I always dread New Year. When I try to focus on my achievements, I find them overshadowed by my failures and bad decisions. When I look to the year ahead, I am paralysed with fear on what it will bring. But the good thing about reflecting on what you haven’t done over the last 365 days means that you tend to seek out what will make you happy for the next 52 weeks.
Creative short courses, whether a day or a month long, have always made me feel both happy and calm. I find it a great way to learn. Short courses are often well structured but relaxed. You don’t have the stress of exams or assessments. After the strains and difficulties of every day adulting, courses should be an escape for us.
As an interior fabric company and (obvious) lover of home styling, the list I’ve put together leans heavily towards courses that will give you skills to make gorgeous works for your home.
The CASS at the London Metropolitan University
Aldgate East, London
Back in the day when we had brilliant polytechnics who offered an array of vocational courses, the CASS used to be the London Furniture College. The London Met has kept a number of furniture and furnishing courses since becoming a university. These include upholstery, caning, furniture restoration and gilding. They also offer courses in illustration, guitar making, silversmithing and 3D printing (to name a few). All courses are taught by industry professionals.
Images taken from the London Metropolitan University website
Victoria Hammond Interiors
I am sure many of you have balked at the price of bespoke curtains and blinds. If you want to make your own, you can learn at Victoria Hammond Interiors. You can take a one day course or sign up for a diploma in soft furnishings. You’ll leave with all the skills to make your own high end window furnishings. It will also be clear why costs a tidy amount! And if you’re looking for a career change, Victoria will give you all the know-how to run your own made-to-measure curtain and blind business.
Images taken from Victoria Hammond Interior website
Bristol Folk House
Those of you living in the West Country are spoilt for choice. The Bristol Folk House runs a vast programme of creative courses which will leave you wondering which to take first. Choose from subjects such as wood carving, interior design, stained glass, fabric printing and lino cut. They also do exercise and well-being classes, so you can look after you body and soul, all under one roof.
Bristol Folk House is an adult-education centre that receives no government or council funding. Therefore, they have to keep their tuition s*** hot to survive. There is also a café on site, which is great for a pre- or post-lesson coffee.
Plymouth College of Art
Plymouth College of Art is another university that offers a fantastic list of short courses. There are the creative courses that you would expect, such as upholstery, pottery, printmaking and illustration. They also teach the not so usual. These include hot glassblowing/sculpturing, natural dying techniques and flat pack furniture design and fabrication.
Most of the courses start on the 8 January, so you’ll have to be quick if you want a place.
Images taken from the Plymouth College of Art website
Ministry of Craft
The Ministry of Craft has near enough perfect reviews on Google. They have been teaching since 2008, so have lots of experience. Workshops are run at Fred Aldous in the Northern Quarter and The Edge in Chorlton. You can try your hands at crafts such as macramé, paper cutting, quilting and screen printing.
Images taken from the Ministry of Craft website
Inkwell Creative Minds
Inkwell Creative Minds is an amazing place. It teaches creative skills as an “integral part of the journey towards recovery for mental health issues”. They run open and referral-only based courses in ceramics, felting and collage. There is also a jazz choir you can join. So, if you’re like me, and one of the 25% that has a mental health condition, this an extra safe space for you to learn something new.
Images taken from the Inkwell Creative Minds website
Living in London, I am spoiled for choice when it comes to finding courses. When I came across Myerscough College, I felt absolutely gutted to be so far away. It’s set in beautiful grounds. Short course subjects include woodworking, mosaics, floristry, furniture restoration and garden design. There is also an International Equine arena, golf course, the National Arboricultural Centre and tropical greenhouses. It sounds like the most idyllic and inspiring place to learn.
Images taken from the Myerscough College website
Royal Botanical Gardens
You don’t have to be a gardener or even have a garden to be seduced by the array of workshops at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Their range of short courses stretches from botanical illustration to digital plant photography and garden design. You can even learn how to create medicine from trees. It all sounds totally hippy, and I love it!
Glasgow School of Art
Hands up who would love a work of art in their home? Hand up who can afford to buy a work of art? Most of us will be answering a sad ‘no’. Instead, why not make your own masterpiece at the Glasgow School of Art? Their courses are mind-blowing; fused glass and slumping, sculpturing the figure in clay, sculpturing the head in clay and oil portraiture, are a fraction of subjects they offer.
Most of their courses started in October 2017, but they will release dates for their Spring/Summer session in March 2018. Keep an eye on their website, or sign up to their mailing list to keep up to date.
Images taken from the Glasgow School of Art website
Cocoon Home (Bespoke Soft Furnishings)
London and Wingham, Kent
And last, but of course, not least, are the traditional lampshade courses I run. These take place in my North London workroom and at Victoria Hammond Interiors in Kent. I won’t big up my course. Instead, you can take a look at testimonials here. It’s a enormously fun two days, and you need absolutely no prior sewing knowledge to attend.
Images taken by Angela Constantinou, Cocoon Home.
Disclaimer: Cocoon Home is not affiliated with any of these education centres or has undertaken assessment of quality (except for Cocoon Home!).