‘It’s a short journey but a completely different world’

‘It’s a short journey but a completely different world’
18 November 2020 Bertine Aalderen, van
CYF trainingsweek Bulgarije

students Craft Your Future

In this interview, two students from Friesland College talk about their experiences during the Craft Your Future training week in Bulgaria. The week focused on getting to know the local skills and providing insight into the value of crafts.

Craft Your Future is an educational European project in which Friesland College, House of Design and Learning Hub Friesland, together with partners from Spain and Bulgaria, combine old crafts with new techniques and link this to the circular economy. Students from Friesland (NL), Catalonia (ES) and Gabrovo (BG) participated in the training week. As you can see in the picture, in addition to the training, there was also time for some fun!

Rinke Ties Hoekstra is a student interior design consultant: ‘In Bulgaria we have seen that quality and craftsmanship are very important for the environment and therefore the future.’ Robin Timmerman participated as part of her studies in Creative Craftsman; furniture maker design: ‘It’s a short journey but a completely different world.’

You took part in the Craft Your Future project, in which students investigate whether new technologies and trends can help revive old crafts, using waste as a raw material. What appeals to you about this objective?
Robin: ‘In my personal life, I am very concerned with the environment, second-hand clothing, reusable materials and vegetarian food. I think it is great to apply this to my education and to be even more aware of it.’
Rinke Ties: ‘Nowadays, so much is used and thrown away, I think this is outdated and so I am very interested in ways to reduce our ecological footprint. We can make many wonderful developments by combining new techniques and old crafts. This is why I signed up for the Craft Your Future project.’

There have now been a few training weeks and you went to the training week in Bulgaria. What was it like going to Bulgaria?
Robin: ‘Very cool! I love to travel and had never been to Bulgaria. I also thought it was great to meet all the students and see how they viewed things from a different point of view.’
Rinke Ties: ‘To be able to go to Bulgaria with an enthusiastic group was a very nice experience. Often when you go somewhere with school, there is always a part of the group that is not enthusiastic. But because you had to sign up for this, everyone was keen to be in Bulgaria and that was a very positive and motivating environment for me.’

What did you do during the training week in Bulgaria?
Rinke Ties: ‘During the training week in Bulgaria, we mainly looked at old crafts.’
Robin adds: ‘We had a look at which subjects the Bulgarian students were given and were allowed to take these ourselves. In addition, we had lessons about sustainability and I gave another lesson about sustainability and how you can contribute to this yourself. Of course, we also had a lot of delicious dinners and did loads of fun things with the other students.’

What did you notice about Bulgaria itself and the school in Tryavna?
Robin: ‘It’s only a short journey but a completely different world. The school was of a high standard. The students were very passionate and produced the most beautiful work.’
Rinke Ties: ‘What struck me was that in Bulgaria old crafts are still practiced every day. In the Netherlands, it is not usual to find a school that focuses on the old trades. We followed several lessons such as wood cutting and gold painting. I found this very interesting to see and do myself. The school teaches old trades to young students, so these wonderful occupations will not disappear. Bulgaria is a beautiful country with superb culture; we saw this in Gabrovo. There is an open-air museum where you can view many different crafts and buy products. Bulgaria is still very much immersed in its own culture and I find that very appealing. Nowadays everything has to be done quickly, but here we saw that quality and craft are very important for the environment and therefore the future.’

What did you find most interesting during the training weeks?
Robin: ‘Getting to know the students and their culture.’
Rinke Ties: ‘What I found most interesting during that week was that in Bulgaria it is truly possible to study and further develop old crafts, such as with a CNC. This is a motorised wood-cutter, which makes the large heavy elements of carving wood easier, so there is more focus on the detailed work.’

Do you think there could be an interesting, ongoing exchange between both schools?
Rinke Ties: ‘During the training week, we experienced great things as a group and learned a lot from the Bulgarian students. This is also why I think these kinds of exchanges are important to stimulate students from different countries to develop beautiful and new products.’
Robin: ‘Yes! But mainly because I think travel is extremely important for the development of students. Not lying on the beach with a drink in your hand, but living with other cultures. Experiencing how other people live, think and learn to deal with things.’

Which waste material would you like to use to achieve something beautiful with the use of a craft? Could 3D printing also help?
Robin: ‘I think plastic is very interesting. This is one of the biggest polluters and you can do so much with it. A 3D printer can be used very well for this. They are also busy with this in the DLab in Leeuwarden. You grind the plastic into very small pieces and then melt it into wire for the 3D printers.”

How will you include this experience in your further development?
Robin: ‘I hope to eventually be able to help develop such projects myself. And I think I can use my experience as a former exchange student to do so.’
Rinke Ties: ‘I have learned a lot and when designing an interior, and I am now also much more concerned with a product that I put in a home. Not only whether it is beautiful, but also whether it is a recycled product or a one with a small ecological footprint. There is a Dutch brand that really inspires me; Planq is a company that transforms old clothing into beautiful chairs. I have now become more interested in these types of processes and I would like to develop more in these ways.’

Craft your Future
Craft Your Future is an educational European project in which Friesland College, House of Design and Learning Hub Friesland, together with partners from Spain and Bulgaria, combine old crafts with new techniques and link this to the circular economy. The aim of this project is to set up a curriculum in which these three aspects are connected. How can we learn from the craftsmanship of the past regarding the issues that we now face?

Three weeks of training will be organised during CYF in which students investigate how old crafts can contribute to combating waste through new technology and trends; for example, by using waste as a raw material. The first training week was in Friesland (NL) and the second in Valencia (ES).