childrens hands in wet squidgy clay at cheltenham science festival 2019

childrens hands in wet squidgy clay at cheltenham science festival 2019Under normal circumstances (remember them!?) we’d have been up to our eyeballs in clay at the brilliant Maker Shack as part of Cheltenham Science Festival.

We’ve been involved in the Makershack since its inauguration in 2017. Last year we encouraged visitors to make a press molded brick, using real brick clay from Coleford Brick and Tile Company based in the Forest of Dean.

The bricks were assembled into a giant castle and we worked with nearly 10,000 people over the x6 days of the festival! – that’s a shed load of bricks! The sheer volume of visitors meant we had to build a fresh structure each day, deconstructing the building at the close and re-claiming the material for the next morning.

Athough the Makershack was primarily aimed at Primary school aged students – (and man, there must have been very few Gloucestershire schools who didn’t visit the show), on Friday night grown-ups got to play with the technology in a special after-hours session between 8pm and 10pm.

Although it’s full-on, we love the #makershack and look forward to sharing the scientific benefits of engaging with clay, with festival visitors in 2021.

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potter

textured terracotta tiles made by young children at washwood heath nursery school and jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterThese amazing terracotta tiles have been made by the talented children at Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham. Although they look rather stunning arranged here on the ground, the tiles form part of a much more ambitious project at the nursery.

Jon the potter worked with artist in residence Claire Witcombe, Nursery staff and of course the children to plan an exciting and inspiring project to introduce aspects of pattern making, surface design and construction. The aim, to create something that would pool the skills and experience of all the collaborators and result in an outcome everybody could enjoy and share – as well as provide the children with an exceptional learning journey along the way.

After much consultation and planning, a shelter proved to be a popular choice with all stakeholders – a structure the children could pass through, play in and around. It was decided the interior space would be protected by hand made roof tiles, co-created by the children in a series of practical workshop sessions.

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterautumn oak trees in eastnor herefordshire

Natural resources, hand tools and other mark making objects were introduced to the clay table for the children to press and work into the clay. Once they had flattened large lumps of terracotta clay into flat slabs, the children got to work, pressing and rolling the tools and resources into the soft material. They were also encouraged to cut their textured slabs into uniformed shapes by slicing around a template especially prepared for the task. The range of patterns produced, and the degree of exploration was a delight to behold….And as for the sheer number of tiles made – WOW! Proper tile making factory.

pressing oak leaves into clay slab with jon the potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamcutting clay tiles at washwood heath nursery school with jon williams from eastnor pottery

table full of mark making materials and clay at a creative session led by Jon Williams the flying potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamThe 100 tiles have all been fired and ready for dispatch! The baton now passes to Claire who will enable the children to build the main structure from recycled pallets and boards. The roof tiles will be added later by the children using hammers and nails to hang them on the timber – a traditional and contemporary technique used by roofers in the construction industry all around the world.

The project is a fine example of partnership working and creative collaboration and we all cant wait to see the final piece installed in one of the Nursery’s exterior spaces.

Aimee from eastnor pottery herefordshire displaying terracotta totem pole created by all the children at meadows first school in bromsgrove

Aimee from eastnor pottery herefordshire displaying terracotta totem pole created by all the children at meadows first school in bromsgroveIn Autumn term 2019, Jon the Potter visited Meadows First School in Bromsgrove to work with the whole school creating this amazing collaborative totem pole.

The residency took place over two days and Jon set up his mobile pottery studio in the adjoining Parkside Middle School art room. Individual classes took turns to visit the art room to make their modelled contribution to the sculpture before the piece was transported away to be fired in sections at Eastnor Pottery.

Jon has now delivered the separate pieces of the totem and the whole artwork will be erected in the children’s Well Being Garden. As soon as it’s up, well get some photos of the totem in-situ and publish them here on the blog.

Clay Sculpting

A lot of home-schooling going on at the moment!

Over the years we’ve produced a collection of ‘how to do’ videos.

In an attempt to help educate and ‘entertain’ the nations children, we’ve dusted off a few of the ‘better’ (?) ones to post here on our website.

Here’s the first one on how to make a clay fish. If you don’t have access to clay, why not try using play dough?

Good luck everybody and we’d love to see how you get on. Ping us a pic on Twitter, Face Book or Instagram – make sure you tag us in too! We’re @eastnorpottery on most platforms.

Loads more where this little gem came from! Head on over to our Eastnor Pottery YouTube channel for more epic productions!

iron age clay round house made by yr4 at finstall first school and jon the potter

collaborative totem pole sections made by jon the potter from eastnor pottery and meadows first school

Spent the week before the October half term heading North up the M5 into Bromsgrove, where I had the pleasure and privilege working with children and staff at two of the town’s First Schools.

Monday and Tuesday were spent at Meadows First School working on a whole school project making a ‘Well Being’ totem pole. Once it’s fired, the terracotta sculpture will be installed in the school’s well being garden in the school grounds.

clay totem pole made on one of the flying potter's visit to meadows first school in bromsgrove

Although the project was a collaborative one with each child in the school contributing to the whole, it didn’t stop a YR2 pupil designing and making her own personal interpretation:

On Wednesday I headed across town at Finstall First School making Iron Age houses with YR4 and oak leaf tiles with Reception class.

iron age clay round house made by yr4 at finstall first school and jon the potter

I’ve worked with both schools over a number of years and have become a regular activity at both. I love my visits to the Bromsgrove schools and sometimes get to encounter the same children. It’s great to see they develop their ideas and creativity year on year.