From ancient Japanese dyeing to spoon whittling and cuttlefish casting - liven up your calendar and your skillset

Recently, we paid a visit to PLANT: a new community space in Manchester’s NOMA district, which hosts a plethora of workshops in pretty much every medium you can think of. From ceramic creatures to chairs made of shopping baskets, the result is often quirky but always handmade - and invariably the product of a fun few hours.

It got us wondering where else you can go, learn new skills and come away with your very own creation. Hence this list of ten upcoming workshops, from t-shirt designing to tea tasting and darkroom production.


MINDFUL DOODLING | Manchester Art Gallery | Second Tuesday every month 

You’re probably aware of Manchester Art Gallery’s exhibitions, but did you know it hosts free regular tours and workshops too? Exploring the connection between art and wellbeing, these include everything from philosophy cafes to Thursday lates and ‘Mindful Marks;’ a therapeutic workshop which allows users to de-stress and draw using mindfulness-based techniques. Time to put down that adult colouring book and head to MAG. 

Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, M2 3JL (12-2pm; free)


SHIBORI DYEING | Stitched Up | Various

It’s not often you get to master an ancient Japanese dying technique, but now’s your chance. This unusual workshop comes from Stitched Up, a non-profit cooperative which helps promote sustainable style through clothes mending, upcycling workshops and a 100% reclaimed haberdashery - they also offer sewing classes and hire out machines by the hour. Using natural indigo dye and resist techniques to pattern natural fabrics, this promises to be a productive (if messy) session.

527B Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 0UF (2-4pm; £25 at stitchedup.coop)

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T-SHIRT DESIGNING | Museum of Science & Industry | 19-20 August 

Artists, crafters and coders descend on MSIM this month for ‘makefest’ - a free weekend spanning smartphone holograms to soft toy hacking and Hebecon; a Japanese robot tournament in which ‘opponents use rubbish, scrap materials and no tools to make deliberately bad robots.’ If you like your competitions more fashion-orientated (and a little less random), there’s also the chance to grab some fabric pens and design your own tee, with the winning design professionally printed and sold online. What’s more, 25% of profits go to local mental health charity 42nd Street.

Museum of Science & Industry, Liverpool Road, M3 4FP (10am-5pm; free entry, small charge for some activities)


DARKROOM PRODUCTION | Nightlight Darkroom | Various 

With digital photography everywhere you look - and not just on Instagram - film photography is now akin to vinyl records when it comes to kudos. But it’s no good sauntering around with a retro film camera if you don’t know how to use it. Enter Nightlight Darkroom’s weekend courses, in which you’ll not only learn analogue camera techniques, you’ll then print your snaps in the darkroom by hand in black and white or colour; giving you some nifty artwork to boot.    

Nightlight Darkroom, ArtWork Atelier, 95 Greengate, Salford, M3 7NG (11am-5pm; tickets from £125)

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KEYRING PRINTING | MadFabLab | Thursday 31 August

Northern Quarter makerspace Madlab has recently launched MadFabLab, which - though it may be a mouthful - boasts some pretty impressive facilities. Amongst other things, these include a laser cutter and a 3D printer; the latter being the focus of this quirky workshop, which lets you print your own keyring. Hey presto, no more turning your bag inside out trying to find your keys. If that’s whet your appetite, we also recommend checking out MadLab, which hosts courses from coding to site design, alongside meetups from community groups across Manchester.

MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street, M4 1HN (6.30-8.30pm; tickets £21.43 at eventbrite.co.uk)


PRINTMAKING (WITHOUT A PRESS) | The Lowry | Tuesday 12 September

And how do you print without a press? By using everyday items found around the average house - whether they’re lurking at the back of the cupboard or came from last night’s takeaway (yes, you can use pizza packaging). From tin foil to builder’s nails, plexi-glass and even soap, all can be used to create accomplished prints. Guided by a professional artist, create etchings, lithographs, monotypes, block prints, collographs, chine-colle, transfer prints and more in The Lowry’s popular ten-week course. Or, for something more traditional, consider Nell Smith’s botanical monoprinting class at Kula Gallery.

The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ (6.30pm; tickets from £100 at thelowry.com)

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TEA TASTING | Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art | 24 September & 10 December

If you like your workshops less messy, and more demure, we’ve found just the job: tasting with Tea Mandala. From leaf to cup, sample some of the finest teas from China and across the world, while learning how to get the best flavour from your tea leaves with expert brewing tips. They’ll also demonstrate different ways to infuse them, from traditional methods to modern techniques. Clearly there’s more to a good brew than sticking the kettle on. 

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, 13 Thomas Street, M4 1EU (2pm; tickets £10 at eventbrite.co.uk)


SPOON WHITTLING | HOME | 20-22 October

As part of Manchester Folk Festival, Vic Phillips of SingleMaltTeapot will be demonstrating the ‘creative wonders’ of hand carving a wooden utensil in this spoon whittling session at HOME. Participants will learn how to work with a natural material, the cutting methods involved and how to finish off their creation. Moon and Tide’s Claire Gould will also be running a Folk Fest workshop at HOME, showing how to create modern calligraphy script with a dip pen and copperplate nib: more details here.  

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN (10-12pm; tickets £30 at homemcr.org)

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CHRISTMAS WREATH MAKING | Frog Flowers | 26 November & 9 December

We know we know, it’s over four months ‘til Yule - and we usually resent mention of the festive season while we’re still in the height of summer (well, should be). But we think these next two events merit a mention, so you’ll have to bear with us. First up, Frog Flowers’ wreath-making workshop, which lets you create a more meaningful decoration than one that’s dug out the loft every year. You’ll even enjoy a glass of bubbly and homemade scones from Teacup while you’re doing it.

Frog Flowers, 51 Turner Street, M4 1DN (2-5pm; tickets £95 at frogflowers.co.uk)


CUTTLEFISH CASTING | Manchester Craft & Design Centre | Sunday 10 December

We squid you not, there really is something called cuttlefish casting - and it involves casting molten pewter into fish bones, specifically of the cuttle variety. Metal artist Ella McIntosh - who runs This is Pewter - will be showing participants how to make a keyring, hanging decoration or jewellery charm using this ancient technique, as part of her Give it a Bash workshop programme. Other classes include pewter vessels and experimental spoons. 

Manchester Craft & Design Centre, 17 Oak Street, M4 5JD (11am-4pm; tickets £55 at thisispewter.com)

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