Bring home an extra-special holiday souvenir made by you! By Adrienne Wyper
So many crafts to try, so little time… If that’s how you feel, why not try a creative holiday?
Whether you want to build on existing skills, or try a completely new hobby, a craft break gives you the time you need to learn – often in beautiful surroundings, without the demands of daily life.
And, because you’ll be with like-minded people, you might even make new friends. Just remember to leave some space in your case for your very own handmade souvenirs!
Potter In Italy
If you’ve been inspired by the BBC’s The Great Pottery Throw Down, how about a break in Abruzzo in central Italy, historically a centre for ceramics.
With hands-on tuition, you’ll learn how to work with clay to create and decorate a vase.
You’ll also visit a working potter’s studio – the oldest in medieval Castelli – a renowned ceramics museum and a hilltop abbey.
You’ll get to sample delicious wine from a local vineyard and freshly caught fish on a trip to a trabocchi (fishing platform), as well as other regional delicacies.
Stay in your choice of accommodation in the town centre, on the coast or in
an agriturismo (farmhouse).
Paint In Picasso’s Home Town
Boats, misty mountains, historic ruins, flowery meadows – capture them all on this painting trip in the south of Spain.
Based in a traditional hotel in the pueblo of Torrox, you’ll set up your easel in the warm Spanish sunshine at an inspiring range of locations, including the pretty village of Frigiliana and botanical gardens near Málaga (birthplace of Picasso).
You’ll interpret the sights using acrylic paints under the guidance of expert guest tutors. Fun, food and friendship is the aim, with plenty of free time, leisurely lunches and sociable evenings on the itinerary.
Create Jewellery In Gascony
Explore just how easy precious-metal clay – developed in Japan in the 1990s – is to mould and shape during this stay in a comfortable 19th-century farmhouse in Gascony, in southwest France.
Your tutor will advise on design and techniques to use on this versatile material, as you work with hollow forms, learn how to solder and fire your pieces, add beads and glass cabochons, and make delightful fingerprint designs.
Away from the studio, join excursions to taste local wine and Armagnac, and work up an appetite for home-cooked meals by swimming in the on-site pool, cycling and walking.
Focus In Exotic Morocco
The massive popularity of smartphones means that, extraordinarily, 10% of all photos ever taken have been snapped in the past year.
But even though photography’s an everyday activity for some, there’s still lots to learn.
This award-winning course, based in a luxury hotel 20 minutes from photogenic Marrakesh, starts with mastering the controls of your digital camera.
You’ll capture sunrises over the snow-capped Atlas mountains, colourful souks and street scenes and even take paparazzi-style shots.
The trip concludes with an exhibition of your work.
Have A Go At Moccasin Making Or Try Teapot Throwing In Sussex
Why not treat someone – maybe even yourself? – to one of these fun courses. It’s a chance to learn a new skill while making something to wear, use or display proudly in the home.
Six miles north of Chichester and 60 miles south of London, West Dean College is renowned for its range of creative arts courses, which include beginners’ taster days, weekend workshops and even degree courses.
From mainstream skills such as drawing and woodworking to more unusual choices such as teapot throwing (on a wheel, not against the wall!) and moccasin-making. Courses are held in a manor house set in impressive landscaped grounds which offer stunning views of the South Downs.
How to make a booking
✤ Italia Sweet Italia (www.italiasweetitalia.com) offers a four-day pottery break in Abruzzo for about £600. Price includes meals, accommodation, tuition and transfers but not flights. Ryanair flies to Pescara from £19.99 each way.
✤ Creative Escapes (020 7111 1293; creative-escapes.co.uk) offers a five-day photography break in Marrakesh for £995. Price includes accommodation, breakfast, tuition, tours and transfers but not flights. EasyJet flies to Marrakesh, from £25.49 each way.
✤ Responsible Travel (01273 823 700; responsibletravel.com) offers an eight-day painting holiday in Andalusia from £799. Price includes accommodation, some materials and transfers but not flights. EasyJet flies to Malaga, from £23.49 each way.
✤ Vidados (020 3750 2455; vidados.com) offers a four-day jewellery-making break in Gascony from £476pp. Price includes accommodation, workshops and excursions but not flights. EasyJet flies to Toulouse from £25.49 each way and to Bordeaux from £27.49, Ryanair flies to Bergerac, from £17.99.
✤ West Dean (01243 811 301; westdean.org.uk) runs creative courses throughout the year, from £110 including lunch. £10, £25, £50 and £100 gift vouchers available, which can be used for full or part payment of courses. First-time bookings by phone receive 10% discount.