Crafting Enterprise Action Research

From September 2016 to April 2017 Year 8 students from Blue Coat School in Coventry worked with applied artist and Made in the Middle exhibitor Hayley Beckley. They created a collection of wearable accessories using textile and metal work techniques, which they learned over the course of 10 sessions.

The project, Crafting Enterprise, aimed to test whether engagement with craft based activity, when students are considering GCSE choices, might stimulate further take up in art, craft, design and technology qualifications. Craftspace developed the project in response to Our Future is in the Making: An Education Manifesto for Craft and Making. The manifesto, developed by the Crafts Council, proposes six areas of action to address the fall in student participation in craft related learning – a drop, at GCSE level, of 25% over six years. Crafting Enterprise specifically sought to respond to the call to 'put craft and making at the heart of education'.

The Process
To begin the project the students were introduced to the world of the self-employed designer maker and to the wide variety of craft based employment opportunities that exist both within and beyond the craft sector. This element was supported by Coventry-based textile manufacturer, Cash's, who hosted a visit from the students to look at their archive of textile products and tour the factory floor. They visited the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum archives and an exhibition to hear about the careers of conservators and curators at the venue. The students also started to look at the objects on display in a more critical manner.

Following the introduction to the wider craft sector, Hayley supported the group to develop a collection which included cuffs, bangles, necklaces and hair accessories. They used a range of materials including fabric printed with their own digital designs. Once complete the collection was taken to the Making Merry Christmas craft market at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum where the students sold their work and spoke to visitors about the Crafting Enterprise programme.

Having been introduced to the work of the other Made in the Middle exhibitors, the students were invited to choose one and send them thoughts and questions about their practice. They then selected images of the makers' work and in some cases produced their own creative work inspired by them. The responses from the exhibitors and the selected images became the Crafting Enterprise contribution to this Made in the Middle 30 exhibition and formed part of the students' work towards a Bronze Arts Award.

To find out more about Craftspace’s action research ethos and Made in the Middle projects click here