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15 things to do at The National Festival of Making

PUBLISHED: 11:06 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:03 24 March 2017

Print For Love of Wood (c) Claire Sutton

Print For Love of Wood (c) Claire Sutton


From spinning pizzas to getting behind a sewing machine, a range of freshly announced, exciting and inspiring workshops and activities encourage people of all ages to get involved.

The National Making FestivalThe National Making Festival

Making the perfect paper plane, stitching a part of a historic ‘time capsule’ quilt and playing retro games on a giant community-made video screen have all been announced as part of the first National Festival of Making taking place in Blackburn on May 6th and 7th. It is the first national celebration of its kind, and the free family festival not only brings together the best of the nation’s making and manufacturing talent, but promises visitors inspiring opportunities to try things they’ve never tried before in a wide range of workshops and drop-in activities.

Elena Gifford, Co-Director of The Festival of Making said, “One of the main aims of The National Festival of Making is to inspire people to find out what aspects of making they could be good at and enjoy by having a go themselves. The range of workshops with now confirmed, with more to follow, shows that there’s going to be something in the festival experience for everyone, whether they’re a 3-year old interested in getting messy with paint and glue, a young person interested in the principles of filmmaking or a grown-up curious about hi-tech product design techniques.”

Darwen Aldridge Community Academy Festival (c) Richard TymonDarwen Aldridge Community Academy Festival (c) Richard Tymon

We’ve put together just a few of some of the most exciting events and opportunities that have been confirmed so far as part of The National Festival of Making. Unless stated, the events take place on both festival dates and run between 11am – 6pm, with free entry to most of the events.

‘Make Your Mark’ Workshop with OH OK – Venue TBC

The Manchester based design group, OH OK Ltd. invites visitors to make their very own marker pen which they can then use to design the future with!

Pop Up Factory, Alliance Project – King Georges Hall

With the mission to help the UK’s textile industry, the Alliance Project creates engaging ways to excite our future generation of textile worker bees. For the National Festival of Making, the Alliance Project brings its own ‘pop up factory’ where visitors can test their abilities with sewing machines and other making technology.

National Art and Design Saturday Club – Prism Gallery, Lord Street - Saturday Only, 11am – 6pm

As part of a nationally-recognised network of Saturday Clubs that engage 13-16 year olds with their local colleges, universities or museums to creates aspiration and enhance life skills, The National Festival of Making plays host to one such club event.

Pixel Perfect – The Making Rooms, 1 Exchange St

At Blackburn’s very own hi-tech hub, The Making Rooms, visitors are invited to enjoy a weekend of retro pixel art fun.

Colour Pixel Window – The Making Rooms, 1 Exchange St

Mounted on one The Making Rooms’ iconic building’s windows, passers-by will be able to play classic games like Tetris on a giant pixel screen made with the help of festival visitors.

Folding Table: Forming Paper Planes – Town Hall Square

Working with the artist, David Boultbee, visitors will put their making skills to the test on one of the world’s classic designs – the paper aeroplane.

Handling Craft with the Crafts Council – King George’s Hall, Northgate

The Crafts Council and The National Festival of Making come together to offer visitors a one-on-one experience with the ingenuity and creativity of contemporary making. This full day, drop-in activity provides a rare chance to handle beautifully made craft objects.

Community Clothing Textile Workshop- Community Clothing Company, 14 – 16 Lord Street West

Sewing machines, scissors and thread at the ready as a team of crafty Community Clothing volunteers help visitors to sew a block of a historic, collaborative quilt. Many of the five inch pieces of fabric gathered will be offcuts from the Community Clothing factory, but visitors are welcome to bring their own piece, especially if the fabric has a story attached.

Pewter Jewellery Making Workshop – Venue TBC – Saturday Only

Joining pewter artist, Ella McIntosh, visitors will be able to investigate the potential of an ancient artform and a versatile material to make their own jewellery. Elements of the workshop will be themed around Blackburn’s history, sending locals home with an enduring symbol of civic pride and further distance visitors a beautifully evocative souvenir of their festival visit.

‘Threadiffiti’ with Debbie Smyth – Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Museum St

Led by professional artist, Debbie Smyth, in residence at Blackburn Museum during the festival period, participants have the chance to take part in a table-top threadiffiti workshop – a collaborative ‘thread drawing’ that grows, expands and develops over the course of the weekend.

As a region steeped in industrial textile making history, from the cotton trade to today’s hi-tech digital fabric production firms, this activity will connect people to Lancashire’s heritage in a fun and modern way.

Learn to use Media Equipment- The Bureau, 25 Victoria Street

Making images is big business, whether you’re a Hollywood Director, a television company or a freelance videographer. Inspiring people to think about the place that they could have in the media, this workshop presents the opportunity to learn to use film making and photographic equipment, with live demos from Blackburn College.

Get Crafty Art & Craft Sessions - Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, Saturday Only, 12pm – 4pm

Little ones are invited to get creative in a ‘Get Crafty’ art and craft session, aimed at children from toddler age to 12 years, although every little one needs an adult to accompany them. The crafts will take about 20-30 minutes and the children can take home whatever craft they make.

Making News – Town Hall Square

Don’t just read all about it! Festival visitors are invited to write their own news and create a giant newspaper, perhaps using the pages to write a poem, tell a story, share a memory or sketch a picture. All ages are welcome with absolutely no prior experience necessary, staying to scribble and doodle for as long as they like.

Pizza Making - THE BUREAU, 25 Victoria Street

How difficult can making your own pizza be? For anyone who hasn’t tried, there’s only one way to find out and before sitting down to catch the festival’s film programme, visitors are invited to get down and dusty with floury dough and make their own pizza, waiting to eat it while it’s fired in The Bureau’s garden pizza oven.

Back to Nature with Newground Allotment – Cathedral Quarter

Environmental regeneration charity, Newground invite anyone who thinks they might have green fingers to come along and get their hands muddy, join the digging, mulching and planting effort on their pop-up community allotment. As well as getting busy with soil, the Newground team take participants through the method of twine making from natural materials, making elder stem jewellery, crowns and wands and open the lid on their educational bee hive (no live bees!).

For the full festival schedule and for more information visit www.festivalofmaking.co.uk and sign up to the mailing list.

News and opportunities will also be posted on the Festival of Making Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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