Lara Armitage

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    What crafts are offered at Birkhill House?

    So, a lot of traditionally based stuff. All fleece processing – so picking, carding, sorting, scouring washing and then spinning or felting fibre that’s all come from our animals. That’s all part of fleece processing. The washing, the picking, the carding and then you either then can spin your fibre that you’ve processed, or you can felt with it. And so then we run knitting workshops, crochet workshops, felting workshops to use the fibre that’s been processed. But people sometimes just come for processing workshops. They just want to know how to wash a fleece, because maybe they have a fleece at home. And that’s our kind of point is trying to reinvigorate some of these traditional skills that have been totally lost. Like people don’t know how to do it anymore. Like I don’t know how this jumper got to me. And so we also have created days where you’re doing fleece to finished product. And people learn what it takes and what it means to actually start with a dirty fleece on the back of an animal. How does it get to you and how do you end up with this beautiful shiny jumper?
    So, we do a lot of traditionally based stuff like that. We have someone fairly new in post who is the fleece and fibre development officer, and she handles a lot of that sort of stuff. But we also host people coming in doing workshops in mosaic, plaster casting, pewter casting, embroidery stitching, boro stitching… What else have we had recently? Leather belt making. Just loads of skills, but it’s all based around what’s on offer locally. I’m not really interested in bringing people from all over. I’d rather try and support what’s in my area. So, if there are makers who are wanting to do workshops then I try and help give them a platform to present their skills.
    My art form is origami. Like I did origami since I was like tiny, and I’m not a classically trained artist, like I got my degree in English literature. All the crafting workshops I personally have done have been usually devised by me using upcycled and reclaimed materials. A lot of stuff aimed at children, and then for adults I’ve done origami workshops. So, yeah, I’m a kind of jack of all trades. I can teach certain things but for skilled bits I have people come in. Like to do leather work or pewter casting or like these really skilled workshops where you really need to know what you’re doing. You need to have made your mistakes and know how to teach that particular skill. I draft in artists to come and do it.