Getting crafty in Wimborne
07 April 2021
Many of us have found that the various lockdowns have been the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby.
Apart from the baking and biking craze, many people have also taken up arts and crafts whether that is embroidery, calligraphy or crocheting.
We caught up with Terry Wheeler, the Chairman of the Walford Mill, a creative home for designers and makers in Dorset, located just across to road to our Wimborne community.
We learnt more about how their designers and makers have been continuing to educate the local area about crafting throughout lockdown.
Can you tell us about your role and how Walford Mill was established?
The charity Walford Mill Education Trust Ltd has been around for 35 years, occupying the listed flour mill building which is owned by Dorset Council. I have been involved with the charity since 2007 and have held the position of Chairman for nearly two years now.
The main goal of the charity is to improve arts and crafts education within the local area. Until three years ago, we were funded by Arts Council England as we did a lot of teaching. However, unfortunately funding was cut, and we had to begin letting people go.
Two years ago, we made the decision to close the shop to focus solely on the education and teaching aspect of the charity. With the help of Dorset council, we have since built a new classroom to host our multiple workshops. Our workshops are open to people of all ages and have been proving very successful up until lockdown. We also re-opened our shop from which our eight on-site makers sell their own work. This enabled us to really concentrate on the education part of our offering.
What type of works do your makers tend to create?
We have got a silk weaver who has been with us the longest, for around 30 years now! She makes scarves and pictures out of silk; it is truly amazing to see. Her loom is on-site and ordinarily people can come and see her working which is really the core of our education ideology. We want people to purchase something from our shop and truly understand and appreciate all the hard work that went into creating the product from start to finish.
Our embroider who runs regular workshop classes is also a skilled writer who has written a number of books on the topic of embroidery. We also have two jewellers, one print maker who creates commissions for people, a basket weaver and a cartoonist.
We aim to have a wide variety of creatives and try to create an environment where people can fully immerse themselves in the creative process.
Our gallery is available to display the makers’ art and crafts and we even have a space for pop-up shops to attend and promote the work of local emerging artists.
What are some of the recent projects that you have undertaken during lockdown to support the wider community?
We employ an Education Coordinator, Sarah Redmond-Fareham who is a qualified teacher.
During both lockdowns, Sarah has provided a series of free online creative workshops called 'CREATE Online during Lockdown'. This was initially aimed at children and local schools, but we have discovered a much more impressive uptake among adults looking for something to keep them occupied throughout lockdown!
The workshops were based on creative activities that could be completed at home in the safety of their local green space. The Outreach Project finished when the children recently went back to school, but the resources are available on the Walford Mill website if homeowners would like to participate. All we ask in return is that they email a photograph of what they made so it can be shared on the Mills Instagram page @walfordmill to encourage others to participate. To check out the eight available workshops and examples of what participants created for each workshop, you can head to our website.
We can’t wait to re-start our workshop classes again with all of our tutors who teach everything from jewellery making to wood carving and painting. Lockdown has proven to be very difficult but with the support of Dorset Council it has been possible to keep the charity running as a result of their Grants.
What other facilities, services and groups do you offer to the local community?
We have an on-site café, run by a mental health nurse, which aligns very well with our values and I’m sure some of the Wimborne homeowners will make use of the facilities once restrictions ease. The café is called Happyccino and they are still open for takeaways serving delicious, locally sourced coffee and an amazing brunch menu.
What do you like most about the community?
The thing about the Mill is that the community is just so wonderful. I personally know nothing about arts and crafts, as my background is in finance, but there is something about the people here that draws you in. It is a wonderful place to be.
What are some of the activities that the wider community can get involved with once restrictions are eased?
We hope to reopen the Mill from the 16th of April in line with the Government Guidelines where a selection of adult craft workshops will be available.
Wimborne homeowners, local residents and visitors to the area can get involved in various activities like spoon carving to jewellery making session which will be available to anyone regardless of their previous experience.
Check out the Adult Education Programme to see all our upcoming opportunities for April, May and June.
If you’re looking for a home with a strong sense of community, wonderful amenities right on the doorstep and a gorgeous coastline nearby, our homes at Wimborne could be the place to start your next chapter. To book your private, one-to-one viewing, please contact our team on: 01202 618 052 or email [email protected].