Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a full day ‘Makers at The Mill’ creative workshop at the incredible Sunny Bank Mill in Farsley.
The workshop, which was hosted by Sami from Just Lovett Design, gave me the opportunity to be creative with wood and to use power tools, both of which were things that I had never done before.
I set out early on Saturday morning and cycled over to Farsley. I arrived at the Mill a little early and had a quick wander around the grounds, having a look at the artwork that decorated the walls. I then headed over to the Just Lovett suite ready for a 9:30 am start. On arrival, I was warmly welcomed by Sami, who introduced me to the other workshop attendee, and made me a welcome cup of tea.
Whilst we sipped our drinks, Sami took us through the plan for the day. She also showed us the PPE that we would be using for the workshop, including plastic goggles and ear defenders. Sami then discussed the COVID safe measures that she had put in place. For instance, she explained that we each had a face covering and a plastic visor that we could wear at any time, and she had placed a large hand sanitizer pump on the table, which we could use throughout the day, and gave us each a water bottle that we could fill up as and when needed.
We put on our aprons and the workshop itself started at 10 am. We were shown the bath caddy piece that we were going to make and were told to have a think about how we were going to decorate it. To begin the process of making the caddy, we first measured the wood, prompted to measure twice and cut once. We then used a mitre saw to cut the wood to size. Sami was clear in her instructions, which was very much appreciated considering it was the first time I had ever used a power tool and that I was a little apprehensive!
To ensure COVID safe practice, the saw was wiped down between uses. Once we had our larger pieces, we measured and trimmed a large plank of wood to create our smaller connecting pieces for the back of the caddy, again using the mitre saw. By the sixth cut, I was starting to get the knack of using the saw.
Next, we chose a variety of drill bits to drill holes in the wood to create candle holders – ideal for a relaxing bath – and again the drill to create a hole in the wood to hold a wine (or orange juice) glass. The slit to hold the glass was finished off again by using the mitre saw. I enjoyed experimenting with different drill bits, exploring how the wood reacted and what size of hole I could create.
To hollow out the wood to create spaces for a phone and tablet, we used a router. This cool machine can be used to finish off wood pieces to add patterns or grooves. The router was pretty powerful and required a gradual increase in pressure to create an even cut, and Sami guided us through the process. Thanks to her, we were both happy with the cuts that we made. Next, we sanded down our pieces of wood, removing any sharp edges.
We broke for lunch at about 12.30, when we shared a delicious selection of fresh sandwiches and salad, and for dessert we each had a slice of cake. The food was delicious and provided fabulous fuel for the afternoon of creativity. I enjoyed having a proper sit-down meal as I was able to chat with Sami and my workshop co-attendee.
After eating, we set about fixing together and securing our caddies. We used a combination of wood glue and screws, which hold the wood in place extra securely and is a trick that I will remember for future wood makes. We also added some wood putty to each screw to prevent the screws from rusting in the bathroom. A thin layer of wood varnish was applied to the caddy and whilst the varnish dried, we used the laser cutter to create wooden words to add to our caddies.
I loved the process of designing the image on the computer and seeing the design come to life in wood form, thanks to the laser printer. Once we had our words, we had to sand down and varnish the caddy, checking that all of the rough edges were rectified. The final stage was to glue down the laser cut words, which finished off the piece perfectly.
Overall, the workshop was fantastic. I really appreciated the opportunity to try out different power tools, experiment with wood and be creative with a laser cutter. Sami was a brilliant teacher and guided us through the day without a hitch.
It was great to finish the day with a piece that I had created and was able to take home. I am looking forward to taking a bath so I can relax and watch some videos on my tablet whilst I soak. I have also already had a look at the other workshops on offer, including making incredible acrylic jewellery!
So – if you want to explore or extend your potential for being creative and making useful or decorative items to treasure or to give as gifts, do get in touch with Sami via her Just Lovett Design website here and you can see just some of the handmade items the workshops have created. Sami’s email address is also included.
It’s worth knowing that Just Lovett Design also works with businesses to create bespoke items for their promotions and marketing.
Feature photograph by Gemma Bridge.