Creative Lives (formerly known as Voluntary Arts) has set up an online network to connect anyone working, volunteering or participating in crafts in all its forms, including heritage crafts, amateur crafts and those involved with crafts education, organising, delivery and promotion across the UK and Ireland.

We have teamed up with the Heritage Crafts Association to co-host occasional #CreativeNetworkCrafts conversations (on Zoom) that each focus on a different theme. This craft community shares ideas, inspires and supports each other through the pandemic and beyond.  We discuss issues, challenges and find solutions. 

We will be announcing details of our next Zoom conversation and networking event in due course.  In the meantime you are invited to join our #CreativeNetworkCrafts Facebook Group, where you can continue the conversation, share ideas, ask questions, post videos, inspire and be inspired! 

On Friday 11 June we met Saffron Darby from the Bristol Textile Quarter and heard about her Meet Make Mend project. We also discussed about sustainable textiles and learnt about Bristol Cloth and the South West Fibreshed
Saffron Darby with her embroidery hoop
Saffron Darby is the Studio Manager at Bristol Textile Quarter, but previously worked for many years as a clothes designer, including 10 years as Senior Designer for Toast. She is passionate about sustainable textiles and often discusses the issues, challenges and solutions during her regular Make Meet Mend sessions.  
Photo Credit: Bristol Textiles Quarter

#CreativeNetworkCrafts Archive

This is an archive of our previous themed Zoom conversations, with links, references and short video clips covering a wide range of subjects and themes.

Friday 16 April at 10:30am, and the theme was 'Can crafts such as textiles bring communities together to discuss 'knotty issues'?'  With our guest speaker Rose Sinclair, a Design Lecturer (Textiles) at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is involved in teaching textiles, fashion and design related practice up to Postgraduate level. 

Rose, who recently featured on BBC Four’s Craftivism: Making a Difference (February 2021), researches the Dorcas Clubs brought over to the UK by Caribbean communities. Dorcas Societies were originally set up to provide clothing to the poor, and teach women sewing and craft skills, but have also operated as a go-between for public health and education campaigns.

We discussed whether this model could be used today to provide information and support through a common interest in crafts and textiles and whether there are similarities with the current Craftivism movement. Rose also talked about the work she has been doing in collaboration with the Broadway Theatre in Catford during the pandemic.

Rose's design work has developed in area of civics, social and public engagement for which she has been awarded 'The Wardens Special Award for Community Engagement 2019 and The Wardens Special Award for Civic Engagement (2020).

Rose Sinclair: Short Video Clips, Book References, Resources, Links & Information

View a short Facebook video clip of Rose Sinclair talking about Writing inclusive histories of craft and  Sharing weaving stories during our recent #CreativeNetworkCrafts conversation.

Due to technical issues we are unable to share the complete video footage of Rose's presentation from this conversation, however you can download Rose Sinclair's Dorcas Clubs presentation as a pdf here instead.

Follow Rose on Twitter: @dorcasstories

Goldsmiths Staff Profile
The power of cloth - an interview with Rose Sinclair
Goldsmiths Design Blog: RoseSinclairs' Caribbean Front Room Installation 
BBC's Craftivism Making a Difference 2021

Rose Sinclairs' Books references:

A Vindication of the rights of women by Mary Wollenstencraft:
Motherland: West Indian Women to Britain in the 1950’s by Elyse Dodgson
Small Island: Andrea Levy
Jamaican Women and The world wars on the front lines of change by Dalea Bean
Textiles Community and Controversy: The Knitting Map by Jools Gilson and Nicola Moffat
Craftivism and Yarn Bombing. A Criminological Exploration by Alyce McGovern
Queering the Subversive Stitch by Joseph McBrinn
The Subversive Stitch by Rosika Parker
Bell Hooks : Belonging, a Culture of place
Women and Needlework in Britain, 1920-1970: PhD: Royal Holloway University of London by Elizabeth Robinson:
A very easy Death: Simone De Beauvoir

Rose Sinclairs' Craft/textiles communities/resources:

Conflict Textiles
Threads of unity
Stitching together network 
A museum for me
BIPOC in Fiber
Fashion and Race database 

Rose Sinclairs' Magazine & Newspaper Articles:

Rise of the Sew Bro: Why Men Have been Crafting Their own Clothes over lockdown - Esquire 8th Aug 2020

When I tell people they might laugh, George Clooney and the men who sew - The Guardian by Priya Elan, 4th Feb 2021 

It was seen as an elderly white lady thing to do: meet the new generation of male knitters - The Guardian by Colin Crummy, 10th Apr 2021 

Rose Sinclairs' Dorcas  (Tabitha): Stained Windows (some examples):

Dorcas is often portrayed as a  virtue ‘charity’ either with cloth or handing out food OR being raised from the dead, or surrounded by children.

St Andrews Sadberge
Bradford Cathedral
Cornish Stained Glass
Church of All Saints
Mary Magdalene Church South Molton (window 3)

Friday 8 February at 3.30pm: The theme was 'Microblogging & Social Media with Elena Kanagy-Loux'.  We heard about Elena's background, how she set up the Brooklyn Lace Guild and how she has been promoting her heritage craft on TikTok (@erenanaomi 327k followers) and Instagram (@erenanaomi 43k followers), and we discussed how you could use these platforms to raise awareness about your craft. Scroll down for more information about Elena and her work.

You can view a film clips from this session:

You can follow Elena on Instagram: @erenanaomi @brooklynlaceguild @metrattitextilecenter and on TikTok: @erenanaomi.

Friday 8 January at 9:30am: The theme was 'Available Support & Advice.' We heard from Daniel Carpenter, Operations Officer at Heritage Crafts Association and Sally Reay, South West Development Officer at Voluntary Arts who outlined the support and advice that their organisations provide.  We also discussed the types of support participants want from national support organisations.

Friday 6 November 2020: The theme for the discussion was 'Keeping a craft group together through thick & thin''.  Our two special guests were Fee Barton, from the Art Club aka 'The Coven' & Kerry Russell, from Creativity Works' My Time My Space (MTMS) - an Art + wellbeing programme for Mums suffering from postnatal depression. 

They talked about how their groups have developed over the years and how they have coped and adapted through lockdown and beyond.

You can view a film clip from this session:

Friday 2 October 2020: The theme for discussion was 'Turning your craft hobby into a business.' We were joined by two inspiring speakers who recently turned their passion into a business: Cass Barron from Bookbinding with Cass and Molly Plummer from The Mimo Yarn Company.  

Our final guest was Sally Reay, Voluntary Arts South West Development Officer and Bristol Creatives Business Advisor and Mentor, who answered questions and provided tips and advice about how to set-up a creative business.

You can view a short film clip from this session:

Friday 4 September 2020: The theme for discussion was 'Can online teaching ever replace real world teaching?' We were joined by Kate Dewmartin from Craft Courses, an online platform that offers a choice of thousands of arts, crafts and wellbeing workshops, classes and courses both in person and online.  Alongside Sally Evans, Artisan and Educator at Craft Workshops, who creates and delivers online and in person classes and courses and one of her regular customers Sharon Stagg who who has taken part in both online and real life courses.

An open discussion took place in a breakout session and we reflected on what works and what doesn't. 

You can view a short film clip from this session:

Friday 7 August 2020:
The theme for discussion was 'Craftivism', when we were joined by Sarah Corbett, author, award-winning activist and founder of the global Craftivist Collective who talked about how activism can also be slow, quiet, small and compassionate AND make real positive change in our world.

We also heard from artist, poet and researcher Julia Davis Nosko who demonstrated and ran an optional activity whilst telling us about a craftivist project she worked on in Routsi, Arcadia in Greece, where she was able to combine her love of making clay forms (practice) with deep involvement in making a more sustainable, kinder world (activism). 

You can view a short film clip from this session:

Friday 3 July 2020: We heard from Baroness Sue Garden of Frognal, the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft (APPG) and Patricia Lovett, who is the secretary of the APPG and Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association who introduced 'the work of the APPG and lead a discussion on how the grassroots crafts community can speak to government'.

We also heard from Lucy McGrath from Marmor Paperie about her experience as a craftsperson speaking at the APPG and from Gareth Coles, Director of Voluntary Arts Wales, who outlined some of the work that Voluntary Arts does to support the crafts sector, which includes advocacy, partnership working and research.

You can view some short film clips from this session:

Friday 5 June 2020:
Topics discussed included 'how to keep making during the challenges of COVID, how craft contributes to our wellbeing, and how amateur and professional craftpeople are keeping endangered craft skills alive in these trying times'.

Co-hosted by Sally Reay, Voluntary Arts South West Development Officer and Daniel Carpenter, Heritage Crafts Association who were joined by upholsterer and business mentor Carla Costa, green woodworker Steve Tomlin and HCA Endangered Crafts Officer and knitting enthusiast Mary Lewis.

You can view some short film clips from this session:

Links and comments shared by other participants during these sessions can be found on this shared Google doc. To suggest a theme or for other comments and questions, contact [email protected].

Craft Resources

Craft Business Resources
Craft Funding
Red List of Endangered Crafts

Craft Support Organisations

You can find other useful umbrella bodies on our listings page.

These online events are part of Voluntary Arts' regular #CreativeNetwork - a daily online get-together open to anyone involved in arts, culture and creativity who would welcome the opportunity to talk to others about dealing with the current situation, the challenges of working from home and what we can do together to make positive changes in difficult circumstances.  To find out more visit

Everyone is welcome!