Voluntary Arts has set up an online network to connect anyone working, volunteering or participating in crafts in all its forms, including heritage crafts, amateur crafts and those involved with crafts education, organising, delivery and promotion across the UK and Ireland.

We are delighted to announce that we have teamed up with the Heritage Craft Association to co-host regular monthly #CreativeNetworkCrafts Zoom sessions, that take place on the first Friday of each month from 9:30 to 10:30am, and will focus on a different theme each month. This new community shares ideas, inspires and supports each other through lockdown and beyond.

The next online conversation will take place on Friday 2 October at 9:30am.  The theme for this session is 'Turning your craft hobby into a business'.  We're delighted to confirm that Cass Barron from Bookbinding with Cass and Molly Plummer from The Mimo Yarn Company will be joining us for this conversation.  

Click this link to join this conversation: #CreativeNetwork (click here) and look for the #CreativeNetworkCrafts Join button just before 9:30am on Friday 2 October 2020.

Cass Barron has a background in Fine Art Sculpture, which is where she first discovered bookbinding, making her own sketchbooks out of whatever was to hand so she could get the sketches of sculptures she wanted to make out of her head and onto paper.

As Cass explains "Driven by a desire to help people explore their own creativity I went on to complete a Masters in Art Museum & Gallery Education, which led to me working as an Art Educator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and taking part in an Artist in Riesidency at the Girvan Lantern Festival before moving to Edinburgh to work with Voluntary Arts Scotland. After 8 years in this role, supporting groups and volunteers across Scotland to deliver creative activities, festivals and community events, in January 2019 I took the leap and went fully freelance! This has allowed me to develop a dynamic programme of creative workshops and work in partnership with some fantastic artists, venues and community organisations to share my love of bookbinding with people from a range of backgrounds".

The Mimo Yarn Co is a small batch dye studio run by Molly Plummer and based in London. Describing herself as a ‘mixed chick’ Molly discovered dyeing whilst working for Sweet Georgia Yarns during a 15-month long trip travelling around Canada. Having always wanted to dye yarn the experience taught her so much about the transformative process of dyeing, fibre and running a business that she decided to set up her own. 

With a love of bright, bold colour and a penchant for uniquely funny names she sells her work through The Mimo Yarn Co online shop which allows her to meet lots of new people and send her ‘yarn babies’ around the world to their new homes.

Our final guest is Sally Reay, Voluntary Arts South West Development Officer and Bristol Creatives Business Advisor and Mentor, who will be answering questions and providing advice about how to set-up a creative business.

Sally explains: "over the years I've turned several craft hobbies into small businesses, including running a small business as a silversmith & jeweller for 17 years and setting up another small business creating fascinators and running fascinator hen parties and workshops.  I've also helped run an award winning business incubation scheme, where I provided support and mentoring to ten new creative start-ups, and I currently provide business advice and mentoring to Bristol Creatives members."

Click this link to join this conversation: #CreativeNetwork (click here) and look for the #CreativeNetworkCrafts Join button just before 9:30am on Friday 2 October 2020.

You can also join our #CreativeNetworkCrafts Facebook Group (click here), to continue the conversation, share ideas, ask questions, post videos, inspire and be inspired, connect and create. 

You can find out more about our previous conversations where we have discussed a range of themes that effect amateur and professional craftspeople, as follows:

Friday 4 September 2020: The theme for discussion was 'Can online teaching ever replace real world teaching?' When we were joined by Kate Dewmartin from Craft Courses, an online platform that offers a choice of thousands of arts, crafts and wellbeing workshops, classes and courses both in person and online.  Alongside Sally Evans, Artisan and Educator at Craft Workshops, who creates and delivers online and in person classes and courses and one of her regular customers Sharon Stagg who who has taken part in both online and real life courses.

An open discussion took place in a breakout session and we reflected on what works and what doesn't. 

You can view a short film clip from this session:

- Sally Evans outlines some of the benefits and challenges of running online craft training courses

Friday 7 August 2020: The theme for discussion was 'Craftivism', when we were joined by Sarah Corbett, author, award-winning activist and founder of the global Craftivist Collective who talked about how activism can also be slow, quiet, small and compassionate AND make real positive change in our world.

We also heard from artist, poet and researcher Julia Davis Nosko who demonstrated and ran an optional activity whilst telling us about a craftivist project she worked on in Routsi, Arcadia in Greece, where she was able to combine her love of making clay forms (practice) with deep involvement in making a more sustainable, kinder world (activism). 

You can view a short film clip from this session:

- Sarah Corbett explains how she uses craft as a tool for activism
- Sarah Corbett on craftivist and heritage crafts

Friday 3 July 2020: We heard from Baroness Sue Garden of Frognal, the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft (APPG) and Patricia Lovett, who is the secretary of the APPG and Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association who introduced the work of the APPG and lead a discussion on how the grassroots crafts community can speak to government.

We also heard from Lucy McGrath from Marmor Paperie about her experience as a craftsperson speaking at the APPG and from Gareth Coles, Director of Voluntary Arts Wales, who outlined some of the work that Voluntary Arts does to support the crafts sector, which includes advocacy, partnership working and research.

You can view some short film clips from this session:

Friday 5 June 2020: Topics discussed included 'how to keep making during the challenges of COVID, how craft contributes to our wellbeing, and how amateur and professional craftpeople are keeping endangered craft skills alive in these trying times'.

Co-hosted by Sally Reay, Voluntary Arts South West Development Officer and Daniel Carpenter, Heritage Crafts Association who were joined by upholsterer and business mentor Carla Costa, green woodworker Steve Tomlin and HCA Endangered Crafts Officer and knitting enthusiast Mary Lewis.

You can view some short film clips from this session:

- Steve Tomlin on the effect of COVID-19 on endangered skills 

Links and comments shared by other participants during these sessions can be found on this shared Google doc. To suggest a theme or for other comments and questions, contact [email protected].

Craft Resources

Craft Business Resources
Craft Funding
Red List of Endangered Crafts

Craft Support Organisations

You can find other useful umbrella bodies on our listings page.

These online events are part of Voluntary Arts' regular #CreativeNetwork - a daily online get-together open to anyone involved in arts, culture and creativity who would welcome the opportunity to talk to others about dealing with the current situation, the challenges of working from home and what we can do together to make positive changes in difficult circumstances.  To find out more visit https://www.voluntaryarts.org/creativenetwork

Everyone is welcome!