Artisans celebrate second year of crafting festival in Whithorn

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An event that celebrates artisans and makers has expanded in its second year. The aim is to help people avoid having idle hands, following the make do and mend theme.

The MaD festival now includes lessons in some ancient crafts.

From tiny threads to huge lumps of stone and even red hot bits of metal, festival goers in Whithorn have been getting their hands on plenty of different materials.

They are part of a 10 day long celebration of crafting, creating and valuing heritage skills. At the bottom of a tiny lane an old forge is burning once again.

For retiree George Paterson he is getting to share his great passion.

He said: “I retrained as a teacher when I was 45. We had a forge in the school that was just sat there.

"I went on a course and I got the kids making things with metal. When we retired we were looking for something that had our interest and we found this blacksmith that still had planning permission to run a blacksmith business.

"We came here, some of the stuff I brought and some we just found around about."

He says that working with metal can benefit anyone.

George added: ‘If you go back to the schools where so much is computerised but this hand eye co-ordination and the confidence you get from handling materials is really important.

"You can see it with adults and they love to regain that. It is an ancient skill and there is lots to learn and I am just a novice really, I can teach the basics."

Tickets for George’s events went quickly and he is delighted to be able to inspire others.

He said: “It is great. I think so much of our culture has lost so much confidence in making and doing and you just buy things.

"When people are going away with something they have made they have this youthful thing where they say yes, I did that. That is what it is about."

George is excited to be teaching new skills to people. Credit: ITV

The festival was almost a complete sellout. Organiser Kathleen Hart say that reflects a new interest in old skills.

She said: “You only have to look at mainstream tv which is all about sewing, repair shops and bakeoffs which is showing a back to basics theme going on.

"It is very comforting, doing something with your hands and not doing anything else is quite mindful. It also introduces like minded people with others and there is a lot of socialising going on with people swapping each others phone numbers. It works on many different levels."

Local enthusiast and trainer Nic Coombey says the old art of stonework is as important now as it was hundreds of years ago.

He said: “It is all about making and doing and there is nothing better than a dry stone dyke to make something. It is also a very sustainable thing you are taking stone from the land repairing existing dykes.

"It is just the perfect opportunity for people to have a go. People can see that these old traditions and crafts are something they would like to have a go at. It is not rocket science it just learning the basics and you can have a go on your own at home."

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