“Every student wants to go home feeling like they have accomplished something and it's my job as a tutor to make sure that happens." Ewa, creative tutor at Gartmore House
An impressive building with a creative heart at its core
This impressive venue is the host to some of Scotland's most inspiring creative workshops. Gartmore House is set in the stunning landscape of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park in rural Stirlingshire. The team provide creative holidays and retreats for hundreds of people every year.
CraftCourses crew member, Fran, recently caught up with the Digital Marketing Assistant of Gartmore House, Alison, to learn all there is to know about this magnificent venue.
Alison was thrilled when we wanted to interview her about Gartmore House, you could instantly tell that the whole team were proud of the experiences they offer to their students and for the opportunity of being custodians for such an important building in the Scottish landscape. Alison shares below some lovely detail about the workshops on offer and the history of Gartmore House.
Can you describe a typical month at Gartmore House?
Most months we run four full weeks of crafts and within those weeks there are three or four crafts running all at the same time, so no week is quite the same! The great thing about having a variety of courses on at the same time, is that it still allows friends and couples who share different interests to travel together and get the most out of their holiday. Nothing beats the buzz of having a house full of crafters. It brings the whole site to life, but what strikes us, is that once the workshop doors shut, you’d never know they were there! Everyone is so busy beavering away and working on their projects that we only hear them when they down tools for a tea break!
Tell us about your workshop space and your surroundings.
Gartmore House is nestled amongst the rolling hills and dense forests of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park in rural Stirlingshire. This quirky 18th-century manor house has been given a totally new lease of life and welcomes crafters of all disciplines to come and recharge their creative batteries. We’re lucky enough to have four dedicated workshop spaces in the main house and several rooms just across the road in our activity centre as well.
The Russell Room is our biggest workshop room and is always a popular choice amongst tutors since it has plenty of natural light and wood floors that don’t mind a little bit of artistic mess!
When did Gartmore House first start residential courses?
Originally, we worked as a conference centre for a huge variety of groups throughout the year, but in 2008 we started to host craft residentials. These original courses, Patchwork & Quilting, Hill Walking, and Watercolour Painting, proved to be so popular that people started asking for more, so in 2018 we expanded our course catalogue and switched our focus to a craftier outlook.
The Oak Room
Can you tell us about the variety of courses on offer?
For 2021 we have 21 courses on offer but that will more than double come 2022 and we’re certain that there’s something for everyone. Courses such as Knitting & Crochet, Patchwork & Quilting, Watercolour Painting, and Sewing have been firm favourites for years and we have many guests who come back year after year. But we wanted to offer more courses, even ones that maybe people wouldn’t expect. We’re so excited for people to try out our new courses which include Leatherwork, Stained Glass, Bird Identification, Mosaics with Slate, Creative Writing, and so much more.
Tell us all about your team
Our in-house team is pretty small but we certainly make up for that with all of our big personalities! It’s not unusual to see us all mucking-in together around the house to keep things running smoothly.
For every craft and activity, we have a specialist tutor come to share their tips, tricks, and wisdom. We’re lucky enough to have over 30 tutors who come from all over Scotland and England to run our courses.
Do your craft tutors also craft in their spare time, are they specialists or do they like to try other crafts too?
Yes to all! For many of our tutors, crafting is their full-time job whether it’s in a teaching capacity, as a maker, or a combination of the two. For example, our Tapestry Weaving tutor, Fiona Hutchison, regularly exhibits her work throughout the UK alongside teaching workshops, while Samira Hill, our Knitting & Crochet tutor, has recently begun selling her own patterns. Then there’s Claire Workman who loves to turn her hand to multiple crafty disciplines. Not only can she create beautiful patchwork quilts but she is also a pro-milliner and regularly creates gorgeous, sculpted hats and fascinators for all occasions.
It’s amazing to see all of our tutors’ skill and passion shine through both in their creations and in their classes. It certainly isn’t uncommon for everyone in the office to have to pick their jaws up off the floor when we see what they’ve been busy making.
What advice would you give to other people looking to teach their skill?
This is an excellent question so we put it to our felting tutor, Ewa Kuniczak, and this is what she said:
"Firstly, you must know and understand your subject inside out so you know how to deal with any potential 'disasters'. Secondly, a good tutor puts their students’ experience before themselves. This means helping your students achieve their potential and grow in confidence in their own abilities, and being prepared to put in the hours of preparation for each session. It’s essential that you’re equipped for almost every eventuality, and if not, then be prepared to implement some creative improvisation! Thirdly, a happy atmosphere creates happy students. Happy students will feel at ease to enjoy what they are doing which allows them to learn more effectively. Finally, each session should end on a summary to review everything they’ve achieved and some considerations for future development - a positive note to end on!”
What is the funniest thing to ever happen on one of your courses?
When guests come on holiday together, they regularly astonish us by saying how well they get on. Since we have multiple crafts running at once, it gives them the chance to pursue their own interests during the day and ensures that there’s plenty to talk about over dinner. On one memorable occasion, we had a couple tell us as they were checking out, “This is the only holiday we’ve been on where we haven’t argued!” They were totally amazed that they’d managed to spend a full week together without any bickering. It’s a really fond memory and one we can’t recall without laughing.
Well I know I am excited about booking a stay with Gartmore House after my interview with Alison. The team are inspiring, the accomodation is beautiful and the house and the grounds are exemplary.
If you would like to learn more and secure your creative retreat click here.