If the idea of spending your vacation making a leather belt, block printing your own table runner or weaving a modern floral crown, appeals to you more than sightseeing or sunbathing, a crafting retreat might be just the vacation you need. The resurgence of the new day arts and crafts movement is bringing more and more handmade goods to the marketplace, and a parallel movement to re-connect people with the traditional and modern approaches behind the maker movement — via workshops and retreats — is on the rise. It’s a way to hone your skills or learn new ones, connect with others through a shared experience, and tap into some inspiration and relaxation.And if crafting or floral design isn’t just an interest, but a business for you, consider it an investment in more than yourself – a working vacation of sorts, likely to enhance your skills and your network of creative comrades. Be aware that most of these workshops fill up fast however, and by this time of year, some are already sold out. For now, get on the wait-list, and sign up for newsletter alerts from any you hope to attend in the future, so you’ll be notified about the 2017 options ahead of time.
SAW is the longest running and likely most well-known creative retreat of the five discussed here. Founder Elizabeth Duvivier was ahead of the times when she envisioned this retreat for creativity, crafting and conviviality long before the trend. And make no mistake, lanyard making, it is not – there is serious art and craft going on here, but the atmosphere is anything but serious. Instead, it resembles something more like the best summer camp experience you ever had (or hoped to have).
The formula is golden…lodge in turn of the century rustic cabins on a pristine New Hampshire lake, enjoy healthy delicious meals all prepared for you, take fantastic crafting classes and workshops, with plenty of leisure time for knitting on the dock with friendly folks built in. When Duvivier was interviewed on the Decor8 blog back in 2009, she described the experience as “champagne in a tin cup.” If you’re ready for a sip of that, get booking and change your status to Squambound.
Read more about SAW founder Elizabeth Duvivier's home, and see her house tour here: Elizabeth's Urban Artist Retreat
If you are a flower fanatic this one is a dream. Also, no rustic cabins, just book your stay at a local hotel in the beautiful Skagit Valley of the Pacific Northwest. Three days of harvesting, designing and crafting seasonal floral works on a small scale farm and nearby historic barn alongside Erin Benzakein, one of the leaders in the “farmer florist” renaissance. These workshops definitely seem oriented to those with more than just a passing interest in slow flowers and floral craft, but there is no experience required to attend, and they are open to both aspiring as well as established floral artists.
According to their site, the Floret team is striving “to create a warm, welcoming and abundantly beautiful environment to re-charge your creativity, explore your passion, and refine your dreams.” If you want to book for this season, however, you’ll have to dream on, since their seasonal workshops sell out almost as quick as their dahlia seeds. Another one to put on your radar for next year.
This four-day creative business and makers conference founded in 2012 by the Aunt and Niece team behind the Dear Handmade Life blog, goes off in the seaside town of Ventura, California every Spring. This year’s conference just wrapped up, and by all accounts was a fantastic crafting and networking extravaganza involving handwork, good eats, local brews, and more. A quick perusal through the images in the Craftcation galleries chronicling events from the last few years, will likely give you a sense for whether this is where you want to be on your Spring Break next year — and if it is, subscribe to their newsletter now, for updates about 2017 registration.
As a longtime fan of Lotta’s simple and sweet Scandinavian aesthetic, when I learned she was offering multi-day crafting retreats, where you can practice the art of block printing alongside her in places as enticing as her homeland — the Scandinavian Island of Aland, as well as in places like Jaipur and Tokyo, I was ready to sign-up. Or…rather, to start saving up; saunas under the midnight sun in Aland, swimming in the brackish sea, and making paper and fabric prints under the tutelage of such a natural artist, sounds like pure luxury to me. Fortunately, if you live in the States anyway, Lotta also offers one-day workshops that bring the crafting part of the experience, at least, within reach. You can attend one in her Brooklyn Studio, Denver, and elsewhere this year.
This last one veers, or more aptly, left turns from retreat to staycation…still, it’s a great resource for delving in and getting a craft fix before — or instead of — committing the time and resources to traveling. Creativebug is an award-winning digital subscription service that gives you access to high-quality arts & craft video classes offered online from an impressive group of artists, including creative talents like Courtney Cerruti, Emily Katz and Denyse Schmidt, to name just a few.