Wednesday, 5 August 2015

No Borders: Seven Stories

Pom-Pom making

I am just finishing a block of sessions with the No Borders art group at Carleton Day Service in Carlisle. I love working with this group and this block I have been so impressed with how far they've come both in skill and confidence. I first worked with them back in 2012 and since then have run several projects with them, each time seeing them develop a bit further. This time we are contributing to Prism Arts and Cumbria Libraries 'Seven Stories' project.

Working on designs

Working on designs

Working on designs

It has been really exciting and rewarding working with this group during this set of sessions because they have really led the project and taken control. They are rapidly approaching a point where they don't need me much which is great, at the start they would ask me about every little detail whereas now I am more of a sounding board. To see a group of people take on a project, share ideas and confidently decide how to move forward is one of those things that gives me that 'that's why I do this' feeling. Knowing I've been a part of building their skills and confidence is a huge boost.

Keeping track of our designs

The group had thought about making a time capsule for this project but as we discussed their ideas and how they'd like to work the idea developed into creating a giant hanging book, with their work forming the pages of this book. Their starting point was things they liked about Carlisle. This idea really set them off creatively and each member of the group had lots of ideas and we were able to make some quite detailed plans of what we wanted to do and achieve. One of the things I was really pleased about was that when I asked what techniques people wanted to use they all had really clear ideas and were confident in voicing these.

Strips of fabric, ready for weaving

Warping the loom

Starting weaving

One of the group members wanted to do more weaving, she had experimented with using the peg looms and really liked this way of working so over the past few weeks she has been creating a beautiful woven page using strips of different coloured and textured fabric. This person's starting point had been the library and the rows of colours echo mixed bookshelves perfectly.

The weaving is growing...

...and growing...

...and growing!

Another member of the group wanted to develop her felt making skills. Over the time I've been with this group we have done quite a bit of felt making and I was pleased to see this person trying out new ideas and using the skills she'd already gained to create a beautiful and very well crafted piece of felt. Her piece was inspired by communication and being with friends and I think that joy really comes through in her work.

Laying out the felt

Laying out the felt

Adding ribbon, net and fabric pieces

Starting the felting

Rolling the felt

Fully felted
A third member of the group has not been part of the group as long but has still shown great progression and development both in terms of skill and confidence. Whilst she will still ask what colour to use when I respond 'what do you think?' she answers without hesitation. She just requires a little more reassurance that her ideas are good (which they are.) This person was particularly inspired by the work of Lorna Graves, on display in Tullie House and this led to her working on a theme of animals.

Translating drawings into fabric work

Building up the image

Adding stuffing

Starting with drawn designs this member of the group then developed her work through fabric collage to create a beautiful Rabbit portrait, complete with pom-pom ears and tail. Working on the sewing machine was a highlight for this person and is something she would like to try more of. This person really likes to work in a more 3D way so we added stuffing to raise the surface and give more form to her work.

Making pom-poms

The almost complete rabbit

Adding a ribbon border

For the last couple of weeks we also had another member, who I have worked with on Prism Arts Studio Theatre project. She has been working on a piece of fabric collage, using the skills she's learnt at Theatre Skills to great effect.

Fabric collage owl

I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to see how they take this work forward. I am confident that they have the skills and knowledge, and importantly the belief in their abilities, to produce more great work. I'm excited to see what they come up with and to start putting it together.

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