This month we headed to the Gower Peninsula in Wales to join Tricia Hodge from Gower Craft Parties and driftwood artist Jane Haines for a creative workshop making decorations from locally sourced driftwood found on the Gower’s stunning beaches.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in October I found myself heading to a cafe just outside Mumbles on the Gower Peninsula in Wales. Located in a converted railway building, The Junction Cafe is a bustling coffee shop overlooking the vast expanse of Swansea Bay.
Here I would be joining a group of fellow crafters to learn the art of making driftwood decorations under the expert guidance of local driftwood artist Jane Haines.
The cafe was full of people enjoying a late lunch as I headed upstairs to a gallery area. I had expected a handful of students, but the long table was filled with women of all ages as well as children excitedly examining pieces of driftwood and decorative embellishments such as buttons, shells, ribbons and rope.
As I took my place at the table I found two wooden heart blanks, a pot of PVA glue and a painted wooden fish tied to the end of a long piece of string. This was clearly going to be an interesting afternoon!
Along the centre of the table were hundreds of pieces of dried driftwood of all shapes and sizes, bleached almost white by the sun. Jane explained that the best time of year to find driftwood is in the Autumn after a storm and that the Welsh word for driftwood is ‘broc’.
I started adding small pieces of driftwood around the edges of the wooden heart, gradually building it up into layers.
Before long the base was covered and it was time to add some embellishment. With so many decorative elements on offer, it was tempting to go overboard but in the end I decided on some strategically placed shells and coral to keep with the natural theme.
It was wonderful to see how everyone’s designs were so different, with each person bringing their own individuality to their work.
With our first driftwood project completed, it was time for a well earned cup of coffee and a slice of cake – or a delicious chocolate brownie in my case.
After refreshments we started on the next project – a hanging driftwood garland. Jane explained that we could use whatever we liked to decorate the garland and could either space the embellishments out along a piece of string, or pack them close together for a more solid looking garland.
I decided to combine small pieces of driftwood with sea shells, tied at intervals along a length of string.
At the bottom was the wooden fish I had been given, which helped to add some weight to the garland, and at the top I used a large rustic piece of driftwood with the bark still on it as a hanger.
With our two main projects completed, some people then chose to make wall art by sticking pieces of driftwood onto a blank canvas, while others created freehand sculptures using a hot glue gun (very carefully!) to stick the driftwood pieces together. I had found a piece of driftwood that looked a bit like a bird’s head, so I decided to have a go at making a bird sculpture.
As the sun started to head towards the horizon, it was time for the workshop to draw to a close. The other students headed home with their driftwood creations, and I joined my family and drove to nearby Port Eynon Beach where we ended the day beachcombing for more driftwood to take back home with us. The boys had a fantastic time searching for driftwood, sea glass, shells and using their metal detector to discover buried treasure. Needless to say they slept like logs that night!
The Gower Peninsula is a beautiful part of the world with award-winning beaches and plenty to entertain the children. We drove up from London on the Friday night, attended the workshop on Saturday afternoon, before returning home on Sunday evening. This left plenty of time for exploring the area, enjoying some delicious local food, and really felt like a much longer holiday than just a weekend.
The Driftwood Decorations workshop is just one of the many creative courses offered by Tricia Hodge of Gower Craft Parties. Others include glass mosaic, handmade soap, cupcake decorating, sewing, fascinators and wedding crafts.
The workshops are designed to be fun and relaxing, and make the perfect break for mums and daughters, hen parties or other special occasions. Tricia has many years of event organising experience behind her, so she can offer plenty of advice for the perfect celebration. For more information visit www.gowercraftparties.com.
CREATE A SEASIDE LOOK
Why not bring coastal living into your home? We have a beautiful selection of Coastal Style home accessories, all made by UK designer makers, that will help to bring a breath of fresh sea air to your interiors:
For more information about upcoming workshops run by Gower Craft Parties, visit www.gowercraftparties.com.
To find out more about visiting the Gower Peninsula, take a look at www.enjoygower.com.