How to keep your hands and head busy during the coronavirus outbreak
Craft has the power to stimulate, inspire, occupy and soothe us – all the more reason to keep making through this difficult period. We have selected online classes – from workshops by individual experts to institutions offering professional development courses – that will help you use your time alone to learn a new skill. We will be adding to this list as the weeks roll by so do keep checking back and send us your ideas to include on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to see the fruits of your efforts, so share them on Instagram using the hashtag #todayimmaking
Online craft courses are not a new phenomenon but the platforms offering them are now coming into their own, now that people are looking for ways to occupy themselves at home. Yodomo offers everything from spoon carving and basket-weaving to candle making and upcycling, with lessons from a range of teachers – and has launched a platform to advise makers on creating revenue streams online in light of the coronavirus crisis. Similarly, Creative Live offers several courses in needlecraft, papercraft and jewellery design, as well as in marketing, sales and operating successfully on Etsy. The tutors on Craft Courses are also now turning en masse towards teaching virtual classes.
Skillshare and the Centre for Excellence offer thousands of classes added by its online community of makers and teachers. Udemy and Domestika have a range of courses geared towards improving your business and professional skills, while recruitment service Reed has a list of courses that give you CPD points and professional accreditation – in stitching, floristry and more. Art Girl Rising, a campaign that supports women in art, has sessions on marketing and selling your art, building an online community and the business of art.
Unable to put on exhibitions, museums are also trying to reach their audiences online, including through craft classes. Craft Contemporary is releasing step-by-step instructions for easy craft projects with items and materials you have easy access to, including hammered flowers, paper marbling with shaving cream, landscape painting with yarn and printmaking with bubbles. The Make and Do section of the V&A website has a range of activities, including sewing your own versions of Mary Quant dresses, a Frida Kahlo-style huipil tunic, works inspired by Freddie Robins and DIY with plywood.
Clay and pottery
The British Ceramics Biennial has launched an online learning programme called Clay At Home: its first demonstration was a making activity taken from its Clay Cookbook. Coming up are workshops on how to make square isolation tiles from clay or salt dough using tools found at home and in the garden; making tableware decorated using items found around the house; and making inks and drawing materials from coffee grounds, soil and teabags.
The Clay Studio, which normally offers classes at its Philadelphia studios, offering a range of online how-to videos, artist talks, and live conversations under the title Clay at Home.
Individuals are also sharing their skills, including Sarah Core. “I have been a potter for nearly 10 years and I can post clay to you safely with my daily walk to the letterbox,” she explains. Core is sending out 1kg parcels of air-dry clays, along with project sheets, to participants, then conducting online workshops to help everyone on their way. Ana Kerin of Kana London has launched the Stay at Home Kana Clay Club, aimed at a range of skill levels – from complete beginners to those who have previously participated in one of its classes, sending out boxes of clay and then advising you on setting up your home studio, finding makeshift tools around the house and actually working with clay. “We can fire and glaze the work you make once we get through this,” she says.
For the braver and more ambitious, the Ceramic School has instructions on how to make a pottery wheel out of a ceiling fan and a plastic bucket. Careful, please!
Repairing and mending
There’s an inherent sense of frugality in this moment of shop closures and overstretched delivery networks, and also an opportunity to root through our wardrobes to find things to reuse, repair and remodel. Fast Fashion Therapy’s website features videos and blog posts giving tips and demonstrations on how to mend and upcycle clothes. Meanwhile, Tickover’s Instagram tutorials on 'conscious hand embroidery' and 'repair and self-care' are aimed at 'exposing the fashion industry one stitch at a time'.
Learn to whittle your own spoon through a range of online classes, including the Spoon Club, which adds a new film every week on designing, carving and decorating a spoon, including contributions by guest instructors and advanced classes. A wider selection of woodworking courses is available through Wood Skills, including instructions on using handtools, modules on the traditional Japanese kumiko technique and tutorials in furniture design.
Artist and tapestry weaver Christabel Balfour has opened up enrolment for her new online course “Geometric Weaving: Construction and Technique”. Maria Sigma is also preparing to offer home video tutorials, as well as selling a beginner and intermediate level weaving at home kit on her website. Tilly Walnes, founder of Tilly and the Buttons, has a wealth of sewing patterns, books and online workshops for DIY dressmakers, as well as troubleshooting, fabric tips and hacks. Meanwhile, with a mission to inspire the next generation of makers, Wool and the Gang has tutorials in knitting, crochet and macramé, as well as a range of free patterns and kits they can send you – categorised by level as well as what it is you want to make. Meanwhile, sustainable womenswear label Lowie has made its online workshops free, including darning, reverse applique and mending through Japanese sashiko.
Elsewhere, the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design in Washington DC is holding a six-week online course in textile design and history from home, which will explore embroidery, ikat, resist dyeing, printing, and painting from around the world.
Katie Gillies’ first online workshop on making your own pair of terrazzo coasters, has already sold out but keep an eye on her website and Instagram to see if more pop up. Salt Studios, run by designer-maker Francesca Pappacoda, is taking pre-orders for a terrazzo plant pot workshop, in which you will learn to pigment Jesmonite with your choice of colours and make personalised terrazzo chips to cast your own plant pot.
The founder of Mamor Paper Lucy McGrath usually offers paper-marbling workshops in her studio at Cockpit Arts in Deptford but is now selling marbling kits on her website, and will be sharing images and videos over the next few weeks to help you get marbling, as well as doing collage, origami and bookbinding.
Modern calligrapher Edlyl Anne Asis is offering virtual classes, as well as personalised kits to help you get started.
Buckinghamshire-based Candle by Events is holding live online candle-making workshops and webinars, as well as opening access to 20 online videos that guide you through the process and putting together beginners’ kits that include reusable moulds, several types of natural wax, dyes, oils and more.
Crafts magazine and the Crafts Council are trying their best to support you through this difficult time. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing content online to keep you inspired and entertained, as well as advice on how to continue your craft business during this period of isolation. In the meantime, browse our list of craft books and podcasts to help beat your isolation boredom. You can also browse five decades worth of Crafts magazine back issues for free online