

I could write a blog about places to visit and wonderful AirBnB accommodation I have been lucky enough to stay in, but for now, here are some creative, crafty, outdoor experiences that would make fantastic gifts.

I am of course going to promote Crafts Afloat, my floating social enterprise, as a fabulous idea for those that enjoy a touch of creative escapism!  The perfect gift for arty, crafty people who enjoy making and creating, unwinding, relaxing and spending a bit of “me time”, escaping busy lives and stressful jobs.

I currently offer full day workshops in Fused Glass, Mosaics and Felting, aboard the craft boat in Hebden Bridge.  Every workshop starts with morning pastries and tea or real coffee.  The boat is filled with inspiration to help participants plan their creative work.  During the workshop you work with top quality materials and equipment and can be given as much, or as little support as you require.  Lunch is served at the fantastic Olive Branch restaurant where you can choose from a range of Turkish wraps, paninis and salads.  The food is delicious and you can have a large glass of wine to help the creative juices flow!  After lunch I serve cake and coffee on the boat whilst you finish off your creations.

Most of my workshop guests are groups of friends or families who come to spend some quality time together, doing something new and interesting.  Women also come on their own to my scheduled workshops and meet new people too. It’s a lovely way to spend time with great women, chatting, catching up, sharing stories and being creative in a beautiful, intimate space!

Check out my reviews on Trip Advisor and Facebook if you need further persuasion!

To buy a gift voucher follow this link – Crafts Afloat Gift Voucher.

If this doesn’t float your boat, here’s a few more ideas to inspire you.

Handmade in Netheredge is run by the wonderful Alison Zwaard.  www.handmadeinnetheredge.co.uk/  Alison runs creative workshops in Fused Glass, Precious Metal Clay and Perfumery.  She has a beautiful house with a large studio in Nether Edge in Sheffield.  I met Alison when I started my Crafts Afloat business.  I phoned her up to discuss my business plans and pick her brain about her own business, she kindly invited me around for a cup of tea.  Now sometimes people who run similar business can be a little cagey about the “competition”!  Alison however was warm, encouraging and inspiring, and has since become a close friend.  We both promote each other’s workshops to all our customers and have passed on lots of business to each other.

I have done all of Alison’s workshops and I can’t rate them highly enough!  The space, the atmosphere, the quality of the materials and the lunch is all first class.  Alison really is the hostess with the mostest, especially when it comes to the three course lunch she serves, Thai butternut squash soup, creamy fish pie and a huge serving of raspberry pavlova!  The standard of work created in Alison’s studio by her students is amazing, incredible glass and silver work, which could pass as being created by a professional artist!  Alison’s handmade glass creations are stunning and available to buy at Millennium Galleries in Sheffield.

Last Christmas I bought my mum a “Weekend of the Potter’s Wheel”.  She was a big fan of the Great British Throw Down, and grew up in Stoke-On-Trent (the Potteries), so was keen to try her hand at throwing a pot or two.  The Old Stables in Hebden Bridge is a pottery studio which offers a range of different courses.  http://www.oldstablesstudio.co.uk   I opted for a full weekend of playing with mud and throwing pots with my mum!  It was great fun, Edyn who runs the classes is an excellent teacher, we enjoyed yummy lunches, had lots of giggles, and made some very sloppy and some pretty good pots, for beginners!  The pottery outcomes didn’t really matter too much, it was more about the experience and the time my mum and I got to spend together.

Over the years I have done a number of different night classes and courses.  I tend to enjoy doing them over winter as it’s too easy to get stuck in on cold, dark evenings feeling uninspired.  I find that doing something creative during these times helps keep me positive and motivated.  The last few years I have done a number of stained glass classes in both Sheffield and Hebden Bridge.  My partner and I don’t often do arty, creative things together, as he sees it as not being his “thing”.  Having worked with Stained Glass I knew that he would enjoy it and probably be very good at it (better than me in fact!)  Last winter I bought us both a stained glass course with Karl Percival at Northlight Studios in Hebden Bridge. Karl is a fellow boater, an amazing artist, crafts person and teacher.  As I thought Rhys was very good at Stained Glass, he has the precision and patience required for this craft, and despite his initial reluctance to do the course, he loved it. It was great to spend that time together, rather than sitting in watching TV.  We were able to watch each others progress and support each other in making our stained glass pieces.  I helped him with colour choices and design and he helped me fit the difficult parts of my design into the lead.  After the classes, we would go for a pint in one of Hebden’s cosy pubs!

Live Wild is an organisation which provides opportunities for adults and children to connect with nature.  If you know someone who loves nothing better than sitting around a fire, exploring wood land, foraging for food and whittling spoons, then check out this group’s website – http://www.livewild.org.uk/.  They are offering gift vouchers for the various different outdoor experiences they provide. Leona who works for Live Wild, made an excellent point; often grandparents and relatives overwhelm children with gifts and presents that are quickly forgotten or clutter up the house.  The gift of swimming lessons, karate club or dance classes seem a far more useful gift to give a child.  Live Wild offers children, adults and women, memories, experiences, learning, an understanding of how to live more harmoniously in this world and a deeper connection with nature.  Who’d of thought a gift voucher could buy all that! http://www.livewild.org.uk/live-wild-gift-vouchers/

An excellent website which lists craft workshops and courses around Britain is – https://www.craftcourses.com/

I hope this helps provide some inspiration this Christmas.  Avoid the stress of the high street, support small, local, ethical businesses, artists and crafts people this Christmas.