Sunday, 20 February 2011

More Community Workshops

In the last 2 weeks I have worked with a wide variety of people from the Frankley community. Sometimes in group sessions and also one to one. All of it has been really rewarding and it is exciting to see how their work is developing. I have spent some more time with pupils from the school, again working with Year 10 and a student from Year 11 who is making a mobile phone stand from acrylic in the form of a boater for her GCSE in Design Technology. She wanted adv ice on millinery materials and how she could combine them with her acrylic boater. Together we looked at using sinamay, parisisal straw and ribbon decorations. 
The Year 10 students tried on a variety of hats while I talked to them about hat making and head decorations. It is very good to see how wearing a hat makes everything more fun. There is always someone in the group who wears a hat in a silly or funny way that makes everyone laugh and very quickly the ice is broken. It gives them confidence and the comments included: "I am ready to go out now, I could wear this outside" and "I love the fascinators they make me think about the summer, I want to get dressed up." After the talk they made a decorative piece that could be worn on a hair band, comb or as a brooch. we discussed the project that they are working on entitled: Tropical and they showed me their beautiful drawings.

I have also been running open workshops on Thursdays and for the last 2 weeks these have been really well attended. Some people were from the Reading Group that meets regularly at the library. Again members of the public came in to try their hand at making a fascinator. The students from some of the adult education classes joined in and parents and foster carers from the Toddler Time group.
Each time the atmosphere was really buzzing with lots of talking and trying on fascinators and head decorations again. Pleanty of skills sharing and helping each other was going on too. Again there were some great comments: " I have been sewing again this week, just one or two bits and pieces but I have felt inspired." and "I took my suffolk puff corsage home I like it so much, I didn't want to leave it here, I like to keep looking at it."
There is a great sense of achievement across the group, they really like the work that we are doing, it is very creative and every week they are complimenting each other and taking photographs of their work to take home and show to family and friends.

Work in progress

It's gone to their heads!

I have had some more training on the laser cutter and using 2D Design software which is just brilliant I have to thank the staff at the City Learning Centre for being so patient and taking time out of their day to help me. I have also been thinking about, discussing and planning the sharing event and exhibition at the end of the residency. it is going to be great. More on tihs soon!
I am finding it frustrating that the residency is only 3 months it is too short and difficult to fit everything in. I am irritated that I have not spent as much time as I wanted doing my own work. The planing and preparation for each of the sessions takes up time, writing this blog, emails, meetings (when i should be doing my own work) that happened this week! Also there is very little storage space for me to keep materials on site so that I have to keep packing everything away and taking it home then bringing it all in again. I have been using space in the staff room and on top of a set of lockers but this space does not take much and it encroaches on the staff space. A cupboard that was ordered for me to use as storage has not appeared.

A really good thing happened this week, the graduate placement was chosen and arrived to be part of the residency last Thursday. Her name is Prudence Collins, a warm welcome to you. Prudence is really friendly and fitted in straight away, she is a very talented weaver and brings a wide variety of skills to the residency. She was welcomed by the community group that I was working with on Thursday afternoon and was thrown in at the deep end straight away. I hope that she enjoys it, is inspired and that the experience helps her to develop her work. It is great to be working together and to share the residency experience with another artist/designer.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Artist Residency Coffee Morning Group

This week I have worked with another group from the community. Some of them already use Frankley Library, they attend adult education classes or a reading group. A couple of people were members of the public who had read about the Coffee Morning that I was hosting with a talk on Hat Making, demonstrations and the opportunity to make a fascinator or head decoration. The work that I did with the group was new to everyone except 2 people who had attended some of the Thursday workshops that I have been running.

The demonstration went well, there were several questions about the hat blocks and different materials used in hat making such as : Sinamay, parisisal straw and felt.
I had examples of a variety of hats made using different materials and a range of fascinators.

It did not take long for everyone to start trying on the hats and soon everyone was wearing something on their head.

After the talk and demonstration, everyone started working on a fascinator. They really liked the range of materials, colours and decorations that they had to work with. It was interesting because all of the group had done sewing in the past but most of them had not sewn for a very long time, so this experience was giving them chance to renew skills that they already had and also to think about; quote; " using sewing as decoration not just to repair something". 

All of the work was done by hand and it was quite intricate. The great thing about it was that everyone helped each other, threading needles, starting off, adding decoration etc and all the time there was chatter about past sewing experiences, at school, at home, and the type of things that were made. One person said that she had given up sewing a long time ago but this made her feel like starting again and she felt that she could do this at home because it was small scale and easy to manage.
We all ran out of time but all of the group are coming back next Thursday to finish off their fascinators. They all completed evaluations for me at the end of the session and the comments were great: "I got a chance to sew again", "Annette explained everything to a tea", "I enjoyed the enthusiasm and help".

This week I also visited the City Learning Centre again for some more training, this time using the laser cutter. This has so much potential for my work in terms of: cutting multiples of a single unit of shape for decoration and hat shapes, mass production of 2D shapes ready for assemembling into 3D forms and for speed of production.

The image on the left is laser cut felt done in the blink of an eye! The work on the right is a felt piece being blocked with my trusted steamer in the fore ground. The work itself is one that I am developing with a view to using laser cut shapes for decoration and embellishment in the form of applique and mola work.