Brighton & Hove is known for its artistic flare, so Rina and I couldn’t wait to get in touch with our creative sides and explore Charlie Doodle’s range of inventive workshops. A talented illustrator and artist, Charlie up-cycles vintage materials in order to create new pieces. You can learn all about Charlie in her partner interview, here! Located just off Hove high street, Charlie’s studio is very easy to get to. After a short walk from Hove station, along the beautiful seaside terraced houses, we had arrived.
We were greeted by Charlie herself, who would be leading our various workshops for the day. She led us in through her gorgeous kitchen, up the picturesque garden path to her studio. For larger groups of around 8 people plus, workshops will be held in the kitchen as there is more work space. For smaller groups like ours, Charlie makes use of her fantastic studio space at the end of her garden. The house and studio were decorated beautifully - there was certainly no lack of artistic inspiration here! Once we’d got ourselves comfortable in the studio, Charlie offered us a range of refreshments to get us set up for the day. Also sitting waiting for us was an amazing tray of homemade brownies (with prior notice, Charlie is able cater for nut free and vegan participants too). As Rina and I sipped our coffees and tucked into a brownie, Charlie let us know what would be in store for the day.
We began our morning with the Make Your Own Candle Workshop. To get us started, we weighed out our wax and began to melt in a bain-marie over the hob. With the wax melting, Charlie guided us through the scenting of a candle, and how best to choose your own unique blend. With a huge array of essential oils, as well as fragrance blends to choose from, this step of the process is arguably the most important. Our worktop was filled with boxes of oils, as well as different books to guide us through essential oils and their benefits. Additionally, there was a jar of coffee beans – these act as a palette cleanser to smell when you inevitably go nose blind! Charlie was knowledgeable about the different oils and was on hand to give advice when we wanted it, but also sat back and let our noses guide the way - because, of course, scent is an extremely personal thing. With our scents chosen, we moved on to the colouring of our candles. The wax must reach 70°C before you add any type of dye. Again, we had a few different materials with which we could colour our candle. The most peculiar one was a wax crayon! What better way to re-purpose, reuse and recycle old things than to use your old crayons to create your candle colour? The colour of the melted wax can be deceiving, as it’s important to remember your wax will dry much lighter when it has set. With this in mind, Rina and I were sure to put in a few extra bits of dye for safe measure!
We prepared our wicks, and once the wax had cooled down to 65°C added our blends of fragrance. Charlie suggests using up to 10% fragrance oil for best results. After a good stir to ensure the fragrance was mixed, we poured the wax into our containers. With this class you have the option of a glass, tin or a range of vintage teacups to pop your candle into, so you can really customise this to be your own! We had already prepared our containers for the wax by placing our wicks inside, and balancing them in place with washing pegs. At this stage of the process, it’s important to pour your wax gently so that you avoid any air bubbles – otherwise these could tamper with the burning of your candle! In total we were taking home three different types of candle each from our session. Alongside our bespoke fragranced candles, we had created some smaller floating candles, as well as some tealights. Charlie packaged our creations up in beautiful little gift bags, ready for us to take home.
After a break for some lunch, (there’s plenty of independent cafes dotted around so perfect for a quick bite to eat) we arrived back at Charlie’s studio for our afternoon of Bespoke Keyring Making. We were welcomed with a glass of fizz to enjoy whilst Charlie explained what our afternoon would hold. The first step to the class is to choose your materials. There were comic books, vintage maps, and even illustrations drawn by Charlie herself to choose from.
With both of us being fairly indecisive in nature, whittling down just what Rina and I wanted to be on our keyrings proved quite the challenge! However, being a fan of how you could customise your own keyring to be sentimental to you, I opted for the vintage maps for both keyrings. Rina was able to find an intriguing looking eye in one of the comics, so opted for that as well as a vintage map pendant of her own. With our pieces chosen, now was time to get to creating our keyrings. Armed with cutting boards and craft knives, we aligned our glass pendants to the section of the material we wanted our keyring to be. Trying to be as precise as we could, we carefully cut each section of the map/comic book out and trimmed to size in order to fit our key rings. With our materials prepped, we now moved onto gluing everything together. Charlie explained that there were different types of glue that worked best for this type of crafting, and to be delicate with the amount used so not to let it bulge out of the sides. After leaving them to dry for a little while, our bespoke keyrings were done! Rina and I were both really pleased with how they turned out and were surprised at how therapeutic our afternoon of crafting had been!
In addition to keyrings, Charlie runs a Make Your Own Cufflinks or Pendant Workshop, so, if keyrings don’t tickle your fancy, you can always have a go at making cufflinks or a pendant necklace for yourself or a loved one! These workshops are an ideal slice of creative escapism for anybody wanting to get crafty. Whether you’re making things for yourself or to give as gifts to others, Charlie will be sure to get your creative juices flowing and create something wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed our day with Charlie Doodle, and can’t wait to head back soon.
(P.S. your brownies were delicious!)