Sunday 24 August 2014

Children's art and craft workshops using all sorts of materials and techniques

3 colour lino cut print. Design was inspired by a slapstick circus routine
I’m an artist who enjoys working with a wide range of materials. 
Back at Lichfield College when I had finished my Foundation Course in Art and Design the external examiner commented that because of my abilities in such a wide range of techniques and materials I actually had a choice of artistic directions that I could follow.

As it turns out since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 I have mainly been making mixed-media sculptures (using textiles, found objects and industrial scrap) but more recently I have also made collages and now two short films too. 

In my outreach work I have mainly specialised in wet felt-making. 

This has been for two reasons. Firstly I discovered the therapeutic properties of the wet felt-making process and have found that it is an amazing medium for relaxing participants and I have devised a range of techniques which have made it accessible to people with a wide range of abilities. I am very proud that I have been able to work with people of all ages and abilities and that I have helped to empower them and to raise their self esteem.

The second reason is simply the practical issue of storage space for workshop equipment and materials.

But it is good to remind myself of all the other creative activities that I have led over the years and which I am sure I will continue to do as and when opportunities arise.

Some of these have been workshops led on a voluntary basis and others have been me working as a professional freelance artist.

At Lichfield College I did several years of life drawing which I was quite accomplished at however my heart was always in non figurative work and especially in mixed media. 

Collage of images from magazines on a handprinted base. 
I had a very strong art education a school and we did a lot of drawing. I found that I especially enjoyed dramatic pencil work and also using indian ink for drawing.

Study of butterfly wing- watercolour and indian ink
I was delighted when I was able to include a drawing session in the felted firebird project for Wirksworth Festival  
The children’s bird drawings were so wonderful that I digitally scanned each of them and resized them and then made a digital file which could be printed and assembled into a beautiful little zig-zag book. 

Drawing with non-conventional materials is also great fun. In some of my sessions children  and young people have used pipe-cleaners to ‘draw’ 

Pipe-cleaner 'drawings' made by a young person in Ocean Ward Birmingham Children's Hospital
or in my sessions with Foundation 3D design students we have used wire, springs and straws amongst other things.
3D Drawing made by a Foundation Level student at MMU
Of course these mixed-media materials lead onto sculpture so making vegetable creatures is an obvious creative session. It is especially good as it is enjoyed by children of all ages from the very young upwards.

Vegetable Creatures made by children at John's Lee Wood Family Camp 

Since 2004 I have run several creative workshops for children and families at an annual  family camp John’s Lee Wood in Leicestershire.

We have done glass painting sessions several times. Painting on jam jars which we later used as tea-light holders and also using offcuts of glass supplied by a local glazier. 

A beautiful angel painted by a 10 year old at John's Lee Wood Family Camp
We have made our own paper by making paper pulp from shredded, old maps, paper bags etc.

I enjoy working with recycled materials so I developed a workshop where we made badges by embossing designs on recycled aluminium drinks cans. This was an idea that I developed which was inspired by metal artist, Val Hunt’s, work. 

Making Peg Dollies was a lovely session. Once made, the children used the dollies as puppets and we even had a session where we interviewed the children and asked them all about their dolly; his or her favourite food, hobbies and favourite TV programme etc.

Peg Dollies are always a favourite with all ages of children. I made this one!

On occasions at John’s Lee Wood Family camp I have also assisted in workshops which have been led by other artists - willow weaving workshops and mini hooked rug making sessions are two which I assisted with. 

Chris and Jack doing some willow weaving at John's Lee Wood Family Camp

small patches of hooked rug are really effective addition to this teenage boy's bag

In the last couple of years I have broadened my skills even more and have experimented with Fimo polymer clay. Using a pasta maker to make millefiori patterned beads which are then assembled to make a butterfly brooch is simple when you know how! 

And finally, Card-making is a relaxing activity and even more fun when you do it with a friend for company. 

And I have even had a hand-made card sent to me by a young lady to say thank you for the craft birthday party that I ran for her.