Over the spring I was asked to run a series of Environmental Arts workshops by Wrexham BTCV. These workshops were aimed at Unemployed women across Denbighshire and we ended up working on 2 sites, one in Denbigh and one at Bodelwyddan Castle for 5 days each.
Each day we did a different activity from Charcoal Drawing, Printmaking, Greenwood work, Feltmaking and Willow work.
PRINTMAKING with woodland leaves and flowers to explore their intricate designs and create our own patterns and prints.
I designed a task to create a woodland xylophone from greenwood. This workshop was intended to give lots of taster experiences using different techniques in greenwood working such as splitting logs down into posts with mallets and wedges, using an axe to shape wood, using a shave horse and drawknife, searching for suitable materials such as hazel in the woodland, drilling and constructing all using hand tools and building team work.
The seemingly difficult task of splitting big heavy logs into something manageable or usable made a big impression on the woman and they were filled with confidence when they actually saw how easy and satisfying it was. Each person found something they particularly enjoyed in this session, whether it was using the shave horse, or splitting.
This workshop gave an overview of sheep wools, from raw fleece to the washing process and looking at the colours we can get from natural dyes. We then made some decorative felted soaps and felted stones (for doorstops or paper weights). We got very soapy!
Afterwards we made felted pots, berets or purses with a different felting technique. Sometimes the rain came down, our Denbigh site was quite exposed place to work..but they were a hardy bunch spurred on by cups of BTCV tea and biscuits!
GIANT COBWEBS & WILLOW INSECTS
This session involved creating giant cobwebs in the trees by wrapping spun wool and yarn into a web shape. Our willow insects were created by finding forked branches to make legs, then wrapping and weaving willow to create body and wing shapes.
DRAWING & PAINTING
Here we sketched using charcoal, ink and sticks in the woodland, recording sounds, views and feelings in the environment. The group at Bodelwyddan Castle were asked to camouflage a works container using only 2 colours! I asked the group to collect leaves and take inspiration from these for camouflage patterns. There is an abundance of Wild Garlic in the wood and one of the group decided to carry on this theme...