We started out with a welcome verse and sat in a circle to hear a sweet little story about comets, planets, and stars that flew around to make the wonderful milky way. Our little comet was constantly bragging about how good she was and flew around the stars chasing her tail singing her virtues all the stars and planets. Her constant moving and whisking around made the milky way – the planets and the stars got sick of all the bragging and made a net and one day she got caught in the net and she stopped bragging and felt had to learn to be in one place. The planets had a laugh. We clapped spoons together to make the tingling sounds of the stars. We threw wool to the opposite person around the circle to make the net to catch the stars and planets for the milky way – we spun a web across the floor by throwing a ball of wool between all participants (adults and children) and the overlaying of the web created a space for our creations to belong and a focus connecting us to why we were here.
We sang: Welcome to you, welcome to me, Welcome to you and welcome to me!
It was great to see open and unreserved participation from the smallest child to the largest adult – it was safe, welcoming and the scene was set to have some serious fun!
Over 3 hours we engaged in 3 different activities that consumed and engulfed our imaginations.
We rummaged through boxes of roughly cut timber, leaves, branches and asked if we recognised characters in the shapes we found. Using repetitive movement and refined concentration we hulled, sawed, hammered, sanded and drilled these objects to reveal the characters that were partly hidden, yet obvious after wilful engagement with hands, eyes and tools. There is something powerful about the realisation that given the right tool, I can make the right mark – impact on an object and from will alone, craft something beautiful from what was previously hidden. This playfulness was evident in every creation.
To start with raw combed pure wool fleece (ball of fluff) and shape, harden and massage this into your object of choice is magical. We commenced creating a ball, a tactile process involving first dry hands and the magical smell of fleece, the soft oily scent on the hands that emerges through gentle rolling between fingers, chatting and laughing. Some transferred the dry felt process to wet felting, carefully nurturing, massaging, and rolling their ball through warm soapy water creating hardened forms which became juggling balls and flying comets! Some created animals and gnomes.
Silk dying Using warm water and natural food dies we were able to dip our silk, let it run, see the blotting and experience the blending of colour. It was great to attach the silk to the felt balls, throw them and see the tails whip and slack around the room.
Wax is unmoved without heat. The amazing quality of wax is its ability to transfer heat. Through persistent kneading, rolling and squeezing wax is overcome by your energy, will and purpose. Combining the wax with other found objects led to whimsical absorbing play.
Some of us were clear about what we were making whilst others were absorbed in the meditative and relaxing process of warming and needing and observing the different shapes as they emerged.
Some of my fondest memories are conjured in the craft room with the raw ingredients of wool, wax and wood. Some memories arise directly from creative process and others from the context of my grandmother, a dab hand furniture polisher and the pungent infusion of wax, linseed and tung oils. However random, the sweet warm scent of natural wax reminds me of love, of Christmas dinners, and my first day at a Ghilgai Steiner Kindergarten. Combine the warm scent of wax with the earthy and sweet of sawdust and freshly cut lumber gives me the comfort and communion with my early mentors.
When we talk about early education and the responsibility to nurture and extend being, belonging and becoming we need to remember to develop all the senses. Through different craft media we developed technical skills, pride, intrinsic and extrinsic values (values in things and value of others) and reminded ourselves of the pleasures of creative pursuits.
This simple activity plan was structured around the principles of nourishing and feeding the relationship between parents and child. With guidance, parents and child were able to participate in the creative process equally. I hope that the memories will be lasting – and build on other experiences you remember when you pick up a piece of natural wax, fleece or timber.
I extend a very warm thank you to all the participants and our wonderful facilitators Nikki, Carol and Ed.
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