From knife-forging to skateboard-making, there's something for everyone
You can start your little ones on the path to making with a course at Blackhorse Workshop in Walthamstow, East London, which introduces 9- to 11-year-olds to hammering, marking out, drilling and sawing. For budding fashion designers, the Victoria and Albert Museum is offering a one-off class in February in Costume Design and Making for 13- to 15-year-olds – designer Dean Blunkell, who has created costumes for the Royal Albert Hall, will cover pattern-cutting, shaping and various sewing techniques. Finally, you could introduce your child to the joys of clay. Potter Around in Edinburgh is among those running pottery and other craft workshops for children and families.
Multi award-winning bookbinder Kate Holland is offering a series of workshops next year at her studio in a converted cowshed near the vibrant market town of Frome, with accommodation offered nearby. For the novelists or poets in your life, you can gift classes ranging from a morning’s introduction to the basics, to a week making a fully leatherbound book from scratch (contact Holland through her website for more information). Budding writers might be more inclined to get started if their stationery is inspiring: London-based artist Mandy Brannanteaches both Japanese and western papermaking methods, helping students to process and pigment plants and fibres to create plain and decorative sheets to pour ideas onto. Over in Scotland, writers can craft the perfect book cover at open-access studios Edinburgh Printmakers, which offers a range of courses, from etching and monotype to stone lithography and photo etching.
Culinary enthusiasts can extend their ambitions beyond the food they serve, and learn to make everything from the knives they prepare it with to the table it’s laid upon. Sharpen their skills by gifting a knife-making course at Anvil Forge in Reading, which has run more than 800 days of classes over the past seven years, and has eight packages to suit different interests and abilities. In West Yorkshire, woodworker Mike Craig offers a one-day course in spoon-carving, starting with selecting a log and cleaving the timber using traditional tools and techniques. For intermediate makers, the Leach Pottery, founded by Bernard Leach in St Ives runs a five-day course in teapot-making: participants leave with one glazed, fired teapot, after having learned the principles of good body, lid, spout and handle design.
For sports fans
Located on the picturesque Jurassic Coast, the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis offers courses ranging from two days to 40 weeks in composite, modern and traditional wooden construction, restoration and repair. The experience includes obtaining plans, lofting, ordering wood, setting up moulds, building the boat, fit-out, painting, finishing and the final launch. Over in West Sussex, the Woodcraft School teaches the art of bow-making from locally sourced wood, with the aim that you leave with a fully functional bow and find out what it means when they say ‘a great bow is nine-tenths broken at full draw’. For a more hands-off experience, you can offer cricketers a bespoke bat-making experience at Millichamp and Hall in Taunton, Somerset. They can choose their own willow, then watch as skilled craftspeople make a bat to their specifications.
Craft and technology intertwine at Create Space London, where the techies in your life can learn to code and build a robot or 3d model using the open-source Arduino platform, or 3d model, print and laser-cut jewellery. 3d-printing classes are available all over the country, including at Fab Lab in Cardiff, where enthusiasts can also learn to laser-cut their own skateboard deck – just add wheels. They can also help revive the craft of neon – a dying 20th-century artform, despite its futuristic air – with a session at Wakefield’s Neon Workshops, which is offering a two-hour taster session, an intensive day course or longer masterclasses.
For interior decorators
You can help interior decorators turn mishaps to their advantage with a class in kintsugi: the art of repairing pottery using a mix of urushi lacquer and precious metals, transforming cracks into things of beauty. Kintsugi Oxford (kintsugioxford.com) runs workshops in the ancient Japanese art, which include a kit to take home. To up people’s game when it comes to finishes, the Stained Glass Museum in Cambridge runs classes by professional artists in copper foiling, fusing, leading and painting glass. Meanwhile, decorators can hone their furniture restoration skills at Thomson Antiques in Devon, which runs a range of courses, from beginner immersions to one-year diplomas.