Last weekend, I was invited along to a Vintage China Upcycling Workshop run by The Indytute. For those who’ve never heard of upcycling, it’s basically the process of taking something unwanted and turning it into something fresh and new. As a massive hoarder who hates throwing ANYTHING away, this is something that has always intrigued me… Think how much I could have got away with not throwing away over the years!
A Morning of Vintage China Upcycling
This 90-minute workshop was run by The Indytute, a company that offers unusual gift experiences and days out in London (think everything from paddle boarding to designing your own terrarium. I kind of want to do everything on their site, so narrowing it down to just one was incredibly hard.)
Our workshop took place in the iconic furniture shop Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road. I loved that we weren’t shoved away in a windowless conference room out the back – instead, tables and chairs were set up for us on the shop floor, so we got to get crafty while surrounded by the gorgeous design pieces sold in the shop.
I arrived 10 minutes early, so had enough time to grab a tea from the store’s cafe upstairs, before meeting some of the 20-odd others who had arrived. Everyone was so lovely and welcoming, it didn’t feel weird at all that I was there by myself. In fact, a lot of others were there alone too, keen to try something different on their Saturday mornings.
Our wonderfully supportive workshop leader Claire spent a few minutes talking about The Indytute before encouraging us all to come up to pick a piece of crockery from a table. There were cups, saucers, large plates, jugs – some with patterns already on, and some completely bare.
Once we’d chosen our piece of china, we then had to get designing! We were supplied with dozens of pages of waterslide decals. Naturally, my mind was instantly drawn to all the cats, but there was everything from flamingos to florals, insects and lipstick kisses.
I absolutely LOVED getting my craft on. Do you remember being in arts and crafts back in school, and just spending a whole afternoon zoned out while finger-painting? It was basically that but on a grown-up scale. 90 minutes of blissfully cutting out designs, sipping tea, and chatting to everyone about their lives. There was lots of giggling about our designs and wondering about what the next step of the process would be…
After finalising my design, I still had oodles of time. Claire encouraged me to pick up another piece of crockery and try something a little different. Honestly, it was so much fun, I just wanted to stay there all day and create a whole new 215-piece dinner set.
The next step of the process involved making our designs permanent (or at least as permanent as they can be with china and waterslide decals). Bowls of water were dotted around the tables and we had to soak each of our decals in for around a minute – or until the transparent design decided it was ready to slide away from its backing paper. After positioning the decorations on the plate, we had to dab it dry and use the warmth of our fingers to help it stick.
As testament to the amount of fun we were all having, we were all there at the end of the 90 minutes, still happily sticking our designs down and taking photos of our finished products in the surroundings of Heal’s. Claire provided us with lots of newspaper to wrap our creations in, as well as some tissue paper to finish it off in case we wanted to gift it.
By the time the end of our session rolled around at midday, I honestly didn’t want to leave! I had completely forgotten how much I enjoy getting crafty. So much so, in fact, I stopped off at two charity shops on my way home to look for any items of crockery I could pick up and upcycle…
Claire recommended that we popped our creations in the oven to help seal the design onto the china. I did so as soon as I got home, before carefully wrapping my pieces up in tissue ready to be wrapped up as Christmas gifts!
China Upcycling at The Indytute: Overall
The workshop was one of the best things I’ve done since moving to London a year ago. I left the session with a huge smile on my face and a bounce in my step, my creative juices given a boost and a reminder of how much arts and crafts is good for my soul.
So many people I spoke to at the class said that they were gifted their voucher by friends/family, and I can’t help but feel an experience like this would be such an epic treat for someone special. Or maybe even for yourself? Now, if you don’t mind me, I’ve got to be off to upcycle some more china (apologies to all my loved ones for giving away your Christmas gifts…)
- £35 for 2 people
- 90-minute classes take place one Saturday a month
- Central London or Shoreditch location
- Everything (plates, decals, scissors, expert guidance!) is all provided
- Find out more about the course here!
Disclaimer: I was a guest of The Indytute but all thoughts are my own!