Creswell Gets Creative

Creswell Gets Creative, a fortnightly programme of arts and crafts activities for the residents of Creswell. Participants are encouraged to be involved in the design and delivery of the project that aims to build strong connections, friendships and improved social networks.

Funded by the People’s Health Trust Active Communities Programme, the Creswell Gets Creative project offered a fortnightly programme of arts and crafts activities that enabled us to continue our work in Creswell building on our 45 year community arts engagement in the area.

The project met the two aims of Active Communities around:
Collective Control – ideas are created and shaped by local people.
Social links and ties – creating stronger connections between people by giving participants the opportunity to meet regularly and get to know each other, make friends and create support networks

A steering group met on a regular basis throughout the project to agree activities, book the artists and review progress.

The workshops covered a broad range of art forms, from needle felting and printing to up-cycling jewellery and basket making. Each week participants worked with professional artists to learn new skills, to explore their imagination and to develop a meaningful friendship group.

Over nearly three years a core group of 15 people regularly attended the fortnightly workshops, trying a huge variety of artforms and worked with over 25 professional artists. This has been such an enriching and rewarding project for all involved and a true reflection of the value of community arts to improve people’s quality of life, offering opportunities to take part and to contribute towards making our communities strong and welcoming.

Remote Activities
There’s no substitute for the pleasure of face- to-face activities of course, but during the Covid 19 pandemic and lockdowns we were able to offer participants remote arts activities to do at home. They made Birds of Hope lanterns, Venetian Palazzo collages and flower lights from re-cycled plastic bottles.
Although there was no direct contact with the artists involved, each one made a series of short films that were shared on the project’s WhatsApp group, as a guide to each stage of the creative process. The films worked really well and as we’ve come to expect from this group, the results were impressive, each piece completely unique!

Here are just some of the workshops that were on offer.

Remote activities delivered during lockdown.

One stroke painting with Julia Stokes
Julia delivered our last session, so participants had mixed feelings that day. The majority knew nothing about this specialised skill, loading a brush with two coloured paints and skilfully blending them before applying them to paper. Julia made it look so easy in her demonstration and of course it wasn’t as simple as it looked! However, with her patient advice and guidance everyone triumphed in the end and produced some beautiful painted flowers.

Basket making with Maggie Cooper
Maggie Cooper is a highly skilled basket maker who spent a day with the group delivering a crash course in traditional basket making. This was a challenging session for sure but well worth the effort. Despite sore fingers, the results were truly impressive.

Marbling with Pippa Pixley
Everyone was looking forward to this workshop, many having tried simple marbling techniques at school and longed to learn more. Pippa guided us through some very simple techniques then onto the more advances, using traditional paper, inks and materials. We left the session with some beautiful marbled papers and a good knowledge and understanding of this ancient art.

Wirework with Gail Stafford
Artist Gail Stafford shared her skills, teaching us how to manipulate wire and make some beautiful jewellery.
After an instructive demonstration the group got to work, bending strands of delicate wire, sometimes in varying colours, into a bracelet. It wasn’t easy, and took several hours of concentration and determination, but the results were well worth it!
During the afternoon Gail showed us how to encase a polished stone in twisted wire. Even though this process was a little easier, the results were no less impressive.
The group really enjoyed working with Gail and the workshop whetted their appetite to learn more, so the following week one of the participants Sheila, hosted a ‘gin and jewellery’ evening at her home. It was a great success and clearly illustrates just how well this group has bonded and how they value the opportunity to come together.

Pewter embossing with Caroline Buchwald
Artist Caroline Buchwald guided the group to create rather splendid individual Pewter embossed picture frames. Using traditional techniques with sheets of metal and hand-held tools, everyone made their own 3D designs and was amazed at how malleable the metal was!

Art of Aromatherapy
The Creswell group eased very therapeutically into 2020 with ‘An introduction to the Art of Aromatherapy’ workshop, that was delivered by our very own Creswell participant Elaine Hancock, teaching us all the benefits of essential oils and their unique properties. After learning about the oils and the ways in which they can help us, Elaine helped each of us to create a personal blend of oils, tailored to improve the wellbeing of each participant. The room was full of wonderful smells and everyone left feeling relaxed!

Beeswax Wraps
The following session, on the 21st February couldn’t have been more different. Jess Clayton, a local bee keeper came along and her workshop was a real education. Jess told us all about her journey from novice beekeeper with one hive to the present day and the proud owner of over thirty.
She runs her business, Oh Bee Hive, alongside her husband and produces natural skincare and raw honey products. She also goes into the community raising awareness of the benefits of bee keeping, honey and beeswax.
After the talk Jess showed the group how to make beeswax wraps, an environmentally sustainable alternative to cling film and plastic bags. This was an easy process to follow and using 100% pure cotton squares and a beeswax bar we all made our own, fantastic for your sandwiches!

Block Printing
After the success of the encaustic art workshop in 2019, we invited back artist Brian Nelson, to deliver an Indian Block Printing session. Brian brought along a beautiful selection of hand carved blocks from Jaipur and an array of coloured inks and after a quick demonstration everyone was keen to have a go themselves.
It took a bit of practice but before long everyone was confident to begin their main print. Inks were mixed and layered and patterns designed and as often happens during the Creswell Gets Creative workshops, you could hear a pin drop due to the intense levels of concentration. Not surprising then that the end results were truly impressive!

Indian Block Printing with Creswell Gets Creative
Creswell Gets Creative Indian Block printing

Haddon Hall

Mid way through the month we took a trip over to Haddon Hall, near Bakewell and one of the oldest houses in England. The purpose of the visit was to research new workshop ideas and their Winter Artisan Market proved to be a rich source of inspiration.

The month closed with a workshop delivered by glass artist Dawn Turner. Under Dawn’s expert tuition everyone made a selection of unique Christmas decorations that I’m sure would grace any tree.

Pom Pom Wreaths
November has been a very busy month for the Creswell Gets Creative group, kicking off with a Pom Pom Wreath workshop. No more cardboard rings needed, pom pom making has gone all ‘high tech’ now making things much quicker! This workshop was so much fun and got the festive season off to a great start!

Bath Bombs

Year two of this extremely successful project began in September, with a Glass Engraving workshop. It’s only to be expected now that the participants excelled and some beautifully detailed engraving was produced on the day.
During the next activity, two weeks later we were taught how to make Bath Bombs by the very patient Julie Whitmore. This definitely wasn’t as easy at is looked, a bit of chemistry and domestic science was involved and getting the recipes just right was a challenge. We mastered it though and by the end of the session the room was VERY fragrant indeed!

Blackwork embroidery

This historic and very beautiful geometric form of decoration was popular during the Tudor and Elizabethan periods and Pam Roberts shared her stitching skills with members of the Creswell Gets Creative group. As ever, things are often not as simple as they look but with Pam’s expert tuition participants achieved some really impressive results.

Trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park

During June the group have visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and tried their hand at Encaustic Art or hot wax painting. Artist Brian Nelson delivered the workshop and of course made the process look so easy, but with encouragement and support from Brian, everyone took home a finished artwork.

Pastel Workshop

Two weeks later, one of our own members delivered a Pastel workshop. Margaret Jefford is involved in the Worksop Art Society and is a highly skilled artist in her own right and during the day long workshop she showed us how to use this medium, layering and blending colours to create a soft impression. Everyone was thrilled with the results, thank you Margaret!

Felley Priory Trip and Enamelling Workshop

On the 10th May we travelled to Selston to visit Felley Priory and the studio of artist Katie Sanderson.
Everyone took part in a half-day enamelling workshop and visited the beautiful Felley Priory and both activities were a great success.

Katie is an excellent tutor and it was a treat to work in her garden studio creating either an enamelled pendant or a small decorative enamelled panel. Everyone enjoyed it so much they requested a return visit, which we’ll try to organise in the second year of the project.

Little Corkers Workshop

The Little Corkers workshop on the 26th April was a real treat, making wire and paper birds with artist Liz Wellby. This was something new for everyone and Liz began by showing us how to make a relatively simple paper bird with paperclip feet before progressing to more complex sculptural birds. The finished pieces were beautiful, as were the drawings we made to work from – well done everyone!

This comment from one of our participants sums how everyone felt:

“Fantastic tutor, fantastic crafts, fantastic company! Thank you everyone”

Acrylic Pouring Workshop

Gail Stafford delivered an acrylic pouring workshop for Creswell Gets Creative and what an interesting experience it was! Arcylic Pouring proved to be quite a complex process but well worth it, as the results were stunning.

Gail is an accomplished artist herself and a skilled tutor and talked everyone through the various stages, supporting them to achieve a beautiful piece of artwork. It was a delight to watch the acrylic morph and transform with a little gentle human manipulation, before slowly revealing itself.

Feedback from the group suggests that we’ll be inviting Gail back to deliver another workshop very soon.

Glass Workshop

During March our Creswell Gets Creative participants took part in two glass workshops, delivered by artist Dawn Turner. Dawn was invited back by popular request, having run a successful project with some of the group previously.

Working with glass can be a challenge, as you don’t really know how the finished piece will look until it’s been fired. Taking the natural landscape as their inspiration, the first workshop involved making the background layer of colour onto which the detail was added during the second session. With imagination and patience, and some expert tuition thrown in by Dawn, some beautiful decorative glass panels were created. Some were fused into a gentle curve and are free standing whilst others were left flat with loops attached for hanging.

Here are a couple of comments from the participants:

‘Brilliant Dawn, fantastic workshop’  – Sheila

‘Loved working with glass, thank you Dawn’ – Margaret

The next workshop in April is Acrylic Pouring by artist Gail Stafford, followed by Little Corkers, making wire birds under the guidance of artist Liz Wellby.

Willow Workshop

Willow artist Emma Parkins joined us for an extended session teaching everyone how to make a willow sphere. This was much harder than it looked and required strong arms and nimble fingers. One or two people had worked with Emma last year, on a project at Hardwick Hall. They took their skills a step further and wove willow baskets. Willow is a very versatile material to work with, it’s relaxing and meditative, encourages creativity and is sustainable. No two people’s work turned out the same, everyone making a truly individual piece of sculpture.

Felt Landscapes

The New Year kicked off to a brilliant start with the first of a series of felting workshops. Led by artist Carol Wilson, members of the Creswell Gets Creative group spent a day learning all about the wet felting method and making a very promising start on their landscape pictures.

Under Carol’s expert tuition all exceed expectations and produced some wonderful images, really boosting everyone’s confidence working in this new field. We’re also thrilled to welcome another new member to the group, Sheila. She quickly settled in and we’re sure will make a valuable contribution.

Lino Printing

We are pleased to have welcomed three new members to Creswell Gets Creative, one of whom is new to the area and joining the project is proving to be the perfect way to settle in and make new friends. Artist Liz Wellby delivered her second workshop teaching the group how to make a lino cut. Liz is an accomplished fine artist who works from The Slipper Gallery in Carsington where she makes her own work and delivers workshops. Under her guidance, the Creswell ladies, never ones to shy away from a challenge, quickly picked up the basics and then proceeded to develop their skills further to produce some really outstanding prints.

Macramé plant pot holders

The group went back in time, to the 1970s and worked with artist Rachel Carter who taught us all how to make macramé plant pot holders – groovy!

The participants were very pleased to have welcomed two new members to the group, one of whom has just moved to the area. Joining up is a great way for her to make friends and to begin to integrate into the community.

Decoupage workshop

The first workshop took place on the 6th July and the art form was decoupage, an historic technique to decorate an object by gluing coloured paper cut-outs onto it and combining this with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements.

Artist Emma Hemstock of Kitty’s Handmade travelled to Creswell from her studio in Nottingham and shared her knowledge with participants who made a beautifully decorated light up bottle.

Junction Arts delivers Creswell gets Creative Decoupage workshop
Junction Arts delivers Creswell gets Creative Decoupage workshop

Pot Painting

During this workshop Artist Lynne Staniland, supported the group to paint the pot they had made in the previous session.  They have all now been decorated and glazed and they look amazing.

Pottery Throwing at Harley Studios

On the 21st September the Creswell Gets Creative group spent the day at The Harley Pottery Studios learning the art of throwing. Never daunted by a challenge this group love to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. Throwing a pot was the perfect activity!
Under the guidance of experienced potter Lynne Staniland, some beautiful pieces were created, much to our participant’s amazement.

Felting workshop

On the 20th July participants learned needle felting, the art of sculpting wool with special, barbed needles.

By stabbing the wool, the needles cause the fibres to interlock to form a more condensed material. Wool fibres have scales which when rubbed against each other catch and lock into place to create this denser material called felt.

Almost anything shape can be created and our group made a felted owl.

Junction Arts delivers Creswell Gets Creative felting workshop
Junction Arts delivers Creswell Gets Creative felting workshop, final owls!
THIS PROJECT IS FUNDED BY: People’s Health Trust using money raised through The Health Lottery in the East Midlands.