We're aware that we've been mighty quiet recently... however, just like swans, we've been quiet on the surface but massively busy below the water getting lots done - we're excited to share with you what we've been up to and also to give you a chance to have a say on what happens next...
Firstly, news of our amazing creative space. Rather than rest on our laurels as we've been unable to host our workshops over the last three months, we've been opening up our space and creating an even more exciting proposition.
For those of you that have been to our workshops before, you'll know that we have the main teaching room - the large room that's visible from Stoke Bridge; a kitchen and bathroom and a couple of storage rooms at the back. Not so now... look what we've been up to:
So, we've now opened up the back of the workshops to create a dedicated clay room - it's such a lovely bright space as we've got a new window looking out over the lane by the side of our building, and a separate entrance too! That gives us 3 teaching rooms as well as kitchen and toilet facilities, a kiln, potter's whell and sinks to wash up materials in too. We'll be able to accommodate much larger groups; split groups and separate workshops being held at the same time for a couple of tutors at a time.
Whilst work was going on in the new rooms, we also took the opportunity of dry-lining the kitchen - that wall was historically susceptible to damp because of its location - no more! All of these jobs would have been quite disruptive if we'd been open for workshops - we're thinking of it as a bonus that we've been able to do this and not to be the interruption to classes!
In terms of opening up our workshops for classes, although the hospitality industry is looking at 4th July as a possible date for some venues, we're not envisaging being able to do much in our creative space until later on in the year - possibly even after the summer's over. Your health and safety and ours is obviously our main concern and, as we're an indoor space, and our workshops are interactive and social (and we're glad they are!), it does mean that social distancing would be difficult.
So, in the meantime, we're very conscious that there have been so many opportunities to learn new things online - many, many creators have been posting lots of free classes and suggestions online over the last three months - we've been sharing these as much as possible. However, as online is becoming the temporary new 'normal', here's where your views are important to us:
We're thinking of offering classes on Zoom in disciplines that would work that way. We've been chatting to Annie from Rockafella Industries about putting on a Zoom Drum Lampshade Making workshop as our first one.
Annie's class was popular when we hosted it back in March last year and we've been wanting to host another one - and there's no reason why this shouldn't bee an online class.
The way it would work is: you'd sign up and pay for the class (likely to be around £15); we'd send you (or deliver, if local), the lampshade making 'kit' - you can use your own material or request us to send you material that we have available; we'd then send you a link to join the Zoom meeting and Annie would guide you through the process. Whilst the instruction's in progress, Annie would have control of 'muting' everyone so that you can all hear her; at various points in the workshop, Annie would then unmute everyone and open up for questions so that noone gets left behind.
We'd love to hear your views on the above - we're going to be asking our social media audience about interest for the first course and, if it's a viable concept, we'll then set a date, with registration available on our website in the usual way.
We'd also love to hear from you on other online courses that you'd like to see us host. With some workshops, it may be possible to send you materials in advance of the course; with others, it may be more practical to ask you to obtain materials/equipment - we'll always sent you links/suggestions on where to get these from. Looking at this with positivity, it does mean that Zoom workshops can reach a geographically much wider audience - you can invite friends to take classes alongside you and you'll all 'see' each other whilst you're working away.
Please email us with your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on our social media posts - we'd really love to begin offering some workshops... even if it's in a temporarily virtual world!
So, that's us - now that we've finished work on the building, we'll be working hard on talking to new tutors for workshops in the future; setting up virtual workshops and keeping up with Government guidance on getting back to offering physical workshops again.
'See' you all soon - even if it's via a screen