New one-off creative workshops at Havant’s arts centre set to teach new skills and help ‘broaden horizons’

LIKE many others at the beginning of 2022, I promised myself that this was the year I’d make more time to explore my artistic side.

Friday, 21st January 2022, 2:23 pm

So, keen to try something new, I visited The Spring in Havant to take part in a candle making class - the first in a series of one-off creative workshops.

With all materials provided and no experience necessary, this class set out to teach the art of blending essential oils to create bespoke scents, as well as the basics of hand-pouring using natural soy wax - promising to brighten up the new year and beat those dark January blues.

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and a group of us take our seats in a workshop room in Havant’s arts and heritage centre.

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Jemma Corbin holding one of her candles at the workshop. Picture: Emily Turner

We begin by passing around essential oils - ginger, cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary, fir needle, lavender, clove, vetiver, juniper, orange - and reflect on the thoughts, memories, and sensations each smell brings to us.

The variety in our responses is surprising - I screw up my nose at clove, but can’t get enough of fir needle - and between scents, we take a sniff from a glass of coffee beans to cleanse the olfactory senses and reset our palates.

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We learn about top, middle, and bottom notes, as well as how to blend dreamy, invigorating, or relaxing scents.

Creating candles by blending essential oils and pouring soy wax. Picture: Emily Turner

Workshop leader Jemma Corbin points out that while we often associate creativity with the visual or auditory, we can also use our sense of smell to be creative.

After she teaches us about the blending process, we pour soy wax into candle jars we’ve prepared.

It’s easy to feel zen and centred while sweet, earthy scents fill the air as essential oils blend into melted wax.

Jemma, who says that candlemaking is a way of ‘bringing a bit of light into the bleak midwinter’, believes that connecting with the natural world’s cycles is a great way to get creative.

Workshop participants learned all about the basics of candle making. Picture: Emily Turner

‘The link with seasonality is really important, being informed and inspired by the seasons,’ she said.

‘These workshops are helping people to slow down, to be in the world in a different way.

‘We do tend to get disconnected from what is going on in nature.’

Jemma, who lives in Hambledon, left her role as creative producer at The Spring in 2018 to ‘follow her own path’.

She’s now run around 10 sessions at The Spring, including a ‘really popular’ wreath making class.

Jemma also leads The Art Space, free creative sessions for adults which run Tuesdays and Thursdays during term time from 10am to 12noon.

Participants are invited to bring a project they are working on, or be inspired by fresh ideas.

‘The other day I had somebody knitting, someone on a laptop doing digital art, someone colouring in, and someone doing watercolours,’ said Jemma.

For those who fancy trying their hand at something new, without the commitment needed for a full course, The Spring’s one-off workshops could fit the bill.

Jemma said: ‘It’s about encouraging people who may not be able to do a full course to learn and expand their skills.’

At the end of the candle making session, we each leave with two unique poured candles and a greater understanding of scent blending - but also the sense of calm that comes with focusing on a creative task.

Jemma said: ‘I know when I approach teaching, I’m not trying to teach them “the thing” - it’s about broadening their horizons.

‘It’s being through doing - the way you get absorbed for a couple of hours.’

The Spring’s next one-off workshop will be on soft sculpture (March 5), followed by a class on art journaling (March 19), before Jemma will return with a creative celebration of spring involving hand-printed cards and wreath making (April 9).

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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