How the retreat works….and what to expect
Nearly three 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.
Gliffaes is a relaxing and spacious venue, so you can be confident that all your workshops will both fun, and safe.
Details of each workshop are found below, and for the workshops booking form, click here for Residential bookings, or for non-residential booking (day tickets) options, click here
The Artisan Workshops:
Join Louise Wright from The Woodee for an outdoor Fire Pit Cooking and Skills Lesson.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn fire lighting skills and how to cook over a wood fire on a Woodee Fire Pit. Louise will be demonstrating different cooking techniques as she shows you how to cook simply and easily on a grill, in a Dutch oven and on a cooking tray. Using fresh local and seasonal ingredients, this is a veritable feast not to be missed.
Champion of rural businesses and heritage crafts, Louise works with traditional craftspeople from across Herefordshire to make Beautiful Fire Pits, artisan tools and accessories which all revolve around fire. Working in harmony with the land and using natural materials is in her blood.
This is an opportunity to share her passion for the outdoor life.
Saturday 5th 10am – 1pm
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.
(Friday 4th 10:30 – 1 – NB: currently fully booked)
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.
Friday 4th, 2 – 5:30pm (AM session fully booked)
Rachel Cadman – lino printing on fabric and paper
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.
Saturday 4th, 10am – 1pm, or 2 – 5:30pm, or 10 – 5pm all day class
Karin Mear – Drawing & Painting Trees
The treescape at Gliffaes is the result of many generations of planting by tree enthusiasts and is listed as a Notable Tree Collection in the Tree Register. In this workshop you will be looking at some of the trees and recording them with sketches and photographs. You will then make charcoal studies in large and small formats, experimenting with composition and shape. This will be followed by an introduction to acrylic paints and its various forms of application. After lunch you’ll be painting on canvas using the morning’s observations as inspiration.
The workshop is suitable for all levels including total beginners and the emphasis will be on discovering or developing your own creative style – with no expectations or pressure. Karin Mear is an experienced artist and tutor and her workshops are informal and enjoyable.
Saturday 5th, 10am – 5pm
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.
Friday 4th, 2 – 5pm, currently fully booked
Leatherwork with Stuart Marriott
In this workshop Stuart will guide you in making either an A5 size journal cover (full day) or a card holder purse (half day). Both projects cover all the basic skills required to produce almost any small leather goods, and provide an excellent foundation to go on and make more complex items. There is also scope for customisation of your project to make it uniquely your own. You will also learn about different leathers, techniques and tools and end the session with a beautiful and functional product that you can either keep yourself or give to someone as a fantastic gift.
Stuart is a Diamond Mounter by trade and has been designing and making in different media for over 40yrs. He is passionate about maintaining traditional skills alongside modern techniques.
Friday 4th, 10am – 1pm, or 2 – 5pm, or all day 10am – 5pm
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).
Friday 4th, 10am – 1pm, or 10am – 5pm (the 2 – 5pm is currently fully booked)
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.
Sunday 6th 1am- 2pm (currently fully booked)
Needle-felting with Emma.
Learn or develop needle-felting techniques, and create your very own little wildlife creature, using native and hand dyed wool, under the tuition of Emma of FfolkyFfelt.
You will learn about felt-making, types of wool, how needle-felting was discovered, how the magic needles work, and have lots of fun as you enjoy a relaxing and creative workshop.
Sunday 6th 10am – 2pm
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.
Saturday 5th, 10am – 5pm, fully booked
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.
Saturday 5th, 10am – 5pm
Chocolate Masterclass with Kathryn Cuthbertson MVO
Let Kathryn expel the myths that surround working with couverture chocolate – In this 4hr workshop you will learn:• how to temper couverture chocolate• how to prepare chocolate moulds• how to use coloured cocoa butters and lustre dusts • how to make chocolate ganaches• how to hand roll chocolate truffles.
The masterclass will be a combination of demonstrations and hands on experience with chocolates to take home to impress your family and friends.
Sunday 6th, 10am – 5pm
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.
Sunday 6th, 10am – 2pm
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.
Friday 4th, 10:30 am – 1pm
Walking for Inspiration – a 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!
Writing for YOU.
In this fun and inspirational session, Emma will introduce the concept of the value of writing for ourselves, to describe how writing came to matter to her … about the usefulness of discussing subjects that are often imagined to be uncomfortable, and how learning to be brave has shaped where she is now in her life. We have many types of ritual and ceremony in our world. Some of these involve passing on stories, by voice, through art, or in writing, and the importance of honouring our memories and experiences runs like a thread though our societies. Writing for ourselves, in diary form, may not be as popular these days, perhaps in part, because we can record our thoughts and activities on social media, but Emma thinks keeping a private diary- whether occasional or daily, is a mindful practice, giving ourselves an opportunity to learn how to be present with our own selves, allows us to evidence our experiences authentically. In our busy worlds, it is chance to relax, record and remember.
Diary writing can also be a useful tool for practising more formal writing, if you are exploring that too.
Emma is a textile artist, tutor, writer, gallery curator, arts centre director and events organiser… she thinks that we now have many ways of recording our words… we can keep a diary, write a blog, send a letter or simply trace a few words into the sand at the beach. Words carry weight and power – kind words can lift us, thoughtless words can be carried with us for many years; words evoke a myriad of emotions within us.
Friday 4th, 2 – 5pm
New for our Retreat in 2021 is a book club! The book we have selected is ‘The Owl House’, published by Seren in late 2020.
Adele : “I have known Daniel Butler for some time – in fact when I first moved to Wales I was an avid reader of his column in Country Living, which was all at once self-deprecatingly funny as well as moving, a skill that belongs to only the best of writers. Then our paths crossed because of birds; my own first book, ‘The Secret Language of Birds’. was published, and Daniel managed to get me a slot at The Hay Festival. Then we got to be friends via foraging – Daniel is one of the leading Fungi experts in the UK.
What’s more, Daniel has agreed to come to The Book Club in person to discuss the story with the group! I have had a sneak preview and this book is totally unputdownable….
Personally, I cant think of a better way to spend an evening in early February then sitting around the crackling fire as Gliffaes discussing a wonderful book over a glass of wine, maybe a whisky or even a cuppa! If you would like to join us, we will send the book out to you within the next few weeks, This will cost 16.00 including post and packing. Daniel will sign the books too if you wish.”
‘The Owl House’:
Daniel has had a passion for wildlife from birth. He always longed for the ‘good life’ as he grew up in Oxford. When he became a freelance writer and realised he could live almost anywhere, driven by his passion for raptors, he chose to follow his Celtic roots to Wales. Once there he accidentally formed an incredible relationship with a wild barn owl. This book is about far more than this, however – it is an exploration of the history, ecology and complexities of humans, habitats and wildlife interacting in modern Britain – and in Mid-Wales in particular…….
Friday and Saturday evenings, informal book club chat in the sitting room
Daniel Butler in conversation:
Come and join this fascinating person in the cosy drawing room at a Gliffaes in a discussion about his book, how it is living in a truly remote part of the world, how to live with owls and other birds of prey, and more! You can buy the book ahead of the Retreat if you wish, but this is not a prerequisite.
Daniel Butler has lived on a 13-acre smallholding in Mid-Wales for almost 30 years. Originally drawn to the area by an obsession with birds of prey, his life became entwined with the local wildlife, from weasels, stoats, polecats and otters to its numerous raptors.
The Owl House was inspired by a wild barn owl which became so tame that it would feed from his hand and even fly into the house looking for food. The work covers far more than the wealth of Welsh wildlife, however. It is a celebration of thousands of years of man interacting with the environment and it pays tribute to the resilience of nature.
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, to see the rooms, but then please *call* the venue, where you can choose your room, receive the Retreat discount, 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.
9:30am Arrival and Registration.
10:15 – 1:00pm Workshops
2:00pm – 5/6:00pm, Workshops
After dinner, drinks and board-games will be available, or curl up by the fire with a book
10:00am – 1:00pm Workshops
2:00pm – 5/6:00pm Workshops
After dinner, drinks and board-games will be available, or curl up by the fire with a book
(NB: “Check out” of your rooms and leave luggage securely with Reception, or in your car,
before attending workshops)