Creativity and Wellbeing Week, 10-16 June 2019

Here at Vanilla Ink, we strongly believe in the power and positivity of simply making. Creating something that wasn’t there before from basic materials is an empowering process. We developed our pilot Make In Metal Programme with this ethos at the heart of it.

Make In Metal students working at The Smiddy

Make In Metal students working at The Smiddy

So… the end of our Make In Metal Programme, rather neatly coincided with Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2019. This 5-month programme came about after we applied for funding from the Opportunities for Young People Fund… and were accepted! We partnered with Community Learning and Development (CLD) team from Aberdeenshire Council and developed a programme focussing on skills development and resilience building aimed at Young People aged between 16 and 25.

Silver Ring Experimentation…

Silver Ring Experimentation…

The programme consisted of 4 sets of four week blocks, each Tuesday session lasting 3 hours and very soon became our favourite class of the week. Workshops were kept to a maximum of 8 participants, with half of the applicants from our local community, applying on a first come - first serve basis. The other half were chosen from the Banff Academy school network area by the CLD team. We were keen to focus on Young People who perhaps needed to build their resilience so we gave them a wee bit of creative time and space to learn some new skills, make new friends and build self-confidence. Making as a therapeutic experience…

Animal Spoon Makers…

Animal Spoon Makers…

It was important to us that we offered these classes to as many young people as possible and made them free so that there were no financial barriers in the way. The funding allowed us to do this.

I really enjoyed making and designing my own jewellery
— Make In Metal Participant

We started the programme in February 2019, kicking off with Basic Techniques in Silversmithing. Silver spoon making and raising techniques were learned to create some gorgeous work.

Wax Carved and Cast

Wax Carved and Cast

In March, we followed on with Basic Techniques in Jewellery Making and realised that the huge consumption of cake was as large as the enthusiasm generated in our classes! Noisy, hilarious and fun is how our students described their time at the Smiddy. Each session, a CLD worker offered support to our students and staff.

The last two blocks focussed on Wax Carving Techniques and different methods of Silver Casting. It was evident that allowing these rather fabulous Young People the time and space out with their own lives to be creative… to be allowed to play and experiment… to meet and chat with different people… was a hugely positive experience for everyone involved. It not only allowed them to focus on making and developing skills, it made them proud of what they had achieved.

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These Young People certainly turned up and made some gorgeous pieces, but more importantly had fun and built their self-confidence. When people ask “wow... I like your ring… where did you get it?” … the best, most empowering response of all is… “Thanks… I made it myself”.

Be Proud Make In Metallers… You certainly should be.