Friday, 21 September 2018

Limestone and mermaids

Talking Stones!

richly fossiliferous limestone

Derwent Stories and BM125 at Altitude 2018

First there were rocks. And some lovely stones. And fossils. Chalk and limestone, granite and gabbro. Rocks to hold and think about. Trilobites, goniatites, crinoids and teeth.  We hoped these would feed into lovely puppet and word activities inspiring quiet conversation around mineral stories and the arguments of crystals.

Then it rained.

The Altitude Youth Arts Festival at the Mt Cook AdventureCentre where we were working was a lovely afternoon. There was some excellent music to keep us entertained. Songs from young musicians, dance from another young group, some quiet storytelling from others. There was a cap fire in the woods and bushcraft activities to try. And us making pebble puppets on a field while people sailed, shrikeining, down a zip wire overhead.

great fun - and he seems happy!
Great fun!

Our carefully planned activity dissolved a bit in the rain but we made some wonderful puppets all the same. We got people holding rocks. Talking about what they might find in their gardens at home or out on a walk. And they went home with some wonderfully crazy little characters….

Make your own pebble puppet: instructions will follow shortly

BM125: setting out to take the Buxton museum and Art Gallery . Follow the link above to find out more about BM125
collections out into the Peak District landscapes as part of the celebrations for the Museum's 125th birthday, Altitude gave us the chance to talk to people, show them rocks from local places, comapre these with not so local rocks, take that rocks and fossil knowledge and build characters inspired by that knowledge

For all our DS events, we post a "where did we go" note with advice and experience that might help people decide if they would like to go themselves on another occasion

Visiting Altitude
When: Altitude is a Youth Arts Festival within the bigger Wirksworth Festival. As such it happens once a year - watch for dates for next September
Access: activities happen at different sites. Mt Cook Adventure Centre has parking, easy access for wheelchairs and good toilets. Activities were free. The music was great. On a good day it would have been a lovely afternoon to sit on the grass with a picnic, do a bit of making, enjoy the music, and generally relax. At the Eco Centre next door there was more acoustic music
Useful links

Thursday, 20 September 2018

A museum in a box activity

"A box for sea glass from wide, windy beach"

Make your own Cabinet of Curiosity


would you keep our mermaid in a cupboard?
In Victorian times a Cabinet of Curiosity might have had drawers and more drawers, shelves and secret compartments. It might be small but probably large. It might be a glass fronted cabinet full of dried butterflies or stuffed birds. It might be a beautiful case for your preserved mermaid. The Collectors and Curiosities: Buxton and beyond exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (runs to 6th October, follow link for details) is full of small treasures and larger curiosities

At the Museum, and other places, I do a lot of Cabinets workshops. Most recently, as part of our BM125 celebrations we had a lively afternoon with 80 visitors making nearly 40 Cabinets between them. Follow the links below to find some of the Cabinets we made and the poems that grew out of our excitements. You do not need to wait for another event – try making your own cabinet, a portable museum for your own home, a treasure chest for summer finds…

Examples of our Cabinets are here
Our Cabinets poem can be heard here

Making a cabinet at home could be as simple as filling a cupboard with treasures (do check with someone vaguely responsible before tipping plates all over the floor). I like making my own so here is a guide to making your own Museum Box for small delights and strangenesses

You will need:
·      a cardboard box – with a hinged lid or a loose one
·      a cutting mat
·      a craft knife
·      ruler
·      felt pen
·      colourful magazine
·      scissors
·      glue: you could use a glue stick but white glue/PVA is stronger
·      paintbrush for PVA
·      a small sheet of acetate: clear plastic film: hunt around, maybe a file cover from a stationery shop, maybe a window from some other box
·      small boxes (see stage….)

1. Have a look at your box and draw a window in the lid: rectangular, oval, wobbly, as long as it is not bigger than your piece of acetate. Cut out the window: use a craft knife on a cutting mat and BE CAREFUL!

2. Decorate your box: we usually use magazine pictures but have done lovely Cabinets with old maps, wrapping paper..whatever takes our fancy. Neat cutting? Rough tearing? What do you prefer?

3. Inside the box as well? Just make sure you don’t glue the box shut by mistake?

4. All done? Add your small boxes…we often do this activity with large groups of people so use small carboard museum trays used for tiny specimens. Rummage around your house and see what you can find. Matchboxes? Packing box? A box jewellery came in? Tiny tins for spice or tea. Origami? Make your own: easy to do. A quick suggestion will follow in the next blog

5. Add the boxes to your Cabinet? Do you want to glue them down – make sure the main Cabinet can still close. Keep them loose?

6. Fit the plastic window to its space: glue or sticky tape the sheet into place on the inside of the lid

Add some treasures! Treasures might not all fit in your small boxes: there might be bags or bundles as well. You might make a miniature guidebook

Next BM125 public event: we’ll be at Apple Day at the Dove Valley Centre on Sunday 14th October. Detals will follow on this blog and on the Creeping Toad facebook page Here we will be celebrating the heritage of orchards and old fruit varieties – a reminder that museums hold memories as much as objects and those objects belonged to lives lived in our wider landscapes. Join us and make your own apple-puppet to tell your own orchard stories

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A box of memories and leftovers

Treasures and Boxes

 a cupboard full of wonders

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

there was a lot of debris
As part of the BM125 activities, on Sunday 26th, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery hosted a Cabinets of Curiosity workshop. The current exhibition in Gallery 2 is Collectors and Curiosities, looking back at some of the  exhibits from the Museum's early days that are not often displayed today. Leather bottles and beautiful paintings stand next to a few Victorian marvels – butterfly cabinets and massed birds that were good for getting us all talking about what we valued and what was appropriate to collects (sibling’s skeletons, as you will see, are clearly exempt, as are large mammals - if perhaps tricky to accommodate).

Some 90 people joined us to make their own, small, portable cabinets – instructions for making your own will follow shortly!

For now, let’s celebrate the richness of a rainy Sunday in the summer with people’s memories full of holiday treasures to value…

We asked “What are your treasures? What will you keep in your Cabinet of Curiosity?” …shaken, sieved and stirred, the answers follow…. Try reading it aloud

Shells and gems and dried cicadas,
Stick insects if they ever stayed still long enough,
Or maybe just sticks.

Leaves and sticks and stones,
And rocks,
And sticks again sometimes.

Rocks and feathers,
And fossils.
And sea glass from a wide, windy beach.

Cows, obviously,
And horses, maybe.
Pottery, Lego, coins,
Shells again,
Holiday treasures,
With sand from sunny places.

Cars and squishies and rubbers,
Because a special collection needs a special box.

And cryestels
And sharks teeth and other bones.
I collect shark’s teeth you see.
I have a lot of them.

There will be feathers and bones,
In my cupboard,
And my brother's bones
And my sister's skull.
I have fossils from Robin Hood’s Bay,
And Lyme Regis where I found an ammonite,
Lots of tiny ammonites,
And one big one that will be too big for this.

This Cabinet will be full of memories.
This Cabinet will be full of leftovers.
This Cabinet will be a Museum for Bears,
This Cabinet will hold Treasures and Taonga*.
This Cabinet will hold inspiration for my own creativity

There will be more BM125 events coming up and work from our group of new artists to explore as well, so keep an eye on the Museum facebook page , the Creeping Toad fb page, this blog and the Museum blog

*Taonga: a Maori word for a treasure: "an object or natural resource that is highly prized"

With many thanks to all our Cabinet-makers - we hope your cabinets fill with treasures and curiosities and feed conversations, imaginations and wild speculations - and apologies for not managing to display ALL the Cabinets here!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Summer stories at Carsington

Summer stories

Tales of wild creatures and adventurous children!

ready for stories

Wednesday 29th August

Carsington Water, Derbyshire

the smallest thought can become a story
There are adventures everywhere and stories waiting to be told, or tales waiting to be heard. In the wind whispering through the leaves, in the shadows under the bench, in the sudden splash of something in a pond.

I will be at CArsington Water on Wednesday 29th for a day of tales of brave hedgehogs and naughty rabbits, fierce mice and reckless beetles. We will tell a tale or two and then create our own, making brand new stories for ourselves out of leaves and weather and whatever we find

There will be short sessions through the day, so come along and join in, listen, laugh and create your own tales of excitement, adventure or maybe terror

When: Wednesday 29th August
Where: Carsington Water, Ashbourne: DE6 1ST
Times: there will be sessions running 10am – 12noon, 1pm – 3pm: any one session of stories and making things up lasting about 45 minutes – but feel free to drop in and drop out as you will!
The activity is free but there is a fee for car parking
Materials provided
Meeting point: outdoor classroom area
Booking: none needed

This will be an event for the Derwent Stories project  run by Stone and Water and like all these events, Summer Stories is open to anyone who wants to join in but activities are structured around families with children with additional needs

Contact for more info: fb: Stone and Water

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Lollipop Stew

The stolen lollipop stew

and other misdaventures

Summer Reading Challenge in Leicestershire Libraries

we started with drawings
would you trust this travel agent?
My workshops for Leicestershire Libraries Summer Reading Challenge continued into more libraries and even stranger stories….(wander perilously here to encoutner earlier adventures) I don’t think activities need any more description than the following moments of words and pictures (the two do not necessarily coincide!)

“Let me sell you a holiday”,
Said the 20 fingered travel agent,
“A flying carpet, Granny,
For you and your cat and the book mouse
And Gogo the dog” and in the desert
A grumpy camel
Pursued by velociraptors on another holiday from long ago.

the Joker looking for a new naughty crew

The lollipop stew was stolen,
But the thief was chased down the street,
By a hungry giraffe
And an out of control sheep
And a desparate sheep-girl.
The stew slopped out of its bowl and everyone , even the cheetah, was sticky
Until Maggie, our Mum,
Came up with her elephant and showered everyone clean.

competition for places on The Joker's crew
The stomping monster stomped,
A stomping dance,
She stomped, he stomped, we all stomped together,
Stomping down the street,
Stomping through the forest,
Through the jungle,
Over the grass,
Up the mountain,
Stomping, stomping, stomping all the way….

These are the stories we were never told,
These are the books we’ve never read,
These are the adventures we’re waiting to have.

a mermaid, there was one who sneakily gave people seaweed wigs

Scribblemonsters and
Lily the Slug Girl and 
Mr Mischiloos (and the witch with the green hair) and his cousin
Mistroo the Magician.
A volcano erupts cold pumpkin soup.
And a giant snail with giant slime.
There are snakes.

a mischievous girl
There was a purple mouse in a
Purple house at the top of a
Purple tree with a lot of
Purple bees making
Purple honey

In an ordinary house on an ordinary street lived an
Extraordinary girl with an orange dog with a red tummy

the velociraptors got a bad holiday deal as well
 The King’s orange cat likes licking
Armour and icing sugar
And the kings legs and just about anything

a cat and her book-mouse
With many thanks to all the artists, puppeteers, storytellers and staff of 
Shepshed, Glenfield, Blaby, Lutterworth and Earl Shilton libraries
Thanks for all your enthusiasm, drawings, makings and wild imaginings 
and my apologies for not managing to post pictures of
everyone's puppets or pieces from all the stories!

Friday, 17 August 2018

A collection of curiosities - event

Treasures and boxes
what do you keep?
Sunday 26th August, 2018
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
 12 - 4

Are you a treasure hunter?
a fossil finder? 

beach comber?  
gem forager?
leaf hoarder?
pebble picker?

From old bones to fossils, careful drawing to wonderful sculpture, take some inspiration from Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s Collectors and Curiosities exhibition and make your own Cabinet of Curiosity.  Small boxes will turn into portable museums where you can display your own treasures or that might send you out exploring the Peaks to find some new ones

An event to coincide with BM125, Buxton Museum’s 125th birthday celebrations
a box of small wonders

  • Free
  • Materials provided
  • No booking needed
  • Allow an hour for the activity
  • Buxton Museum, Terrace Rd, Buxton, SK17 6DA
  • 01629 533540

or do you collect the ephemeral?