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So, why is it nice to make?

Its Nice to Make draws upon traditions of the quilt-making circle as an exemplar of organised communal activity. It is a textile project designed as a creative platform for individuals to engage in social narratives; and to make something of worth while learning and sharing skills and experiences. Its Nice to Make is part of a research study called Embodied Minds which investigates the extent to which making activities, with roots in traditional domestic handicrafts, can enable participants to reflect on and transform their past and present inward experiences into experiential learning towards individual and shared goals.

Its Nice to Make is adaptable and flexible in structure and delivery so that different community groups can participate. Commonplace tools and techniques are used to cater for individual differences in motor-skills and cognitive ability. Where possible, tools and techniques are adapted to promote maximum engagement with making. Care is taken to keep production and running costs low without impacting on the quality of delivery.

story_ telling


Its Nice to Make was presented as part of the Quiet Activism and Affective Making workshop at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Connected Communities Showcase event at the Congress Centre, London, March 12th 2013. As a concluding part of their time on the project, each participant is asked to complete a wellbeing questionnaire. Eventually all the individual textile squares will be joined together to make a final exhibition piece. Well-being can also come from showing others what you have made and the skills used. So as a way of an invitation to new participants from different community groups to take part, project members who have completed their piece will show them their work and talk about their experiences of making.

One of the aims of Its Nice to Make is to promote wellbeing through active participation. Individuals come together in an inclusive environment; building and sharing experiential knowledge to create artistic outcomes. The taking part in the activity is beneficial to both participants and the host venue; as small changes to wellbeing through creative expression should be valued as integral to an holistic approach to positive health. Its Nice to Make runs as a series of workshops held at regular weekly intervals at a host venue. A key aim is to discover different ways for participants to learn new craft skills, and to find useful ways to employ previous skills learnt pre- injury by engaging with non-declarative memory. In 2012 a pilot of Its Nice to Make began at Headway East London, a community centre supporting people affected by brain injury.

Acknowledgements Project Developer and Lead: Mah Rana Filming: Andreea Bogdan Project members: Michael, Theresa, Joe, Paul, Angelina Project Assistants:Tas, Maddie, Andreea, Charlotte Project Partner: Craftspace: craft development organisation Community Partner: Headway East London Academic Partner: Falmouth University Corporate Sponsor: Duchamp Funders: The CASS School of Art, Architecture and Design; Arts and Humanities Research Council



activity can promote well-being.

A project exploring the extent to which participation within a craft

Published by Mah Rana


Mah Rana

It's Nice to Make

made with from proboscis


Embodied Minds explores the extent to which participation with art and craft can serve as a model for making as a mode of being; and in turn redirect the spotlight from what has been lost from the consequences of acquired brain injury (ABI) to what is present and what can be gained.



Quiet Activism is part of a series of research projects funded by the AHRC that explore amateur crafting as a form of participatory arts practice. It argues that crafting can be a political act that promotes health and wellbeing, reflection, collective action and individual agency by building creative and social capital. While acknowledging the value of activities such as crochet, quilting, needlework or knitting, which present a democratization of creative practice, the Quiet Activism project suggests that the making-astherapy model can often obscure the deeper-rooted issues that marginalize vulnerable groups in the first place. Future research needs to identify evaluation methodologies that can respond to the experiential affects of making, alongside the quantitative values often looked for by policy audiences. Dr Fiona Hackney, Falmouth University, Jayne Howard, Director Arts for Health Cornwall & Sarah Desmarais, Research Student Falmouth University

Each participant introduces themselves to the sewing group by showing and talking about photographs that they have bought from home. Then using one of their photographs as their image, they each design and make a textile appliqu square, which will become part of a larger story-telling quilt. Making has a transformative impact on the sense of self, and is a journey that can be more important and emotionally significant than the arrival at the destination [the finished piece]. Turney (2009)



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Mah Rana Photographs: cover & p 1, 2 Mah Rana; p 4 Maddie Robinson; p 5 Andreea Bogdan This booklet is available as an eBook. For more information please contact: Its Nice to Make is designed to support future outcomes such as exhibitions/eBooks/blogs/ short films/case studies/

Taking part in Its Nice to Make requires from its participants (with and without ABI), co-operative social actions that accommodate differing abilities, and the working together to achieve shared goals. Participants engage with decision-making and problem-solving which increases self-agency.


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