The February Workshops

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How the retreat works….and what to expect

Nearly two years ago, we had the idea to book ourselves onto a retreat, as a present to ourselves, but also as a way of inspiring new work, doing something different, and meeting like-minded people. But we couldn’t find a single retreat in the UK that offered what we wanted!
So we decided to make our own. Because of this, our Retreat is a different to many others.

Open to both aspiring and established writers, artists and craftspeople, as well as their partners, we have seen first-hand that trying different disciplines can excite the imagination and feed the soul, with a positive outcome for your own craft.
We’ve carefully chosen the workshops, classes and talks so that there is something for everyone, and we’re offering a range of activities that you might have always fancied doing as well as some you might never have even considered.

If you are coming to the Retreat to write, we understand that you might want to tuck yourself away and get on with your book or project. This is something that is hard to do when working from home because of all the usual distractions. That’s fine – we know exactly how it feels to get some decent head-space! The beauty of the Retreat at Gliffaes, though, means that if you do fancy taking a break from staring out of the window in exchange for dipping into something new, (and, let’s face it, a tad more constructive) then we’ve made it possible for you to do exactly that. In addition, we have authors from the world of publishing and writing who will give you inside info largely unavailable elsewhere.

Details of each workshop are found below. Here is the link to click for you to see the schedule, and then to book your workshops. You can select as many or a few as you wish! ** Each class has a maximum amount of places, so to ensure your place on your favourite options, please send the form as soon as you can.

The Artisan Workshops:

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Cookery Class with Karl Cheetham** – Gliffaes own chef will be running a cookery class on Saturday morning; more details regarding the type of foods to be used will be released nearer the time, as he chooses from seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.

**NB: this class may not run if a larger kitchen space cannot be found. We will replace with something similar if necessary, and update you of course


Woodcutting with James Suter – Backyard Lumberjack workshop
James, one half of the wonderful team that own and run Gliffaes, will take a morning workshop to help you learn or develop an efficient wood-chopping technique! Have fun whilst drinking in the beautiful views. If you wish, you can purchase your own axe to take home too.

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Knit a Chunky Scarf with Helen Hickman.
Helen is a hand spinner, weaver, indie dyer and tutor based on a mountain in Carmarthenshire. She runs her business ‘Nellie and Eve’ from a garden studio and uses British/local wool to produce a collection of plant dyed yarns and holds regular workshops at various venues across Wales. On the ‘Knit a Chunky Infinity Scarf’ workshop you will use hand spun super chunky ‘Dreadlock’ yarn and locally crafted 25mm diameter oak needles to knit your own soft, warm, infinity scarf. A great workshop for all abilities.

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Rachel Cadman – lino printing on fabric

In this lovely relaxed workshop you will have an introduction into lino cut printing. You will learn about the tools and how to carve your block on a practice piece, then work on your designs. You will have the option to print a variety of materials and Rachel will bring along a selection of beautiful papers and fabrics for you to try. Depending on whether you decide to come on a half or full day, you could take away a lovely printed silk scarf, set of cards or some lovely artwork for your home.

Rachel has been in the crafts industry both as a practitioner and tutor for almost 25 years and is very passionate about all types of printmaking.

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Karin Mear – Painting for Pleasure

During this workshop you will be using fruit and vegetables as inspiration for drawing and painting. No experience is necessary as artist Karin Mear will be on hand to inspire and guide you. The workshop is also suitable for experienced artists who’d like to have an opportunity to engage with other artists and build on their own painting skills.The morning session will begin with charcoal drawing on a large scale. An abundant selection of fruit and vegetables will be available for you to choose from and there will be time to experiment with different charcoal drawing techniques. This will be followed by an introduction to acrylic paint and its various forms of application and preparation of a canvas panel.The afternoon session will be used to complete an original piece of acrylic art on canvas, based on the morning’s observations and creative discoveries.Karin Mear is a professional artist who has taught painting classes for a local authority and also holds workshops for private and community groups. The basis of her workshops is that participants discover and embrace their own creativity and individuality with no pressures or expectations. As she says… it’s painting for pleasure.

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Lewis Goldwater
– traditional spoon carving
Learn how to craft your own wooden spoon from a log, using simple tools and traditional techniques. You will be taught how to safely carve with an axe, straight knife and spoon hook, to make a spoon to your own design. Various decorating methods will be shown to finish the spoon.
Inspired by the natural forms and strengths of wood, Lewis aims to create hand-made, often bespoke coppice products using traditional green-woodworking techniques, such as cleaving, pole-lathing and steam-bending.
All of the green wood that he uses is sourced from sustainably managed woodlands and sites looked after for their biodiversity and peoples enjoyment of it. These include nature reserves managed by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.
Lewis has nearly 3 decades of experience, working in the environmental sector, across the UK and abroad.

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Leatherwork with Terry Owen.
In Terry’s workshop, you will be gently guided into making your own leather keyring, case or diary cover, depending on which length workshop you choose. Terry uses a range of leathers, including recycled, and the results are always wonderful.

Letterpress printing with Francesca Kay.

Poet and printer Francesca Kay demonstrates letterpress printing – making words with movable type and ink, printing in a way essentially unchanged for 600 years, and more fun than a computer. Francesca will help you find words or short phrases that have meaning for you, and help you typeset and print them on high quality card postcards on her vintage Ajax tabletop printing press. You will then print a border round your word or phrase using an Adana 8×5 tabletop printing press. You will take away unique mementos of this ancient and enjoyable art. William Caxton would be proud of you.
If you can read backwards it will help! (These letter presses will be shared, but gloves and sanitiser will be provided of course!)

Fermentation, and Botanical Gin-making workshops.
Join Adele as she takes you through a step-be step tutorial in making your own sourdough starter, kombucha, and water kefir. Fermentation is a natural process, so common that we don’t often realise what we are eating has been fermented! We all know about about wine and beer, but how about chocolate, cheese, yoghurt, salami, kimchi? Fermented foods are beneficial to our digestive systems, too. At the end of the session you will take home your own sourdough starter, kombucha scobie, and water kefir grains.
* Following this session, you will then discover how to forage wild and cultivated plants, learn about the selection of interesting botanicals from Adele’s collection, and perhaps enjoy a cocktail whilst you learn about the strange history of gin. You can then delve into the massive array of herbs, spices and other ingredients., before creating your own blend in a 300ml jar to take home.

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Needle-felting with Emma.
Learn or develop needle-felting techniques, and create your very own little wildlife creature, under the tuition of Emma.
You will learn about felt-making, wool, how needle-felting was discovered, how the magic needles work, and have lots of fun as you enjoy a relaxing and creative workshop.

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Willow Weave a Catalan Basket with rustic handle, with Sarah Adby.
Sarah is a highly skilled and experienced weaver/basket maker, who will guide you through the process of designing and weaving your own willow basket, complete with rustic wooden handle. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to enjoy a day learning a new skill, and take away a beautiful hand-crafted willow basket.

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Coptic bound, sketchbook, notebook or journal, with Carole King
Books with coptic bindings lie flat on the table when open and so make great sketchbooks or books for journaling or writing . This looser style of binding will allow you to stick a few items onto the pages 
without stressing the spine.
Create your own book with hardcovers and white cartridge pages, decorated with hand printed paper covers and exposed stitching across the spine.
Each completed book will measure approximately 15 x 21.5cm and have 64 pages divided with coloured pages (128 useable surfaces).
Learn how to choose and prepare your materials, stitch your spine and add pockets and envelopes to your finished book.
A choice of cover papers will be provided but you may bring your own.

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Chocolate Masterclass with The Mallow Tailor (Kate and Janet)
Ever wondered how the professionals make chocolates look so beautiful and shiny? Our masterclass will show you how to make the perfect chocolate every time.
This is a fun and relaxed workshop, designed for your enjoyment – you also get to take home the chocolates you made!

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Collage workshop with Ged Wells.

Absorb yourself in the playful process of collage making, and create a unique work of art.
Collage is an experimental journey of discovery, which blends the simple handcrafting of shapes, colours and forms, through a joyful process of relaxed, meditative visual editing.
From the French “coller”, to stick together, collage is an accessible technique of making art.

The Writers Workshops:

Adele Nozedar – How to tell a Story

Adele Nozedar is an author and forager. She has had 12 books published (her first was picked up by a publisher before she’d finished the synopsis). Her second,  ‘The Signs and Symbols Sourcebook’ has sold over 300,000 copies to day, in various editions, over the world. The Hedgerow Handbook, also a best seller, changed her life since after its publication, after increasing numbers of people started asking her to teach them about edible wild plants. Previously, Adele was in a band, then ran a record label, then built a recording studio in the Brecon Beacons. She believes that music, art, being outdoors and creativity are all the same thing.

Walking for Inspirationa guided walk around the gardens and grounds.
Walk with James, or wander off on your own path around Gliffaes, and allow the beauty of your surroundings inspire your next piece of writing… all we ask in return is that you email us your finished piece… one piece of writing will be plucked from our hat, and be sent a surprise prize!

Embracing and Enjoying Social Media.

If you use, or would like to use. social media for business, or for promoting your handmade creations, or to sell your pizzas, but feel confused, weary or unsure, then Emma’s fun and insightful strategies will soon have the lightbulbs flashing, and you will leave the discussion feeling in control of your pages, and looking forward to your next posts!

Emma is a textile artist, tutor, occasional writer, gallery curator and events organiser… and she tells us that without her useful and hard-earned little techniques, none of those would be a successful as they are now. A great opportunity to learn the easy way how to make social media work for you.

Cosy up on a sofa in front of the fire, glass of wine or whisky or cup of tea to hand, and enjoy a book club session at Gliffaes!
If you choose this option, we will send the choice of book to you a month or so prior to the Retreat. This is the perfect way to spend a couple of hours getting to know each other – and you might even talk about the book, too! Hosted by Adele.

Phillipa DaviesLife Themes: Compelling Creative Writing

Your life themes, obsessions and secret desires are welcome in this creative writing workshop. We’ll use collage, character analysis and tone of voice exercises, to create prose or poetry with a collage on your pet theme. You’ll take a manifesto, or a revelation, and/or a wildly entertaining creation home with you.

Philippa Davies who runs this workshop is a psychologist and writer, with an online writing course with 7000+ students, and a podcast, Poetry Pause.She’s published 12 non-fiction books, a novel which became a tv film and this autumn she’ll have a poem in the Places Of Poetry anthology.


We hope you’ll agree that this list gives amazing scope for choosing to learn something new, develop existing skills, and learn from each other.

To book your room, please click here, where you can choose your room and pay your deposit for that directly to the venue.
Once we receive your workshops options, you will be asked to pay your workshops deposit.

NB: please note that you need to fill in the workshop choices when booking so we can allocate spaces accordingly.

Weekend schedule:


9:30am Arrival and Registration.
10:00 – 1:00pm Workshops
1:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 5/6:00pm, Workshops

7:15pm, Dinner

After dinner, drinks and board-games will be available, or curl up by the fire with a book


8-9:30am Breakfast

10:00am – 1:00pm Workshops

1:00pm Lunch

2:00pm – 5/6:00pm Workshops

7:15pm Dinner

After dinner, drinks and board-games will be available, or curl up by the fire with a book


8-9:30am Breakfast

(NB: “Check out” of your rooms and leave luggage securely with Reception
before attending workshops)

10:00am – 1/2:00pm Workshops

2:00pm Lunch

3:30pm Departure – taking away your ideas, creations and wonderful memories!

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