Since 2005, ‘Quirky Workshops’ in Greystoke has been offering an eclectic and unrivalled range of arts, crafts and heritage skills courses. We now run over 140 ‘Quirky Workshops’ each year from our pretty 17thC farmhouse on the fringes of the beautiful Lake District and Eden Valley in Cumbria. In July 2020 we opened a lovely new, listed & spacious 'Covid-secure' teaching studio - the 'Swallow Barn', which now enjoys consistently excellent feedback; please see below for all details. Our new programme for each year is sent out at the end of October, by email, directly to those on our database. Please contact us directly if you wish to join this list in order to have early sight of next year’s programme.
Buttons, Bud Vases and Tea Lights - Textures in Ceramics with Gwen Bainbridge. This day is suitable for all abilities.
Much of Gwen's work is defined by the unique incorporation of textile pattern into her porcelain, making her work so unique and admired.
Gwen will start the day by introducing you to porcelain clay, a beautiful material to work with; you are able to make quite fine pots as a complete beginner. You will learn how to roll the clay to a use-able thickness, then roll lace patterns of your choice into the clay. Once leather hard you will construct a slab pot, which may be a vase, or tea light. These pots may then be further embellished with clay buttons or lace, all of which Gwen will skilfully show you how to do. A coloured slip may be added at this stage to show up the texture in the lace patterns. Scraps of embellished clay may be made into buttons or jewellery.
Your pieces can be detailed in white or a slip or lustre added to highlight the textures that you have incorporated. Adding a lustre might incur an extra firing charge.
If you have a particular piece of lace or textured fabric that you would like to incorporate into the vase then do bring it along, Gwen will advise if it is suitable for using, maybe you have a piece of lace from your wedding dress/veil you would like to immortalise in a vase. A lovely course for mother and daughter to come to together.
About Gwen Bainbridge: I see my work as a three-dimensional scrap-book coming from both memories of my childhood and from my response to the experiences brought about through research in books, rummaging through bric a brac, antique fairs, old photographs and magazines. I’m always on the lookout for items that I might use in my work, both for inspiration and for direct practical use. I’m drawn to decorative items. Even as a child I had favourite buttons from my mum’s button box that I played with. There were some beautiful green glass dishes that were brought out for parties and the best china laid out when the minister was coming for tea. These are very strong memories for me. But alongside this finery there was the informal, natural world of my surroundings living on a rural farm in Cumbria. The hedgerows where we found birds nests with the treasured little eggs of wild birds, which we watched until they hatched and finally fledged.
I find that nature itself seems too perfect to try to reproduce. I tend to explore the work of craftsmen of the past who themselves might have been first inspired by the natural world. I appreciate the finery of the costumes of bygone eras, and the distinctive qualities of their production. The more limited and yet still lavish colour palette of Elizabethan times, the retro styles of the 1950s and 60s. It’s quite an eclectic cocktail of inspiration stored in my mind and continually re-visited.
About the Swallow Barn:
“I’ve been thinking about last week’s workshop session. I am SO impressed with the loveliness of the Swallow barn. In the midst of this COVID world of chaos and uncertainty, it’s such a calm, safe space and I’m sure that everyone who visits will agree. I also appreciate the abundance of extra safety/hygiene measures that you’ve put in place. It works so well. Also, as Gwen mentioned, the extra space and its layout has made for a more social environment - it’s easier to chat and to look at what others are doing. I’m so glad I came, I feel uplifted, somewhat healed and much more positive as a result. Oh... and the salad lunch was just wonderful! “
“Attended an art class with artist Margaret 23 August and was extremely impressed with the tuition and the venue. All possible precautions were taken to maintain social distances and enable personal sanitization. The Swallow barn was a fantastic place to paint, light, airy and very peaceful, all mod cons were set up to show tuition and display our work on a screen. The lunch food was homemade, three types of soup, hunks of bread and two pudding choices. I couldn’t fault any of the day and look forward to going back if any more art courses are run. Well done all’
We spent the time during lock down upgrading a first floor barn and our very spacious ‘Swallow Barn’ is now up and running! The new Quirky Workshop studio allows plenty of distancing for up to 10 people using 8 separate tables, two hand washing stations, a one way system, 2 stairways, sanitising and a large screen on which to project the live stream of tutor’s detailed work, allowing students to stay at their desks for all the previous ‘gather round’ moments.
Lunch is provided on separate trays and brought to each student at their desk by staff wearing masks. We’ve had very positive feedback from students remarking how safe they feel, whilst still being able to enjoy a favourite crafting day out, under as normal as possible circumstances.
Here are some of the measures we will have in place, both within the Swallow Barn and its environs, to ensure the safety of us all during the workshop day:
• Each student has their own desk unless you have booked with others, in which case we could seat you together at the same table.
• Hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers will be available at key points, on entry and within your room. You will be asked to wash your hands frequently, especially just before and after breaks.
• There will be several windows open to ensure the room is well ventilated throughout the day. So please also bring ‘extra layers’ if the day outside is cooler.
• Lunch will be provided individually on trays and students can take this at their desks. Of course, you can bring your own lunch if you prefer.
• You will keep your allocated mug for the day, the usual hot drinks will be available and served at arm’s length.
• Please bring a face mask with you. Although, during the normal course of the day the wearing of face masks is optional, they may be required if you're moving about or in the event that close tutor contact is necessary for whatever reason - in which case both tutor and student should wear masks. We have some beautiful handmade masks for sale here for £3.
• We have a camera in place that films the tutor demonstrations close up, allowing a projected live feed to a large screen at the front of the room. This means all previous ‘gather round moments’ have been replaced with students remaining safely at their desks watching from afar.
• Sanitising procedures for ‘shared use’ tools will be in place. Many tutors will provide sets of tools for each student.
• There will be one-way circulation with distancing maintained in compromised spaces, including stairs ‘up and down’ for students.
We look forward to welcoming you here in Cumbria and the Lake District.
If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
Welcome drinks: fresh coffee & home-made biscuits; a lovely 2 course Aga lunch served on individual trays at your desks or outside on the Tea Lawn if it's warm enough. To finish off the day, a freshly made Cream Tea (including Aga-baked scones, cream and jam).
Our days are considered special treats; many come back time and time again and often combine it with a short break to the Lake District.
We have been hosting and organising 'Quirky Workshops' since 2005, from what was the original C2C Greystoke Cycle Café situated on the northern fringes of the Lake District. It was with great sadness that the Cycle Café was closed to the public in 2018; we since have become ‘Greystoke Craft Garden & Barns’. All our tutors are carefully hand selected professional experts and many are considered as national leaders in their field.
There will be an additional cost for materials used (including both clay and 2 firings of the clay) of £10, payable to the tutor on the day. You should be able to make at least 2 vases and 2 tea lights in a day and use the remaining clay to make some small delicate decorations
The vases can be posted to you if you are not local, at an additional charge of £10, or if you prefer you can collect from Greystoke Cycle Cafe.
This craft course provider has been awarded Platinum status for receiving 50 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.
The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.
They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.
Arranged for me as a present - absolutely brilliant day. Would highly recommend.
I love Gwen's workshops. Instructions & demonstrations are clear, help always available and all joined together with humor and then I go home feeling a sense of achievement.
Today I went home feeling very creative and well fed !
Really clear instructions. Great day.
Brilliant day. Gwen was a really great instructor throughout the day!
Excellent Day. Interesting & very satisfying to make such pretty things.
I had a wonderful day at the Quirky Workshop. I'd never worked with porcelain before but Gwen explained everything really well, was very helpful when I struggled with delicate pieces. I managed to produce four items, plus a few trinkets, which I'm very proud of! The venue was a very relaxing place to be, food was excellent and kept me going. I'd recommend this course to anyone, and a voucher for a Quirky Workshop is on my Christmas wish list!
This course was a retirement gift to push me outside my comfort zone- I have never been known for any artistic ability! I had heard so many glowing reports about Quirky Workshops. Gwen was a legend, patient, reassuring, completely understanding about my need to have everything explained several times! Other course members had some artistic skills and we were all able to produce finished articles at our own level. I loved the different techniques we learnt for creating patterns on porcelain- I had only previously used clay at school. My husband was amazed to see what I had produced.
We were also well looked after with tea, biscuits and lunch, a real treat. I would recommend anyone to have a go at a Quirky Workshop whether you are experienced or not.
I LOVE this workshop! I have worked in Art & Design all my life, but with very limited experience of ceramics. Gwen is an excellent and patient tutor, who has been able to help my naturally clumsy self to develop some skill in working with porcelain (I need a lot more experience though!)
Greystoke Cycle Cafe is a lovely venue - and the refreshments provided throughout the day are wonderful. I would highly recommend both Gwen's workshop and Quirky Workshops at Greystoke to anyone interested in Arts and Crafts