Friday 8 June 2012

Australian themed felting fun for school Arts Week

Paintings by contemporary Aboriginal artist Minnie Pwerle were the perfect inspiration for my very young felters

Wow working with children is so rewarding and so exciting! Children have so much energy and so much enthusiasm and this is especially great because sometimes in a school creative felting session we have to work quickly. 
Last week I was invited to work with all of the children in the Reception year at Cherry Orchard School in Worcester. During one day in their School Arts Week I worked with 90 children aged between 4 and a half and 5 and a half.

The school had devised an Olympic themed Arts week whereby each class focused on art activities relating to just one country. The Reception year children were researching all things Australian.

When I discovered the art work of Aboriginal artist Minnie Pwerle I was really inspired as I could immediately see a take on Australian art that was achievable by children so young. 

Minnie Pwerle painting on the left and Harley's wonderfully energetic felted design on the right. Using a dark background and bright colours for the design was especially effective.

Understanding different levels of dexterity and people’s abilities to manipulate wool fibres to make designs helps me when devising creative felting projects and as I’ve been making and teaching felting for 15 years I was confident that my young creative students would be up for it!

Each session was between 75 and 90 minutes long so really not very long at all. 
As always I was most concerned that everyone felt comfortable and happy as all the best learning and creative experiences happen when those basic human needs are met. 
I worked with 30 children at a time and there were 2 or 3 helpers in the class with me. The team work was fantastic and I was so happy that the children all made such original felted pieces. Every single pupil made their own unique piece of felt.

I had explained that Minnie used circles and lines mostly and I also mentioned that sometimes she was inspired by her dreams. I tried not to be too literal because in the time available and with children as young as five it was mostly about the experience of felting rather than getting too involved with symbols used in traditional Aboriginal art.

Lots of energy and a bit of bottom wiggling. We called this 'Zumba Felting'! 

The staff at Cherry Orchard were fantastic. They made sure that the tables were set up with space for everyone that there was plenty of water and at the end of the sessions it was perfect that they were able to peg up everyone’s felted piece on washing lines in the playground. 

And lastly a fantastic tip; It is especially good if the school has waterproof name labels to attach to damp felt. No blurred and soggy paper labels at Cherry Orchard!

Lots of spontaneity in this design and it is also a very well felted piece of felt. 

It was really exciting to see what the children achieved. You have to remind your self that they were only aged 5.

I really enjoyed my experience of leading these sessions of Australian themed felt at Cherry Orchard Primary school and would love to do it again.

Lots more pictures and information about my felting workshops with all ages of people at my website


Elena Djelil said...

What a briliant learning experience for as well as great fun for the children, Kirsty and I'm sure very rewarding work for you...wish we'd had that at school!

Rose said...

Felting with 90 foundation stage children and each producing an amazing piece of work!!!! As a teacher this sounds a daunting, near impossible task BUT having had the pleasure of taking part in some of Kirsty's adult and older children's workshops I am not at all surprised it turned out so well. Her enthusiasm and 'can do' attitude is infectious. How fantastic that these children have had such a unique experience.