In January, TICE secured some funding from The Ernest Cook Trust for a project to help develop awareness of traditional textile crafts. TICE’s textiles mentor Charlotte Liddle wrote and facilitated the project that aimed to provide children from Croft Church of England Primary School in Darlington with the opportunity to explore textile techniques using a range of natural materials sourced from local farms and the local countryside. In today’s increasingly virtual world, we felt that it was very important that we preserve and pass on these centuries-old hand crafting techniques which form such a strong part of our heritage and national identity. The project was very successful and pupils benefited hugely from such a hands-on approach.
The project kicked off with a brilliant visit to local eco farm ‘Clervaux’ to have a look around the farm, in particularly the textile workshop, to see some examples of traditional textile processes such as carding, spinning, dying, felting and weaving. The children loved seeing all the animals and enjoyed a talk from one of the farming tutors about the journey of wool ‘from fleece to garment’. They got the opportunity to stroke some sheep and feel fleece at various stages of the process. The children then explored the farm and the local village and did some amazing drawings of the animals and the landscape.
After a fantastic morning we went back to school for a very hands-on afternoon workshop where the children made up dyes with natural items such as onion skins, turmeric spice, red cabbage and boiled spinach. They dyed up a range of natural fabrics, threads and even some wool which was collected from the farm. For the last part of the day we even managed to fit in short batik workshop where the children made textile artwork based on the drawings that they created earlier in the day.
The second day of the project was spent in school working with small groups of 5 children to explore and experiment with lots of different techniques. The children used their drawings as inspiration and worked on or incorporated the hand-dyed fabrics and threads into their work. They produced some amazing embroidered, felted and printed work throughout the day which portrayed the natural colours, organic shapes and rustic textures found in the landscape around them.
During the final day of the project Charlotte worked with small groups again and this time focussed on more textural textile techniques such as weaving, tying and simple wrapping techniques on a traditional flower loom. The children wove straight onto a wooden ring which gave an interesting circular woven effect. After the workshops Charlotte framed all of the different pieces of traditional textile art into wooden hoops so that each child can showcase their work in a final installation piece which will be situated in pride of place in the main school hall.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. It was great to get my wellies on and get out into the countryside and use the natural world as inspiration for artwork. I visited the school before we started the project and they were keen to incorporate it into their curriculum, we worked together to come up with the plan and it fitted well with their ‘local environment’ topic so they used it as a ‘WOW day (world of work)’ to kick off the new topic.” Charlotte Liddle.
After Charlotte had completed the workshops she went back into Croft School and worked along-side Jackie who is one of the teaching assistants to display the work. They used a branch that they found on their trip as part of the display and it looked really effective with the embroidery hoops hanging from it on fishing line. Charlotte was so pleased with how the final piece looked and the school were really happy to have a new piece of traditional yet contemporary artwork on show in their hall- a great project all round!
A few images of the final piece: