In April 2018, THIS GIRL MAKES marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of its events program by delivering two making workshops at Pegasus Theatre in Oxford. I was invited to this event by Oxford Brookes University as part of their annual Outburst Festival. Throughout this weekend festival they bring interactive and exciting events to members of the university and beyond, for truly affordable prices.

The stool-making workshop proved once again extremely popular, being the first event of this year’s festival to sell out. Although the session was open to all, it was a nice surprise to have a turn out of majority women. What made me really pleased was the amount of women who had thought to bring their daughters along, so they could learn about woodwork together. I hope those that attended thought the session was engaging, and that they found the delivery of it positive and constructive. I was so pleased with their final outcome; ten perfectly assembled and finished stools, which were formed into a centipede-like formation. (What do you call a centipede with only thirty legs, I wonder?)

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To my delight, our second workshop of the day, a Build Your Own Toolbox session, was also fully booked. This was only my second time delivering this session, so I was excited to see how everyone took to it. This session allowed participants to be more expressive in their final piece, having provided them with paints and various coloured tapes.

This idea behind this session was developed during my final project for my university course at Rycotewood Furniture Centre. After researching the benefits of craft during times of bereavement, I decided that building your own toolbox was symbolic of the resilience we gain after going through those challenging periods in our lives. As someone described it to me, “every grievance in our life is like a tool we add to our box. The more we experience the heavier the box gets, and the stronger we become”.

I was so pleased to see the variety of ways the toolboxes were decorated, and the ideas people had for what uses they might put them to. Hopefully the participants of this workshop have gone on to be more creative in their day-to-day lives, and are putting their toolboxes to good use.

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Once again I was very lucky to have Dr Lynn Jones assisting me with the delivery of these workshops. And luckier still, we were joined by her thirteen year old daughter, Martha, who was an incredible help throughout the day. She took part in our final workshop of the day, assembling and painting her own toolbox.

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Preparing for these events at Outburst Festival did require a lot of time and energy, which was especially challenging during the final months of my degree, however I am so pleased I agreed to take part. Being an active member of your local community and promoting positive change on a small-scale are really important. It helps develop culture and support younger generations.