Käsitöölaager Craft Camp – viis aastat eesti kultuuri sõpruskonna kujunemist / Craft Camp – five years of expanding the circle of friends of Estonian culture
The Craft Camp programme was initiated by the Estonian Native Crafts Department of the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy in 2014. The one-week camp has taken place at the Olustvere School of Service and Rural Economics and Olustvere Manor. The core of the programme has evolved and matured over the years, and significant changes have also taken place in the quality and variety of workshops. Participants at this year’s camp could pick from workshops on a total of 27 different subjects. The choice of materials ranged from bone, leather and wool to precious gold embroidery thread and silver. Nine different workshops took place in parallel sessions every day of the camp. The participants were able to put together a package of courses to suit their interests and to enjoy the chance of raising their skills to a new level.
The participants of the camps include skilled craftsmen, craft teachers and artisans, as well as novice young makers – there are courses available to suit every skill level. The youngest participant ever was eleven years-old, while the oldest was seventy-eight. The average participant is a lady in her fifties or sixties with the means to travel and to invest in her interest in crafts. As the workshopsoffered include metal-, wood- and glass-working, the camp has also attracted a dozen men over these five years.
A high level of instruction is maintained by the lecturers of the Estonian Native Crafts Department. The workshops of Riina Tomberg and Kristi Jõeste are always held in high regard, and the last couple of years have also seen increased interest in silver work. The Native Crafts Master’s graduates continue to bolster the ranks of instructors. Our masters combine great technical skills with the ability to explain the general background. At the same time, the instructors also possess the confidence of a designer in adapting traditional technologies and materials to modern requirements, thereby making them more attractive to the audience. Even though the Craft Camp has a significant number of regular participants, the range of workshops is sufficient to keep them satisfied and there is always something new to be learned. The ranks of trainers continue to expand with new experts in heritage crafts technologies and other researchers taking up previously unfeatured subjects.
In addition to participation in workshops and the chance to meet like-minded people, the Craft Camp also provides an evening programme of social events introducing Estonian culture. The participants can also take a one-day cultural trip to part of Estonia and visit museums and local craftsmen, and to sample local food as well.
The Craft Camp’s most significant contribution over these five years has been the expansion of the circle of friends of Estonian culture. The camp has hosted participants from 21 different countries, including Japan, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and the Faroe Islands. A number of people with Estonian roots have also found their way back to the home of their ancestors. Many participants choose to stay in Estonia for longer than just the one week of the camp to explore Tallinn, the rich heritage culture of the Estonian islands, or life in small towns on their own. The skills and experience accumulated over the days spent at the camp enrich the minds of the participants and the instructors, and also those of the organisers.