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Behind the scenes with Heritage Services: self-isolation tips

This week’s lock-down inspiration comes from Laura, Community Engagement Officer, working with the Roman Baths and the new World Heritage Centre. She is making a knitted Roman soldier!

29 April 2020

I admit it…I am a craft-a-holic. I have always enjoyed anything arty and probably own more than enough craft supplies to see me through into the next decade! I always have lots of ideas for projects but until now, not so much time to complete them.

During this period of isolation, I’ve set myself the challenge of using up some of my craft supplies.  Browsing the online craft-selling site Etsy, I came across this pattern for a Roman Soldier by Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz. This project has been just the thing to unwind with in the evenings, when I shut down the laptop from work, put on the radio or a podcast to listen to, and knit and purl my way through the pattern.

It has also been heartening to see how arts and crafts activities are spreading joy to others in our communities and helping key workers. On my daily walk I see an increasing number of rainbows and pictures being displayed in windows. One of our local trees is now being decorated with small items such as home-made birdfeeders and positive messages. And every day we hear of groups of crafters are using their skills to help others by stitching and sewing items such as hearts, mask bands and scrubs for key workers.

If you are thinking of turning your hand to something crafty, here are my top tips:

  • Do it! Don’t be afraid to have a go at something. Focus on the process and enjoyment of making, rather than the look of the finished object.
  • Make do with what you have. During this time of lock-down, it can be harder to get hold of craft supplies, so think about what you have already that can be used instead. Make something in a different colour, out of a different materiel or even a different size. Cushion stuffing can be used instead of toy stuffing, old clothes can be used for fabric, and food colouring in water can be used as a watercolour type paint.
  • Choose your project carefully. Do you want something that is fine and intricate, or simple and repetitive? Will you enjoy making it? If not choose another project – crafting is meant to be fun!
  • Ask for advice – there are lots of online forums and social media groups that have lots of crafters who are willing to share their expertise. Youtube also is a great source of instructional videos that you can pause and replay as you learn new techniques.
  • Be inspired – You can browse the items from the collections of The Roman Baths, Victoria Art Gallery and The Fashion Museum online
  • Finally, if you are thinking of creating something that can be used for keyworkers, such as mask bands or hearts, check that the hospital / care home can make use of them before you send them – different settings have different guidance to follow. There are a number of community groups that have been set up to co-ordinate the distribution of items such as scrubs and washbags, so check with them first.

Links to online collections:

https://www.romanbaths.co.uk/walkthrough

https://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/collection

https://www.victoriagal.org.uk/walkthrough