Heritage Open Days 9-18 September 2022 - What will you discover?

Enchanting Skills: 5 Specialist Craft Events

Craftsmanship often dazzles us with the painstaking beauty of making. There’s something magical about watching materials such as wood, metal or clay unfold and transform when they are skillfully handled. And we always love listening to the histories told by hands. With the rise of mass production though craft skills are under threat of dying out. Here are just some of the many fantastic events planned for this September showcasing these makers, celebrating their skills and creativity… and maybe inspiring you to try something new!

Close up image of someone sanding down the baseboard of a guitar like musical instrument© Newark College - Discover how musical instruments are made

Mellow sounds in crafting

Newark College, Nottinghamshire

As you softly strum your guitar or pluck your violin, have you ever wondered how these beloved instruments were made to produce such wonderful sounds? Find out by joining these guided tours to the specialist workshop at Newark College, the home of guitar, piano, violin and woodwind crafts. Explore how a guitar is made out of cardboard, and how the perfect sounds are created and restored by amazing specialists.

Two men in high vis vests, a worker supervising a visitor holding a clay tile ready to press it down on the work surface.

How fast can you make a clay roof tile? / © Wienerberger Ltd

Handmaking a clay roof tile

Keymer Tiles, Wienerberger Ltd, Surrey

Clay is such a unique material. It is colourful and malleable with endless possibilities for creativity. And yet, it is also adequately solid and stable to stand the test of time. When clay is made into roof tiles, they can go with many architectural styles that are popular in Europe and East Asia. Learn the ancient art of how clay is transformed into roof tiles that protect people from rain and wind, and make your own over free tea and biscuits!

A woman piping lines ready for final paintwork onto a vase in a workshop.

Watch artists at work painting Moorcroft's beautiful pots / © Moorcroft Ltd

Pottery and painting

Moorcroft Ltd, Staffordshire

Besides the functional roof tiles, clay can also transform into something decorative, like beautiful pottery. Ceramic artists shape the size and form, building up the body and bones, and designers and painters dress the pottery up with inventive patterns of florals, animals, and landscape. Step behind the scenes to discover inventive pottery design, and enjoy the demonstration of hand-painting a pot at Moorcroft, a pottery producer with 150 years of history. There will also be a guided tour around the 1913 factory and the Grade II-listed bottle oven. There’s even a chance to meet the Museum Curator, and they will open up the usually locked cabinets and uncover the secret past of the historical workshop!

Close up of someone sat at a small cold forge holding a broad silver spoon in a gloved hand.

Try your hand at metalwork at Sterling Works / © Ruskin Mill Trust

Test your metal

Freeman College, Ruskin Mill Trust, South Yorkshire

We might have not been so lucky to be born with a silver spoon in our mouths, but here is a chance for us to learn how to forge one with our own hands! Let’s go back in time to the 19th Century, the start of the cutlery manufacturing industry in Sheffield. At Freeman College spoon-making is still an important part of the curriculum, which is used to lay foundational skills for making more complicated silver crafts. Join them this September to see how to make a spoon and more using traditional methods. 

Lacework in progress with lots of small bobbins holding the intertwining threads for a pattern laid out on a cylinder

Many events will showcase the art of lace making over the festival / © Ceridwen / WikiCommons

Weaving a delicate lace

St Mary's Church, Buckinghamshire

According to the Lace Guild, a UK educational charity about lacemaking, the word ‘laces’ largely referred to ‘ties’ in early English. Laces, then, are more than threads that are twisted into beautiful patterns, edged on gloves, collars and sashes since the early 1600s, but also tied together the women and communities who made them. Like a lot of other handicraft skills, handmaking laces declined with the development of machine production. Discover the history of lacemaking and see the work of 14th, 15th and 16th-century craftsmen in this medieval church. You will also see a live demonstration of the process of lacemaking, and maybe have a go!

Find out more

PLEASE NOTE - These events were accurate at the time of publication but the details may change. Some events require pre-booking. Please check the individual entries for updates and details.