It’s not made from a tree… although it is about a tree!
As part of Year 5 & 6 pupils at Welbeck Primary School in Nottingham, got a taste of what it might be like to apply to & learn on a university degree. Pupils studied engineering, sport science, nutrition, computer science and over 5 afternoons did a crash-course five taster in film and animation.
Starting with the idea of making a talking tree, the students invented this little tale of the passage of the seasons, turning their hands to set making, character design, sound recording, scripting, editing, and tried out all sorts of stop-motion techniques, including using plasticine models, multi-plane, shadows, and drawing.
We’ve a bit of history at this school, for a small sampling see here.
Monday morning didn’t feel quite right somehow.
Last week we spent a wonderful 5 days in the company of Haydn who chose to do his work experience with us. So engaged and commited was he, that we almost wonder what we’ll do without him.
During the week, he worked so hard, and all over the place – learning that work doesn’t have to happen under strip lights, that it can include laughter and friends, and sometimes that it’s difficult to tell where work ends and play begins. We’re both so glad he’s taken that away with him (along with a few scrapes!)
At the end of Friday we sat down to try to cram a list of all that he’d done into a tiny box, on his school paperwork – he mused that it’d be easier to say what he hadn’t done… he gently supported others to make in day centres, schools & childrens homes, and he found time to make for himself, visited a saw mill, filmed, photographed, animated, hefted, stickered, carved, whittled, sawed, chopped. Time to go back to school for a rest!
For the last couple of years as well as a weekly drawing lesson, we’ve been introducing the folks at Nottingham Mencap to the joys of working with wood. Building our skills together, cutting straight to the line, measuring success in beaming smiles & sweat on the brow.
Staining the wood
Brian shaping the puppet
Ready for treasure
Nailing the sides
Finished relief carvings
It’s jsut a beginning, but already weve seen beautiful treasure boxes, created characterful dancing marrionettes & rod puppets, and excelled at relief carving. It’s been such fun being with people who have such strong ideas, and a will to learn & make them real, to work with laughter always in the room. Lets hope the sawdust never settles.
A trio of spoons whittled and hewed, from trunk to tableware, in just one day. One Goliath and two Davids, ash & honey locust sawn & split, crazy sapwood scent of fresh bread dough!
A trio of makers learning, not only how to make a spoon, but the skills to work with wood, to follow grain, to safely shape with sharp axe & refine with a blade, how best to hold and make use of a knife to create something unique and useful. Nothing so simple, or so demanding of complete attention!
A gorgeous, sun kissed Saturday spent on the Learning Land. Thank you all.
Another glimpse into the lime-tree-legacy being spread from the Meadows.
The axe does the heavy work
Three finished stools
Giving thor a run for his money
Future furniture makers!
The drawknife and the shave horse are a perfect combination
We worked with the Meadows Youth Club, introducing traditional hand skills & building beautiful stools from the wood felled for the tram works, filling the room knee deep in curled shavings. It was heartening to see the young folk’s suprise & delight at the quality of things they had made for themselves!
While we’re on the subject of stools, here are some splendid seats carved lovingly in the Meadows at the end of last year.
The stools tell the stories of the hands that made them; each one a unique piece of furniture. They also add a new chapter to the lives of the 150 year old old trees that were cut down for tram works in the area.
The centenarian limes, former inhabitants of the Meadows, have been worked with sharp tools, careful guidance, and plenty of enthusiasm.
Pat, at The Meadows Art Gallery, along with local residents, rescued the trees from the chipper and moved them appropriatley enough to the derelict site of a former old peoples home. She’s responsible for this project (and many more) using this beautiful wood.
Four legs good, two legs bad, three legs better! With apologies to George Orwell.
It was wonderful to be back on the Learning Land this past weekend, in the warm & hazy sunshine, the day so still that the smoke from the fire rose in a perfect column (apart from when we sat down to eat of course!)
Working this way, gently by hand, it’s the clarity of sound that resonates – fibres cracking as the wood splits, trancing-out to complex axe rhythms, creak and groan of straining shave-horses, all the birds joining in the purposeful music of making. Many thanks to our friendly and entheusuastic group of builders for making the day such a joy.
Only wish we’d got a proper picture of Des juggling his legs!
A wonderful day spent this weekend with talented members from the Rufford Arts Society, all relative newcomers to the craft. Precise mallet blows resounding regular as clockwork resulted in some beautiful, tactile and ambitious relief carvings. I came away inspired too, by the willingness to experiment, general fearlessness and good humour! Even their practice peices turned into wortks of art.
Wonderful day, great tutor, great tools and materials -Loved it! Hope we can do another day…