York is a city with a quietly rising collection of creative people, places, activities and enterprises. Perhaps lesser known nationally as a creative hub than other northern powerhouses such as Manchester and Leeds, York has recently had an outpouring of creativity to rival anywhere. Venues such as Spark offer an inviting platform, and there are some really interesting arts and crafts opportunities throughout the city, ranging from shops to buy crafts and supplies, to courses to learn all sorts of skills and techniques. This article showcases a few of the great ways that people can get crafty in York…
York Art and Crafts is a fine place to begin, expertly offering all that the name implies. They are a family business that provide an array of professional courses, with everything from acrylic paints and sculpture making to hut building and wood carving, and plenty more besides. The setting is in a peaceful and pleasant studio, perfect for their creative practices, and the environment is welcoming of all. Whether you are a newbie interested in giving something fresh a go or an experienced crafter, York Art and Crafts will have a course that caters, with beginners lessons and skilled workshops available in a variety of mediums.
In the city centre, Fabrication is another enterprise that oozes passion for its craft. They act as both a platform for local creatives to present their wares in the Coney Street store, and as a learning hub for all things crafty. Step inside the shop opens up a vast mix of eclectic delights; there’s clothing, food, furniture, gifts, art, jewellery, homeware and more, all made by the talented hands of a variety of folk from York and its surroundings. As well as promoting these makers, Fabrication also uses its craft for social support, and offers a workspace in which they host exhibitions, events and classes, such as sewing and printing. And for a unique twist, they even provide crafty hen parties!
Following a similar ethos, Blueberry Pop Up Shop focuses on the benefits that art and crafts can have on individuals. This is a space that showcases items handmade by people with disabilities from The Blueberry Academy, which can be perused and bought in store. Having recently moved to a new site on Walmgate, the shop is having a positive impact in numerous ways; by filling otherwise empty outlets with vibrancy and interest, by promoting creativity in the city of York, and by providing real opportunities for disabled adults in the city. This can include guidance, employment, education, community, achievement and wellbeing of all those involved, and undoubtedly deserves the city’s continued support.
A longstanding project whose model is to occupy empty buildings is Blank Canvas, operated by Skippco, with the tagline ‘change through creativity’. Skippco have large spaces in northern cities, and Blank Canvas has temporarily taken on some places in York to be used for the likes of studios and exhibition venues. Their pop up galleries have displayed local artists and makers of paintings, prints, pots and such things, whilst their studio spaces encourage a range of creativity, from drawing to film making, in exciting evolving settings.
The final mention in this piece goes to a place with a truly niche approach, apt for this city: The Viking Dragon. This bizarrely brilliant shop delves deep into Viking gear. Here, you can find everything you need to get started with Viking crafts (!) as they specialise in hand-crafted Viking re-enactment direct from Scandinavia & Northern Europe. It has the largest selection of Viking products, and their expertise also supplies museums, movies, theatres and schools. The crafted goodies available range from a simple wooden bowl to a silver Raven ring, and so many more unimaginable oddities!
All of the above listings offer their own unique angle of arts and crafts in York, and between them provide an outlet for everybody to get their craft on.