Good for the Soul

Practising Craft at Home with Goldfinger Academy

 

Craft means many things to different people. It can be an object that bears the hallmark of the maker's hand or a state of contentment whilst engaging in an activity; the process and manifestation of creation and an act of mindfulness whilst making.

These are just some of the ways participants of our new online course - Soulcraft At Home - described their personal associations and experience of craft.

Like most small businesses quickly adjusting to the ‘new normal’, as the Covid-19 lockdown took hold, we had to quickly transform the way we do things here at Goldfinger. We had to postpone our upcoming courses, usually held in our workshop underneath the Trellick Tower, including an upcoming woodworking course, Soulcraft, which was due to start in April. Through our determination to stay connected with our community and to continue offering experiences that educate and inspire people through sustainable design and making, Soulcraft at Home was born.

Subsidised by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Soulcraft at Home is an online course exploring craft, sustainable design and wellbeing. The course is delivered to small groups of learners through educational videos, online discussion sessions, and practical challenges.

Even though we could not share our tools and make together in person, we believe there is great value in talking about the nature of craft, and engaging people in a discussion around how craft can be an amazing tool for long-term self-care, creativity and happiness. Our craft is woodworking, so we use it to frame the discussion. 

Since its launch in May, we have run two Soulcraft at Home courses to 30 learners, free of charge. Dates for the Winter term will be announced later this month, with 10 spaces on each course offered free of charge to low-income RBKC residents and 5 spaces offered to fee-paying learners.

Our Head of Design, Alex Cunningham, who delivers the courses via Zoom gives us an insight into the relationship between creativity and wellbeing and why crafting is good for the soul:

"We use craft as a metaphor for practises in our own life that can bring us contentment and happiness. We have developed a curriculum with the aim of getting people to the point where they feel comfortable using basic hand tools. The sessions are less about making anything physical, but instead about exploring the ideas around sustainable design, connection to materiality, ideas around flow, problems we all see in the world, and how to solve them.”
- Alex Cunningham, Head of Design & Operations

 

The course is kicked off with a series of videos sent out to participants to act as conversation starters, which are then discussed in the group sessions. Topics have included reframing routines as rituals, thinking about the circular economy, and identifying problems or issues in our own lives and how we might solve them with design. 

The benefits of practising a creative activity are well-known to have a positive impact on our physical and mental health, and the feedback we have received from participants in our first course has certainly revealed this to be the case.

“It’s been difficult to meet people you don’t know and Soulcraft acts as an escape from the everyday, to sit down and talk about something that connects with the base feelings we are all experiencing. We have been discussing ideas of simplicity, space, pausing, finding time for your own practice, relying on yourself and finding ways to feel content while alone but not lonely. It has stirred up a lot of feelings many of us are experiencing.”

 

“It has been a wonderful experience, and an unexpected joy to see a new community created around design & craft during the pandemic.”

Nadia, Soulcrafter

Through Soulcraft at Home, we empower people to get their hands dirty whilst making and crafting, and bring attention to the idea of finding flow through craft. These conceptual conversations are intended to act as the spark to inspire a personal crafting practice. 

Creating an open dialogue, the course has also created valuable connections among the attendees in the community. 

“The first group to complete the Soulcraft course is hyperlocal to Goldfinger and an unintended consequence, that no one expected, is that they have since formed a makers group and are meeting up in person to share ideas, materials and inspiration.”

 

“I was delighted with the course. Naturally a pessimist, I was thinking it might turn out a bit hippy trippy, or perhaps lack a bit of the harsh reality that woodworking has always instilled in me. However the course was unusually perceptive, the insights into design techniques are superbly taught and easy to pick up. This has improved my ability to visualise and make almost anything from wood. The further blessing was the spiritual essence that has brought me to a better understanding of my own faults and has allowed me patience and strength to get through challenges in woodworking that I would never have achieved without the clear instruction, from the teachers, and encouragement of the other students who although a varied cross section of locals, became quite a social and cohesive group. One of the best things to come out of the Covid-19 lockdown for me. “

- Hugh, local beekeeper and Soulcrafter

If you would like to join us for a Soulcraft at Home course, follow this link to register your interest, or listen out for new dates to be announced later this month.