Woodturning & pottery workshops to assist with rehabilitation
Simon and I are keen supporters of and fundraisers for the Mind charity, and the past few years have seen us move more and more into the area of providing rehabilitation and therapy for people of all ages who are suffering with brain trauma, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
We are also increasingly seeing students who are coping with poor mental health (depression, anxiety, PTSD …) often resulting from stressful jobs which take their toll physically & psychologically.
The regular practice of any art or craft is incredibly beneficial in the treatment of those with poor mental health or who are rehabilitating after a brain trauma. We’ve seen amazing results in some of our students who come to us regularly to create with wood & clay. We work together with care associations, council departments & individuals to tailor our half- or full-day workshops to suit the individual needs of the student. We really enjoy sharing our woodturning and ceramics expertise and our lovely environment to contribute towards the rehabilitation and therapies of people in need.
The setting also plays a key role. Our studios are situated in the quiet, pretty and extensive gardens of our home & help to provide a calm & safe environment for our students. We only allow a maximum of 2 people in a workshop (quite often this will be the student and their carer), so those suffering with anxiety do not have to face large groups of people.
When the weather is good, we invite our students to have their lunch in the gardens and to enjoy the beautiful established beds, ponds and vistas that were created by the lady who lived here before us. The ceramics workshop includes the pressing of flowers/grasses from our gardens into clay to create beautiful vases and wall hangings, so it’s lovely for our students to choose their own botanicals from our garden.
THE MENTAL WELLNESS DAY YOU’VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR
Arts and hands-on crafting are for everybody. From the feel of the clay on the wheel to the satisfyingly smooth motions on the lathe, pottery and woodturning have the power to soothe your soul, quieten the mind, and improve motor skills.
Here at Blended Monkey, we provide half- or full-day creative therapy to aid the rehabilitation of people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, brain trauma, generalised anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and so much more.
We work closely with carers, clinics, spouses, siblings, parents, and guardians to perfectly tailor our clay- and wood-based arty days. There’s no one-size-fits-all. Everyone is different, and with us, your individual requirements and needs are fulfilled.
While just one day of your chosen craft can have considerable physical, emotional, and mental health benefits, we’ve seen exceptional results from our regular students who’ve suffered with occupational stress, educational anxiety, and neural trauma.
But it’s not just about the craft itself, it’s about the environment too. It’s no secret that your environment effects how you feel. So, we’ve created a beautiful, tranquil space for you to be yourself and let your creative juices flow. From the calming atmosphere in our studios to the ¾ acre natural gardens and ponds, your brain and body will thank you for the escape.
No matter your physical, mental, and dietary needs, we afford you the space and time needed to have a comfortable, relaxing, and fun-filled day.
CREATIVITY IS YOUR BRAIN’S BEST FRIEND
Being creative, regardless of your material, is a boatload of fun. But the benefits actually run a lot deeper. We’ve ensured our workshops match up to the science behind using arts and crafts as an effective therapy for people with depression, social and generalised anxiety, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and more.
Dr Cathy Malchiodi cited the Mayo Clinic’s study on people who engage in woodworking, pottery, ceramics, and painting in middle and old age and who experience decreased cognitive decline as they move into their elder years. The study supports the long-thought idea that putting your mind to work on such pursuits protects your neurons (i.e., your brain’s foundation) and stimulates the growth of new ones to maintain your cognitive abilities as you age.
An earlier psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, stated that creating lets us feel like we live more fully, understand what it means to heal, and experience transformation. Essentially, it’s authentic expression, which is a wellness practice akin to regular exercise and a balanced diet.
Creativity itself requires concentration and focus. Once you reach this state or “flow” as some psychologists like to call it, your brainwaves slow down, and original thoughts are easier to form. Plus, the prefrontal cortex temporarily switches off, enabling you to be more courageous and far less critical of your ideas. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), the flow state skyrockets the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which are the chemicals that produce feelings of satisfaction and pleasure, considerably reducing the effects of depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
Through our pottery and wood workshops, your brain can almost rewire itself, reconnect neural pathways, and form neurons to elicit contentment, prevent cognitive decline, and improve the symptoms of many mental illnesses.
SO, IF YOU WANT TO EXTEND YOUR MENTAL WELLNESS DAY TO MAXIMISE THESE BRAIN AND BODY BENEFITS…
you can always stay in our luxury cabin, The Crafter’s Retreat!
We understand that you may not live close by — and that’s okay. We constructed a cabin in the same glorious setting so you can turn your mental wellness day into a mental health weekend or week.
Our cosy, comfy cabin has everything you need to revitalise your mind and body. You can soak in the hot tub, enjoy the plush double bed, discover the magic of your private woodlet, and even extend your creativity by using the easel and art supplies provided in the dining room.
We made this retreat with you in mind to ensure we crafted a private, quiet space that helps you rest, rehabilitate, and rejuvenate.
Lincolnshire - has multiple sclerosis
Attended a pairs pottery workshop in May 2022
It was a pleasure welcoming Teresa and her partner Richard in our pottery studio. We so pleased that Teresa found the experience rewarding.
Here's what she had to say about the workshop:
"My partner bought me a couples pottery experience with Louise & Simon at blended monkey. It was a fabulous day, Louise was kind, patient & so friendly - allowing us time & freedom to ‘get creative’!
I have multiple sclerosis which restricts my mobility & movement as well as becoming fatigued very easily. I found the workshop to be mindful, relaxing & fun - 3 very important states of being for me. I find the more time I can spend with my mind occupied with the positive things in life - such as this immersive experience - the less time the brain has to worry or think about the less positive aspects in life. The fact that I found the premises easy to access & the toilet within easy reach made the day so comfortable.
It is clear that mindful activities have a restorative effect on the body both physical & mental, this alongside helping the brain to access the positive bias as oppose to the negative can only be a healthy step forward. I think Blended monkey creates this healing space for a diverse range of people & needs, with three things in common - creativity, contentment & acceptance.
We had the best time & can’t thank Louise enough for her patience, kindness & time X."
Lincolnshire - has Asperger's
Attended a woodturning workshop & stayed at the Crafter's Retreat in December 2021
We're pleased that Paul enjoyed his woodturning workshop. He finds it difficult coping with groups, so our 1-2-1 workshops are ideal. Here's what he said about his time here at Blended Monkey and his stay in our Crafter's Retreat:
"I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed my woodturning workshop with you last month. It took me a while to pluck up the courage to book the session as I often find new experiences difficult to cope with. Having a 1-2-1 session with you Simon really took the fear out of the whole situation as I didn’t have to worry about a group of strangers. As you know from our chat at lunchtime, my Asperger’s means that I struggle grasping some of the social skills needed within a group.
I wanted to thank you again for having the patience and for taking the time to understand my requirements. I feel I really got to grips with the spindle turning, but I need a little more practice where the bowls are concerned 😊.
I also wanted to thank you both so very much for allowing me to stay in your wonderful cabin! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve avoided booking an event or a workshop because I can’t find a quiet self-contained let in the vicinity where I can check in without having to go to a reception desk or deal with strangers. I can’t handle hotels. There are just too many people and too many unknown possible situations. Being able to park privately and then let myself in to your retreat took the anxiety out of the situation. I love to read and so having that wonderful covered decking area meant it didn’t matter what the weather did, I could still have my own space in the fresh air. What can I say? I hope you’ll be able to let me stay there when I return for my next woodturning session.
I’ll be in touch soon. I have some annual leave booked and I’d like to arrange something regularly with you if possible as I found the whole experience to be very relaxing.
Yours thankfully. Paul."
MIKE & HIS YOUNG SON
Norfolk - Mike's son has dyspraxia, ADHD and ASD
Attended a woodturning workshop in April 2022
It was lovely to welcome Mike and his son to the Blended Monkey woodturning workshop.
It benefited Mike's son - who suffers with dyspraxia, ADHD and ASD and is sensitive to noise - to have a preliminary visit to our studios so he could see the surroundings and make sure he was going to be comfortable on the day. He made a fabulous Harry Potter-style wand!
Here's Mike's review:
"I spent a wonderful afternoon in the workshop with my young son, who has special needs.
We were able to attend the workshop in advance of our actual day to make sure he was going to be comfortable with the surroundings, the noise of the lathes, extractors and band saw and what we would be doing - which he was and every day from then on he was so excited about going and how long it would be until we went.
On the day Simon was very attentive to his needs and we both had a great time and my son went away with a newly lathed Harry Potter wand which he very proudly took to school on the Monday to show everyone. Very much enjoyed by us both and would definitely recommend."
Wisbech, Cambs - suffered a stroke in 2014
Been coming to us every 2 weeks since July 2021
It’s a pleasure working with Bruce who suffered a stroke 8 years ago. It affected the righthand side of his body, his speech, movement and vision.
Bruce has been coming to us for 1-2-1 woodturning & pottery classes every 2 weeks since last summer and we love helping him with his therapy. His wife gave us this heart-warming review:
“Well, what can we say but a big thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Simon and Louise have given my husband so much pleasure in being able to do some of his favourite hobbies. As he had a TBI eight years ago due to an accident at work which dissected his carotid artery, and we were told he would never walk or talk again. But with people who give their time and patience as Simon and Louise do, he is learning every day. So once again, thank you Simon and Louise. May it long continue xxxx”
Norfolk - support worker
Attends regularly with her client
"Simon and Louise provide such a calm and peaceful setting for my client who attends both woodturning and pottery workshops on a fortnightly basis. This has impacted on my client’s recovery in such a positive way after suffering a stroke nearly 8 years ago. The key element being that both sessions are on a 1-2-1 basis rather than in a group.
All the time and effort from these guys is clearly shown in what they set to achieve for the individual.
It’s very rewarding to see my client improving so much with his recovery both mentally and physically over the past 9 months since we have attended Blended Monkey.
Such a laidback setup, with two very polite people.
We look forward to attending each fortnight, with different tasks/goals set."
Ely, Cambs - early-onset Alzheimer's disease
Pottery workshop - February 2022
It was lovely to have Chris in the pottery studio for a half-day ceramics workshop. Our pottery experiences are relaxing and creative. The studio itself is located in a peaceful, pretty setting and students get the chance to explore the gardens when the weather permits.
Chris gave us this wonderful review:
“I really enjoyed the half-day pottery session with Louise. She was an excellent tutor and good company throughout.
I have early Alzheimer’s and sometimes I find it difficult to concentrate for long but the time flew by and I was completely at ease and would recommend these sessions to anyone who has similar problems.
I did feel very comfortable in the studio and was easily absorbed in the practical work we carried out.
Knowing you still have the ability to carry out practical tasks in a quite absorbed way is great for increasing your self belief in your own capabilities.
At no time did I feel pressure to perform. I went away with the confidence to carry out similar projects in the future.
I even managed to produce some interesting results!”
Lincolnshire - suffers with PTSD
Pottery workshop - January 2022
"Having struggled with PTSD and other mental health issues since secondary school, I was encouraged by my care coordinator to find an activity I enjoyed that calmed me rather than raised my heart rate. So, I decided to give pottery a go.
At first, I wasn't so sure. The setting was new to me and I was anxious. However, Louise was very understanding and after half an hour, I was so absorbed by the clay and the making that nothing else really mattered.
Everything else I've tried to calm myself and work towards healing hasn't had the same positive effects as coming to the Blended Monkey studios. I'm very much looking forward to booking my regular monthly slot and I'm interested in staying at their peaceful Crafter's Retreat too!"
Norfolk - physical & mental disabilities
Pottery workshop - September 2020
“I booked the 1/2 day pottery workshop as a birthday present for my 19 year old, recently disabled daughter.
From the very first email, Louise has been attentive, generous and caring, trying to ensure Chloe's needs were catered for.
The morning was a huge success playing with and then working on pinch and slab pots and then finally throwing on the wheel.
Everything was so relaxed with continual refreshments provided by Simon. As soon as we left Chloe stated that she wanted to come back and learn more from Louise...no greater compliment I would say!” – Katherine (Chloe's mum)