The Big Skill is a not for profit community interest company set up to preserve rural skills, provide demonstrations & hands on rural crafts activities & training resources.
We run events, workshops, crafts festivals and Fayres that showcase the members skills and wares. We also provide crafting areas for other events, so do get in contact if you would like us to help you.
Below are some photos from our events… please scroll down for our aims and our Mission… and browse through examples of our workshops on your way past – you may find something to inspire you!
Many of us live in a rural community, and all around us are aspects of rural skills and crafts – from the hedges and stone walls you drive past, to the woven baskets and wooden ornaments that you use for shopping or that decorate your home. As modern life and technology progresses, these traditional techniques and practises are at risk of becoming forgotten. However, as times change, we have found that more and more people want to know where these skills originated. If your ancestors were farmers or made a living from the land around us, or if you would like to be more “hands-on” in your everyday life – come along to learn the skills they may have used.
We want to promote these rural skills and the local businesses, craftsfolk and artisans keeping them alive, as well as learning about healthy living and eating, recycling and sustainability, and what this means to you and your future; therefore we strive to ensure that all our practitioners are authentic, experienced tutors with amazing handmade items for you to buy, or kits for you to learn with, and educational yet informal workshops for all the family to enjoy.
Whether you would liek to become a member, or if you are a visitor who would like to come along to our events and workshops, please do contact us, we love to hear from you!
a) Provide rural crafts at festivals & events
b) Run outreach events at local festivals/shows as well as in other areas
c) Maintain a directory of rural crafts & festivals in Mid Wales, Borders & Marches & a signposting service for rural skills & crafts
d) Provide access to accredited rural craft courses
Our Goals and Values
The Big Skill aims to widen access to participation and learning and development of traditional and contemporary rural skills and crafts, offering the development of opportunities and help create routes into rural employment, provide services to the community and promote the sustainability of the rural life and economy.
Our Rural Crafts Festivals epitomise our core values of rural sustainability, leading a healthy lifestyle, the continuation of the rural environment, and helping those disadvantaged in the employment market into work, through training and learning of new skills.
The Big Skill is a hands-on rural craft and skill experience, where anyone can participate in the range of workshops, demonstrations and talks.
Subjects for the activities, workshops and demonstrations include bee-keeping, brewing, cider-making, fencing, bodging, hedging, dry-stone wall skills, horticulture, animal husbandry, basket-weaving, wood-turning, fly-fishing, trees and timber management, charcoal-burning, coracle making, hurdle-making, farrier skills, landscaping, environmental conservation, game and wildlife management, aquaculture, land-based engineering and floristry, traditional food manufacture (for example fudge, sweet and savoury biscuits, cheese-making), in addition to craft activities such as basket weaving, pottery, felt craft, stained glass, candle making, textiles, saddlery, mask making, puppetry, painting and creative photography, farmhouse cooking, clay tile making and jewellery making.
The Festival Venues, past and present -
Set up in 2012 (after two festivals at Penpont in 2010/11) we have in the last 5 years provided free craft workshops by over 100 crafters at over 30 venues for thousands of people, where we have either organised the events or worked with strategic partners on theirs
In 2016 With Hereford New Leaf and with funding from A4A England, we have set up in association with 6 local organisations, Make Do & Mend Cafes (craft & recycling) in Herefordshire.
Funding from A4A, Grove Trust & BBNPA Social Development Fund enabled us to market our marquee at the Eisteddfod last year, where we ran 23 workshops for people & demonstrations for 4000, provided information on further training and future workshops and developed links with 3 centres in the BBNPA
2017 with support from an A4A Wales grant & MSCT grant we are running a Big Skill Festival at The Globe, Hay-on-Wye in July 2017 , an Arts & Crafts Exhibition and putting together a Craft manual to run regular local courses.
Big Skill’s Agored Cymru’s Accredited Open College Network ‘CIC (Crafts in the Community) Training Centre’, has since 2012 achieved over 250 successful accredited courses in over 20 subjects ranging from Dry Stone Walling, Textiles, Gardening, Basic Horse Care, Cooking, IT., conservation, train the trainers, outdoor activities.
In 2010 & 2012 we held The Big Skill Festival in the beautiful surroundings of Penpont Estate, which was the first site to hold the Greenman Festival. The Greenman maze remains at Penpont, and has become a great attraction to entertain the children.
We have run summer fayres at the National Park Visitor Centre/Mountain Centre, and since 2013 yearly rural crafts festival in Hay on Wye, the first two years were held at Racquety Farm, the last two years at Hay Castle and this year at the Globe
We also held 7 days of workshops in the Settlement area of the Green Man festival in 2014 and 2015.
In addition, we have held events at Hereford Community Farm, The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford, Spring Greens Festival at the beautiful Court of Noke, and the River Carnival alongside New Leaf and had marquees in the Countryside Matters Marquee at Monmouth Shows.
The 2010/11 Festivals were set up by Powys Sense Ltd with support by many organisations and funding bodies, including Penpont House, Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainable Development Fund, Glasu, PCC , Stanley Bligh, Earnest Cook Trust, Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust, Tudor Trust, WCVA, Allen Lane Foundation, The Big Lottery – Awards for All, New Grove New Grove Trust, People’s Post Code Lottery