Posted on

We’ve been shortlisted

Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life has been shortlisted for an award for indie publishers by Book Brunch. The announcement will be at the London Book Fair on 12 March and I’ve already booked my train ticket. It’s a long shot or course, but it’s great to be recognised 😊

Meanwhile, Intelligent Hands will be available in the USA from IPG books from 27 February, that’s tomorrow!

We’ve had some great endorsement’s for Rag Manifesto already, this from Kate Fletcher, author of the Craft of Use.
‘This special book deals with the urgent need to find ways of relating with textiles that, instead of contributing to social injustice and environmental degradation, actively contribute to the world. Stories change the future. The stories in this book are already changing things. They are about caring and repairing our places and communities with imagination, action and each other.’ Professor Kate Fletcher, Royal Danish Academy.

The artwork on the front cover is Shoulder Boulder, by Rachael Matthews, woven almost entirely from waste created in the making of socks at a friendly sock factory, Socko.

Rag Manifesto is Published on 1 March, preorder yours now.

Posted on

Events coming up

It’s always good to have something to look forward to and there are lots of lovely events happening this spring connected with Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life.

Authors Charlotte Abrahams and Katy Bevan will be talking with Daniel Carpenter of Heritage Crafts at the Dartington Trust Bookshop in Totnes on 8 February

As part of Stroud Film Festival we are talking about Intelligent Hands and showing a number of short films related to craft and making with Paul Harper. Monday, March 4, 2024, 7:30 – 9.30 PM at Victoria Works Studio, London Road Chalford, Stroud GL6 8HN  (map)

We will be at the Craft Festival in Cheltenham on 8 March giving a talk about the book. It’s really worth a trip to see all the great makers and a chance to talk to them directly about their work.

On 7 May we’re both excited to be at the Court Barn museum as part of the Chipping Campden Literature festival along with lots of great writers.

Meet Make & Mend

The next darning session with Katy and Kat in Stroud will be Monday 5 Feb, 7–9pm, so come and join us for sustainable sewing and chat at the Stroud Trinity Rooms, opposite the Hospital on Field Road. We’ll be in the smaller room around the back.

Posted on

Happy 2024

Here at Quickthorn we have some great stuff planned for you for 2024.
Our next new book will be Rag Manifesto by artist, rag collector, brother of @artworkersguild and rag-rugger extraordinaire, Rachael Matthews. Rag Manifesto: Making, folklore and community looks at the how, why and wherefore of rag rugs and the people who have made them in the past and those making a stir by recycling fabrics create things now.
👉 We used to think of rags as a rare and valuable asset, handmade clothes and treasured fabrics. Now they are spilling out of our wardrobes and discarded with abandon. You can take a stand against waste and save your rags.

We also have a lovely feature in Resurgence Magazine about Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life. There are more exciting things to come this year, so stay tuned.

Posted on

Book reviews make a difference

So often I read a book because it has been recommended to me by a friend. Occasionally, a book review is so good that I buy the book. If you love a book, do gift it or tell a friend. If you are able to write reviews online or share them on social media, that will help lots of people to choose what’s right for them. It also helps small independent publishers like Quickthorn.

Here’s a few that we’ve had recently for Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life. This book really seems to have hit a nerve, with creatives and teachers particularly and is flying off the shelves. We’ve been reviewed in Juno, Embroidery and Quercus magazines, with articles pending in Resurgence and Cotswold Life.

My favourite review has been on the Art Educator’s blog on the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) website. Lesley Butterworth, former General Secretary of NSEAD writes:
“This beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully researched book will be of interest and help not only to NSEAD members employed in formal education, but to people working in museums, galleries, and the healthcare sector.
To be clear, Intelligent Hands is not a book that offers practical ideas to teach various craft forms. More importantly, this book clearly explains why these skills are important to many people at different stages of their lives. To be clearer still, this is one of the best texts advocating for the value of craft and making skills that I have read.”

How good is that? You can buy our books on , convenient, quick and not Amazon 😉

Embroidery Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

Posted on

Reading around craft

Did you know that you can buy our books on, a marvellous innovation over the last couple of years, that is an effective alternative to buying on the more familiar online routes (you know who I mean).

After the marathon of writing and editing Intelligent Hands, I’ve created a reading list of books on that are mentioned in the book. That way, if you’re interested you can find the books and benefit local independent bookshops at the same time. If you click on the links below you’ll see how it works.

Posted on

Look inside our books

Quickthorn has been going for just over one year and come the launch of Intelligent Hands this week, we’ll have four independently produced books to share with you. If you click on the books below it allows you to have a look inside.
The launch for Intelligent Hands will be at Crafts Alive – The Maker’s Hands, appropriately, at Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire. I’ll be there with Paul Harper, Cleo Mussi and Chief Executive of Heritage Crafts, Daniel Carpenter. The even is on Sunday 17 Sept at 2.15, tickets are free for the event, but you do need to book and have a ticket to the fair.

If you’re planning ahead Intelligent Hands authors will also be at the Stroud Book Festival at the Trinity Rooms on 10 November in great company with many other diverse publications.

There are plans afoot for many more, so do follow us on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter for news of events, offers and prizes ;—)

Posted on

Intelligent Hands | Why making is a skill for life

Image: Cleo Mussi Mosaics, photo Carmel King

Making is good for us. Using our hands benefits our cognitive development, improves our mental agility and can have a positive impact on our mental health, too. We know this, intuitively and intellectually yet, recent years have seen a decline in craft and creative education in schools (60% fewer young people have taken art and design GCSE over the last 12 years) and a shift from practical to theoretical learning models in higher education. 

The impact on the craft sector is evident. Young people are leaving school with no idea that craft-based careers are even possible, and graduates of craft-based degree courses are entering the workplace with so few hand skills that their employers must train them from scratch. 

But the ripples of this decline are being felt in wider society too. Disruptive behaviour in school, for example, has reached unprecedented levels, with referral units for children who have been excluded from mainstream schools warning they have reached capacity. And as we hurtle into the fourth industrial revolution, we risk losing the craft skills which make humans unique. As Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum wrote in a recent piece for the Observer, “the digital age demands more, not less creativity in schools and families. It is through play and imagination that we can rise above the robots.” (‘Move over, stuffed teddies. Museums today need more to stimulate young minds,’ 24th June 2023).

Intelligent Hands: Why making is a Skill for Life investigates the cognitive benefits of craft in life-long learning and brings together existing research and information in an accessible format to make the case for working with our hands. 
The authors are on a mission to enlighten the uninitiated  and persuade the nay-sayers who dismiss craft as no more than a nice hobby or believe that doing things with your hands is for those who can’t use their heads. And for the converted, they offer ammunition for funding applications, inspiration for those who plan school curricula and further reading for particular specialities. 

Divided into three sections and interwoven with the personal stories of ten makers, the book looks at how physical labouring became separated from academic study, how we became divorced from the materials that surround us and the important role that the crafts and creativity play in education, not just for the lower streams, but for everyone. 

Intelligent Hands | Contents
Foreword by Jay Blades MBE, co-chair of Heritage Crafts and presenter of The Repair Shop on BBC. 

Zoe Collis at Two Rivers Paper, photo: Alison Jane Hoare

Intelligent Hands | Part I – Mind + Body
The nature of work, mind vs body and what constitutes ‘good work.’ Why is the academic valued more than practical work? 
Plus stories from

  • George Siddons– PPE graduate turned apprentice carpenter 
  • Zoe Collis – Journeyman papermaker
  • Daniel Carpenter – CEO Heritage Crafts

Intelligent Hands Part II – Education + Learning
On apprenticeships, sloyd and experiential learning. A brief history of progressive educational theories

Plus Stories from:

  • Jay Patel – architect, alumnus of The Creative Dimension Trust
  • Christian Ovonlen – artist, member of learning disabilities arts organisation IntoArt  
  • Lasmin Salmon – textile artist, member of learning disabilities arts organisation Action Space
  • Horace Lindezey – artist, member of learning disabilities arts organisation Venture Arts 
  • Helen Brown – art teacher at a Pupil Referral Unit 
  • Dr Bryson Gore – ‘Inventor in Residence’ at a Nottingham Primary School
Christian Ovonlen at Intoart, the winner of the Brookfield Properties Craft Award 2022 photo: Alun Callender

Intelligent Hands | Part III – Wellbeing + Activism
Therapeutic craft, touch and flow. How making can help control impulsivity (and change the world).

Plus stories from

  • Sam & Jacob – members of Nailsworth Community Workshop 
  • Sue Brown – print artist. The focus is on her lockdown project Same Sea, Different Boat
  • Ags & Kam – members of London-based maker space Everyone’s Warehouse
  • Sarah Corbett, The Craftivist Collective
  • Betsan Corkhill, Stitchlinks
  • Betsy Greer, ‘Craftivism’

Intelligent Hands | Jay Blades MBE
Jay is dyslexic and, after leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, he found his true vocation in restoration and supporting young and vulnerable people to find their own access to work. 

Known across the UK as the host of BBC One’s extraordinarily successful The Repair Shop, it is perhaps no coincidence that his belief in the restoration of objects stems from a belief that humans too can be repaired, fixed and rejuvenated. His restoration company, Jay & Co, aims to ’save the world’ through craft. Working with recycled, reclaimed and reused materials, accessories, furniture, and fabric, they create pieces that are as good as new, and help develop a more holistic approach to interiors. Jay is currently co-chair of Heritage Crafts.

Intelligent Hands | Authors

Charlotte Abrahams is a writer and curator specialising in design and the applied arts. She trained at Central St Martin’s and since then has written regularly for the national and international press, including Guardian Weekend and the Financial Times. She is the author of several books about pattern and wallpaper and one on the Danish concept of Hygge. She is less good at making than the people she writes about, but she is teaching herself to darn. 

Katy Bevan is a writer and educator specialising in craft and mother of a disabled child. She is the editor of many books on craft and writes for textile and craft magazines such as Selvedge and a trustee of Heritage Crafts. Previously at the Crafts Council she founded the publishing company Quickthorn Ltd in 2022. She blogs at The Crafter , runs workshops in darning, crochet and knitting and is mostly to be found making something.

Intelligent Hands | Launch event Crafts Alive, Rodmarton Manor 13–17 Sept, panel discussion 2.15pm 17 Sept. 

Posted on

New book: Intelligent Hands

Quickthorn are pleased to announce a new book for this autumn, Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life.

The intelligent hands of artist Cleo Mussi photo: Carmel King

Intelligent Hands is the work of authors Charlotte Abrahams and Katy Bevan, both of whom have a background in the world of craft and design. Recent years have seen a decline in craft and creative education in schools and a shift from practical to theoretical learning models in higher education. Young people are leaving school with no idea that craft-based careers are even possible, and graduates of craft-based degree courses are entering the workplace with so few hand skills that their employers must train them from scratch. 

Where did the idea come from that white-collar work should be rewarded more with money and status than that of a blue-collar worker? Intelligent Hands looks at this phenomenon, the historical precedents that led us here and why hand skills are crucial in education and for lifelong learning. 
The authors are on a mission to enlighten the uninitiated and persuade the nay-sayers who dismiss craft as no more than a nice hobby or believe that doing things with your hands is for those who can’t use their heads. And for the converted, we offer more grist to your mills, ammunition for funding applications, inspiration for those who plan school curricula and further reading for your speciality. 

Intelligent Hands brings existing research and information together in an accessible format for those for those who don’t have time to trawl through all the information that is already out there. With a brief look at the history of practical education, we have collated some of the research that has been done in disparate fields to show that combining physical ways of learning with the conceptual in education is the way forward. 
We include the personal stories of ten people who have discovered that working with their hands has improved their quality of life. Through the three sections of the book, we look at how physical labouring became separated from academic study, how we became divorced from the materials that surround us and the important role that the crafts and creativity play in education, not just for the lower streams, but for everyone. In short, how making is a skill for life. 

Intelligent Hands will be published in September 2023. To find out about our latest news and events please sign up for the newsletter below. We don’t get around to posting very often so you won’t be inundated with emails 😊

Posted on

On mending at Toast

Last week On Mending was at Toast for the launch of Toast Renewed in Notting Hill, with a discussion on mending with author Celia Pym, Jessica Smulders Cohen, Shoreditch Toast repairer, led by Yasmin Jones-Henry, strategist for @raeburn_design and founder of #TheLabE20

Solvable problems
Celia, Yasmin and Jessica talked about the empowering nature of mending and how handling the work develops our material intelligence. Celia said: ‘A hole is a solvable problem, it’s very grounding’. Jessica talked about the soothing, repetitive nature of stitching and how that kind of material intelligence, learning with her hands, has helped her over the years. Yasmin mentioned her work with LabE20 and how setting up repair workshops has increased young people’s capacity to learn through their senses.

Wellies mended with Sugru

The Toast repair sheme
Toast now have six on-site repair specialists around the country. Their new project features items that never made it to the shop floor due to imperfections, that have been repaired and are now better than new. Toast gifted attendees to the talk a copy of On Mending: Stories of damage and repair by Celia Pym. They also received some swatches of Toast fabrics to do their own repairs. 

It’s not all about textiles
At the event I met the writer Katie Treggiden and Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh (above left) who literally invented Sugru! So cool. If you haven’t tried mending things with Sugru, where have you been?

Events Coming up

Meet Make Mend is this Wednesday, 1 March at Trinity Rooms, Stroud. 7–9pm. Learn to darn and share your mending conundrums, no experience is necessary  Book here.
We’ll be at a pop-up Death Cafe at Stroud Brewery this Tuesday evening. At a Death Cafe people gather to discuss death. Their stated objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
Join authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds at The Freud Museum in London for a talk on 15 March. They will be joined by author of Listen, Dr Kathryn Mannix. Book tickets on the Freud Museum website.
They will also be taking part in the Stroud Film Festival with an event on 19 March showing the film Pathways Through Loss directed by Danai Papadatou. After the film Danai will be taking questions from the audience directly from Athens. The q&a will be supported by The Good Grief Project and Compassionate Communities. Sunday 19 March, 3pm Trinity Rooms, Field Road, Stroud GL5 2HZ (across the road from Stroud Maternity ward).

Posted on

Book events coming up

We’ve had a busy few weeks with some great book events. It’s been so good to make contact with real people. For the many who couldn’t get tickets to hear Freddie Robins and Celia Pym at Loop, there is a film of the whole thing, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for a listen. If you have any more questions for Celia and Freddie, just drop me a line. There’s lots more planned so sign up to the newsletter and follow on Instagram to be the first to know.

1 December
The authors of When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds, will be in conversation with Sophie Pierce, one of the contributors to the book. Sophie lost her son Felix and talks about how she has managed to carry through cold-water swimming and the letters she writes to him. Dartington Trust Bookshop, Totnes, Devon. 1 Dec, 6pm More information and booking here.

Sophie Pierce Photo: Dan Bolt

2 December
Celia Pym, author of On Mending: Stories of damage and repair, will be online hosted by the lovely Tatter Library in Brooklyn, New York. Discussing individual stories from the book, she will explore mending as small acts of care; mending and the body and why the softening of clothing to take on the shape of its owner can be moving. After the talk Celia and Jordana Martin from Tatter will be in conversation about care and repair in textiles and the body. More information and booking here.

Elizabeth’s Cardigan, mended by Celia Pym
Judith Kleinman at Ink84, North London

4 December
Finding Quiet Strength has been highlighted by Juno Magazine as one of their top picks for Christmas books to gift. It’s such a beautiful hardback object.
Author Judith Kleinman will be at Highbury bookshop Ink84 to give an introduction to Finding Quiet Strength, the philosophy that underpins her new book. Bring your yoga mat to get involved. Sunday 4 Dec, 11am. More information and booking here. Judith will also be hosting a longer residential retreat at Hawkwood College, Stroud, 20–22 January. Something to look forward to. More information and booking here.