Hands-On Crafts – traditional crafts in London

Hands-On Crafts Bring a Touch of Artisanal Magic to Central London 

In a world increasingly dominated by digital media, the process of creating something with your own hands offers a refreshing break and opportunity to create something entirely unique! 

Crafts involve creating handmade objects or artwork, they celebrate tradition, and push back against the fast-paced nature of modern living. As a society we are embracing crafts more and more. From programmes such as Great British Sewing Bee to the accessibility of handcrafted products online, we are all increasingly aware of the importance of craft products and the skills involved in creating them.  

From traditional techniques passed down through generations to modern twists on classic crafts, West Dean’s courses offer a hands-on practical learning experience where you can create something unique with your own hands. Instead of just reading about these crafts, you get to actively participate in the process, gaining a deeper understanding of the materials and techniques involved.       

Why should you try a new craft? 

It's a great opportunity to create something entirely unique. Unleash your creativity and explore all the possibilities. Your creation can look however you want, allowing you to infuse it with the individuality that is lacking in mass-produced items!   

You’ll enjoy an authentic experience, learning skills and techniques that have been passed down through generations. You're stepping into the shoes of artisans from bygone eras, learning from expert tutors how to use tools and methods that have stood the test of time. Tutors will be able to offer you one-to-one guidance, go back over techniques and answer any questions you have.   

Crafted items are generally more environmentally friendly and sustainable. They involve traditional, low-impact production methods and shorter supply chains that reduce the overall carbon footprint. Additionally, handcrafted products are often made with meticulous attention to detail and quality craftsmanship, the items are built to last rather than being disposable - reducing the demand for constant replacements. 

Engaging in these activities can be a form of mindfulness. The focus required and tactile nature of many crafts pulls you into the present moment, offering an excellent way to alleviate stress and promote a sense of calm, as well as giving you a new appreciation for the skill and dedication required to create handmade items. 

West Dean’s Bloomsbury London short courses feature a variety of crafts including leatherwork, basketry, calligraphy, embroidery and textiles. Giving you the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in creativity, try a new craft and be inspired.  

Award-winning contemporary Basketmaker Mary Crabb will be teaching a series of basketmaking and textile basketry workshops in Bloomsbury. Create one or two small scale baskets in Twined Basketry (Friday 26 April 2024), learn to create a coiled basket in Basketmaking - colourful coiled basketry (Friday 24 May 2024) or let your creativity run wild and explore a range of colourful, natural or textured, wools, fabric, strings and twine with Textile Basketry - soft sculpture with wrapping (Friday 28 June 2024). 

Jeremy and Carla Bonner, who run the Bonner Leather Studio, have a series of leatherworking courses that will teach you the hand skills, knowledge and confidence to work with leather in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, while letting you create the leather accessory of your choice! Using vegetable tanned leather and brassware sourced in the UK, as well as hand tools and traditional leather working techniques, you could Make a traditional leather belt (Sunday 12 May 2024), your own Sewing kit (Saturday 22 June 2024) or a Bespoke dog collar and short leash (Sunday 23 June 2024) for your furry friend. 

If you are captivated by the elegance of modern calligraphy, we have a fantastic evening class for you! Over the course of four evenings you can learn to create your own Modern calligraphic cards with pen and nib (18 April – 9 May 2024). Alternatively, Yoko Takenami’s one-day Japanese and Chinese brush calligraphy – Kana and Kanji (Saturday 15 June or Saturday 13 July) courses will give you a hands-on experience of Japanese calligraphy. Following a brief historic introduction, you will experience writing different forms and styles of characters used in Japanese and Chinese calligraphy. 

The courses are taught at West Dean’s new Bloomsbury London campus, just a stone’s throw from The British Museum, Oxford Street and Russell Square, offering you the opportunity to enjoy vibrant local markets, cosy cafes, unique shops and world-renowned museums alongside a unique creative course.    

See all the Bloomsbury London courses here.