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 have teamed up with the Heritage Crafts Association to co-host regular monthly #CreativeNetworkCrafts Zoom sessions, that generally take place on the first Friday of each month generally from 9:30 to 10:30am, and each focus on a different theme. This craft community shares ideas, inspires and supports each other through the pandemic and beyond.  We discuss issues, challenges and find solutions.

Our next online conversation is taking place on Zoom on Friday 5 February and the theme is 'Microblogging & Social Media' with lace maker Elena Kanagy-Loux who will be joining us as our special guest all the way from New York City!  

Join us to hear about how Elena's been promoting her heritage craft on TikTok (@erenanaomi 327k followers) and Instagram (@erenanaomi 43k followers), and discuss how you could use these platforms to raise awareness about your craft.  Scroll down for more information about Elena and her work.

This session will take place from 3:30-4:30pm on Friday 5 February due to the time difference.  

 Photo shows: Lace Maker Elena Kanagy-Loux, in her studio in New York City.

Elena is a descendent of the Amish and grew up between the US and Japan, where she was immersed in both traditional Mennonite crafts and the DIY fashion scene in Tokyo's Harajuku neighbourhood. After receiving her BFA in Textile Design from FIT, she won a grant which funded a four-month trip to study lacemaking across Europe in 2015. Upon returning to NYC, she co-founded Brooklyn Lace Guild, an organization devoted to the preservation of lacemaking, and began teaching bobbin lace classes at the Textile Arts Center.

In 2018 she completed her MA in Costume Studies at NYU where she based her thesis on interviews with lacemakers that she conducted on her European travels. Currently Elena is the Collections Specialist at the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition to hands-on activities, she lectures widely at conferences and for graduate classes and has multiple publications in the works, all of which she documents across multiple popular social media accounts.

You can follow Elena on Instagram: @erenanaomi @brooklynlaceguild @metrattitextilecenter and on TikTok: @erenanaomi.

This is a free, open discussion and all participants will be able to take part in the conversation via breakout room discussions and Q&As. Tickets are free, but book your place quickly as numbers are limited!

More information about this event will be published here in due course.  In the meantime you can join our #CreativeNetworkCrafts Facebook Group (click here), this is where we will announce details of the theme and our guests.  You can also use the Facebook group to continue the conversations, share ideas, ask questions, post videos, inspire and be inspired! 

Below you can find out more about our previous conversations where we discussed a range of themes that affect amateur and professional craftspeople:

Friday 8 January at 9:30am: We heard from Daniel Carpenter, Operations Officer at Heritage Crafts Association and Sally Reay, South West Development Officer at Voluntary Arts who outlined the support and advice that their organisations provide.  We also discussed the types of support participants want from a national support organisation.

Friday 6 November 2020: The theme for the discussion was 'Keeping a craft group together through thick & thin''.  Our two special guests were Fee Barton, from the Art Club aka 'The Coven' & Kerry Russell, from Creativity Works' My Time My Space (MTMS) - an Art + wellbeing programme for Mums suffering from postnatal depression. 

They talked about how their groups have developed over the years and how they have coped and adapted through lockdown and beyond.

You can view a film clip from this session:

- Kerry Russell and Fee Barton share their thoughts and experiences about keeping groups going through thick and thin

Friday 2 October 2020: The theme for discussion was 'Turning your craft hobby into a business.' We were joined by two inspiring speakers who recently turned their passion into a business: Cass Barron from Bookbinding with Cass and Molly Plummer from The Mimo Yarn Company.  

Our final guest was Sally Reay, Voluntary Arts South West Development Officer and Bristol Creatives Business Advisor and Mentor, who answered questions and provided tips and advice about how to set-up a creative business.

You can view a short film clip from this session:

- Molly Plummer talks about turning her side hustle into a craft business

Friday 4 September 2020: The theme for discussion was 'Can online teaching ever replace real world teaching?' 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!