Thursday, 13 May 2010

Open Workshop - let's share and survive

In our recent report on the launch of the HCA Forum we mentioned an idea on how to tackle the challenges crafts are facing these days and ensure their survival. Our idea was for professional crafters to open up their studios / workshops to amateurs. Both by doing introductory courses and masterclasses but also by enabling  hobby crafters to come in their own time and work on their own stuff. The professional crafter could easily charge a small fee for the use of equipment and the hobby crafter would pay for their own material. But apart from the financial gains the professional crafter would be able to help the crafters get better at their craft and encourage those with the skills to take it further and thus secure the survival of endangered crafts.

In the same sort of way Martena Duss and Sissi Holleis opened their Sweat Shop cafe in Paris. Like at an Internet cafe people come there and rent a sewing machine on an hourly basis. Coffee and cake is available together with evening classes that can help you better your technique. The Sweat Shop is described as a "cafe couture" and is a new concept in the creative world. I wish them the best of luck and sincerely hope that others will try the same (maybe in London!)


  1. karen delahunty13 May 2010 at 03:08

    like the article. 'cafe couture' is a great idea. it is something i already do in Coventry area. i teach get creative through sewing and learning textile art skills. from basic to advanced at all ages and abilities. We work in small groups so that everyone gets individual attention. we have tea/coffee a piece of cake and a chat as well as do some craft.sewing too. its a great way to keep these skills alive and well as meeting mew people and enriching our lives at the same time.

  2. Thanks Karen,
    That's really great to hear that this sort of thing is going on all over the place. I know that there are also Mend and Make do sessions around the country (UK) but I haven't been able to make it to one yet.

    If you want to you are welcome to let us know when and where you are meeting next through this comment or link to somewhere where people can see it so that they know where to go if they are interested and local to you.

  3. this is what I did in 2008. I knew a number of similar designer/makers couldn't afford space so set up a workshop in the centre of Leeds for them to rent out machines and tables as needed. I also work from there and rented another floor to a military and accoutrement maker, who in turn rents his equipment and space out ad hoc. This has developed into us teaching classes in a wide variety of craft subjects, mentoring start up micro crafts businesses, and community groups using the space as well, and everything comes with tea and cake

  4. Thank you so much for telling us about it Dawn. It is such a great idea and seems like such an obvious one. My own mother actually went for a couple of courses at Lis Werenberg's glass-making studio Katboelgaard in Denmark and then came back again to work on her own stuff.

    Could you please mention the name of these wonderful places or a website so that anyone interested can find them.

  5. your welcome. It does seem to work. i teach in a 'tips I've found along the way' style rather than formally which seems to work really well and anyone using it can see what the reality of doing it for a living is like, plus we can then point them in the right direction if they are setting up professionally as we've the background experience there as well is the website for our space

  6. Uhh, the class on pastie making - is that the type you eat or something you sew that I have just never heard of?

  7. lo lupper modesty pieces for burlesque girls ;-)

  8. oh... I see! Now I feel a bit silly ;-)
    I guess I will just have to keep looking for someone who want's to teach me how to make the ones you eat. :-0

  9. lol, you're not the first to make that mistake,

    when we get a more H&S approved kitchen I'll add a class especially for you :-)


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