Unconventional use of the potter’s wheel, but we love it!
Under 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.
These 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, 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Summer term in schools is one of the busiest for the Flying Potter. SATS are done, the sun is out and teachers are looking to reward their children with creative and fun activities. Little surprise then schools plan their ‘arts week’ for this time of year.
Here are the ceramic results of a couple of whole school, recent ‘arts week’ collaborations undertaken in the West Midlands.
One of x6 collaborative terracotta planters at Tividale Primary School Sandwell.
Tile panel at Holy Trinity Primary School Sandwell