Thursday 9 December 2010

Family Arts and Crafts fun at The Art Shop in Wolverhampton

It has been noticed that we, as a nation, see a trip to the shops as an activity. An activity that many of us seem to enjoy even when we aren't really looking to buy anything. Find Me Swap Me is a project that has been devised to make a trip to the shops even more rewarding.

Various shops in shopping centres are being transformed into temporary art galleries and art workshop spaces. Popping into one of the Art Shops you can have a cup of tea, hot chocolate etc, nibble on some biscuits, view an art exhibition and take part in an art activity.

The Art Shop that I am currently working in is in the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton.

We have only been open a few days but already we have attracted a good range of visitors; Young mums with babies, teenagers with an afternoon off college, couples out doing some midweek shopping and older people too.

We have had visitors who simply wanted a hot drink, others who were interested in viewing the exhibition (especially as it’s a photographic show of local Midlanders and the subject is the sea). Being in the very centre of England people here often yearn for the sea. We do definitely get excited about a trip to the it!

There is also currently an exhibition by the Wolverhampton Society of Artists in another empty shop across the way so we have had other local artists in to visit us too.

Yesterday I chatted to a lady who told me how she has continued to sculpt using air drying clay now that she doesn’t have any access to a kiln. She showed me photos of her work and it was lovely to hear the passion in her voice.

While at the Art Shop I have been showing people how to make various hand felted items. The ancient art of feltmaking using only sheep’s wool, soap and water.

This is Alexander's totally unique Christmas decoration complete with lots of jingly bells!

Gwen was interested especially when I showed her photos of the beautiful felted portraits made by the ladies in the St Chad’s Arts and Crafts group.

I also had a couple of visitors who made a bee line for the Art Shop when they saw our sign saying, “Free Felting Workshops”.

One lady said, “ I’ve wanted to make felt for ages” can anyone do it? The answer.... “Yes!” I was really pleased when she enthusiastically sat down and got started! While she was rubbing the wool fibres a lady called Jean arrived. She is a spinner who is also a felting enthusiast. She had actually attended some of felting workshops in the States.

Gwen's finished flower (she will add beads later). Jean and I both agreed that she should be very proud of herself. This is her very first piece of hand felting!

Gwen enjoys art and craft activities with her twin 14 year old granddaughters and now she has another activity that she can share with them.

I have been felting for 14 years now. I first learnt when my daughter was 2. It’s a wonderful craft especially for parents with young children.

Some projects can be made very quickly so even if you only have 10 minutes to spare you can make a hand felted Christmas bauble.

Kirsty and Rhii had such a lot of fun. Rhii’s earrings and bracelet are the perfect colour scheme matching her headphones perfectly!

We shared lots of stories while making our hand felted Christmas Decorations and Jewellery in The Art Shop.

Only when you make your own handmade jewellery can you make something that is absolutely perfect for you!

On the first day in the Art Shop we made a lovely range of felted Christmas tree and Santa Helper decorations; here are a few of them.

The Art Shop will be open Tuesday - Sat 10.30am - 5pm and runs until 18th December 2010.

Everyday there will be art activities to get involved in. These include storytelling, mask making, puppet making, printing, animation and even some sound recording.

For more details visit the website

If you would like to have a go at feltmaking then I will be back in the Art Shop on Friday 10th December.

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