Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Carrie Dennison, a graphic designer, illustrator and art and craft workshop teacher, based in Derwentside, County Durham. I have been teaching art and craft workshops for over 15 years, and I absolutely love to pass on my knowledge and to get everyone creating!
I teach private workshops that I run myself or with other local creatives, I am often invited to teach workshops for local art and craft groups, and for the past four years I have been teaching weekly art and craft workshops for a local social prescribing service.
My three main areas of expertise are printmaking, illustration and fibre crafts, all of which I have been practising myself since my early teens. Before I became self-employed I worked for a craft company as their graphic designer for 8 years, and taught the occasional workshop there too, so thanks to that I also have a large knowledge of a wide range of other arts and crafts, such as paper arts, jewellery making, book binding and mixed media.
How do you plan your workshops?
Good planning is absolutely key to any workshop. For all of my regular workshops I have a spreadsheet with everything I need for that particular workshop, and I make sure that I get everything together for it at least a week in advance. I also have a lesson plan with approximate timings for each stage of the workshop project.
When preparing a new workshop, I run through the whole project myself, noting down every piece of equipment I use and when, and all the timings for each section of the project. For the actual workshop, I double every timing, as this takes into account the time it takes for my demonstration and also the time it takes for someone new to the subject to complete it.
A great tip to remember when teaching workshops is that there are always likely to be people with a large range of abilities attending, so preparing for this is essential. For each step of a project, I like to think of different ways of achieving the same effect, just in case a participant isn’t able to manage the way I would normally achieve it. Of course, you will never be able to cover every eventuality, but having a plan will help you be more flexible. I also have a tool box that is filled with all of my essential art and craft tools and I take this along to every workshop. It’s often referred to as the“magicbox” by my regular workshop participants, as after years of teaching I do seem to be able to produce just about everything that is requested out of that tool box!
What do you find most enjoyable about teaching workshops?
Seeing the delight on people’s faces once they have finished a project! The sense of well being and satisfaction from creating something yourself is invaluable. I teach regular weekly social prescribing workshops and just about every week someone will bring in something they created during the week inspired by one of the previous weeks’ workshops. To know that someone felt confident enough and motivated to create more at home really fills me with joy. This is why I love to teach!
Where do you get your inspiration for your workshops?
Inspiration generally comes from just having fun and playing with my art materials in the studio. There are many mistakes made, and not every idea I have will be suitable for a workshop, but that’s OK. Playing and experimenting with your art materials is a very important part of learning them inside out and is not wasted time! Also, don’t be afraid to experiment during the art workshop as well. If a participant asks,“whatwould happen if…?”, and you don’t know – say you don’t know and say“butlet’s try it and see what happens!” Brilliant work and creative ideas have come out of doing this in workshops and if it doesn’t work – well, we’ve still all learned something!
How can I find out more?
A list of my up and coming workshops can always be found at:
together with examples of the art and crafts my lovely students have created.
I also have plenty of free video tutorials on my YouTube channel:
as well as free crafty downloads on my blog:
and you can always connect with me over on Instagram and Twitter where you’ll find me as @dendryad
To get you in the crafting mood, I have created a couple of “ColourYour Own” gift boxes for you to download, which are designed using my hand drawn mandalas. Download them below, print out and colour as many times as you like! Use a good quality cardstock for best results.