If you are planning your summer holiday and want something a little more interesting than just toasting on a beach (although wouldn’t a bit of heat right now be great?), can we point you to our friends at Selvedge Magazine, who run an amazing summer school.
Week long courses at the picturesque Chateau Dumas, France (food’s amazing too, I’ve been told) are run by experts in their field on topics from willow basketry, embroidery, textile collage, drape and stitch, bookbinding and block printing.
My favourite natural skincare maker, Amanda Saurin is running a week long bespoke perfume course, where you also learn how to dye with woad. Sounds my idea of heaven. To top it all, there’s a weekly antiques fair in the nearby village everyone gets to visit. I mean, what’s not to love?
I’ve long wanted to do a summer school where I get to learn a new making-skill or sit for a whole week sewing, the pictures alone at Selvedge have me reaching for my suitcase and sewing basket. And since I can’t buy any news clothes, perhaps I should make some, I’ve long been a fan of Christine Mayer’s designs.
Holiday’s where we learn new things are a massive trend, particularly those which revisit old skills such as sewing and weaving, as we digitally detox and re-engage with the touchy-feely real world.
Selvedge founder Polly told us she’s been working with Chateau Dumas for five years, her first visit was in 2012. I asked her how she picked craftswomen to work with, “They are all artists we have featured in the magazine and have vetted for quality,” she told me, “I need to be sure the guests will have a valuable educational experience as well as a lovely week in the sun”.
I wondered how good a crafts person you needed to be before attending. Can you be a complete beginner? “Yes,” said Polly, “we have all levels, including complete beginners, but quite a few of our guests are repeats visitors.” I’m not surprised, I bet these courses are addictive.
But is it all hard work Polly? Even if I’m having fun learning stuff I still like a bit of mooching time, is that possible? “Yes, it’s a great mix of time in the studio and a visit to a local market and brocant in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, where The One Hundred Foot Journey (with Helen Mirren) was filmed. You also visit a local village with 15th century tapestries in the church and eat meals in a local bistro, some groups visit a local hat factory, or have a day of woad dying – the area was famous for woad in the Middle Ages.”
The courses do sell fast, but Polly says there are a few places left, each week costs 1,935 euros, full board. If you are interested, email [email protected]