A while ago I was invited by Viking to spend a day crafting with some of the Manchester blogging community. Never one to turn down a chance to learn some new skills and to spend a child-free and guilt-free day making stuff, I was more than happy to oblige. So off I skipped out the door with my smallest handbag (that definitely held no baby wipes or emergency raisin boxes) and headed into town to the lovely King Street Townhouse. We were greeted with a bag of sweets and I thought the day couldn't get any better, although trying to introduce yourself through a mouthful of refresher chew doesn't make for an easy first conversation. After I had managed to catapult half a chew from my mouth onto someone's shoes (classy I know) off crafting we went. That's me below looking all serious, but definitely not feeling guilty.
First up was block printing. I did an introduction to printing techniques quite a few moons ago at Ministry of Craft so had a little experience with carving a design into a piece of Lino, but under the guidance of Stacey from The Crafty Hen we actually carved our print blocks out of good old erasers using Lino cutters. I have often wondered how many people actually still use rubbers (I know exciting stuff going on in my head, right?!) so it was great to think all those lonely ones in the shop could still have a purpose in life and it's a much cheaper way to do small prints. We printed onto box files but get the right paint medium and the possibilities for customising things using this method is endless; tea-towels, framed prints, DIY wrapping paper, notebooks, folders. There's some great inspiration on Pinterest if you fancy getting lost down a rabbit-hole.
Next up in the speed-crafting arena was a session in Modern Calligraphy with Joyce from Artsy Nibs. After seeing lots of beautiful Calligraphy art prints in interiors recently I was particularly looking forward to this. So after Joyce had arranged my calligraphy tools into perpendicular angles around my paper and given us all a lesson in posture (eeeek), we set to it. For a messy crafter like me, who normally works on the floor with double-sided tape stuck to my hair and a pencil in my mouth, this made me nervous but it soon made total sense. Calligraphy is a visual art rather than a craft, and once you get lost in it it is very therapeutic but it does require a certain level of discipline. So I have my Calligraphy set, all lined up in straight lines, waiting for me to have another go which I definitely will. (Joyce is totally lovely by the way and not the neurotic taskmaster I may accidentally have portrayed her as, just passionate about her art! She also runs Calligraphy and Brush Lettering workshops in Manchester if you fancy trying it.)
Finally we moved on to a bit of old-school cutting and sticking as we were given the chance to customise our own notebooks with the help of The Crafty Hen again. Opting for a geometric design, I went for the same colours as my block-printed file. I just can't help myself when it comes to coordinating things, it's like an affliction. Some pretty coloured paper or card, sellotape, glue and a roll of washi tape later and the transformation was complete. I felt like I was back at Secondary School, creating a canvas to scrawl my deepest professions on. Except this time it wouldn't say 'I heart Darren Ward' (who incidentally didn't heart me) or 'Mr Grierson smells' (which I'm sorry, but that was just a fact) but might read something along the lines of 'I heart my bed' or 'That wine smells nice, is it ok to drink at 3pm?'. This part reminded me that craft doesn't need to be all big projects and fancy supplies, and that the simplest of projects can still be incredibly satisfying. It's also a great one for stationary fanatics, which I think there is a wonderful weird community of out there. You know who you are!
So after a relaxing day which reminded me that learning new stuff rocks, I left with my newly customised goods and a goody bag too. I then proceeded to spend ten minutes rearranging them around the platform of the train station like an Instagram weirdo trying to get 'the edgy shot', kind of failed and went home to a glass of wine in the sun. You win some you lose some!
Thanks to the Viking team for organising a great day, for bringing the sunshine and to Matt for all the brilliant photos x