It was lovely to resume my residency at Evesham Nursery again this week. The new intake responded well to the Potter’s wheel, each child spending time chatting and creating special mugs and cups. There are always one or two that will quite happily spend the whole session exploring the clay and tools on offer – such focus and concentration from people so young never ceases to amaze me.

Followers of this blog may have seen the Evesham Bread Oven entry for Thursday 14th May? This week I returned to the forest with the children to make and bake pitta bread in the oven.

 

The structure had dried out perfectly although the base bricks felt a little damp. Before building and lighting the fire I ran my hands around inside the cavern to see if the dampness would hinder the bake. My fingers brushed up against something cool and soft…and moving – seconds later a large toad (rather disgruntled from having been disturbed) crawled through the oven door and hopped into the undergrowth -phew, lucky I checked before firing!
So as well as rolling dough, baking and eating fresh pitta – the children were fortunate to experience a real live toad too!

Yet another one! This time it was constructed at Ashton Under Hill pre-school play group. Regular visitors to our blog will know that we’ve been working closely with the group – developing their outside space to play (see blog entries Monday, 23 March 2009 & Thursday, 12 March 2009 ).

 

Family & friends of the staff and children dropped by during the day for pizza, sausage rolls and a shed load of muck spreading!

 

This bench had a distinctly modern feel – a contemporary, curved design – (I’m sure there must be an appropriate clay inspired acronym for DFS!) We all finished just in time before the heavens opened, and generously watered the grass seed we had sewn into the surface. 

The whole area looks fantastic – mud pit, mud screen, marble run, and finally a sofa. A real testament to the enthusiasm, vision and hard work of the staff, children and parents – well done Mirka and Ruth!

One of the things I really cherish about working with the staff at Evesham Nursery, is their willingness to allow me to experiment with new ideas. I’d never made a clay bread oven before, but having expressed an interest in building one, the head embraced the idea with enthusiasm. So it was I spent two fabulous spring days with the children in the Nursery’s forest school, digging earth, mixing cob, shaping bricks and generally having a messy nice time!

On day two we lit small fires in the oven to help dry it out. Whilst the oven smoked quietly, we built another fire in base camp, and smoke fired some of the pots the children had made previously on the potter’s wheel…and some people have to work for a living!

Lids on, lids off! These beautiful terracotta pots made by Jon, are destined for the fantastic outdoor play space designed and built in collaboration with Ashton Under Hill playgroup. The pots will be buried with their lids protruding at ground level. Each vessel will contain examples of a natural material – twigs/ straw, pebbles etc, for the children to discover and experience. Please take a look at previous blog entries posted earlier this year to see how the project has unfolded.