Friday, 3 September 2010

Looking at Forest Schools

This morning I met with the Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin FEI (Forest Education Initiative) Forest School Cluster group for a 'Forest School Practitioners Day'. What a mouthful! Teachers or Forest School Practitioners and Trainers came together for networking and a few outdoor practical workshops. I went along to see if it might be up my street.

Some of you who know me, may have some idea of just how many practical arts and crafts skills I've racked up over the years..I can hardly keep track of them myself. Put together with my love of outdoors, woodlands, fire, conservation, greenwood working, rural crafts, and a willingness to work with other people, it's all coming together in a melting pot of creative outdoor craftiness - ripe for the picking.

I had teachers telling me they didn't have any ideas for activities for their second and third term projects, and trainers telling me they needed more practical workshops to share with other workshop leaders. In the middle is me thinking, I can do that, I've got too many ideas, and I can show you how to do that too..

Somehow I feel strangely needed all of a sudden ;-))

The pictures on the left are of the simple peg loom weaving with sheep wool and needle felting workshop with Sara of Shropshire Wildlife Trust.

Then a workshop on Woodworking ideas for Foundation Level (that's age 4+) with Laura Harvey of Secret Hills Discovery Centre, making tiny tables and stick insects.
Glue is used for sticking leaves and sticks together to make things like snowmen. 
For this workshop they generally use a half size bow saw, a hand drill, potato peelers for whittling sticks and tenons, a billhook and mallet for splitting - sharing the tasks and all under close adult supervision.

Also a nice book called 'Stick Man' - I've got some bedtime reading to do here.

The World's BIGGEST Wild Telescopes

This is the design for The World's BIGGEST Wild Telescopes. I'm helping artists Janice Barrett and Sue Campbell build this sculpture from willow and hedgerow materials in the Onny Meadow as part of the Craven Arms Art Walk next weekend.

I'm here for part of my Community Arts training (practical) gaining hands-on experience of seeing artists working with the public. We are offering free willow weaving workshops to anyone who is interested in lending a hand.

Liz and Janice cutting willow in Much Wenlock
It is proving to be an incredibly positive experience for me and I've met a lot of great people on the training course. I'm hoping Mairi - (photographic artist and fellow trainee ) who has been taking snaps of us in various stages of willowness -  harvesting and construction, will pick out some not too unflattering examples of the work in progress.In fact, here are some of her great photos...have a look at her website:

Liz and Janice cutting willow in Much Wenlock.

Me having too much fun weaving.
So far we've harvested willow from Much Wenlock (although it's not quite the right time of year for doing this), worked on small scopes and today worked on the larger scopes. Children and visitors have been making willow fans for filling in the platform pad supports, collecting material from the hedges and other weeds growing about like teasels and ivy for decorative weaving.

Come along if you can - see the list of dates if you fancy having a go.
Liz working on a mini- scope in it's frame which will be added to the main construction.

Liz and Julia weaving a giant telescope.
Kirsty weaving mini-scopes.

Sue and Janice, lead artists on the Giant Telescopes

Patrick Dougherty - Stick Man

I am hoping to be working on a project with Patrick Dougherty as a volunteer in France next year during June 2011 at Trévarez, helping build one of his sculptures. Although I have practically no details of what I'll be helping with exactly, it's probably willow, and it's probably big!

Somewhere in the Domaine de Trévarez in gardens, abbey or chateax, something will be woven. Visit for info on the Domaine de Trévarez.

Here is a link to Patrick Dougherty's website:

These sculptures are so stunning aren't they?

Clissett Wood Open Weekend 18th & 19th Sept 2010

Open Weekend at Clissett Wood coming up - for tea and cakes, greenwood working & blacksmithing demos, baskets, furniture, felted birds, chainsaw carving, cart rides and more!

Come along and enjoy being in the wood.

For more info contact Gudrun Leitz Tel: 01531 640125