Au revoir, avec beaucoup d’amour

‘Crazy, muddled, excited anxious, really bad at adjectives… ‘ this is how I would describe my brain right now.  And yes I can hear you rolling your eyes all the way from here and I apologise ,I really do. I promised more blog posts and I didn’t deliver and for that I am sorry .  



Its finally here! The final, blog post, the final event, the final day!

‘Making for Change’ the programme will be starting next week ( Monday 4th April – Thursday 7th April 2016) , with a showcase finale on Friday 8th April ( see invite above, ).

Friday 8th April will also be the final day of my apprenticeship with Craftspace x Creative Alliance ! I have had such a great time working here and have learnt so much.


From the process of developing Craft talent….

Craftslittlehelper – Craft graduate shows ( London)  2015


Supporting a range of activities with Craftspace….

Shelanu’s sharing lunch @BirminghamREP

putting on my own events…



and changing my hair as often as possible ;).

I’ve had a such an amazing 12 months ,  I will truly miss working with Craftspace and I am soooo grateful for all their help and support.

While I wish I could go into more detail about my time here and give you all the highlights, I am rushed off my feet with planning for Making for Change… plus you have this blog! While I admit it has not been kept up to date regularly , you will get a good overview of just how amazing my time here as been.

So whats next for me?  In short, because of all the experience this apprenticeship has given me I have secured a 6 month internship with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will be heading off to University to study Cultural Heritage  and then… who knows!!

If you want to keep up to date with Craftspace’s amazing work follow their twitter handles; @tweetcraftspace @craftspaceyouth 

If you’re thinking about a creative apprenticeship why not visit Creative Alliance’s site and see what opportunities are available in the midlands… 

And for those apart of the BAME community and looking for a internship, my new learning provider Creative Access  may be of interest to you … 

Finally,  if you want to see what I’m up to follow; @MsTanikaLopez.

Thank you to those who encouraged me to keep writing this blog with all your lovely comments!!

Best wishes,




Happyy New Yearrr!! :)

The first rule of blogging is never promise blog posts. I could tell you how sorry I am and reason that I have been busy, but that is the intro to many of these posts. So let’s change the record…. HAPPY ( Belated) NEW YEARRRR!! 

Four months and that’s it. It will all be over. I have been with Craftspace for eight months and in my final weeks I will be posting a recap of my journey as an apprentice and employee. (There I go breaking rule number one again!)

But it wouldn’t feel right moving into 2016 without having a look back at all the amazing things I’ve done in 2015. So as a compromise and to make up for the gaps in posting, I thought I would share ‘ My top 3 highlights of 2015 that didn’t get the opportunity to become blog posts (in no particular order)’ I know such a snappy and memorable title!

Top Highlight number 1 – Graduate Shows. 

Graduate shows are amazing! Not only does it allow you to talk to students about their course and see the quality of work a university encourages, but if you’re interested in investing in upcoming artists … it’s the perfect place to start!

I got to visit three different shows during the two days that Craftspace sent me to London.  My tour started with Central Saint Martians – UAL. The sleek architectural design, complimented the high quality work produced by the graduates. While textiles underwhelmed me, the range of technology and craft crossovers was exciting to see, with well thought out concepts and execution from the jewellery students.

Day two gave me my first experience of New Designers; a graduate show that takes referred students from across the UK and hosts the graduates and their work in the London business design centre over a four day span. While there I got the opportunity to approach students and tell them about In:site and encourage them to apply to the application process. The event was as inspiring as it was overwhelming, my favourite piece was by a student who had interpreted the different zodiac signs into handmade pieces.


Top Highlight number 2 – Learning Lab

Shelanu is a social enterprise that is supported by Craftspace. The group (made up of migrant and refugee women) sell beautiful self-made jewellery as well as giving workshops in different community centres around Birmingham.

The Learning Lab sessions evolved out of a partnership between Craftspace, The Embassy of Sweden, The British Council. Etc . The event aimed to discuss the value in making when telling stories, in particular ones around migration.

In addition to Shelanu , Swedish social enterprise- Livstycket, who also works with migrant and refugee women attended the session. Both enterprises had examples of past work and pieces that were available to buy.



It was a great experience (after spending a few events with the shelanu members) to see the work of another organisation in a different country. Other guests included a transcriber, the arts and cultural officer at the Swedish embassy and leaders of other social enterprises.

After a brief session of networking, the room settled in to hear talks from people such as Craftspace director – Deirdre, livstycket’s entertaining founder Birgitta Notlöf and editor of cultural threads, Jessica Hemminngs.

All of the talks were very informative and engaging. While it was hard to choose a favourite Jessica’s ability to articulate the link between academia, art and a county based on colonisation (England) proved to be refreshing and interesting. Her book cultural threads is available to buy.

Top Highlight number 3 – Making digital work 

When my boss told me about this event I wasn’t the least bit excited to go, I readied myself for long talks that were uninteresting and heavy with sector specific terminology. However the opposite was true.

Making Digital Work is a programme that promotes the exploration between a digital age and The Arts. For example using technology to create and store data that helps art organisations to find and retain audiences. I was inspired by Deborah Bulls keynote speech on the importance of failing. Additionally, I enjoyed Tom Grinsted’s theory that our constant access to technology makes us modern day cyborgs.

My favourite part of the day had to be the talks around using technology to make the arts more accessible.  Through talks from different participating arts venues we were shown a range of outcomes from the collaborations. From artists in wheelchairs parasailing though the sky, to apps that allowed the visually impaired to navigate themselves around a cultural and arts venue, this event completely changed my attitude to how I would curate in the future.


2015 was great, but 2016 will be even better. Between the launch of Making for Change, an end to a life changing experience and all the other great things Craftspace will be doing, it’s set to be an amazing year!

I will also be launching a new blog in spring 2016 which will be a log of my journey within the visual arts world, along with  vlogs of my travel experiences.

I know it’s all very exciting!


What the Crafter did next.. In:site

Date: Monday 7th – Friday 11th  September

Venue: Cathedral square aka Pigeon park

Company: Craftspace x Birmingham cathedral

Event: In:site

Day one was a beautiful day, and it seemed the whole of Birmingham thought so too as floods of people streamed in and out of the square, giving validity to the estimation of a 20,000 people foot fall. One by one they began to stop, inquire and engage as to who we were and what we were doing. from Zimbabwean tourists creating thumb pots, to old gentlemen board members painting wood turned pieces, the graduate festival attracted  a verity of people and gave a creative apprentice a memorable experience.



Celebrating its  five year anniversary , In: site is Craftspace’ annual  festival. The week long residence gives around 11 craft graduates the chance to create site specific work for Birmingham cathedral square. These installations can  focus on the history, geographical environment or symbolism of the cathedral or even elements of interests from around Birmingham. Additionally the selected artists  received: paid travel, a fee and the opportunity to receive career progression mentoring from our director. The week was filled with amazing interpretations of the brief, and if you want to see them all there was a blog running alongside the festival, which you can find here.


The public participation element, that was incorporated into many of the graduates making process was refreshing. It allowed people of different demographics to take time out of their busy day and bond with strangers over a creative outlet.For this reason, one of my favourite pieces of work from the week would have to be Emma Surtees. The fascination from the public at getting a chance to unravel the embroidery wheel was thrilling.  This participation also transformed what could’ve been a static piece of art work into a public performance piece! You can watch the time-lapse of this experience here.


On the whole the week was a great experience, but it did have its down moments. For example, my body was in agony, I was drained, from my brain right down to my toes. A mixture of freezing weather and unpractical outfit choice caused me to feel a cold that left chill blades in my bones, which were impenetrable to any amounts of warmth. On top of that the upheaving and dismantling of the equipment and marques each day left me with twisted bones and swollen muscles

So how could it still be such an amazing experience you may ask??

  1. It was free!! For many of the members of the public as soon as they heard it was free they got stuck in. Even those who wouldn’t call themselves ‘arty’ became proud of their work and contribution to the artists piece.

2. Our future is in the making! In one of my early blog posts I spoke about the pushing out of craft courses in main stream education. These kinds of public engagement opportunities allow for craft to reach those audience who haven’t had the luxury of participating in such a multi – purpose art form.

So, after her body and bones were healed, what did the crafter do next? Well she went to ROME!!! But not before she made a stop at her second favourite city in the world…LONDON.


What the Crafter did next…

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I had to take a step back from this blog site and focus my energy on all the amazing projects Craftspace was undertaking.  However it would be silly of me to leave these events unreported! So for the next month I will be recapping all these projects and sharing links and devlopemet points that these projects will be taking in the future.

Documenting events such as; London design festival, In:site and Birmingham Weekender’, I will have blog posts streaming out of my ears!! But, I am super excited to be back! And I hope you are all ready to hear what I’ve been up to!


Also a cheeky little plug, While on my hiatus I was invited to the launch of Bass10 festival, ran by a Birmingham  based, music company – Punch, they have loads of events coming up and post great opportunities… so check them out!!!

*GIVEAWAYYYY* #findtheapprentice CLOSED

I have been spending all of my office hours planning for events and workshops that have my calendar jammed for the next five weeks or so. While I’m excited for all of the upcoming projects Craftspace will be doing, it does mean another break from this blog. But instead of just going quiet on you guys like I usually do, I thought I’d make a ‘Where to find me post’. While I won’t be including every single event, I thought this may be a nice over view of the kind of events a creative apprentice attends. Plus there maybe a few that you can come along and take part in!

1.Saturday 15th-  #SunBeat festival.

Brought to you by the Beatfreeks producers group, this event will be a FREE summer celebration of creativity. The evening will include summer games, performances, music and a range of activities (including a Craftivsm stall from yours truly). This event is not to be missed!


2. Monday 7th – Friday 11th September In:Site

The annual festival allows graduates from craft courses to create work specific to the landscape and history of The Birmingham Cathedral. Seeing as it is the Cathedral’s tercentenary (300 year anniversary) we are expecting some very special pieces of work. Plus, I’ll be blogging the whole experience, with artist interviews @ . You can come and take part between 11 am – 6pm

 3.Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th September. Birmingham Weekender

In:Site returns to take part in The Birmingham Weekender, a weekend of free outdoor performances, art and activities across the city centre. Craftspace will be hosting a collaboration between Graphic illustrators Jobe Anderson and Anna Holowko and textile artist Adele Fitzgerald. These three artists will be exploring how illustration and textiles can be combined to portray an artistic expression of Birmingham, including visitor participation.

jobe 2

So, as the title hinted I have decided to do a giveaway to celebrate the support this blog has received as well as celebrating all the great events coming soon! Up for grabs is a £10 high street voucher for a shop of your choice and here’s what you have to do for it to be you.

  1. Tweet me your favourite Craftslittlehelper blog post and tell me why.
  2. Follow @mstanikalopez and @craftspaceyouth on twitter
  3. Attended a minimum of 2/3 events mentioned above.

Now for all the boring stuff… To enter this competition you have to be living within the midlands area, be aged 14-25 and complete all the criteria’s above, . Please hashtag all tweets #findtheapprentice or #CraftFTA, alternatively you can tag either of the twitter accounts mentioned above.

The winner will be chosen at random and messaged on the Thursday 8th October Good luck guys! Can’t wait to see you over the next few weeks.


Thanks for reading this blog post, however this giveaway is now closed 🙂

Social Justice 101

My last blog post concluded with me being surprised that so many young people were unaware of the terminology surrounding social justice. So, this week’s blog post will try to give the novice activist a simple insight to what social justice is.

At the root of social justice is EQUALITY, but what’s equality? Equality is when everyone and thing has equal rights, opportunity and status. It really is that simple! There are many movements that have come out of this ideology such as feminism, eco-warriors and the civil rights movement, but if you erase all of the debates, discussions and terminology- equality would be sitting there patiently gazing up at you as it waits for its shining moment.


So we’ve got the definition down, but I’m sure you’ve heard some words being thrown around in the social justice circle but still have no clue as to what they mean. Well, here are my top five that I think every budding activist should know.

1. Social justice – equality for everything. That’s right, trees and animals are included. Any movement or campaign that looks at supporting and uplifting an oppressed group will fall under this term.

2. Social action- carrying out tasks that will make a positive change for equality.

3. Activist – these are people who carry out social action, from Malala Yousafzai to everyday individuals like you and I who try to make a change

4. Ally – someone who works to support an oppressed group that is not directly impacted by the group’s issues.

5. The oppressed/ oppressed groupa group that does not have the same equal rights as others such as pay or opportunities, this could be due to things that make them different. Eg. gender


That’s only five and as you go forward into the social justice realm you may come across movement specific terminology, but here’s some tips to overcome that.

Google is your friend – it is not always accurate but it will give you a good overview until your everyday experience allows for a more in-depth understanding.

Don’t know? ASSK!! Don’t feel silly, if someone’s using a word you don’t know just pause them politely and ask them what it means… If their obnoxious about it, go back to step 1

Don’t ever think you know it allissues are arising, and correct terms changing all the time. Keeping an open mind can allow you to become aware of any shifts, saving you a whole load of embarrassment from offending someone.

And that’s it! If I could have had a short intro to social justice this is what it would have looked like. But the most important thing to remember is… Don’t get over whelmed!! It’s easy to do, but remember equality is key and no matter how big or small your contribution every one counts.



D- Day

Date: 11th July

Venue: Impact Hub Birmingham

Company: Craftspace

Event: Making for Change

I woke up before my alarm even sounded, a mixture of nervous and excitement had proved a recipe for a restless night. However, despite my lack of sleep an unknown source of energy kept me on the hunt for uncompleted tasks, but to no avail as due to late nights and early starts they had already been sorted and re-sorted and sorted again. It might seem over the top, but after having 1 artist drop out, 2 failed venues and only 20 out of forty tickets sold there was definitely method to my madness.

craft box
Sarah Corbett’s Traveling Craftivist suitcase.

As previously mentioned, during my time at Craftspace I will be helping to develop a youth social action programme. This programme will teach young people how to utilise Craftivism (craft and social justice) to create a positive social change. To showcase this to young people, on the 11th July  Craftspace put on ‘Making for Change’.

craft 2
Maker Gemma Latham’s work with visitors

The event was facilitated by three artists; Sarah Corbett (who is known in the UK for heading the Craftivist collective), brought along stichable change makers, which is a embroidery dot to dot of the faces of well-known activists.  Additionally, maker Gemma Latham used hole punchers to create pixelated words, she also used a heart monitor to measure the correlation between a steady heart beat and crafting. Finally, we had poet, writer and maker Kate Rolison, who let participants express the everyday things they have done to be kind to themselves by embroidering into ribbons.

The evening got off to a slow start and with a team of artists, staff and volunteers to organise I was grateful for the calm before the storm. As 4.30 dawned our Activist playlist was bumping throwback songs such as ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, which added to the laid back atmosphere as more and more young people came into the venue. As the night progressed apprehensive 14-25 year olds become engrossed into their tasks, pausing shortly for the artists 5 minutes talks and the long awaited spread of food. After several final calls for needles to be put down the event was wrapped up, but not before several poses had been struck in front of a selfie stick camera.

Kate's stand proved to be very popular
Kate’s stand proved to be very popular

The moments that stuck out to me were the countless number of young people I encountered who did not know the definition of social justice or action, this was a huge surprise to me. My favourite blogs on tumblr are centred around social justice, and equality is an everyday conversation between my friends and I. I guess this over exposure has caused me to


forget that not everyone is aware of the positive change they can make for equality , or the huge influence youth pop culture has on businesses and governments.  In the past I have been impatient to this kind of ignorance, but this event let me understand that many people see these issues as too big for them to make a difference or change. Consequently,  making for change let us get the word out about our programme. However,it also let me see that there are fun and non-confrontational ways to ease people into using their privilege and power to help those in injustice. That whether your an extroverted protestor or an introverted stitcher, everyone can make a change.


PS. Look at our great footage of the day PLUS Q and A clips from the team.  –