*check out the calendar page for all courses*
‘Wild’ because we forage our materials from the land and hedgerows, and courses are held mostly in Sussex woodland. These courses have evolved out of a love of making things in nature using natural materials, alongside a deep interest in ancient crafts and technologies. Connecting with ancestral knowledge and keeping traditional skills alive are core aspects of Native Hands.
I aim to offer you a satisfying learning experience as well as an enjoyable time away from it all, in beautiful, peaceful woodland
Woodland courses happen between March & November. Evening classes (and occasional indoor courses) take place between November & March.
National Geographic & Toyota put Native Hands in their top 125 UK adventures. Also featured in The Guardian, and featured in the 2017 award winning travel book Wild Times.
Read what participants say about Native Hands courses.
Why We Do It
It’s easy to take the objects and resources we use in our daily lives for granted, so it’s really valuable to experience the whole cycle of production: harvesting/gathering materials in a sustainable way, processing them and finally creating a useful and beautiful object. It’s an empowering opportunity to learn and develop practical, life-long skills.
Connecting with the natural world can deeply nourish and rejuvenate us. Taking time out of our daily lives to be creative in the woods round a fire, with birdsong, wild plants, creatures, dappled sunlight and like-minded people, we can find a sense of space and connection…to ourselves, to each other, and to the web of life itself.
‘Nature deficit disorder’ is widely recognised as a serious issue in many peoples’ lives, and the importance and benefits of working creatively with our hands is well-documented.
These issues, along with a deep concern for sustainability, are at the heart of Native Hands.
Inspired and informed by traditional wisdom and knowledge in the ways we work with nature and natural materials, we harvest what we need with respect and sensitivity.
“If you are among the tens of millions of people who spend most of their days indoors, embedded in the ‘man-made’ world, it’s to be expected that your concept of life will be largely human-centered. When you begin weaving more of nature into your everyday existence, however, your sense of life may open up to encompass the much richer, more complex, more communal and more timeless universe that you’re actually part of.” C. Cook, ‘Awakening to Nature’
Who We Are
Ruby co-founded Native Hands in 2009 as a small educational collective of friends who share a love of making in nature with natural materials, with respect for ancestral knowledge. As friends we still meet, share ideas, and inspire each other. Native Hands is now a platform for courses led by Ruby.
Ruby also runs courses for Heritage and Cultural organisations. Current and recent work includes staff training at Stonehenge for English Heritage (in Neolithic basket-making); staff training for Historic England and for Sussex Past; a community project for the Charleston Trust (home of the Bloomsbury Group); Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and also the Pitt Rivers Museum VERVE project (which links their collection with contemporary practice).
Organisations that Ruby has recently worked with include: