Plans for Orkney Craft Festival take shape

Orkney has some of the most talented arts and craft makers anywhere in the country – now they’re set to come together in the first ever Orkney Craft Festival.

Titled 'Laldie Haans', talks, tours and workshops are planned to highlight the skills of local folk and to encourage more people to experience craft making for themselves.

It will get underway between the 29th of April and the 1st of May with plenty of opportunities for both locals and visitors to learn about crafts, as well as trying out a range of techniques for themselves.

The bulk of the event will be held at the Standing Stones Hotel in Stenness, and Festival Director and local potter and ceramic artist, Elaine Henderson, is putting the finishing touches to the inaugural programme. ‘We’ve had a really positive response from local arts and crafts makers, and we’ll also be welcoming visiting speakers and workshop hosts too,’ she said.

‘I’m really hoping we can create a friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere where people can learn all about our crafts industry and the positive impact it can have on health, happiness and the community.’

The first day of the Festival will see a dinner with special speakers, including local designer-makers who will discuss their experiences of setting up successful businesses in Orkney. They’ll be joined by Anne Sinclair, an expert Fair Isle and Shetland knitter, as well as other visiting guests, providing a range of perspectives on craft.

The following day will see ten workshops held at the Standing Stones Hotel, giving those taking part the chance to make their own items under the expert eye of instructors. On offer will be techniques in wool and textiles, printing, dry-stone dyking, stone carving, model making and much more. Other studios will also offer more workshops around the islands, including in Stronsay, Rousay, Westray, Shapinsay and Hoy.

‘The workshop sessions will be open to all ages and skill levels, with exciting subjects including Star Wars origami, musical instrument making and photography all included,’ said Elaine. ‘I’m hoping the Festival will help spark creativity in a very social way and cater for a range of interests and age groups.’

The Sunday will see a number of arts and crafts businesses across Orkney open their doors for studio visits with plans for special bus tours so visitors can see the makers at work, as well as the spectacular scenery. There will also be an exhibition of the items made the previous day by participants in the workshop sessions.

People will be able to sign up to take part in the whole event or just one of the workshop sessions. Prices and ticket information will be released in the coming months, and there are also plans for a dedicated website containing all the important details.

Elaine is also keen to hear from local arts and crafts makers who would like to get involved or share ideas for the structure of the Festival. Get in touch with her at scapastudios@gmail.com.