It’s been a busy busy month! My summer holiday ended with me spending close on a full day moving into a space at Bird’s Yard, a lovely shop in Chapel Walk in Sheffield where local designers and makers rent out space to sell their wares. I virtually took over my side of the shop with my huge length of potato cut printed paper which I had to cut to fit; then spent ages arranging and re-arranging my own goods to show them at their best while customers politely stepped over me to look at items displayed around the other shelves.
Anyway, I am in and seem to have had a rather good month sales wise too which is lovely! My latest product is this mug which I am delighted with; I plan to have three more designs made soon featuring different trees on each.
Now, when I am not busy being a printmaker, I am busy being a secondary school teacher. I teach art and also, starting from this term, textiles. I have been very lucky to be provided with a well equiped new classroom which has caused quite a lot of interest from students wanting to know what the sewing machines are. As well as sewing, I am teaching dyeing and screen-printing onto fabric. All the KS3 students (those from 11 to 14 years) are having 6 week blocks of textiles as part of a rotation with the other DT subjects and as none of them have ever been taught textiles and many didn’t really know what textiles are, it was decided that the best idea was to create a scheme of work that would enable the students to make an item which would include a good range of textiles activities as a taster for them all.
Popular with many textiles departments seems to be the production of a soft toy known as a ‘Puggly’. Examples of these quirky, ugly dolls can be found all over the Internet and it was not difficult to find lots of lesson plans and various activities linked to ‘Pugglies’ to be used the the classroom. The thing is, I am a printer and I was especially keen to make sure my area of interest was included in the project we came up with. So I had a think and before long I came up with the idea of a version of a ‘Puggly’ in which we would tie-dye the cotton to be used for the body and we would screen-print a face onto fabric to be sewn onto the tie-dyed body. Having designed and cut out a sewing pattern to be then cut out in the shape of the toy, we would cut out the tie-dyed fabic, sew on the screen-printed face and complete the soft toy by sewing, filling and hand-sewing it.
My version – named a ‘Psycheduggly’ for reasons linked to the use of tie-dye, denim,1960’s, and all things associated with the hippy era – has been a big success! I have many students telling me textiles is their favourite lesson, students come in a lunchtime to finish things and the word ‘Psycheduggly’ is being spoken around the school with general enthusiasm.
Below are the two ‘Psychedugglies’ I have made to show the children as examples. A big hand, ladies and gentlemen, for Freak and Woodstock.
The work load, planning, making and now assessment of these groovy little critters has been immense and I have had occassional moments of panic when I have stopped to think of how I am going to get the textiles work for school, the printing work for my business and all the other usual stuff done in the small amount of time I have for each area of my life.
It’s all really good fun though and I have lots more things in the pipeline which I’ll be posting about very soon. x