Glastonbury Festival 2010: The Craft Field

While Glastonbury Festival is famous for its diverse programme of music and performing arts, for many people, a large part of the festival's attraction lies in the experience to be found away from the main stages.

Pyramid Stage Glastonbury Festival 2010

In the Green Fields, for example, festival-goers can explore alterative therapies and technologies, watch performances in venues powered by solar energy and visit the Stone Circle for stunning views across the festival site.

The Craft Field is also part of the Green Fields area. Situated just below the Stone Circle, it's home to artists and craftspeople who run workshops and demonstrations throughout the festival.

During the 2010 Glastonbury Festival, the event's 40th anniversary, we spent some time in the Craft Field and were amazed at the huge range of crafts you can try - everything from pottery, jewellery making and bowl carving, to blacksmithing, hat making and stone carving.

The artists and craftspeople were grouped together by the materials they use; the woodworkers could be found in one area, the jewellery makers in another and so on.

Greencrafts Field Glastonbury Festival 2010
The Craft Field

In the woodworking area, Paul Hodgson from Cotswold Woodland Crafts ran one-to-one workshops and demonstrations to give people a flavour of green woodworking and pole-lathe turning.

The workshops lasted an hour and participants could chose to make one of a number of items, including a rolling pin, a rounders bat, a spurtle (a traditional porridge stirring stick) or even a magic wand.

Students used green oak or ash and worked on a shave horse and pole-lathe using an axe, a froe, a drawknife and turning chisels. Paul's aim was to ensure festival-goers went away with some newly learned hand skills and an appreciation of the craft.

When he wasn't running courses, Paul held demonstrations of whistle making, pole-lathe turning and chair making.

The Heritage Crafts Association, a registered charity created to protect and promote traditional crafts in the UK, also ran demonstrations in the Craft Field. Their area included large information panels that highlighted the plight of traditional crafts in the UK.

Robin Wood, chair of the Heritage Crafts Association, explained: "Increasingly people are beginning to realise that traditional craft skills are part of our heritage and that we could easily loose them. We were once the workshop of the world and today it is uncommon to see anything made from raw materials.

"Our most common surname is Smith yet many people have never seen a smith at work, at the Greencrafts Field they can actually have a go in a forge.

"Many of our towns and cities were built on crafts, Sheffield on cutlery, Northampton on shoes, Stoke on pottery and so on. These crafts are as much a part of our heritage as our old buildings and they only survive so long as each generation is able to pass their skills on to the next."

Robin held bowl-turning demonstrations at the Heritage Crafts Association stand while Nigel Townshend was on hand to show examples of traditional crafts ranging from Sheffield scissors and pocketknives made by some of the last cutlers in Sheffield, to garden sieves made by the last sievemaker.

Bowl-turning demonstration at the Heritage Crafts Association stand

Robin has turned wooden bowls by foot power full time for over 15 years. He has made replica bowls for the Mary Rose Trust, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and the Globe Theatre.

In the Craft Field pottery area, A Drop Of The Ocean Pottery Studio demonstrated the technique they've developed to turn clay found at Worthy Farm into a stable and useable slip. The clay came from the waste material produced when holes were drilled to hold the many flagpoles around the festival site.

The slip is used to decorate pottery and, when fired, it acts as a robust and permanent covering for the pots, making them able to withstand regular use in a modern day kitchen environment.

A Drop Of The Ocean Pottery Studio ran workshops to show visitors how to make the slip from local clay and let them try the various stages of the process. Participants dipped ceramic bells into the slip and scratched in designs using a technique called sgraffito. The decorated bells were taken back to the company's studio for firing, ready to be displayed as part of a wind chime sculpture.

Dave Brooks of LEDfantastic led a series of workshops in the Craft Field during which participants worked on a range of LED projects including torches, reading lights, costume lights, and spotlights.

The workshops lasted between two and three hours depending on the complexity of the chosen project. The session started with a thirty-minute talk and demonstration by Dave. He spoke about the science and history of LEDs and then demonstrated their use and the skills needed to put a lighting circuit together.

LED Workshop
LED Workshop in the Craft Field

Dave & the crew were then on-hand while participants' used soldering irons, snips & strippers to   create projects from LEDfantastic kits or develop something of their own design. A huge range of LEDs and additional components, such as switches, battery boxes, crocodile clips and power supplies, were available to ensure everyone made exactly what they wanted.

Nearby, Ian from Funky Monkey Rustic Carpentry ran a series of green woodworking workshops to give people the opportunity to pick up a traditional green woodworking tool, learn about it's correct use, and to take away something that they made themselves.

In workshops that ranged from 30 minutes to several hours, participants could have a go at making a 3-legged rustic festival milk stool, traditional mallet and tent pegs, whistles and walking sticks.

Pat Lawless, from Lawless Furniture, also ran workshops in the woodworkers area. Based in the South West of Ireland, Lawless Furniture has been making furniture for over 60 years. A father and son business, they use mostly native Irish wood to produce hand-made furniture and sculptures.

Pat's aim at Glastonbury was to show people how to work with wood and to give them an appreciation of how long it takes to make and finish a piece. During one-to-one workshops that lasted between one and ten hours, people could have a go at making oak stools, spalted beech mirrors or wood puzzles.

Michelle Cain's large willow sculptures have been a feature at Glastonbury Festival for the last few years. In 2010, Michelle installed a fiddle-playing willow devil at the entrance to the Healing Fields and two giant foxes playing a banjo and a fiddle in the Field of Avalon. Michelle also created the willow dancing figures backstage in the BBC's Performance Garden.

Michelle Cain's willow sculptures from 2007

Michelle was also busy in the Craft Field running workshops during which festival-goers learnt how to weave rush and make head garlands using paper flowers. Each workshop lasted around twenty minutes and took place in a tipi - a welcome location for people seeking refuge from the sun.

Artist Fiona Campbell also produced a giant sculpture for the festival. Her five metre wide spider was made of recycled metal and designed to raise awareness of recycling through art. Festival-goers helped out with the spider's completion, adding wire to the body and decorating it with crushed cans and bottle tops.

Fiona, whose work focuses mainly on steel, copper and wire sculptures, ran wire workshops in the Craft Field. At the start of each workshop Fiona showed participants how to use the tools safely and gave a brief demonstration of each stage from linear design to completion of the wire piece.

Initial line drawings, often a fish, frog or an insect, were used to create a simplified design for a wire template. Various wires were then used to make the final 2D or 3D piece. Participants then added beads, buttons and other recycled materials for a more decorative end result.

Wildwood Bushcraft is a wilderness survival school with bases in Sussex and on the West Coast of Scotland. A member of the Institute for Outdoor Learning, the company also runs international expeditions to locations such as Sweden and Canada. At Glastonbury 2010, the company ran a number of workshops including lighting a fire by friction using the bow drill technique, fire lighting with firesteels and spoon carving. The workshops lasted anything from 30 minutes to an hour and were delivered one-to-one or to small groups.

Nearby, Wildwood Coppice Crafts ran workshops where visitors could make festival lanterns from split hazel with woven willow surrounds. The one-to-one workshops took between 40 minutes and an hour during which participants worked sustainably coppiced hazel and willow using a froe, mallet, bodkin and craft knives. In between workshops, festival-goers could watch demonstrations of how to make flowers from very finely shaved hazel sticks.

Flowers made from finely shaved hazel sticks
Flowers made from finely shaved hazel sticks

During the five days of the Festival, thousands of people visited the Craft Field watching demonstrations, taking part in workshops, or just soaking up the creative atmosphere.

Robin Wood, chair of the Heritage Crafts Association, summed up the general feeling saying: "The organisers of the Craft Field have been supporting and promoting traditional crafts for many years. It is great for craftspeople to be able to show our work to what is always an enthusiastic and appreciative audience."

Many of the artists and craftspeople featured in this article run workshops and courses throughout the year. You'll find full details on their websites by following the links below:

A Drop Of The Ocean Pottery Studio
Cotswold Woodland Crafts
Fiona Campbell
Funky Monkey Rustic Carpentry
The Heritage Crafts Association
Michelle Cain
Wildwood Bushcraft

Related links

Lawless Furniture
Glastonbury Festival