Sunday, 28 February 2016

Fabulous Frottage and Beautiful Birds

This post was written late last year, I was hoping to get some pictures of the finished display but haven't been able to yet and I want to move this out of my 'drafts' list!

Beautiful collaged birds

It's always nice to be asked back to places and so I was very pleased when Stoneraise School contacted me to ask if I would come and work with them again. Last year I did a felt making session with some of Key Stage 1 which was a lot of fun. This year I was asked if I could work with all the KS1 children to create a display in the school. I worked with Years 1 and 2 in the morning and Reception in the afternoon. The difference between the two groups was very noticeable, although both groups produced some fabulous work the level of concentration and dexterity was quite marked.

Experimenting with frottage

Experimenting with frottage

Experimenting with frottage

After some thinking and plotting I decided that a display of birds would be good, probably largely influenced by my own obsession! I wanted to give the children the chance to experiment with media and techniques in ways they maybe wouldn't usually and I wanted to produce a project that all the students could participate in and create something they would be proud of. This lead me to create quite a simple frottage and collage project that would allow the children to explore colour and texture using familiar materials in a different way. Using basic materials (sugar paper, card and wax crayons) the aim was to create an exciting display the children would enjoy making.

Creating feathers from our frottage

Creating feathers from our frottage

Creating feathers from our frottage

In an ideal world where budgets are not so tight I would have liked to work with the children to create their own drawings of birds to collage but as time and resources were limited I decided to create a couple of bird templates for the children to use. The first step was to look at texture, I introduced the students to the idea of creating texture on paper using frottage and set them off to explore their classroom and find different surfaces to take rubbings from. I asked the children to create at least two sugar paper sheets full of rubbings and to think about what colour crayon to use on their chosen colour of paper. After some initial hesitation the class was soon full of children taking rubbings from every available surface and proudly sharing their findings.

Collaging the feathers on

Collaging the feathers on

Collaging the feathers on

The next part of the project involved making a bit of a mess and so was one of my favourite bits! I asked the students to rip their pieces of frottaged paper into small pieces to make feathers for their birds. For some of the children this was really difficult. They didn't, understandably, want to destroy what they'd spent time and energy making. With a bit of reassurance and encouragement, however, all the children created a pile of 'feathers' ready for the next stage.


Collaging the feathers on

Collaging the feathers on

Having created the 'feathers' for their birds I next asked them to choose a template, I'd prepared a sitting bird and a flying bird expecting that  most of them would go for the flying bird. I was surprised how many went for the sitting bird but pleased as I thought it would help balance the finished display. I then demonstrated how we could use our bits of paper to build up layers of feathers, just like on a real bird, and set them to work covering their templates.

My samples

Sitting bird sample

For almost all my workshops I make and show samples and usually demonstrate as I go along, I've found it to be really helpful as often it is a lot easier to understand something if you can see it and hopefully participants find it quite inspiring.  Some practitioners prefer not to prepare examples as they do not want to overly influence the work of their participants and in certain settings I think this is a wise approach. However, I find in most cases participants respond better if they have something tangible as an example of what they might be aiming for and I find that with the right support and encouragement 'copying' is fairly limited.

Finished birds from the morning

Finished birds from the morning

Finished birds from the morning

Finished birds from the morning

Having covered their birds with their paper feathers I then unleashed the wiggly eyes and dyed feathers for the children to finish off their birds with. I was so impressed with some of the finished birds and the concentration and effort some of the children put in was great to see. I always think it's a good sign when they all ask if they can take their work them home with them!

Finished birds from the afternoon

Finished birds from the afternoon

Another aspect of working in schools that I'm starting to develop more and more is giving the students the chance to see how being an artist works 'in real life.' I explained a little bit about my work both in terms of running workshops and the work I produce and it was a nice ego boost that when I went back into Years 1 and 2 to say goodbye at the end of the day they were looking at my website and talking about my work. There was also a very funny discussion with reception about whether I was a dead artist, like Van Gogh who they'd been studying, or an alive artist. Thank fully they did eventually decide I was alive! I really enjoyed this project, the staff were all very supportive and the children very enthusiastic so the day flew by (pun fully intended) and I think the finished work is a great reflection of the hard work that the students put in.

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