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Hand on Crafts

Hand on Crafts logoHand on Crafts is an inter-generational amateur crafts programme, initiated by Voluntary Arts and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It offers a two-way approach to improve interest and involvement in specific at-risk traditional crafts amongst young people, whilst developing the skills and abilities of older representatives of traditional crafts organisations to reach out across the age gap.

Paul Hamlyn FoundationThe programme was prompted by the predicament of many traditional crafts organisations, which were struggling to attract younger participants that would form the next generation of custodians of these craft forms. Meanwhile, there has been an explosion of interest in particular craft forms, such as knitting and crochet, amongst young people over the past ten years.

As the main development agency for cross form amateur crafts, Voluntary Arts is well placed to help bridge that gap, and extend the learning gleaned from successes in particular craft forms to those that are struggling.

Programme offer

  1. Basketmaking at Somerset CollegeThree craft-focused residencies to facilitate skills sharing between groups of older and younger people, to feature in online and real life exhibitions. On a weekly basis, the craft facilitators will bring together a group of older people with knowledge of a particular heritage craft skill, with young people with a general interest in crafts that they pursue online. During the sessions the participants will share crafts knowledge while working together towards an artistic outcome decided by the group. In the latter sessions, the facilitator will draw upon the experiences of the younger participants to explore ways to promote the project, and the craft form generally, online – through popular social networks and websites – thereby improving the IT literacy of the older participants.
  2. Two one-day marketing and communications workshops for national and regional representative networks of traditional crafts that struggle to attract younger participants and members. Workshops will highlight appropriate public relations, marketing and IT training for older members of traditional craft organisations and offer creative ways engage with a younger audience including the effective use of new media. The trainers will be chosen from professionals that have been involved in the resurgence of popular crafts, such as knitting and quiltmaking.

Project partners

  • SuperactSuperact, South West England
    Superact is a not for profit arts organisation based in Somerset. It will organise local craft facilitator leads and volunteers to offer taster sessions to young people in two different venues – one rural in Devon and one in Taunton town centre.
    The crafts featured are natural dyeing, felt making, spinning, paper making and basketry. The young participants will be offered the opportunity to choose their favourite two crafts at each venue and then to spend six weeks focussing on one craft at each venue followed by the other craft for another six weeks. It is hoped that one young person from each craft  will become a young people’s ambassador to the related membership organisation.
  • The BluecoatThe Bluecoat, Liverpool
    The Bluecoat in Liverpool is a heritage building that exhibits and sells contemporary art and craft. The Hand on Crafts project is an exciting opportunity to bring different generations together to share skills amongst people passionate about craft.
    Taster workshops in lace making, embroidery, quilting, weaving, printing and book making will be held at the Bluecoat by professional craft practitioners supported by skilled volunteers who are keen to pass on their skills. Thirty participants will be recruited from local colleges.
    From the taster sessions three crafts will be selected to focus upon to be build work for an exhibition at the Bluecoat.
    Alongside the sharing of craft skills the young participants will be encouraged to pass on their skills in social media to document the work as the project unfolds.
  • Shipley Art GalleryThe Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead
    Over the last 25 years the venue has become established as a national centre for contemporary craft and has built up one of the best collections outside London, including ceramics, wood, metal, glass, textiles and furniture.
    The Shipley will be focusing on thread-based crafts (lacemaking, embroidery, patchworking etc.) and wool-based crafts (weaving, dyeing, progging, hooking etc.). Alongside this, they will also be working with Northumbria University to develop a teacher training programme for proggy mat making.

This post is also available in: Welsh

Voluntary Arts is the operating name of The Voluntary Arts Network (VAN) which is registered in Scotland as Company No. 139147 and Charity No. SC020345. Registered Office: 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh EH3 7EH, Scotland, UK.