From ancient craftsmanship to cutting-edge digital technology: HCA’s excellent facilities set us apart from other institution
At HCA we encourage the exploration of traditional processes alongside innovative techniques. This core value is echoed by the variety and accessibility of our workshops, studios, media suites, and extensive resources, college-wide.
No matter what course you’re on, all our students have access to all HCA resources. So whether you’re a graphic designer, fine artist, artist blacksmith, or illustrator you’ll find yourselves in our workshops, studios and media suites while studying with us.
Whether you are rehearsing for a performance, recording sound, editing a film, animating, making jewellery or many of the other processes possible at HCA; our technical demonstrators are on hand to help and guide you.
They are all experts in their fields, and play a crucial role in your practical learning at HCA. All of our technical demonstrators are active designers, makers or performers in their own right;- sharing their passion for their disciplines with our students, and passing on their knowledge and expertise.
With their help, you will be introduced to new processes and skills giving you the confidence to use a range of specialist tools, techniques, and practices in order to make your ideas come to life. Find out more about our dedicated team by exploring our staff page.
I love those magic moments when you see a student realising I’ve got this.”
– Ian Berrill, Senior Technical Demonstrator
The technical staff are amazing, nothing is ever too much trouble, they are always patient, knowledgeable and friendly”
– Quote from internal HCA Survey
The 3D workshop is a wildly creative environment where you can explore your curiosity about materials and their properties.
Here, you will discover a diverse range of materials, tools, technologies and processes. The workshop facilities allow you to work in acrylic, metal, wood, textiles and casting in Jesmonite, resin and casting compounds while experimenting with vinyl cutting, laser cutting and 3D printing machines. The workshop allows our students to develop their making stills from hi-tech processes to traditional techniques, the only limit is your own imagination.
Take a look at our College Road 3D workshop here.
Acrylic Manipulation – Acrylic can be manipulated with heat using our heat guns, heat press, vacuum former, and strip heater. Strips of High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) can be woven and bonded with the heat press.
Vacuum Forming – Students learn to use the vacuum former to make simple plastic moulds from items produced in previous workshops or other workshops. These moulds can then be used for various methods of casting or as finished items
Heat Transfer – Using our sublimation printers (located in the textiles workshop) and heat presses. Digital photographic images and designs can be permanently fixed onto a range of sheet materials. These sheets can then be used in further processes.
Wood Prints – Use the vinyl cutter and sandblaster to make printable blocks that can be used in either the Print or Ceramic Workshops. Wood prints can be used for a variety of purposes, including as wall art, signs, or decorative accents. They are often used as an alternative to traditional paper or canvas prints because of the unique texture and warmth that wood adds to a print.
Canvas Stretching – Students are introduced to accuracy and measurement skills by creating various shaped frames over which cotton can be stretched for painting.
Steam Bending – Steam bending is a woodworking technique that involves using steam to soften and shape wood into a desired form. It is often used to create curved or bent wood products, such as furniture and decorative items. Students learn to work efficiently as a team, clamping their steamed wood to various formers and jigs. This process changes the students’ perception of wood.
Veneer Laminating – Veneer laminating is a woodworking technique that involves using thin sheets or strips of wood veneer to create a solid piece of wood with a desired shape or form. This technique allows students to create unique shapes and grain patterns that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional woodworking methods.
Wood Carving – Wood carving is the art of shaping and sculpting wood using a variety of tools, including chisels, knives, and power tools. It is a technique that has been used for centuries to create a wide range of decorative and functional objects, including furniture, figurines, and ornamental objects. Our students get the opportunity to learn many different styles of wood carving, including relief carving, chip carving and whittling. Modern wood carving techniques also include the use of power tools, such as rotary tools and routers, which can speed up the carving process and allow for more precise and intricate designs
Wood Turning – Woodturning is a form of woodworking that involves using a lathe to shape and smooth a piece of wood into a desired shape. It is an ancient technique that has been used for centuries to create a variety of decorative and functional objects, including bowls, vases, candlesticks, and more. In recent years, woodturning has experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the rise of handmade crafts. Woodturning requires a good eye for detail, steady hands, and a lot of practice to master.
MIG and TIG Welding – MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding are two commonly used forms of electric arc welding that are used to join metal together. Students are introduced to preparing the metal before using welding, basic tacking, stitch and full welds.
Brazing and Silver Soldering – Both these techniques use either Plumbed Gas or Butane Torches and teach students the benefits of hot connections in metals.
Wire Work – A popular workshop for all levels and abilities, Students translate their observational drawings and the possibilities of 2D and 3D continuous line drawing using annealed iron wire.
Small Scale Forging – Popular workshops for all levels and abilities. Students experience the plasticity of metal wire and sheet, using various hammer and cold forging techniques. This is also an introduction to cold connections.
Bowl Blocking and Raising – Using traditional blocking and raising techniques students produce small copper or aluminium bowls from metal discs that they cut and shape themselves.
Metal Spinning – Using the wood lathe, discs of annealed copper and aluminium can be spun to a pre-turned wooden master form.
Metal Surface Patination & Finishing – Students are introduced to the numerous ways of adding surface pattern, texture, and interest to a piece of copper, brass, bronze, and similar metals using chemicals and various aggregates, as well as various methods of finishing a piece of metal work e.g. sandblasting, polishes, lacquers, and waxes.
Repoussé – this metalworking technique is used to create raised or indented designs on metal sheets or objects. It involves hammering or pressing the metal from the reverse side to create a design that is raised on the front side. Used on a variety of metals, including gold, silver, copper, and brass, it is often used to create decorative objects such as jewellery, religious artefacts, and decorative panels. The technique can be used to create intricate and detailed designs and is often combined with other techniques such as chasing and enameling to create more complex pieces.
Flocking – Students are introduced to the traditional process of coating various items with flock, the process of depositing many small fibre particles onto a surface of their choosing.
Laser Cutter – After the required IT induction students can create basic digital etches of images and cut designs in various laserable materials such as wood and acrylic. The laser cutter has become an incredibly versatile workshop tool allowing students to create a range of pieces and processes such as the marking out of complex designs to be cut by hand, screen print stencils, creating jigs, press form tools for embossing, master mould boxes, and display devices
Vinyl Cutter – Students are introduced to Vinyl cutting after the required IT induction. Students’ designs can be traced and produced as sticky-backed vinyl, however, these stickers have many possible applications throughout the workshops e.g. sandblasting, acid etching resists, screen printing, block printing, and stencilling.
3D Print – Use industry-standard CAD software to print and re-produce 3D Objects for a range of products from textiles to sculpture and much more. Explore the possibilities of this developing format and push the boundaries of design.
Cold Casting – At HCA Students have the opportunity to use resins for various processes across the workshops. Learn how to mix the resins, add pigments and aggregate whilst calculating volumes and ratios. Resins can be used as a strong wood adhesive or to plasticise softwood (a technique often used in woodturning). We can also cast in foam which can be used for costumes and prop-making.
Silicone Rubber and Mould Making – Silicone Rubber allows students to re-producing pieces in various materials items by casting and pouring resin. Simple boxes can be produced in which master moulds can be cast in resins, Jesmonite, concrete, plaster and even glue gun material. Some items to be cast require more complex 2 or 3-part moulds to work successfully all taught in this specialised workspace.
Jesmonite – Utilising skills students develop with resin and mould making, Jesmonite is the next casting material available to our students. A safe fast setting acrylic-based material concrete, with the use of silicon and acrylic moulds, can be used to replicate the appearance and texture of any surface finish in any number of colours. This versatile material can be used in a number of skills processes to develop our student’s designs and creative thinking.
This multi-disciplinary and vibrant workshop will challenge your approach to textiles. It will encourage you to be innovative and experimental. As you approach textiles and surface pattern, you’ll develop skills in stencil and UV screen printing, 3D flocking, foiling, sublimation and heat transfer printing, alongside constructed textiles such as knit, weave, stitch and material manipulation.
Take a look at our College Road textiles workshop here.
Screen Print – Printing onto fabric and paper by using an aluminum framed screen that can allow for images/designs/patterns to be printed with accuracy. Teaching includes the understanding of binders and the properties of each as well as how to coat/expose a screen.
Repeat Screen Printing – Create a repeating print with hidden seems for a versatile pattern design.
Sublimation Print – Digital print process that allows images to be transferred onto synthetic fabrics via heat press.
Weave – Suitable for students with an interest in constructed textiles.
Knit – Single and double bed knitting taught for a range of developing abilities
Fusing/ Embossing/ Heatpress – Explore unconventional materials to redefine what textiles can be by fusing/melting and embossing new surfaces.
Digital Stitch – Learning how to translate an image or design through stitch via a digital embroidery machine.
Fabric Manipulation – using sewing machines or hand stitch new surfaces can be created in fabrics to allow for more dynamic designs. This workshop is great in conjunction with sublimation print.
Sewing Machine/ Overlocker – Introduction to using the sewing machines and overlocker. Threading up, troubleshooting, and various stitch types.
Linker – Process of “linking” knitted pieces together. This is a finishing process for knit, however can be used for decorative stitch within knitwear
Acid, Procion, Direct, Disperse – Introduction to the process of dyeing materials and discovering the different types of dye required by different materials.
Natural Dyes – Using Natural dyes to color fabrics and materials to discover the most sustainable textile solutions.
Our exceptional printmaking workshops offer a huge range of print possibilities – from relief processes such as linocutting, woodblock and letterpress, to intaglio processes such as drypoint, collagraph and etching, as well as lithography and screen printing. We also have many different print presses to use, including a prized 180-year-old Albion on which we can print with our extensive collection of vintage wooden and metal type.
Take a look at our Folly Lane print workshops here.
Collograph – Collage printing on board. Plates can be made from tetra Pak, display board or mount board. Introduction to Intaglio Printing and using the Etching press and printing onto damp paper. Start with using Tetra Pak with the possibility to progress to more complex textured/ layered and colorful prints.
Linocut – Relief printing using traditional Lino, oil-based inks and dry paper. Introduction to Relief Printing and using the Relief presses as well as the Etching presses with lino runners. Start with a one-colour print. Then have options to use chine colle. Then progress to multi-block and reduction printing. Also printing onto Fabric.
Monoprinting – Introduction to mark-making in Print, using Perspex plates, oil-based inks and damp paper. Also introduces use of etching presses. Start with off-set and dark field monotype printing. Then progress to light field, found object and multi-plate printing.
Dry Point – Direct drawing process using the Etching press and damp paper. Start with Dry point on Perspex, then progress to inking plate with multiple colours and printing with multiple plates and using Chine Colle.
Letterpress – Learning how to set wooden type and print using the Albion Press. Start with Dry point on Perspex, then progress to inking plate with multiple colours and printing with multiple plates and using Chine Colle.
Woodcut – European woodcut using oil-based inks. Suitable as progression after mastering Linocut.
Wood Engraving -Engraving into the endgrain of boxwood and lemonwood blocks to create detailed prints.
Mokuhanga – Japanese woodcut, using hosho paper, watercolour inks and baren. Relatively complex process with minimum requirement of one day to cut and print. Multi-block printing better with 2 days.
Mokulito – Wood lithography – direct drawing process onto plywood.
Takuhon – Japanese 3D printing; using kozo paper; requires focus and patience.
Multi block, reduction woodcut, jigsaw prints and combining woodcut with linocut are also available.
Risograph – introduction to thinking about colour and layering using the Risograph (Japanese Stencil printing). Start with handmade collaged layers – then progress to zines and working from digital images.
For all other digital print processes please see ‘Digital Arts Centre and Media Suite‘
Ceramics, Plaster and Glass Workshop
In this highly experimental workshop, you’ll learn a broad range of ceramics processes including coiling, slab building, and throwing. You will also have the opportunity to explore glass slumping and fusing. You will be encouraged to ‘play’ with a range of surface application processes such as, screen printing, photographic transfer, embossing and relief, as well as using plaster and casting methods.
- Slab Building with Clay
- Mould Making
- Glaze Mixing
- Glass Fusing and Manipulating
- Screen Printing with Slips and Glazes
- Image Transfer on Clay
- Plaster Works and Casting
Take a look at our ceramics workshop here.
Small Metals Workshop
This unique small metals workshop is our specialist area for jewellery and small-scale making. You will explore and develop ideas in form, surface decoration, and colour, in a variety of non-ferrous and precious metals. You will learn the properties of materials and the processes used to manipulate them such as, annealing, press forming, embossing, photoetching, fabrication, and hot and cold connections.
- Metal Rolling
- Metal Press Forming
- Metal Photo and Acid Etching Techniques
- Saw Piercing
- Colouring Metal
- Manipulating Metal through Hand and Machine Techniques
The National School of Blacksmithing at Holme Lacy is home to the Artist Blacksmithing forge. This specialist workshop is where our students manipulate hot metal and create a range of architectural designs, products, sculptures and much more. Train to control the fires, direct heat, and make steel bend, stretch, and twist into your forged designs.
Take a look at our virtual 360 tour here.
Across the majority of our courses, our students are allocated individual studio spaces, allowing them to design their own working environment, fill it with inspiration, and work on their craft in a bright and immersive space.
Each dedicated space is designed with your course in mind with Fine Art spaces being larger to allow installation experimentation and Graphic Design students utilising a more open studio space to simulate a professional collaborative working environment.
Take a look at some of the studio spaces in our 360 Virtual Tour
Digital Arts Centre and Media Suites
The Digital Art Center is a hub for all our digital skills and resources at HCA. Whether it’s step-by-step technical demonstrations of the latest design software or printing your final projects on our industry-standard printers, this is the place.
- IT Suites with specialist software available on Apple Mac and Windows PCs.
- Open access areas.
- Quiet study areas in Library spaces with Assistive Technology.
- Exhibition quality large format inkjet printers.
- Sound & video production areas.
- Animation facilities.
- Virtual Learning Environment.
- Free access to Microsoft Office 365 for up to five devices with 1TB of cloud storage.
This professional suite gives you the opportunity to explore moving image using multi-platforms and devices and create moving images for film, animation, cinemographs and immersive experiences. You will access industry-standard software including:Adobe Premiere, Animate, Final Cut, Tag Tool, Madmapper and a range of programmes that support computer games design and interactive media. You will also discover new software for moving image creation and virtual reality.
This well-equipped suite with a range of machines together with flatbed scanners and Wacom drawing tablets will fully support you to develop digital drawing and image manipulation skills. Using the latest software in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign & Lightroom, you create new designs and images for print and screen.
Our wide format printing studio enables you to produce high-quality digital prints in excess of four meters long, print banners, professional standard photographs, and print on a range of media such as canvas, transparent film, fine art papers, and photo papers.
Use industry-standard CAD software to print and re-produce 3D Objects for a range of products from textiles to sculpture and much more. Explore the possibilities of this developing format and push the boundaries of design.
Stop Motion Studio – This professional studio includes a dedicated lighting rig and camera rail system, along with an impressive range of industry-standard software including Dragonframe.
Digital Animation Suite – This suite offers access to a number of industry-standard Cintiq Drawing displays, allowing the user to utilise thousands of pressure levels to create precise digital drawings for digital animations.
Drawing tablets are also available to borrow from our Media Store
Photography Studios & Darkroom
Our photography workshops and darkroom facilities provide an opportunity for you to gain experience using a huge variety of both digital and traditional techniques. We offer open-access workshops for all courses and levels of ability, insuring ur students get the opportunity to learn invaluable skills, with both digital and traditional photography.
With four photography studios across two campuses, all fully equipped with full-size backdrops and tabletop rigs, we aim to give all students the resources to build strong photography skills, and the opportunity to experiment with, pinhole photography, photogram photography and light painting. Whether you are on our Photography course or not all of our students will spend time in this invaluable space, whether it be creating stunning portraits or capturing shots of your practice pieces.
Our traditional darkroom allows us to enlarge 35mm, medium and large format film, allowing us to produce traditional silver gelatin prints. We encourage experimentation with alternate print processes such as Cyanotype, Gum Bichromate and Tintype. Explore this fascinating process and develop your skills in our dedicated film processing space.
A range of digital and film cameras, lighting, tripods and a range of other photography equipment can be borrowed from the Media Stores.
Take a look at one of our photography studios here.
No matter which branch of the creative industry you are part of at HCA it’s important to get hands-on experience with the professional kit required for each project. Alongside the computers and hardware found in our workshops and Digital Arts Center, we give you the opportunity to borrow a range of cameras, drawing tablets, music equipment, and more in order to get the most out of our course.
As well as providing kit to help you gain experience, we can help also you develop skills and knowledge about your own equipment. Whether that be learning about a new camera, advice on a new lens or fixing vintage kit we are here to help.
- DSLR cameras
- 35mm film cameras
- 120 6×6 medium format cameras
- 5×7 large format cameras
- Blackmagic cine camera
- 4k and HD video cameras
- Location recording equipment including track, dollys, and sliders
- On/off-camera continuous and strobe lighting systems
- Drawing tablets
- Audio interfaces
- Midi controllers
- Hard drives
- HD Projectors
- Acoustic guitars
- Electronic guitars