Christmas Crafts and Traditional Making

Get your creative juices flowing this Winter with a series of crafting workshops designed to introduce you to traditional crafts and enable you to make  unique decorative items and Christmas gifts.

Traditional crafts so often draw upon natural locally available materials from the simple straw, and willow, to copper and silver, with a few surprises thrown in, for example, using cuttlefish bone to create silver molds. There is something wonderful about using the gifts that nature provides, learning and applying their properties to make things which are functional, beautiful and tell a story about where we come from. Halsway Manor’s tutors, all of whom are practicing artists, will be your guides using techniques passed through the ages. Ones that we are keen to conserve and keep alive as part of a vibrant living tradition. After the workshops you’ll be all set for Christmas with gifts and decorations a-plenty.

Marking the change of the season Dorothy Seedhouse will show you the ancient art of corndolly making and the versatile use of corn straws for making hats, boxes and decorations. Straw for All runs alongside a folk music course so you’ll have an appropriate soundtrack to inspire your work!

Christmas Wreath making is then a sure fire sign of the winter season. So get in the mood with local flower grower and florist Jan Boddington. She’ll bring an abundance of moss and seasonal foliage foraged from her 3-acre Somerset flowerfield to inspire you.  Again no prior experience is necessary.

Sophie Courtiour specialises in living willow projects such as the Leaping Deer near Ilminster and the Beast of the Blackdowns, both of which were created in collaboration with Stefan Jennings and in 2011, the pair completed a ‘Green Cathedral’ as part of the regeneration of Longrun Meadows in Taunton. In her Christmas Willow workshops at Halsway Manor she’ll guide you in tackling some smaller projects but ones that will use a mix of sculptural and weaving techniques. You’ll produce a variety Reindeer, decorations and wreaths for Christmas in her weekend workshop, or you can focus on making a reindeer as a stand alone one-day project.

Following on from her sell out silversmithing course, Exmoor artist Cat Mills will show you how to cast silver jewellry using cuttlefish bones as a mold for your own designs – an ancient technique suited to both novices and experienced makers. Cat will help you create your design and make beautiful finished items.  She’ll also be leading a workshop making Copper Christmas Decorations from hammered copper.

These courses book up quickly so please do reserve your place early if you are interested. So come and spend some dedicated creative time in the peace of Halsway Manor with dedicated support from our artists and house team. Its a lot of fun and is sure to get you in the mood for Christmas.

Straw for All Strawcraft Weekend – Fri 13 Nov – Mon 16 Nov

Christmas Bounty Willow – Sun 22 Nov – Tues 24 Nov TWO DAY COURSE

Cuttlefish Silver Casting – Mon 7 Dec ONE DAY COURSE

Make a Willow Reindeer in a Day  – Mon 7 Dec ONE DAY COURSE

Copper Christmas Decorations – Wed 9 Dec ONE DAY COURSE

Christmas Wreath Making – Wed 9 Dec ONE DAY COURSE


Find out more about our courses in crafting and traditional making skills.