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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Meet The Amazings

The Amazings is no ordinary London craft scheme. What began in Hackney as a community project is now spreading across the city, inspiring locals to learn new skills and hobbies. All of the class teachers are over 50, many are retired and they’re passing on their knowledge and skills to their community - whether that’s in perfumery or street photography. Team Sluttery are all for learning new skills and having a bit of a chat, so we caught up with some of the amazing people behind The Amazing’s classes.

Michael teaches retro hair classes.

I teach retro updo classes to groups of 10. I go through all aspects of updos - roller setting, combing out, pinning and dressing out. There’s always lots of chat about products.

I've worked in a variety of places around London - Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Soho and have learned my skills over the years to create many looks spanning several decades and I’ve also worked on fashion shows, shoots and weddings.

I got involved with The Amazings because I felt that the idea of passing on one's skills keeps community spirit alive, younger people learn from others who have a wealth of experience. My favourite part is as the class is ending, seeing the audience 'get it' and leave inspired full of ideas to create their look at home.

Jacqueline teaches classes in book altering.

Book altering is where you take a book and glue pages together, rip, paint, cut, embellish etc to create a “new” book. At the extreme end of the spectrum artists and illustrators create sculptures using the books or sculptures within the books. My books are slightly more modest affairs.

I’m self-taught - it was the only way available to me. After seeing an exhibition of altered books, I went online and saw there were some really good resources available. It is definitely a trial and error activity but the good news is that it is a relatively cheap activity (if you steer clear of the gold leaf).

The Amazings’ support and encouragement ethos runs throughout the whole enterprise which makes for a very good experience for both tutors and people participating in a class.

I love that people take time out of their busy lives and come together for a couple of hours to do something they enjoy. There is often a great point midway through the class when everyone is busy talking, cutting, sticking and sharing. It has also been a revelation to me how many creative ideas bubble up in such a short space of time sparking off new directions.

Paul teaches bookbinding and kiltmaking. Diverse.

Although bookbinding and kiltmaking might seem very strange companions, they both use a lot of sewing and rely on careful folding of paper and cloth, so there are lots of similarities. There’s a lot similar threads and leather. Each of them needs careful and patient work.

I’ve worked with arts and crafts since my very early childhood, I made shirts for myself aged 12 and was either writing, drawing or making simple books at much the same time. I went to art college in London and studied ceramics, but the sketchbook side of things was very important to me even if the actual course was a different world to that of bookbinding or kiltmaking.

Sometimes it's hard to explain some things until the students actually have a go, and then the moment when they discover how to do something is wonderful. It also gives me a chance to talk to people about something that I enjoy very much, and I want to share with others.

Judith teaches upcycling clothes, natural cleaning and natural dyeing.

My sewing and tailoring come from my lovely mum. She was a great seamstress and loved detail - she was a genius at mens' shirts. She taught me from age of 3 - just to keep me from trapping my fingers in the sewing machine treadle!

I got hooked on making my own beauty products a couple of years ago and realising how cheap and more effective it is as well as liberating.

I met The Amazings at a Sunday market in Hackney London and I got sucked in! I have a workshop/studio and offered it to the other Amazings for their classes. Then they saw what I do for a "living" and asked me to run classes.

I love watching people's faces when they realise how easy it is to create something. They change and they relax when they realise it's not a test and their life doesn't depend on getting it right. It's also really sociable; they exchange ideas, help each other and share experiences. I always feel that I have learned more from the participants than I show them and that's really humbling.

This feature was sponsored by The Amazings. Classes start at just £15 and Domestic Sluttery readers can use discount code DS20 and receive 20% off their next class.


  1. I love this scheme and the whole idea. It's a lots like the local Time Bank that I joined when I moved here (and now work for it a bit too!). Passing on skills is such a great way to meet new people and build communities. So rewarding!

  2. This is fantastic..I wonder if there's something like this around the Midlands area?

    1. Oooh maybe - let us know if you find anything Claire?


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