[AD/GIFTED] We were lucky enough to be invited to spend a weekend at The Manor House Hotel near Okehampton in Devon, a craft and activity resort. In particular, to review the many craft workshops that they have. As you know I love crafting, but I often tend to end up just doing projects suitable for the kids. So I was extremely keen to see what was on offer and try and learn some new skills.
Craft Workshops At The Manor House Hotel
The Manor House Hotel and it’s sister hotel The Ashbury are the only sport, craft and spa hotels in the UK. Located in the heart of picturesque Devon, the two hotels are only 2 miles apart, and guests can use the facilities in either hotel.
If you would like to read about all the other facilities and activities that the hotel has to offer, then check out our review post, which also includes the measures the hotel has put into place due to Covid-19.
The activity program is extremely varied and that includes the craft workshops. You book up the workshops when you are at the resort, but it is a good idea to have a look at the activity program before your arrival so you have a rough idea of what you want to do.
Despite the workshops running on reduced numbers to allow social distancing, there was no problem getting booked into all the ones we wanted to do.
The variety of crafts was very impressive including woodwork, pottery, glassware and fabric based crafts. During our stay there were workshops for porcelain painting, lino printing, glass engraving, enamelling, pottery, silk painting, glass fusion, woodwork, teddy creations, indian block printing, card making and pyrography. In addition there was a craft shop selling lots of DIY craft kits for kids, and over 247 different types of bisque to paint.
Originally I was keen to do the pottery, but in the end I decided to try out things I haven’t done before and learn some new skills. I will talk in more detail about the workshops we attended during our stay.
The Craft Centre
The craft centre was a large area of the resort attached to the main hotel. As well as the craft shop, it had 27 very large and spacious studios for the different activities.
All the workshops were extremly well equipped, so there was no need to share any tools or equipment, and loads of room to maintain a safe distance from one another.
The tutors were extremely experienced, and if i’m honest I can’t praise them highly enough. They were extremely patient and helpful, especially with the kids (and me when I dropped my candle in the vat of hot wax!). During the lino printing, Oliver came in crying (as he hadn’t done so well at crazy golf), and although he was too young to join in, the kind lady found him some ink and let him stamp a couple of cards to keep him busy whilst we finished off our projects.
All the workshops we went to ran on a similar format. When everyone was settled at their stations the tutor would run through the craft and demonstrate the different techniques, and then explain some of the variations you could do. There were plenty of examples for ideas and inspiration, and plenty of flexibility allowing the classes to be suitable for beginners and experienced crafters alike.
The workshops, tutoring and use of the equipment was all included in our stay, there were just some small surcharges for materials depending on what project you wanted to complete.
During our stay we took part in lino printing, glass fusion, silk painting, candle making, glass engraving and pyrography. The children also did the teddy bear creations, and bisque painting.
Lino printing is where you effetivley create a stamp from a sheet of linoleum by carving into it with a special tool. You can then apply ink to the stamp which can be used to create cards, wrapping paper, tags or even to use with fabric paint and make bespoke prints.
We picked our designs and transferred them onto the sheet of lino using carbon paper by tracing over the design. I naturally went for a bee, whilst the girls choose slightly simplier designs of a fox and a cat.
Then we carved out our designs using the special carving tool. It took a little getting used to, but was easy enough for the girls and I to pick up fairly quickly.
Once finished carving it was time to apply ink to our stamps and create some cards, and the tutor was on hand to help.
They came out really well, and I was so impressed with the girls who sat there for over an hour carefully carving out their designs.
The cost of this workshop was £8.50 to cover materials- but you got to keep your stamp to make more things at home, and obviously the 3 cards we printed.
The silk painting workshop again allowed a lot of flexibility. The tutor started by demonstrating the basic principles of silk painting using ready made stretched templates or free handing designs by stretching plain silk onto frames and applying gutta (which creates a barrier to prevent the paint spreading) to create a design before applying the silk paint.
We decided to go for ready stretched templates as I thought it would be easier for the girls to just concentrate on the actual painting on the silk.
Again I thought the girls did brilliantly. They sat there for nearly and hour and a half, carefully chosing their colours and painting their suncatchers.
The cost of this workshop was dependnet on what silk you wanted to paint, but started at just £4.
Glass fusion is the art of fusing different coloured glass, threads and powders to create different designs. In this workshop we had the option of making a coaster or suncatcher. As you need to cut glass this was only for those over 14, so it was just Jasmine that joined me.
The tutor showed us the different ways to cut the coloured glass, how to use the glue and what effects could be created using the various glass threads, copper foil and frits (glass powders of different colours and sizes).
Jasmine went for a beach themed suncatcher, and I choose to do a garden inspired coaster.
I really enjoyed this one, and was excited to see how they would turn out! Once we had finished our designs and stuck them together, they needed to be fired over night in the kiln to allow the layers of glass to fuse together.
The cost for this workshop was £9.50, but obviously you get to take home and use your masterpiece!
This was Isla’s favourite workshop. You had a choice of either a tapered candle or pillar candle (although the girls did both). There were a variety of different coloured pots of molten wax around the work shop to dip your candle in.
The tutor explained and demonstrated the techniques to achieve different designs which ranged in complexity. She showed us how to dip our candles and create rainbows, splattered candles and candles suitable for carving.
The girls had great fun experimenting with the colours, and making rainbow candles and splattered candles.
I choose the complicated carved candle, which the tutor made look so easy, but I think I definitely need more practice! It also didn’t help that I managed to drop my candle in a vat of hot wax and nearly ruined it completely! Fortunately the tutor was on hand to save the project.
Prices started from just £2.50 for a tapered candle.
This workshop was the only one I actually ended up doing completely by myself, and probably the one I enjoyed the most. Not because the kids weren’t with me, but because it was a really easy class, yet produced amazing results.
To start with the tutor explained the process and how to prepare your glassware using stickers, stencils and masking tape, and how to use the sand blasting machines.
There was a wide range of glassware to choose from: glass jars, storage jars, glasses and other ornamental glassware.
The design was up to you, and there were a lot of examples to look at to give you inspiration. The basic principle was you leave uncovered what you want to be engraved by the sand blaster, and cover anything you want to stay clear glass. I decided on a butterfly themed wine glass, and the tutor was on hand to show me and help me achieve the desired effect.
I was pretty pleased with how my glass turned out, and it was so simple to do!
Prices started from £3.50 depending on what glassware you chose, and this is what I paid for my wine glass which I think is an absolute bargain.
The last workshop me and Jasmine did was pyrography. This essentially is the art of creating images on wooden objects by burning them with a special pyrography pen.
Again there were a lot of wooden objects to choose from ranging from small ornamental wood slices, to cheese boards and even jewelery boxes.
I chose a large wood slice, and Jasmine chose a small chopping board.
We transferred our designs onto the wood using carbon paper, and then used the pyrography pens to burn our designs into the wood. It took a little getting used to, especially for the finer detail, but we both soon picked it up.
I have to say I thought Jasmine did so well again, her horse picture turned out brilliantly, I was very impressed.
Prices started from £4 depending on the wooden object/s you choose to decorate.
As well as the many craft work shops there was also the opportunity for the kids to do some crafts on their own.
First there was teddy creations, suitable for all ages. The kids choose the teddy the wanted to make, and happily sat stuffing them and giving them a heart. They even had the option to choose an outfit to dress them in. All 3 of them really enjoyed it, and Oliver even did it twice!
There was also bisque painting available when the shop was open. You basically purchased your chosen bisque from the shop, and then there was a large room adjascent to the craft shop with a wide variety of paints and brushes to let the kids (and some adults) let their creativity flow.
All in all this was the perfect getaway for a craft retreat. I was extremely impressed with the variety of workshops available, and the facilities on offer. It really was for a craftoholic like me like being a kid in a sweetshop. For more details about availability, prices and booking visit The Manor House Website.
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What do you think? Is a crafting break something you would enjoy? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Disclaimer: We were gifted our stay at The Manor House Hotel for the purpose of this review, but all photos, words and opinions are my own.
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