Ceramics, Driftwood & Glass Workshops

Relaxing Gower beachcombing and ceramic + driftwood crafting workshops

Wild beach Locations and Cosy Crafting Cottages/Studios, Gower, South Wales.

Cost = £80.00 per person, 11.00am to 5.00pm (includes soup and afternoon tea)

or        £40.00 per person,   2.00pm to 5.00pm (includes afternoon tea)

Minimum group size = 6.  Special 1:1 sessions are available on request.

Our Gower beachcombing and ceramic + driftwood workshops are run by two local Gower crafters;

Jane Haines and Pippa Neilson. You are invited to come beachcombing with them before learning

how to make;  little boats, hearts, garlands and mobiles out of ceramics, driftwood, sea glass and

other natural materials which are washed up on the beach.

Beachcombing – Port Eynon

The beachcombing sessions begin at Port Eynon, Gower at the far end of the peninsula. They involve delving into rock pools and looking under seaweed by the old salt house. Even on a windswept day, the light is very magical and the place is wildly inspiring. The village has a long history of oyster fishing, crabbing, lobstering and limestone quarrying, as well as the less honest trade of smuggling.

The Best Time to Beachcomb

Climatic and ecological conditions are important when you are beachcombing. Low pressure, high tides, big waves, SW winds tend to bring in the most interesting finds.

Patricia Hodge says; “You need patience, beady eyes and some luck, when you are beachcombing. The best treasures are found after wild Autumn and Winter storms and often in the rain! You never know what you will find on the beach which is why it is so exciting. Everything tells a story.”

The Rules of Beachcombing

The rules of beach combing include having fun and as Glenda Easterbrook, from the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems, at The Open University says;

Leave organisms in their natural habitat. If you turn over a rock to look for something, make sure you replace it when you are finished. Be gentle when handling live organisms.

Be selective in the amount of non-living shells and others things you remove from the

beach. Any suspicious objects, particularly metal canisters, must not be touched an

should be be reported to the coastguard. Do not hammer any rocks or pebbles with

anything other than a specialist geological hammer. Stay clear of unstable cliffs and rock

fall. Always keep an eye on the incoming tide and the size of the waves. Wear sensible

footwear when scrambling over the rocks and boulders. “

What Strange Things Have Been Found Beachcombing?

In other parts of the UK, weird and wonderful things have been washed up on the beach, in

large numbers; bananas, ducks, shoes etc. Here in Wales, flotsam and jetsam, man-made

debris arrives on a more ad hoc basis and you never know what will be arriving next.

I do use little pieces of plastic, net, rope and other man made items in my boat sculpture

but it is more a case of litter picking until you see something really magical that

nature has made.” says Pippa Nielson. “This year, pumice stones arrived on Port Eynon

beach in large numbers which was amazing because they are so light, easy to drill and

they make fantastic hanging mobiles.”

Driftwood – Why it is beautiful

We all love the driftwood that floats here, on the ocean currents and ends up on the

beach, in the intertidal zone. It arrives in different sizes, weights, shapes and colours.

Most of it is hardwood, the sea has worn away its bark and it has been bleached

by the sun. Some driftwood, may have travelled a long way from home, whereas other

driftwood comes from local rivers and estuaries. The salt makes it strong but it spits at

you, if you try and burn it in the fire!”, say Jane Haines.

According to Norse mythology, the first two people on earth were made out of driftwood

and Ask (Ash) and Embla (Elm) so the fascination with driftwood is an old one.

Storing Beach Finds – Stones and Sea Glass

Both Jane Haines and Pippa Nielson store supplies of driftwood and other sea debris in their gorgeous garden sheds/ and wood clad studios but they are careful not to keep too much. “We do not want to end up as mad hoarders, drowing under our beach treasure,”says Jane Haines.

 “So we tend to pick things, with specific commissions in mind. That said, we do have baskets filled with interesting things for our clients to sift through at our driftwood workshops.” Jane especially loves the hole filled “witches” stones and sea glass which are found at a secret Gower beach locations.

The Driftwood Workshops

After an hour or two, spent beach combing, on Port Eynon beach, it's time to go inside, warm up and enjoy the Driftwood Workshops. Jane Haines and Pippa Neilson will help you to make individual and unique driftwood crafts for your home and garden, including;

a driftwood heart, layered with weathered wood and sprinkled with fragment of sea

worn glass, pebbles and slate etc

a driftwood mobile which includes a glazed clay fish or heart, “home made” painted

stones and shells

a little driftwood boat or beach hut

Combining simple ceramics with driftwood, is really the secret of making something very beautiful,” says Patricia Hodge. “Everyone seems to love our very laid-back, friendly workshops, in a fabulous sea side location. And even people who say they are not creative have a wonderful time”.

HERE IS A REVIEW FROM A JOURNALIST WHO CAME TO ONE OF OUR WORKSHOPS LAST YEAR


Learn how to make driftwood decorations

05 November 2013
This month we headed to the Gower Peninsula in Wales to join Tricia Hodge from Gower Craft Parties and driftwood artist Jane Haines for a creative workshop making decorations from locally sourced driftwood found on the Gower’s stunning beaches.


 

 

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in October I found myself heading to a cafe just outside Mumbles on the Gower Peninsula in Wales. Located in a converted railway building, The Junction Cafe is a bustling coffee shop overlooking the vast expanse of Swansea Bay.
  Here I would be joining a group of fellow crafters to learn the art of making driftwood decorations under the expert guidance of local driftwood artist Jane Haines.

 

The cafe was full of people enjoying a late lunch as I headed upstairs to a gallery area. I had expected a handful of students, but the long table was filled with women of all ages as well as children excitedly examining pieces of driftwood and decorative embellishments such as buttons, shells, ribbons and rope.

 

As I took my place at the table I found two wooden heart blanks, a pot of PVA glue and a painted wooden fish tied to the end of a long piece of string. This was clearly going to be an interesting afternoon!

 

Along the centre of the table were hundreds of pieces of dried driftwood of all shapes and sizes, bleached almost white by the sun. Jane explained that the best time of year to find driftwood is in the Autumn after a storm and that the Welsh word for driftwood is ‘broc’.

 

I started adding small pieces of driftwood around the edges of the wooden heart, gradually building it up into layers.

 

Before long the base was covered and it was time to add some embellishment. With so many decorative elements on offer, it was tempting to go overboard but in the end I decided on some strategically placed shells and coral to keep with the natural theme.

 

It was wonderful to see how everyone’s designs were so different, with each person bringing their own individuality to their work.

 

With our first driftwood project completed, it was time for a well earned cup of coffee and a slice of cake – or a delicious chocolate brownie in my case.

 

After refreshments we started on the next project – a hanging driftwood garland. Jane explained that we could use whatever we liked to decorate the garland and could either space the embellishments out along a piece of string, or pack them close together for a more solid looking garland.

 

I decided to combine small pieces of driftwood with sea shells, tied at intervals along a length of string.

 

At the bottom was the wooden fish I had been given, which helped to add some weight to the garland, and at the top I used a large rustic piece of driftwood with the bark still on it as a hanger.

 

With our two main projects completed, some people then chose to make wall art by sticking pieces of driftwood onto a blank canvas, while others created freehand sculptures using a hot glue gun (very carefully!) to stick the driftwood pieces together. I had found a piece of driftwood that looked a bit like a bird’s head, so I decided to have a go at making a bird sculpture.

 

As the sun started to head towards the horizon, it was time for the workshop to draw to a close. The other students headed home with their driftwood creations, and I joined my family and drove to nearby Port Eynon Beach where we ended the day beachcombing for more driftwood to take back home with us. The boys had a fantastic time searching for driftwood, sea glass, shells and using their metal detector to discover buried treasure. Needless to say they slept like logs that night!

 

The Gower Peninsula is a beautiful part of the world with award-winning beaches and plenty to entertain the children. We drove up from London on the Friday night, attended the workshop on Saturday afternoon, before returning home on Sunday evening. This left plenty of time for exploring the area, enjoying some delicious local food, and really felt like a much longer holiday than just a weekend.

The Driftwood Decorations workshop is just one of the many creative courses offered by Tricia Hodge of Gower Craft Parties. Others include glass mosaic, handmade soap, cupcake decorating, sewing, fascinators and wedding crafts.
The workshops are designed to be fun and relaxing, and make the perfect break for mums and daughters, hen parties or other special occasions. Tricia has many years of event organising experience behind her, so she can offer plenty of advice for the perfect celebration. For more information visit www.gowercraftparties.com.gill

 

 

Why don't you book a cottage for the weekend by the sea?

Enjoy a herbal walk, on the coastal path with us?

Beach comb, walk and swim?

Have a delicious afternoon tea with us in a cosy indoor location?

Enjoy a fun, quirky craft workshop with us?

Let us bring your supper to the cottage?

 

Walk on the beach, relax, have fun, craft, eat well, sleep well by the sea.

Please ring Patricia Hodge on 07970 059 869 to discuss your weekend.
Patricia has over 30 years, experience of planning high profile events
and parties so you are in safe hands.