Free Craft Workshops

The Free Craft Workshops (Aster Series) – 2015

Free craft workshops at the Red Brick

Reskilling is one of the four pillars of our resilience training, as shown in the Resilience Wheel diagram.  We secured some grant funding from Aster Communities towards putting on a series of free Craft Workshops in the Red Brick Building (situated between Glastonbury and Street, in Somerset).

The goal of these workshops was to connect the general public with craftspeople in a relaxed, no obligation sort of atmosphere.

1st March – review

Our second Craft Workshop afternoon went very well. We had a hall full of crafters swapping techniques and showing basic skills to visitors. Here’s a list of them…

Les Hurford – straw dollies and other seasonal decorations from natural materials. Next appearing at the session on March 29th when visitors can make decorations with an Easter theme. Les runs an organic dairy farm which hosts activities on a regular basis.

Tony and Alison Hughes – weaving with an Inkle loom as seen at the Rural Life Museum in years when it is not closed for renovation. Tony makes these looms himself and sells them for a mere £20 at this event! Booked for all the March sessions.

Alison is an expert cord braider. She can show you advanced patterns and has spiders with sixteen notches.

Sylvie Smith – showed visitors how to use a full sized spinning wheel. Not much opportunity to have a go on these, don’t miss your chance at our next session!

Rowena Stone – demonstrated spinning with a drop spindle, as seen on ancient Egyptian tomb paintings. She also had some fleeces, carding tools and finished items to show the whole process from sheep to woolly hat.

Sam Smith the Blacksmith – Sam had a display of the hand forged tools he makes from scrap metal, and will be showing people his tool sharpening skills at our next session on March 15th. Bring your own axes to grind, or those blunt garden shears! Although we can’t have fires in the Event Space, interested visitors can book a live demonstration at his nearby forge.

Linda Benfield – brought a neat wooden device for making seedling plugs out of old newspaper, supplying children with take-away gardens!

Amanda Rayner – came with her basket making demonstration and a collection of the coloured willow goods which are her specialty. She can’t make it to our next sessions, but is running a course on willow sculpture on March 22nd in Monmouthshire and a basket making day near Glastonbury on June 20th. See for details

Jane Walker – learned quite a lot more about cord braiding from Alison, but continues to teach the very basic Japanese gap fill style which is the one she can actually do.

Blanka Kolkova – teaching learners the basic crochet techniques, but she can expand into advanced clothes repair.

Helene Schnitzer – knitting in the Continental style; did you know there was a difference?

Many thanks to volunteers Simon Craig and Lesley Saltman who kept the day running smoothly!

Inkle loom weaving



15th March  review

More people brought their drinks in from the cafe this week, and watched the various crafts happening.

Tony Hughes demonstrated how to set up the Inkle Loom and let people have a go. The spinners were trying out a different type of drop spindle, and Sylvie Smith brought her full sized traditional wheel again.

Alison Hughes showed hand carved wooden buttons – a useful skill for beginners to learn – and garden kneeling mats woven from recycled clingfilm. This material is used to wrap pallets full of goods, and was wasted by the ton. There are efforts being made to recycle it now, but its still a free waterproof material!

Cord braiding and gossip centered on the comfortable settees, though we had to manage without the knitting circle who had colds. Ingrid came with her beading work, to discuss bringing a peg loom rug workshop, perhaps in our Autumn sessions.

A display of papier mache masks made by Jane Walker attracted some interest and there may be a demonstration around these at the next session.

Many thanks to Linda and Kate for turning out to help with organising the day!

We had to postpone the garden tools repair workshop because of last minute concerns about woodworm. Thanks to Terry Heard of Dorset Coppicing, we now have a ‘risk assessment’ for this.

       – woodworm is not that catching. If you were storing tools overnight for repair, it may be a concern, but merely bringing wormy tool handles into a building isn’t. To be extra sure, have someone check the tools outside. If you see the tell tale neat holes caused by woodworm, sharply tap the suspicious wood. If dust falls out, the worms are active. You shouldn’t bring this into the workshop building, but either treat or dispose of the affected handle quickly. It’s okay to put it in the landfill bin if you can’t burn it.

We’d still like to hear from any spoon carvers, leather workers and other crafters out there?  Please come if you’re in the area, or contact if you’d like to bring a skill to share.


29th March – review


Sam Smith the Blacksmith – hand forged tools, sharpening skills

Rowena Stone – from fleece to hat using a drop spindle

Tony & Alison Hughes – weaving on an Inkle loom, advanced cord braiding, spinning wheel

Les Hurford – Easter themed decorations using straw dolly skills and natural materials

Eddie Daughton – carving designs into goblets before firing.  Lovely!

The knitting circle – beginners’ knitting, crochet and cord braiding

Jane Walker – techniques used to make papier mache masks

Januscz – upcycling used cans into flowers, night light holders, ashtrays

5th April -review

Many of the regular crafters were involved with the very popular Medieval Fair at Glastonbury Abbey.  There was a demonstration of mask making using papier-mache, and Sam Smith arrived by special request to sharpen tools in between forging knives for Viking re-enactors.

Most of the activity centered around the expanded knitting circle. Kiki brought some lovely crocheted decorations, and Helene was weaving a guitar strap on her new Inkle loom.  One of our visitors learned how to braid cord bracelets, and we were joined by a whittler who was making the special shuttles required for net making (using hemp twine!).  Rowena was showing people drop spindle techniques and preparing fleeces.

A knitting circle can go a long way without even doing any knitting!

19th April – review

The final workshop was quiet, with just a papier mache mask making session and drop spindle tuition in addition to the general wool crafts (knitting, crochet, cord braiding).  The Feed Avalon gardening group are hosting free drop in gardening workshops 10am – 12noon on Wednesdays in the Red Brick Building grounds, so we can meet up there for the time being.

We considered that including an artisan market in the May session could encourage more people to drop in, so we have begun to organise that.

drop spindle