“WE can’t just work – we need hobbies,” says Anna Airaksinen in her stylish home and workshop south of York.

We are upstairs in the converted blacksmith’s forge in Foggathorpe that has been home to Finnish-born Anna and her family for more than a decade.

Once a playroom for her daughters, Mari and Katri (now in their 20s), it has been transformed into a studio where Anna’s new crafts business is based.

After 13 years teaching design and technology at local schools, including Selby High, Anna has launched her new venture, offering a range of one-day crafts courses.

Anna, who turns 50 next year, said: “It was the right time for a change. The kids had moved out and this is a big house that needs more use out of it. It’s a nice house and a nice place to share with people; so I came up with the idea of running crafts classes.”

The large table in the upstairs studio is covered in squares of fabric, ready for a quilting workshop due to take place.

Other courses to date have included silversmithing, fused glass jewellery, crochet and knitting for beginners.

A speciality is making objects using birch twigs. Last December, the focus was on sculpting the twigs to make Christmas decorations; for spring, the workshops are on making bird sculptures for the garden from birch and rustic vessels to use as planters or breadbaskets.

The birch techniques are inspired by Finnish artist Tarja Heikkila and Anna has worked with local ceramicist Jill Ford, who lives at nearby Ellerton, on the vessel designs which include a porcelain base and pretty glazed porcelain butterflies attached by iron wire to the sides.

Anna is collaborating with other artisans to run some of the courses; Diane Higgins-Lee takes the silversmithing workshops while the artist Ann Wallace leads glass-jewellery making. Anna’s ex-husband, local baker Steve Alger, is hosting a course too, making sourdough and Finnish pulla (similar to a Chelsea bun).

Other courses for spring/summer include 3D felting, native-grown flower arranging, scrapbook making and silk painting.

Each day-long course includes a three-course lunch, made by self-confessed foodie Anna, and eaten together in the show-stopping kitchen, which was once the blacksmith’s workshop.

The long kitchen table was made by Anna as part of her furniture design degree. A wooden bench that sits in her bedroom is another piece she made on the course at St John’s in York.

Making things is part of her fabric, she says.

“I have always made things; it’s been my passion. My dad was a craft therapist who worked in a psychiatric unit. He was a skilled designer and maker and used to take adult education classes which I would always go to. It was a great experience for me, and I learned to make lots of things out of wood.”

Growing up in the countryside by the Finnish lakes, Anna also learned how to knit, sew, embroider and crochet – which stood her in good stead when she moved to York as a teenager and married Steve, who she met on the Tube in London en route to an event at Crystal Palace.

They settled in York and when their daughters were small, she worked as a dressmaker, including a spell making wedding dresses at Droopy & Browns.

“At Droopy & Browns, I learned about quality and precision and that things have to look right,” said Anna, who is now married to Shaun Pinchbeck, a solicitor and keen tennis player (they met on the local courts at Bubwith).

Anna is encouraged by the renewed interest in crafts such as knitting, crochet and the resurgence in homely pursuits such as baking.

“There needs to be a balance in our technological lifestyles. We need time to solve practical problems; crafts provide that, and allow us to immerse ourselves into making something.”

Anna likes the idea that the pieces she has made will remain long after she has gone.

“My dad made lots of things. He died in 2000, but I still have the things he made. He used to woodcut lots of things and I have brought lots of things from his workshop here and I will use them in my crafts.”

• Course prices range from £40-£75, including a three-course lunch. Find out more at blacksmithshopcrafts.co.uk or telephoning 01757 288541.