Happy March from MadLab Courses!

MadLab Courses

MadLab Courses

Fancy learning WordPress, how to write a short story, the first step you need to create a robot army or the best way to stuff a bird? We can help.

MadLab has been running courses since 2010 and our thinking is simple – get the best tutors in, teach the most up-to-date courses and don’t charge silly money. All the income from our courses goes back into running the community space – so by coming on our courses, you’re also supporting a good cause. Well done you!

This year is our biggest yet – with 22 courses taking place before the summer. We’ll be having a break in July and August, whilst the building has a refurb (yes, that means new toilets!), and we’ll be back in September with even more course goodness. Also keep your eyes peeled for a new spin-off strand, inspired by Brooklyn Brainery and Artisan’s Asylum, in which experts share their interests and skills. We’ve got some eclectic tutors and workshops lined up, like Islamic Design with Eric Broug and you’ll find details of the first course, ‘From Script to Screen’ presented by Bokeh_Yeah! here.

We’ve been getting some well-known and well-travelled visitors recently, with 50% of attendees coming from outside the North West – there are lots of Brummies and Londoners, and we’ve also seen people fly in from the US, Australia, France, Malta, Kuwait and Belgium specifically to attend our courses. There have also been some (in)famous faces, such as Tom Watson MP (he took the Arduino course and gave us 10/10 btw).

(Psst! Want to head straight to the course dates and links? Skip straight to the bottom)


WordPress co-founder (and Stockport resident) Mike Little teaches all our WP courses. We’re really lucky that Mike is a big supporter of MadLab. His Beginner’s and Intermediate courses in February and March sold out in record time, so we’ve added some extra course dates to keep up with demand. You can also catch Mike at the Manchester WordPress User Group at MadLab, held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. The next meeting is on March 19 (free).


Taxidermy tutor Margot Magpie has been very busy recently, with appearances on the BBC, This Morning and getting the Daily Mail’s knickers in a twist almost as much as house prices and Romanians (look up “gruesome hipster craze”). Margot says:

“I’ll be back at MadLab over Easter for a two-day bunny-stuffing course. Bunnies are one of my favourite creatures to preserve as they are incredibly fluffy, soft, cute, and challenging. However, once skinned, tanned, and stuffed, having inserted flexible liners into their floppy ears and putting their big brown eyes in their place, there is plenty of time to get creative setting their bodies into adorable poses either au natural or with vest and pocket watch, Alice in Wonderland style. So if you want to learn the basics of this art and skill, and take home your Easter bunny, then hop to it. I’d love to have you. If mice or birds are more your style, then those classes are on offer too.”

Follow Margot on her blog, OfCorpse! and on Twitter @felineinlove.

Web Design, Beginning CSS and Advanced CSS with Chris Mills

Something with significantly fewer guts involved (but maybe some blood, sweat and tears) are our Web Design and CSS courses with Chris Mills. Chris is the author of Practical CSS3 (Peachpit Press) and works as a Senior Tech Writer at Mozilla.

We’ll be announcing a new Beginning Coding course date soon, following March’s sold-out event. But in the meantime, you can access some of Chris’ materials online:

Complete beginner’s guide to coding

Web design basics for kids (and adults!)

Arduino and Physical Computing

Arduino is a fun and interactive course run by MadLab’s Asa Calow. The price includes an Arduino Starter Kit with Arduino Uno so you can take your project away with you at the end. Asa will even mentor people with specific projects in mind. The next course is part of the International Arduino Day celebrations, which takes place on March 29. Arduino will be ten years old! For more Arduino Day info, see #ArduinoD14 on Twitter.


Whether your canvas is a whole building, your bedroom wall or something… stranger, VVVV will extend your creativity into the third and fourth dimensions. VVVV is the code-free programming toolkit that opens up a world of creativity with video. If you’ve never heard of VVVV and aren’t sure what it is/does check this video courtesy of our tutor Elliot Woods. And you simply must check out this phenomenal project that Elliot delivered for Land Rover.

Elliot Woods is a leader in the international projection-mapping scene, creating the tools and techniques used from experimental art projects to multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. Elliot has taught professionals, students, children and led the professional projection mapping course at VVVV’s own digital arts forum. Elliot recently co-curated The Distortion Field festival in South Korea. Find out more at his website, kimchiandchips.com.

Short Story Writing (in conjunction with Comma Press)

This hands-on, immersive writing course will run over six evening workshops and will encourage participants creativity, allowing you to receive extensive peer-driven feedback on regular set writing tasks. Writer Clair Dean will introduce you to the three predominant short story narrative structures, and you will learn how to apply them in your own work.

Claire’s stories have been published in The Best British Short Stories, Murmurations: An Anthology of Uncanny Stories About Birds, Still, Shadows & Tall Trees. A collection of Claire’s fairy tales is due out soon from Unsettling Wonder.

We’ve been working with Comma Press, one of the world’s leading short story publishers, for the last few years to deliver our hugely-popular writing courses, and in that time they’ve gone from strength-to-strength.

Comma Press says:

“We’ve just seen our Iraqi author, Hassan Blasim, storm the States (through Penguin US), with rave reviews in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe… We’ve launched our definitive collection of essays on past masters of the short story, Morphologies, and recently published the BBC National Short Story Award anthology. We’re also pleased to announce that Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay will be starring in a film adaptation of one of our author’s (David Constantine’s) works.”

Forthcoming courses

We will soon be announcing dates for the following new courses: Games Dev 101, Open Data, Raspberry Pi and The Internet of Things.

MadLab 2014 Courses, Spring – Summer


Beginning VVVV / Projection / Kinect  with Elliot Woods
Monday 17 – Tuesday 18 March 2014 (£200)
Advanced VVVV / Projection / Kinect  with Elliot Woods
Thursday 20 – Friday 21 March 2014 (£300)
Arduino and Physical Computing with Asa Calow (one day course)
Saturday 29 March 2014 (£120) 
Beginning CSS with Chris Mills (one day course)
Saturday 5 April 2014 (£100)
Advanced WordPress with WordPress co-founder Mike Little
Thursday 10 – Friday 11 April 2014 (£300)
Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy with Margot Magpie
Friday 18 April 2014 Morning (£60)
Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy with Margot Magpie
Friday 18 April 2014 Evening (£60)
Rabbit Taxidermy with Margot Magpie
Saturday 19 – Sunday 20 April 2014 (£200)
Bird Taxidermy  with Margot Magpie
Saturday 3 – Sunday 4 May 2014 (£200)
Advanced CSS with Chris Mills (one day course)
Saturday 24 May 2014 (£100)
Beginners Web Design with Chris Mills (one day course)
Saturday 21 June 2014 (£100)