Skills for Life

Exciting News! We have secured funding for our 2 year project from the Arts Council England in Partnership with the Devon Guild Of Craftsmen to carry on our Practical Skills Education in schools!

Currently the experience of craft skills in state primary or secondary schools is very much under-represented or missing from the curriculum, creating a sharp decline in contemporary craft innovation and practice for the generation to come.

This project will provide artistic craft education at primary school level by introducing the children to a range of craft disciplines delivered by highly skilled practitioners and supported by the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, a secondary school ‘Young Curator’s’ group and several schools to deliver a final exhibition.

Our project will focus on the ‘House’, with objects being made by the children that we need in our daily lives: stools, rugs, pots, baskets and shoes for example. In our first year, we will bring a mini ‘Timber Frame House’ into school with us, while building a mini ‘Log Cabin’ for our second year!

Schools will benefit from this project because:

  • we will provide artistic craft education supporting the school’s Art, D&T and PSHE delivery
  • we will link practical craft skills with other curriculum areas such as Maths, Science and English during our sessions
  • we will provide free Teacher Training days that can count towards the Teachers’ CPD
  • we will link children to their local craft heritage and involve the schools in the final exhibition at the Devon Guild Of Craftsmen
  • we will help the school to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum

Children will benefit from the project because:

  • they will develop and practice their fine motor skills
  • they will gain confidence, a reality connection to many subject areas and practice ‘joined-up thinking’. This in turn will have a positive impact on children’s perseverance, stamina and creativity.
  • they will learn practical skills that will be useful throughout life

We have seen through our work that the ability to use one’s hands to put ideas into practice is essential to developing as a confident learner, it gives access to a “can-do” approach and is transferable to many areas of life.
We have also seen that it engenders intrinsic motivation which leads to better retention of what is learnt.

Annkatrin Hendry, project leader
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Meet our amazing team of Craft People who are teaching for this project:

Alison Hastie – Shoemaker, Green Shoes

“ Nobody could wish to go through the winter without my craft ”.

– Alfric’s Colloquy describing the work of the shoe maker. Eleventh century Anglo- Saxon.

I have been making and selling handmade shoes in Devon for over 40 years. The ethos behind Green Shoes has always been to make strong practical and repairable foot shaped shoes for children, women and men. Shoes are one of life’s basic necessities. We take the raw material leather and using patterns and tools make the shoes. The process requires many different hand skills learnt through years of practice and experience. We have trained many shoemakers and run shoemaking and other leathercraft workshops too.

I am going to be showing the children how they can make their own pair of felt and leather slippers.

Alison’s website is

Jane Welsh – Basket Maker

I have been basket making for 19 years and have been working professionally and running courses for the last 11 years. I feel ardently about protecting the knowledge of our traditional rural crafts that are so much a part of our heritage. I like to get people enthused to work with willow, which is such a versatile and sustainable material. ​My background is in arts and crafts. Having studied art, design and furniture making, I worked in traditional timber framing and dabbled in stone masonry and stained glass, before I became hooked on basket making.

Jane’s website is

Yasuharu Tajima-Simpson – Potter

My main technique of pottery is ‘Hand-building’, such as slab and coil building. I do not use a potter’s wheel, which has the benefit of anyone being able to make pots anywhere. When I lead a pottery workshop, I use a special white clay for hand building. Students make pots such as bowls and cups, which they can paint with different coloured clay slip straight away. I will then take them away to my workshop to fire them.

Taja’s website is

Annkatrin Hendry – Project Leader

I am a qualified primary school teacher and trained in Germany at state school and alternative settings.

I love craft skills, the outdoors and gardening and aim to bring that love to all the children I work with, embedding practical craft skills into my teaching wherever I can.

Astrid Arnold – Project Manager

Astrid Arnold

Since I was a child I have always loved making things. Perhaps that is why I took on the ultimate project recently – building an entire house from scratch together with my husband Hugh! My own carpentry journey started 20 years ago when I trained as a Carpenter and Joiner. I have always favoured a ‘can-do’ approach to life and have made it my mission to empower and inspire others through teaching practical skills.

Astrid is the Founder and Managing Director of TouchWood South West.

This Project is funded by: