16 Stoddart Street

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE2 1AN

Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Sat, 10am-6pm

Sun, 10am-5pm

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Meet The Crafthood

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We're always proud to work with other independents and The Crafthood are a great example of a local creative startup. Based in the North East, Sharon and Kay are the founders of The Crafthood and run contemporary craft workshops and events. From modern calligraphy and brush lettering, to block printing and wall hangings they offer a range of contemporary crafts for modern living.
As we grow our crafts offeirng in the gallery, The Crafthood will support with the development of our creative workshop programme, becomming our resident providers and sharing their skills. We spoke to Sharon and Kay to find out what we can expect from upcoming workshops and why they believe craft is such an important medium.
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Can you tell us about yourselves and The Crafthood?

The Crafthood was founded and is ran by the two of us, Sharon and Kay - self-confessed craft lovers, treasure seekers, passionate makers, skill sharers, do-gooders, joy spreaders and collaborators. We both previously had careers in the Probation Service so share a similar value base, but our friendship was cemented and the foundations of The Crafthood were made in a local young Women's Institute (WI); our passion for craft became apparent and the seeds of starting a business were sown. Our business aim is to help promote, engage and provide the opportunity to make contemporary crafts accessible for modern busy lives. We strongly believe in its ability to positively impact on well-being. For our first 18 months, we have been running a 'buy one, gift one' scheme on our workshops, meaning we have been able to donate gifted group crafting sessions to four local charities.

What prompted you to start The Crafthood? How long has it been running?

The Probation Service was going through big changes, as was our home life. We both had very young children and we decided that we wanted a career change - something that was flexible, utilised the skills we had developed, maintained our core values and of course was enjoyable. We both have lots of experience in running training and group work sessions and enjoy bringing people together to learn. We had noticed lots of exciting opportunities to get involved with modern crafting in cities like London and Manchester and wanted to help bring something different to the North East.

The Crafthood officially launched in September 2016 but there was lots of activity done before this in preparation. We focused in skilling ourselves up in our key crafts. We wanted to present these crafts in our flagship workshops for around 6 months before the launch.

Tell us about some of the workshops you regularly run?

We run three flagship workshops regularly which are An Introduction to Modern Calligraphy, An Introduction to Brush Lettering and Soy Wax Candle Making - all of which we are bringing to The Biscuit Factory with a super deluxe edge. Our workshops numbers are limited to help keep the learning environment comfortable and allow for lots of one to one support for participants.

Our facilitation style is encouraging and enabling - we want to provide a positive adult learning experience. At the lettering events, participants get a pack to takeaway ensuring they have everything that they need to continue the craft at home. In the Candle Making workshops, participants take away a clean burning Soy Wax Candle that they have made themselves. We routinely evaluate our workshops - it is really important to us to ensure we offer the best experience possible to our customers. We also run craft based socials and pop-ups at a variety of fab independent venues across the region or that support & complement bigger events, including corporate training. 

Why do you believe craft is such an important medium?

For us, we have always known that crafting feels good and can be a great way to destress. There is something about creating something, repetitive movements and using your hands that make for a great antidote to remote, digital and screen based work. There are so many different crafts to try that there is highly likely to be something for most people and most moods, whether it's used as an individual pursuit or common ground to get social. It can be a great distraction if you would like to get completely immersed or can be something you pick up and do in a spare 30 mins at the end of a day.

There's the satisfaction in the 'doing' but also the sense of accomplishment you get with achieving an end product, that could either be displayed in your home or given as unique gifts that can't be found on the high street.  

We have noticed that feedback from our workshops consistently says that the crafts are enjoyable, relaxing and a great way to chill out. Calligraphy has been recognised in different cultures for many years as a great mindfulness activity with all the benefits attached to that. There is now more and more emerging research about the wellbeing benefits of crafts; for example a research paper in 2011 by Dr Karen Yair for The Crafts Council noted, " Absorption in this type of activity (craft) not only occupies and distracts the brain, but has also been clinically proven to raise levels of the mood enhancing chemical serotonin, whilst inducing the relaxation and ‘mindfulness’ more often associated with meditation. This triple whammy of distraction, mood enhancement and relaxation has other benefits of wellbeing, quietening chronic stress and anxiety ”.

So Crafting is good for you! We knew it! 

We're delighted to welcome The Crafthood as our new creative partners. Please tell us what we can expect from your workshops coming up this Spring/Summer?

We are thrilled to have been asked to collaborate with The Biscuit Factory. It is such a unique venue and we can't wait to get started. Anyone attending our events can expect a warm welcome from us and an encouraging, positive learning experience.

At our lettering workshops, guests will receive a super luxe pack with some carefully curated lettering goodies to take away and two and a half hours of expert tuition and guidance to help people find their own style. At our Soy Wax Candle Making workshop, we will guide participants through every step of making their own Candles, they will choose their own scent to make a large candle and also be guided in making one of our signature best selling candles; participants take away a guide enabling them to continue the craft at home - it's addictive!

For all our workshops, you can also expect fabulous cake and refreshment options provided by The Factory Kitchen - yum! If you haven't got time for a full on workshop, why not join us for our drop-in session on 9th May, where we'll be creating himmeli's in The Factory Kitchen.

Do you have a favourite craft? What crafts do you both love to do in your spare time?

We're both stationery lovers so Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering definitely hold a special place in our hearts. Lettering is extremely versatile and we are always looking for new surfaces to try it out on. We've had recent dalliances with Modern Wall Hangings, Himmelis (a massively on trend Scandinavian craft - we have a pop up event doing these at The Biscuit Factory) and wirework. We are always keen to give something new a go as well as trying to breathe new life into more traditional crafts. Our Pinterest account gives a very good idea of crafts we've both tried and coveted.

For Women's History Month we're challenging our visitors to name #5WomenArtists. Can you tell us about 5 female artists working today whose work inspires you?

Locally, there are a great many inspirational creative women to watch and learn from. We also follow many amazingly talented & creative women on Instagram that inspire us every day just by looking at our Insta Feed. It's a tough one narrowing it down to 5 but here goes:

1.  Leanne Pearce - Artist - We know Leanne personally and are inspired by her in so many ways. Firstly she is an amazing artist, the scale of her portraits are so impressive and her use of colour, particularly blue, is something that we gravitate to. She is also one of the Founders of the brilliant Thought Foundation which is a very accessible local arts and cultural venue. Leanne is an enabler, promoter and all round lush one, check her out!

2. Emma Block - Illustrator - There is a lot of overlap between brush lettering and illustration. We were taught brush lettering by Emma. She has a brilliantly unique style and her teaching was both encouraging and laid back. Her illustrations are whimsical and modern all at the same time and we love them. Her Instagram is both beautiful and enabling as she is open about a great many aspects of her work via her series of stories.

3. Chiara Perano-Sotnyk - Modern Calligrapher & Artist, Lamplighter London - A trail blazer in the resurgence of calligraphy with a contemporary edge for a new audience. Her work is beautiful and she has collaborated with big brand names, meaning there is a place in business for this craft. She has also had a book published 'Nib & Ink', inspiring many (including us) to learn this skill.

4. Lucy Elisabeth - Wirework Artist - We first came across Lucy at Kirstie's Handmade Fair last year. We fell in love with her skilled use of this versatile material to create both simple, elegant designs as well as delicate and intricate pieces. She is based in Manchester and also delivers workshops.

5. Megan Randall - Ceramicist and installation artist - Megan has creativity flowing through her and everything she does is beautiful, inspiring and creative. Kay recently attended one of her ceramic workshops and found out about more of her concept led work. We love how accessible Megan is as an artist and think she's ace.

What’s coming up for you this year? Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

The tickets are selling well for the Spring season workshop and we are hoping to offer more dates for the Summer Season. We are exhibiting at our first Wedding Fair (A Wedding Less Ordinary - 14/4/18 at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle). We have waited a while before testing this market as we wanted to offer some unique products and services and this has taken quite a lot of planning. We are also currently curating a second Thoughtful Night Market in collaboration with Thought Foundation - this is a mid-Summer edit on 16/6/18. We want these events to celebrate and champion other North East Creatives and offer a unique experience for those attending. We'll have live music, you can speak with the makers and even try your hand at a new skill as we have a range of exciting taster workshops. We really love collaborating with other creatives and have some lovely projects and products coming to our website that are a result of such projects. Where there's a new craft to learn and share, we'll be there. For lettering lovers who have been on our 'Introduction to' workshops and got hooked, we've been very busy developing a follow on package so watch this space.

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Get creative this Spring and join us and The Crafthood in the gallery for our workshop programme. From pottery and wire sculpture, to modern calligraphy and printmaking we offer hands-on workshops to suit all abilities. Tickets are available now!

THE BISCUIT FACTORY

Photo credits: Claire Batey at Unscripted Photography