These new sessions are giving wannabe-crafters in Sheffield to chance to play with creativity

“I was six or seven when I first taught myself to crochet by reading a book about it,” says Ruth Waller.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 15:21 pm
Textile artist Ruth Waller at The Harley Studios. Credit: Ben Boswell.

“I spent many hours having to entertain myself as a child, while my mum worked, and learned to crochet from a Ladybird book that someone had given me.

“I then discovered a whole set of Golden Hands Craft magazines that my mum had collected, and gradually worked my way through them, taking the opportunity to learn and absorb everything I could.

“Textiles have always been my biggest love, but through these magazines I discovered woodwork, ceramics, metal work and everything in between.”

Ruth at work in her studio, on the Welbeck estate. Photos by Ben Boswell 

Ruth’s interest led her to study art at the University of Derby and she later completed an MA in textiles.

Today Ruth is a professional textile artist, and she and her partner, Lee Hewett, both work together from their studios on the Welbeck estate to create original and collectable wall installations for national and international clients.

And as of this month, Ruth is now also one of a number of artists based on the estate, near Worksop, that have teamed up with The Harley Gallery to launch a new adults Makers Club for would-be artists and crafters.

While children’s activities are already regularly held at The Harley Gallery, this new Makers Club means that grown-ups can now get in on the act too. The monthly creative workshops have been designed specifically for adults so that they can try their hand at all kinds of crafts – everything from printing and ceramics, to crocheting and sewing.

Ruth, who is leading the new programme, which launches on September 21, says: “Over the years I’ve held lots of craft sessions for children and have noticed there are always parents standing on the sidelines, desperate to join in and have a go themselves.

“Many have even commented to me over the years that they would like a similar club, where they can go and learn, and where there is no pressure to be perfect, but where they can just enjoy the process of making.

“Most noticeable, I’ll never forget, was the creative toddler group that I ran, where by the end of the session the adults were all on the craft tables, making, sticking, and just enjoying the process while chatting.

“Those that have joined in previously have really enjoyed getting creative, and so we hope that our new monthly adult craft sessions will encourage people to give it a go and not to be afraid of getting creative. and learning a new skill.”

With this new Makers Club, Ruth also hopes to share her own passion for art and crafts, saying: “A lot of my own practice has evolved from learning traditional craft processes, breaking them down and then re-imagining them in my own way; this is what fuels my passion for what I do, turning things on their head and looking at things slightly differently, and I’d love share that.

“People coming along to these sessions don’t need to have any experience at all or even previous knowledge but can join us for a couple of hours a month on a Saturday afternoon and just enjoy the process.

“They can enjoy a cuppa and a chat with like-minded people and have a go at something new and have fun while learning from experienced and skilled artists.

“It may be that they leave with something useful for their home, or something they can give away as a personal and heartfelt present, but above all we hope that when they leave, they are inspired.

“We’ve all got creativity within us and hopefully these sessions will unleash some of that.”

Dayle Green, education and engagement manager at The Harley Gallery, said: “I have wanted to bring an adult craft club to our programme for some time.

“This is a great opportunity for people to come together in a creative environment, learn new skills and improve well-being, and also have some fun.”

The first Makers Club will take place from 2pm to 4.30pm on September 21 with the chance to learn about printing.

Other craft sessions will include graffiti sewing on October 19, where participants will sew onto old photographs, an introduction to pottery on November 16, and alternative approaches to the Christmas wreath on December 14.

This will be followed next year with sessions about crochet, recycled sculpture, basket making and upcycled garments.

Ruth adds: “I believe that there is creativity in all of us, you just have to take a little time out to find it.

“I want these sessions to be a distraction from the everyday, not a reason for people to worry about the outcome, but rather an opportunity to enjoy the processes of making and the benefits that it can bring. Basically, we are providing adults with the time and space to be allowed to play.

“There are many benefits to mental heath and wellbeing through these creative pursuits. It’s just about allowing yourself to be open and try new things that may seem a little daunting, but more often than not we find a repetitive or absorbing process like this can be very meditative and satisfying.”

Visit www.harleygallery.co.uk for more details on all sessions, which cost £18 each, and includes refreshments. Places are limited but spaces can be booked by calling The Harley Gallery on 01909 501700.