In the 2023/24 subscription year FEWI introduced an educational bursary scheme to encourage our members to learn a new craft or skill and then share their knowledge with their WI.  One of the conditions of taking up the bursary is to write a report with photos which will be printed in Essex WI News.  There isn’t room for all the photos in the magazine so the full reports are shown below.

If you would like to know more about the bursary or would like to apply, please click link below for the information and form.


WICKHAM ST PAULS – March 2024

At the end of 2023 a few members were discussing that we haven’t had a craft event in a while, and how they would like to try something different. So, we got in touch with the ever-enthusiastic Fiona from the Arts & Crafts Committee and came up with the idea of a “Dabble Day”, where members could try four crafts. We had a successful application for a £100.00 Federation Bursary to help with the costs.

So Wednesday 13 March, 2024 was set for Fiona and three colleagues from the committee to put on a Dabble Day at the village hall in Wickham St Pauls.

Fiona taught us Chicken Scratch Embroidery, Gill instructed us in Origami, making an Easter Chick & Bunny, Lesley showed how to be stylish with handmade brooches and Pat instructed us in crocheting.

Twenty members were in attendance and it was a lovely day, dabbling in these four craft, that some of us had never attempted before and we all left with our own interpretation of four handmade craft items.


ST LAWRENCE BAY – February 2024

Anne Hendry, a local crafter in the Dengie area. Anne showed us how to work with Polymer Clay. The session was the result of a bursary from FEWI. Thank you!

We made necklaces, keyring pendants and earrings. We were shown how to ‘condition’ the clay by folding and then passing pieces of clay several times through a pasta machine. They were shaped using a variety of pastry/fondant icing style cutters. As it was Valentine’s Day, there were quite a few heart shapes used. The finished pieces were baked in Anne’s halogen oven, we then threaded leather thongs and took home our finished articles.


RADWINTER – Kelly Cole – February 2023

When one of our members was diagnosed with a medical condition that meant she was finding it increasingly difficult to speak and be understood, we wanted to do something that would help. Knowing that she herself was learning British Sign Language, we decided to apply for a FEWI educational bursary to allow two members to attend a six-week introductory online course so that they would be able to chat with her at meetings.

In the end a third member, at her own expense, also attended the course taught by the fantastic Lindsey Barrell. The six weeks flew by as we tried to take on board huge amounts of information amid much laughter. We learnt much useful vocabulary from greetings to describing ourselves and our families, and learning how to ask and answer questions. Perhaps most importantly of all, this being the WI, we now know the signs for please, thank you, tea, coffee, milk, sugar, biscuit and cake!

As with learning any language, practice is very important. As well as practising at home we also wanted to share what we had learned with other members so that everyone could join in. Over a number of meetings therefore, we demonstrated what we had been learning; showing members how to sign the alphabet and how to sign key phrases such as ‘How are you?’ and ‘Sorry, again please slowly’. We gave everyone a sheet with both the right- and left-handed alphabet and also shared some useful online resources that Lindsey had introduced us to. The short sessions were much enjoyed by members, many of whom wanted to know more.

As a follow-up, Lindsey herself is coming to speak at our next meeting. We are all looking forward to it!


HATFIELD BROAD OAK – February 2023 – Interim report

We held a meeting in September 2023 our Centenary table runner project and how each member would like to consider their part in designing it.

Following that meeting, we were pleased to come together in October 2023 to spend 3 hours working together on our crafting squares.  Led by Karen Odinga our external experienced crafter, we worked with a number of different mediums to enable the members to take on new skills in applique, paint, pen and embroidery.  The morning was fun and informative and everyone went away with a completed project or a project started.

All members have now been given a further few weeks to complete their contribution to the final runner and over the month of February, each will be collected in by a committee member who has generously offered to bring all the separate elements together.  When it is completed, then the members will be invited to record their thoughts into a centenary book of celebration to accompany the table runner.

We are looking forward to pictures of the finished article.


HAROLD WOOD – February 2023

A group of 10 of us attended a lino printing course on a Saturday morning in January. This was partly funded by a bursary from Essex Federation. The course was run by Eleanor from Wee Bothy Art.

The hardest part was choosing which picture we wanted to make our lino print template from. Eleanor then talked us through the various tools we would be using to cut out our templates. It was surprising the effects you can get from different tools.

Next we had to trace our template onto the lino, Eleanor explained about reverse pictures. Then we cut around our templates and added any additional cuts which would add effects to the finished prints. This was fun and we were all keen to see how our prints would turn out.

The next stage was to ink our templates using rollers, then we were able to finally see the results of our morning’s work.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable morning being introduced to a new craft skill. We plan to offer more craft Saturday mornings in the future


HAROLD WOOD – Mandy Fox – February 2023

I was lucky to be a recipient of an Essex Federation bursary to use on a sliver clay workshop to make charms and a stretch bracelet to put them on which was run by Marion Edgar of CaptureSilver in Romford. This was a full day workshop held in Marion’s dining room, with tea on tap.

Silver clay is fine particles of real silver mixed with a non-toxic organic binder. It looks just like pottery clay, but once fired the binder burns out and you are left with a pure silver piece. Magic!

The day started with making moulds for my charms from a moulding plastic. Once these had hardened I was able to practice using playdoh, this was good to do as it gave an insight as to how the silver clay would handle. Then it was time to use the silver clay…….not as scary as it sounds as it is pliable and can be handled easily. My charms were then left to harden before firing while we had our lunch break.

Once hardened I was able to file off gently any rough edges, silver clay once fired is harder than ordinary silver. Then came the magic! Marion demonstrated how to fire with a small burner and then it was my turn…..bit nerve-wracking, but Marion watched over the whole process. After firing was time to polish the pieces, amazing to see transformation.

Finally I made a stretch bracelet and added one of my charms, the others have also been added to bracelets I made at home.

It was a great day and I made some pieces I was able to take home and make use of.


MORETON & DISTRICT – November 2023

In November 2023, Digial Media Team Lead Jan Curtis and Federation Chair Moyra Jackson travelled to help Moreton & District WI with their technical issues. They helped with Zoom, deleting photos, updating and backing up data as well as how to safely order items online. Moreton & District used the bursary funding to book the venue and include a light lunch for attendees.


OLD MOULSHAM MAVENS – Christine Byford – November 2023

I was interested to attend the Become Mental Aware course to gain a basic understanding of mental health conditions and issues, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in people of all ages in our society. The course was run by MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) England – a social enterprise with the vison to improve the mental health of the nation.
The aim of this half day course (which I attended online via Zoom) is to raise awareness of mental health. It covers:

  • What mental health is and how to challenge stigma
  • A basic knowledge of some common mental health issues
  • An introduction to looking after your own mental health
    and maintaining wellbeing
  • Confidence to support someone in distress or who may be
    experiencing a mental health issue
    Course attendees were provided in advance with a course workbook (for notes and reference during the course), and a 44-page manual with further details on all of the topics covered. The main areas covered were The Mental Health Continuum, Stigma around mental health and Mental health conditions. There were takeaway points for me on each topic and we were given The Take 10 Together Toolkit which can be used to start a conversation with the person in whom you may have spotted signs of mental health.

WALTHAMBURY – November 2023

Over 30 of us had a most enjoyable evening with Deb Hart, the renowned Essex Willow artist, who gave a talk and demonstration on a Christmas Decorations theme, followed by a practical session. Deb shared lots of tips and advice on making Christmas wreaths, with both a moss and willow base. She kindly donated the resulting wreath to our raffle.

Using willow she showed us how to construct both a reindeer and star. As we need to make stars for our local Christmas Tree festival, Deb also made stars out of paper.

It was then our turn to be productive! With her expert guidance we produced lots of stars that will decorate our tree. Thanks for the contribution to the costs.


TERLING – November 2023

We used our bursary to help fund a lovely meeting hosted by one of our members, Wendy, who is a local florist.  With the extra funding we were able to provide all the ingredients needed to make some wonderful festive topiary trees.  We all had a wonderful evening snipping evergreens to poke into the oasis and then adding a myriad of baubles, ribbon and mini pine cones.  Many thanks to Federation for the additional funding!


RAINHAM CLOCKTOWER – November 2023

Despite storm Ciaran, Covid and hospital appointments 24 members attended our meeting yesterday afternoon the November 2nd.

Our demonstrator Naeema from Cocoa Bocoa London started by giving a talk about the growing of chocolate, how the pods are picked and the process of getting the chocolate from this into the form that we know. She explained about the tempering of chocolate and finally how she uses it in the making of her truffles or as she called them Bon Bon’s, she told us about adding flavourings and the difference between white, milk, dark and vegan chocolate and making ganache. When this part of the demonstration ended Naeema came to each table and gave a demonstration on how to make our own truffles, she provided us with three ganache’s milk, dark and vegan, the vegan was flavoured with mint, we could also dust them with the choice of toasted coconut, chocolate dust with cinnamon or pink sugar.

There was a lot of chat, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon we tasted our chocolates there and even took some home. Most of us agreed we will be making more and we all agreed we learned a lot from the afternoon. At the end of the session Naeema gave us all a Bon Bon that she makes and sells which was flavoured with caramel.

The cost of the afternoon was £170.00 and without the bursary we would have missed out on a great learning experience.


WALTHAM ABBEY ICENI SISTERS – November 2023

With the bursary we were able to book Andrew Summer from Essex 100 for his talk called History of Boudicca and her rebellion.

Andrew led the group through the myths and facts around Boudicca.  Members were taken first through the reason behind the inconsistencies in names, Boudica, Boudicca and Boadicea.  Where a mistranslation of Latin created Boadicea and the Victorian flair created Boudicca.  Now that members were straight on the name, Andrew moved onto the history of the Iceni, where they were based and how Boudica came into power, which involved her husband’s death and Rome overruling her inheritance of the “crown” so to speak. 

Finally, after speaking about various accounts of her life, from various sources, some not proven or embellished, Andrew covered Boudica’s death and resting place.  Waltham Abbey’s own claim as her death location has apparently been debunked, with most, if not all historians believing that the claim has no merit.

While it was disappointing to find out that our claim is not valid, it was felt by all members that Andrew’s talk was incredibly interesting and informative.


OLD MOULSHAM MAVENS – Janine Kent – November 2023

Member Janine Kent attended an online course arranged through Hobbycraft with the money from Federation’s Educational Bursary. All the materials needed, and written instructions, were delivered a few days in advance. The tutor was excellent and demonstrated a couple of different knots to produce this plant holder. Janine has supplies left over and is looking forward to showing the Old Moulsham Mavens what she has learnt soon.


LITTLE BADDOW – June 2023

We had an enjoyable and productive day led by Susan Sparrow.  16 people attended and made a broach from leftover fabric, a reusable Christmas Cracker, table decoration and a card decorated with quilling.  Thanks for the contribution to the costs.


TEA N TIARAS (CHELMSFORD) – Dawn Hoyle – August 2023

Our WI art group Tea and T’Art shared a fabulous evening exploring acrylic paints led by our super subgroup leader Dawn Hoyle. Dawn recently attended a workshop with Suffolk artist Christopher Humphries funded by a FEWI Educational Bursary. Inspired by her experience Dawn shared lots of tips and tricks as we experimented with the new medium. We daubed, stabbed and brushed the paints all attempting a beach scene of crashing waves onto rocks to capture sea spray and texture. With guidance we tried out applying paint with palette knives and will continue the beach theme with more painting individually at home. As the sun set on our endeavours we reflected on what an enjoyable evening we had spent together and just how far we have come as a group on our painting journey.

Dawn was delighted with the workshop at Christopher’s studio in Yoxford. She had a wonderful day starting with an introduction to his studio filled with paintings before setting up her easel and starting a painting of Southwold beach with guidance and advice on composition and painting techniques. The day with a professional artist gave Dawn the confidence to introduce acrylics to the subgroup with great enthusiasm and very pleasing results. Building on this success our WI is planning an acrylics painting meeting for all our members to enjoy next year.