Top ten arts and crafts courses

Create a pot, make a mosaic, paint a landscape and weave a basket on these creative courses. By Tor McIntosh.


1. Botanical and wildlife illustration in Cumbria


Greystoke Cycle Cafe in Penrith offers more than just tasty refreshments for cyclists and walkers; it also runs a series of quirky courses throughout the year. A popular offering is their Botanical and Wildlife Illustration days. Using plants found in the cafe gardens and photos of wildlife, you’ll be encouraged to experiment with watercolour and gouache, with emphasis on painting rather than drawing. You will learn to observe detail, mix colour and master application techniques, such as using a dry brush to render texture to your painting.

Cost: £70 per day (incl lunch and cream tea) 

Greystroke Cycle Cafe, Penrith, Cumbria

Call: 01768 483984

2. Make mosaics in the Highlands

From her studio in Elphin, a crofting township in the Highlands, Jan Kilpatrick runs courses on the art of mosaic. Her one-day introduction to mosaic course teaches how to decorate mirror frames. Those with experience can take part in Jan’s three-day garden mosaic sculpture course. Both courses teach you how to cut and shape tiles and crockery and how to grout and polish. At the end you’ll get to take home a glorious artefact to grace your home or garden.

Cost: £50-£175 (incl materials, hot drinks and cake) 

Wild Tiles, Elphin, Highland

Call: 01854 666279

3. Textile landscapes in Gloucestershire

If you love art and you love nature, then you’re sure to love Nature in Art, the world’s first museum and art gallery dedicated to art inspired by nature. Landscapes in Textiles with local artist Liz Robertson is one of over 30 specialist art courses run by this unique institution. During the two-day course, Liz teaches a range of textile skills, including felt-making, fabric painting, fabric steaming, free machine embroidery and freehand embroidery, before you are encouraged to produce an experimental textile panel based on a landscape photograph of your choice.

Cost: £90 (plus £5 for additional materials) 

Nature in Art, Twigworth, Gloucestershire

Call: 01452 731422

4. Landscape painting in the South Downs

Taking place in the richly varied Sussex countryside and in the beautiful Bradness Gallery, part of a 17th-century timber-framed barn, this three-day landscape-painting course has inspiration oozing everywhere you look. The course offers tips and techniques for capturing the landscape in all its moods using oils, watercolours or acrylics. With the River Ouse only a few minutes walk from the studio and the chalk hills of the South Downs in the distance, your landscape painting will boast all the subtle characteristics of the English countryside.

Cost: £375 (incl meals and drinks) 

Bradness Gallery, Spithurst, Sussex

Call: 01273 400606

5. Throw pots all weekend in Camarthenshire

Spend a weekend getting your hands dirty transforming a lump of clay into a beautiful pot with Yoka Kilkelly at her Camarthenshire studio. You’ll be guided through preparing the clay, shaping it with your hands and mastering the potter’s wheel, before putting your new skills to the test producing your first piece of pottery.

Cost: A weekend course is £180 (incl materials, accommodation, breakfast and lunch) 

Siramik Pottery, Lanclynadda, Alltwalis, Carmarthenshire

Call: 01559 384292

6. Bind a book in Norfolk

With the popularity of e-books threatening the survival of ‘proper’ books, now is the perfect time for traditional book lovers to learn the ancient craft of bookbinding. Judith Ellis offers one-day workshops from her Norfolk studio on a variety of bookbinding techniques: single section binding, sewn boards binding, crossed structure binding, long stitch binding, zig-zag accordion fold binding and folded books. Once you’ve mastered these skills, you’ll be able to keep your bookshelves healthy for years to come by rebinding existing books or making new ones.

Cost: £45 (incl materials)

The Book Studio, Aylsham, Norfolk

Call: 01263 734779

7. Learn the art of printmaking in Devon

From her studio on the edge of Dartmoor, printmaker Mary Gillett teaches a variety of printmaking techniques – etching, monoprint, collagraph, drypoint, carborundum and linocut – on two- or five-day workshops. Beginners will be guided through basic traditional processes, and more advanced artists will develop their techniques in various elements of printmaking.

Cost: £45 per day (incl hot drinks) 

Tamar Print Workshop, near Tavistock, Devon

Call: 07817 165856

8. Stone carving at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Little can beat the therapeutic qualities of chiselling a hunk of stone in the fresh Yorkshire air. This five-day course in the inspiring Yorkshire Sculpture Park is open to all abilities and allows you to work on stone in the round or on a relief-based carving. You’ll be encouraged to use hand tools throughout in order to create a finer, more intricate style of carving.

Cost: £285 (incl materials) 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Call: 01924 832631

9. Basketmaking in County Down

Basketry can seem complicated to untrained eyes and hands, but under guidance from Clive Lyttle and Elaine Burke you can learn this ancient craft with ease. Using homegrown willow, the duo run day-long workshops from their smallholding in County Down, teaching weaving patterns and the basketmaking process. By the end you will have your very own Irish willow basket to take home.

Cost: £48 (incl materials and refreshments) 

Welig Crafts, Portaferry, County Down

Call: 028 4277 1542

10. Stained glass in the Peak District

Surrounded by the epic Peak, you’ll find lots of natural inspiration on this three-day stained-glass course run by Dave Griffin in Bakewell. The course is perfect for beginners wanting to design and create decorative stained-glass panels. Dave focuses on design, glass cutting, soldering and traditional leading techniques.

Cost: £345 (incl materials and hot drinks) 

Dave Griffin, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Call: 01629 814770


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