Just off Coldharbour Road, Heart Space Studios offers a unique experience for all those interested in textile art and craft. It hosts a wide range of workshops, which draw upon different textile-inspired techniques including stitching, embellishing, quilting, felting, and beading. Experimentation is always encouraged. This enterprise is still a relatively new phenomenon for Bristol and is well worth exploring.
The Heart Space Studio motto is ‘Making by Hand, Heart and Eye’. This reflects their effort to continue and revive the value of craft by teaching or nurturing practical skills and the confidence in making things with one’s own hand. It is also indicative of the care and love that goes into the making and teaching at the Studios. This motto is obviously getting across, as one eager customer described the Studios as a cheerful, multicoloured heaven or Pandora’s box.
The Heart Space team is made up of a mixture of local freelancers and volunteers. They draw upon a rich (and largely local) network of professional fashion and textile artists to lead each of the workshops, as well as taking several classes themselves. Janet Haigh is the founder and co-owner of the Studios. She is a brilliant quilter, seamstress, textile designer-maker, draftswoman and all round applied-artist. She wants people to come away from Heart Space with high quality work and new skills, and is extremely dedicated to the world of textiles, her work and her business. Sophie Bristol also has a great impact on the life and atmosphere at Heart Space. There could not be a more friendly and engaging front of house, or a more careful and conscientious admin angel and studio manager. Even though the concept of Heart Space is such a powerful idea in itself, it is the people there that really provide its special, unique edge.
Heart Space offers an exciting mixture of group and individual workshops, which cater for all ages and abilities. They are day or half-day workshops, weekend courses and Masterclasses. Day and weekend courses feature fashionable corset making with the wonderful teacher Lisa Keating, kimono making with Janet Haigh herself, glass-beading classes with the lovely tutor Ilsa Fatt, and pattern cutting.
The Masterclasses offer ambitious projects such as found on the course ‘3D Plaiting with Paper’ with tutor Dail Behennah, who is well known for her use of basket making techniques. One of the most experimental and wacky Masterclasses was probably their first, entitled ‘Surf, Turf & Sky’ led by Basil Kardasis, which encouraged exploration of fish skins, feathers and fine leathers to develop innovative fabrics. A new Masterclass taken by the internationally known textile artist Alice Kettle is currently being considered, which would be a fabulous thing for the Bristol art scene.
There is also a weekly Knit and Stitch Club at Heart Space, where you can come and share ideas, materials and skills or just enjoy working alongside others in an informal environment. Each week there is a different emphasis to the Club to keep it fresh and lively, and occasionally guest speakers are invited.
Heart Space also runs parties for children and adults alike. Children’s parties often include making beaded bracelets or small animals made by needle felting. Hen parties are one of the most popular events. The party can request what they would like to make, or choose from a range of fun suggestions such as garter making, brooches, corsages, lace jewelry, hair accessories (including a bridal tiara) and wedding table decorations. There is the opportunity to have afternoon tea in the Studios’ own beautiful collection of vintage china. This is definitely an unusual and memorable treat for any bride-to-be.
Heart Space does not stop here. Occasionally it hosts art talks, one of which was about corsets and held just before one of the first corset making courses. This was a great event, giving all those that went the opportunity to try on different corsets, chat to the tutor and see her wonderful sketches and pieces she has made for clients. The wedding corsets were particularly extraordinary with exuberant lace details. These talks can serve as a great introduction to the practical workshops, as well as allowing one to network and socialize with other arty types.
The Studios have an exhibition wall, which often features seasonal themed work. Occasionally, Janet’s own work is exhibited here. It is wonderful to see such detailed and technical work up close. There is also a studio space for a local artist to rent, making this space a central hub of creativity in Bristol. Finally, Heart Space also comprises of a shop allowing the work by the tutors and other local artists to be showcased. One of the greatest eye-catchers is Lisa’s sky blue corset with luscious red roses made out of ribbon embroidering the bust area. It looks like something out of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Mostly the items on offer are made especially for Heart Space and are one of their kind. It is refreshing to see such a variety in the beautiful artworks on offer.
Each of the opportunities and classes provided by Heart Space compliment one another perfectly. They also contribute to the quirky feel of Coldharbour Road and to Bristol’s creative scene, greatly increasing this local area’s artistic attractions as well as the city’s dedication to art and craft as a whole.