Strength in Numbers canvases are on display

So, they have gone now. All summer, I sat with these beautiful pieces of artwork, admiring them and mulling over the stories behind each one. My life feels so much richer for having met so many wonderfully talented and open-hearted people, who were willing to share their strengths into the mix. Running the project confirmed […]

Launch of “Donation Only” workshops

At Birkhill House recently launched a new series of “donation only” workshops. At the risk of undervaluing the provision of crafting tuition, I took the decision for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, I would like to encourage participation. I genuinely feel that if everyone crafted, the world would be a better place. […]

My Frame of Mind continues to evolve

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I feel like I need to tie up the loose ends from the last post before lockdown. The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival was cancelled at the beginning of lockdown, and with it the three projects I wrote about in February that were being funded by the Joint Health Improvement Team at Scottish Borders Council […]

Gallery

Community Crafting during a global pandemic

It’s been so long since I’ve put up a blog post, and the world feels like a very different place since my last post in February. Lockdown was a strange and wondrous time At Birkhill House. Life remained largely unchanged for the majority of the residents here, as they grazed, scratched, basked in the sun and produced new life. As difficult as it was to put plans on hold and cancel my lovely volunteers and workshops, I found it surprisingly refreshing to transform the workshop spaces into a classroom for my children and space to work on projects of my own. I threw myself into crafting for my own pleasure, which ironically isn’t something that is always possible if you run a crafting centre. I also ended up making and distributing over 90 free crafting packs to the community, starting with cellophane sun catchers at the beginning of lockdown, followed by Easter egg mobiles a few weeks later. I left a box of packs outside the gates and invited people to pick them up if they were passing by. All 16 of those first sun catcher packs were picked up and I received a wave of lovely pictures of sun glinting through the designs, like honeyed light through sweeties. When the Easter egg mobiles were all claimed as well, I received another wave of creative feedback and knew I was doing the right thing by sharing the crafting love. Inspired by the stories of Italian citizens singing to each other from their balconies, my children and I made apartment buildings with little windows and lots going on. We used tall thin strips of wallpaper, scraps of material and different papers to create a bustling – but socially distanced – cityscape. It was too much fun to keep to ourselves, so we assembled 40 packs so others could create their own apartment buildings at home. The Lauder Post Office kindly agreed to distribute them and they were snapped up! The Wellbeing College in Galashiels liked the idea so much that we made up 20 for them as well.  When July arrived and we turned our attention to sorting fleece, the Lauderdale Rotary Club very kindly funded ten sets of felting needles and ten needle felting pads to go along with a carded fleece give-away. Ten packs went out to members of the public with a view to encouraging people to try a new skill during lockdown. So many people give me donations and waste materials, knowing that I like to come up with creative ways to use things. It was a joy to share these packs with so many with members of our community, and even better knowing that everything came from my stash!

Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival events At Birkhill House

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I am so excited to be able to announce that we have three programme submissions for this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF): a 24-hour sponsored paint-a-thon, a project called ‘My Frame of Mind’, which will explore the festival’s theme of ‘perspectives’, and an up-cycling craft day, ‘Plastic Fantastic’. All three will be happening […]