Nick Kary Maker

Material – The Alchemy of Making

Material – The Alchemy of Making

With Nick Kary, Richenda MacGregor and Jessie Watson Brown

Do you long for a deeper connection between your hands and the land beneath your feet? Do you wonder what it really means to be human, to understand how our ancestors lived and worked in synergy with the world around them? Do you think you can find the wild beating heart of the maker within?

This is a gathering of humans on a piece of land, looking for our belonging to it, through our ability to transform its generous bounty into objects of use. In doing so we will observe the transformation of ourselves.

12th July - 16th July Material Book Now

In these 5 days, we will live in a simple camp, cook and eat around a fire, work with the materials of the land, and explore our own relationships to them, uncover their primary nature, their stories and ours, and look for the threads that bind us together.

These are the five-fold stages of our transformation:

  • The land,
  • the harvest we take from it,
  • the materials we create through this,
  • the processes we engage with through making,
  • and the objects we produce.

We will investigate and experiment with the following thoughts, among many others:

How we take for granted the objects we buy, how often we don’t make connections to their provenance or to the damage caused by the extraction of the materials they use.

The Earth from which these Materials are birthed, and which provides us with everything we need, but to which we show little respect.

The stories of our ancestors developing hand skills and language through making objects necessary for their survival communally.

Inspiration and nourishment for the makers within ourselves who are often dormant, reliant on mass-produced things

Objects with stories carry the power of memory, and when rooted in us have so much more power.

Key information:

12 – 16 July 2021

Residential course based in Devon, at Embercombe

Accommodation is at Embercombe in our yurt village or selection of vintage glamping caravans

FEE: £525 includes accommodation and food.
Limited bursary places of £350 are available: apply here.

Nick Kary Maker

Natural Materials


What will you learn?

  • To relate to place through what grows there, or from the soil it grows on.
  • To transform these raw ingredients into materials of the human dimension.
  • Through this process to gain a deeper understanding of the transformative union of ourselves and nature
  • To develop a deeper awareness of our power and our danger
  • To make some objects: a stool from wood we will harvest; a purse from fish skin tanned with tree bark; some pendants, pestles and mortars made from clay won on the land and glazed with wood and plant ash.

Who is it for?

For anyone who has ever longed to make with, to communicate and transform with, the primary material and the place around them.
No previous experience required.

Alchemist Makers

Nick Kary

Nick Kary

For nearly four decades Nick has worked to commission making fine, distinctive furniture and cabinets from wood, most of it sourced near his home, in the counties of South West England. During this time, he has been both a teacher and a student; one who is fascinated with the philosophy and practice of craft work of all kinds. Over the last 10 years he has split his time between making, teaching and writing. He is a visiting lecturer at the Schumacher College in Devon and an associate lecturer at Plymouth University. He also runs furniture making workshops at The Brake creative centre in South Devon that he runs with his wife Dolly. They have both been involved with Embercombe since its inception over 20 year ago. His book MATERIAL- Making and the Art of Transformation is his first published work and expresses his love and interest in the relationship between humans and the natural world through our inclination to make.

Jessie Watson Brown

Jessie Watson Brown

Jessie is on a path of rewilding, reconnecting, reskilling and remembering. Weaving together a love of making and crafting using natural materials, with immersing herself in the natural world and learning what it might mean to live as a human on this earth. She works running camps, facilitates on various nature-based programmes and in the winter plants thousands of trees. She currently lives in a land-based community on Dartmoor, and feels most at home among the granite and moss.


Richenda Macgregor

Richenda Macgregor is the former creative director of studio 45. A teaching and training space for potters offering membership and apprenticeships. A potter for 25 years. Richenda is passionate about Making and passionate about ceramics in general. Constantly learning, this quality of engagement is reflected in her enthusiasm and thorough teaching style. She has successfully trained 6 apprentices over recent years and teaches and facilitates at Schumacher College.

“It is important for us to begin to investigate our heritage and to discover or rediscover the materials that are left unused on our doorstep. So much of the raw materials Artists and Craftspeople use has travelled unnecessarily or has been mined in atrocious working conditions. We re-empower ourselves when we change our working practice to include local materials harvested sustainably and begin to produce work indigenous to the environment and place we live in.” (Richenda)

Upcoming Dates & Booking

12th July - 16th July Material Book Now

We aim for all of our courses to be as inclusive and accessible as possible – please contact us for information on paying in installments.

There are also a limited number of bursary places available for this course on application.

If you have any questions please call +44 (0) 1647 252 983 or email

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