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.

arranging ceramic tiles at eastnor pottery

Our lovely community arts apprentices Aimme and Immy working with Sarah on the final touches of a stunning tile panel made by children, parents and staff at Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham.

Although the practical sessions are of paramount importance and integral to our practice, it’s worth pointing out the value of preparation and after-care we attach to every project.

We reckon for every minute spent working with somebody hands-on, there is at least a minute of preparation and after-care.

This collaboration will be hung on the outside wall of the new Clover Lea Annex building designed for the provision of the under 2’s.

Eastnor Pottery at Washwood primary School working with the Students and ClayLanguage and communication are a vital part of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) learning. In a successful attempt to engage families, Washwood Heath Nursery School invited parents into school to work with their children with clay. Inspiration came from what the children were making and the stories that emerged whilst they worked with the material. The resulting clay objects were fired, glazed and used as a resource for further story telling

Eastnor Pottery at Washwood Primary School making clay coil pot chicksLittle Chicks at Washwood Primary School with Eastnor Pottery

Nobody quite does clay like Washwood Heath Nursery School!

At this time of year, I’m always astounded by the children’s clay skills and the length of concentration exhibited around the clay table. Having the material available on a daily basis has a massive effect on skills, ability and language required to work with the material.

The five freshly hatched chicks in the incubator, (yesterday there were x5 eggs..) provided plenty of inspiration for my coil pot demo which soon started to resemble a fluffy chick.

“you can’t make a chick, you need an egg to make a chick like the others”

The children demonstrate their amazing coil rolling skills, some of them making the tiniest, most delicate beautifully thin coils. Others direct their clay exploration in a myriad of directions and creative avenues. Great stuff!


Eastnor Pottery and the Flying Potter at Washwood Heath Nursery

The first week at Nursery School can be quite a step for both child and parent. Washwood Nursery School in Birmingham have a caring and innovative approach to help ease the transition from from home to nursery life.

Staff invite parents and carers to remain in school, but in a separate hall whilst the children have their first sessions in the classroom. If a child is too upset, it means the adults are not too far away to offer solace. Craft activities (basket making and pottery to name but two) are offered to the parents to keep them occupied.

The grown-ups are always appreciative and comment on the therapeutic and calming effects of working with the artists and their materials. Some of them attend repeatedly even if their child has well adjusted to the new routine.

Some of the dads who are reluctant at first, soon get involved, particularly enjoying the potter’s wheel and the competitive potential. Comparing his work with another dad, one beaming parent proclaimed:

“Mine will last centuries – yours will last only decades!”