Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Community Project at a local school for the Wolfville Farmers' Market

 My head started singing the moment I looked at these photos again - John Denver - All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go ...... and that is how far the words fit into the situation on the day depicted here.
Totes full of felt, carded wool, felting needles, foam pads, crayons, paper, bandages, name tags and safety pins. I was on my way to a local middle school where I have had the great fortune to be invited to instruct two groups of kids in how to needle-felt and decorate felted blanks all of which will eventually turn into covers for sound bafflers at the Wolfville Farmers' Market.
 It is a community project involving Wolfville Farmers' Market, Ross Creek Centre for the Arts,
Mitzi DeWolfe (Box of Delight Bookstore in Wolfville and librarian at the middle school) and a local fibre enthusiast (me).
Most important though are the kids, for without their willing and eager hands and ability to use their imaginations in a very new medium this would never happen.
Because there are new tools involved for the kids to use I have brought a package of 100 bandages - 4 were needed on the first Wednesday, felting needles are cruelly sharp.

Room setup - equipment for each kid, a foam pad, a piece of sample felt and tufts of both wool locks and carded wool and finally a felting needle. In this particular group there are 15 kids ranging from grades 6-8.
The exciting part and a good incentive to stay focused for the 1 hour and 15 mins we have together for 3 weeks in a row is, that the final work will hang in a public place for years to come. There is a very practical component to this work. It will protect alike the visitors' and the vendors' ears at the Wolfville Farmers' Market at events as well as market days - and with the colourful brightness and play the kids express in 'executing' their pieces (five kids pr 3' x 4' felt blank) it will also please the eyes of the audience, hopefully bringing smiles of recognition, thoughts of soundscapes and other musical delights to mind as people enjoy their activity in the building.

Four sets of hands, early in the class room, ready to help and and assist - Victoria, Chris (Ross Creek Centre), Simon and Alexandre (Katimavik participants working at Ross Creek for the moment)
It is quite important that the helping hands also have some sort of an idea of what the activity is all about and so the four of them had a fun time exploring and poking their fingers before the younger participants arrived to have their first 'poke' into the exploratory web which so easily gets generated when one starts out on a fibre arts project.

 After many and long considerations I had prior to this day made a decision that it would be appropriate for the kids to delve into and create musical notes.
Musical notes depict the waves of sound which engulf us all in our lives at any time of the day or night, regardless if the radio/tv is on or off, if we are inside or outside. There is always sound which can be replicated by musical notes, our personal interpretation as to what kind of song is 'playing' in the little fountain in the living room or in the ravens' clucks as they fly past talking about nest building and family planning; the din of human voices as they vibrate and fill up a room with sounds of recognition, sharing of information and sincere delight.
 On the sample pieces the kids were handed dark wool for their initial experiments. This would keep them focused on the shape and not the colour and the discovery of how the felting needles work as they poke them up and down through the felted square into the foam pad.
Funny thing, I had a very 'narrow' view of musical notes - really, as seen on the first photo, musical notes as singles and then a few of them strung together but .... looking around there were kids who also participate in the school band and has music experience from else where, and suddenly there was the treble clef and a dot, which .... I had completely forgotten about. I asked the girl who had felted it what exactly it meant and so we had a dotted conversation about its significance.
There was also the girl who was drawing red notes on a piece of paper and we got talking about music. She expressed dislike of the instrument she plays in band. On further investigation her instrument is the clarinet - which I played myself for a short while and with laughter we agreed that clarinets are exquisite instruments for making amazing squeaky sounds.
I am looking forward to the next session tomorrow, looking forward to seeing the kids, to finding out if they had any thoughts about how to approach their big piece and get started on the 'real serious' business. It is an honour to participate in this exploratory journey.