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?

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

a snake in sunglasses, SRC 2018

Mischief Makers

workshops in Leicestershire libraries, 2018

Who would you make?

What mischief would you brew?

What terrible tale would you tell?

Would it be true?

he went looking for ice cream and lollies
This year, as part of the Summer Reading Challenge,  I am doing a series of puppet and story workshops for Leicestershire Libraries. The following moments of naughtiness and trouble have grown out of visits to the first 3 of the libraries….see the foot of this post for the next sessions…

Who have we been making?
There are lots of ideas in our witch’s cauldron of mischief and a list of naughtinesses that sounds like a spell for delightful trouble….





Slapping the custard in someone’s face.

the soldier who tried to help

Juice that isn’t,

And knotted shoelaces

Salt in the sugarbowl,

A snake in sunglasses.

We’ll glue you to a table

Balance an apple on your head

Tape you to a wall

Put a spider in your bed!

Worms in the spaghetti,

Beetles on the pizza,

Crickets in the peanuts,

Watch your dinner slime away.

look out! Here comes Godzilla!

In our library, you might find

A cockroach in a book or

Books tied together or

A jack-in-a-book exploding while

A boy hides behind the shelves.

There might be

Slugs in a soap dish,

Tadpoles in the soup,

Jelly in your pockets,

And slime in your shoes.

Tripping up children

As they run down the street,

From the dinosaur costume,

With its sharp, plastic teeth.

on our street....

On our street

There is a tree that drops sausages on your head,

A greedy ladybird stealing ladybird spots,

To stick on your face.

There is a girl who steals toys,

And a boy drinking juice as he speeds by on  a skateboard.

On our street

There is horse poo just where you wouldn’t expect it

And a king setting out to trick everyone.

And her?

O, her!

She steals the presents,

And eats the cake,

Throws the pies and

Releases the snake.
don't trust that lovely smile!

Our next sessions are:
Thursday 9th August: 
  • Shepshed Library 10.3 0 – 12,
  • Ashby Library, 2 – 3.30
Friday 10th August: 
  • Glenfield Library, 10.30 – 12
  • Blaby, 2 – 3.30
Monday 13th
  • Lutterworth Library 10.30 – 12
  • Earl Shilton, 2 – 3.30
Contact libraries for more details and bookings

With many thanks to the puppeteers, storytellers, staff, parents 
and mischief-makers of  Broughton Astley, 
Birstall and Syston libraries
Dennis, the mini-menace

Sunday, 5 August 2018

A library in a field

Make your own Haymeadow Book

This idea can lend itself to all sorts of situations – you could put together a little book-building kit and make books about different places or different occasions

On our National Meadows Day event, we invited people to gather their own experiences, reflections and knowledge about the meadows they were visiting into little books….These are concertina books which essentially fit one long folded strip of paper into a cover. Once you are used to doing these, you could experiment – stick books together by the cover to make thicker volumes, have sections that fold out in different directions….

1. Finished books
You will need:
  • 1 piece of thin cardboard (about 15cm x 10.5cm)
  • scissors
  • glue or a gluestick
  • paper for the bookblock (see below)
  • pencils, wax crayons, coloured pencils, scrap paper…

2. card cover and tearing paper for book block

Make your bookblock: this is the set of pages that make the body of the book. You might use a long strip of paper (A2 cut into quarters lengthwise works well) or take a sheet of A4 (standard printer size) and cut or tear it in half lengthways. Overlap the ends by about 1cm and stick them together

Write a poem for a page?
Falling sky splinters
Into scabious and cornflower blue,
While tormentil nestles in the grass,
Droplets of sunshine on the green

3. First folding should give you this
Concertina: fold your strip of paper in half and then in half again. Unfold it: this should give you 8 sections of about the same size (Picture 3). Use those folds as guides to now fold the paper into a zig-zag pattern (Picture 4)

4. Concertina fold

Try an acrostic perhaps? 
M - many harvest mice hiding
I  - in the long grass, swaying,
C - curl up in careful nests
E - every night in safety.

5. You might write, draw or print on pages

Now you are ready to make your book! It is easier to work on the book before you fit it into the cover. Work on one side of your paper. On your pages you might:
add a patch of scrap paper and draw on that

6. Add a patch perhaps or a rubbing?

make a pocket
do a rubbing
add a map
make a pop-up
think of something else….

7. Make a pocket?

8. Add a map?
When it is done, decide if you are having
a) a book that unfolds completely – stick one end page into the cover (picture 9). You could now work on the back side of your pages
9. Stick one end of the finished block into the cover

b) a book that is fixed at both ends. If you are going for this, you might need to refold your concertina so it looks like picture 10.
10. Both ends ready to be glued in

Cover: fold the card in half. Decorate the cover. Glue in the book block….Title? Author?

11.Would a feather to fit into your book?

Please, send us a picture of your finished book!

Monday, 30 July 2018

Mischief and a bit of naughtiness

Terrible naughtiness

Making mischievious mischief makers
Who would you make?
What mischief would you brew?
What terrible tale would you tell?
Would it be true?
Summer holiday events with
 Leicestershire Libraries 
ancient mischief was often caused by crows and ravens

Cobweb, who dribbles...
From tying shoelaces together to inviting trolls to live in the ‘fridge
This stick down your back might be a scorpion….
Shampooing with glue
Haunting a wardrobe
Or leaving clockwork teeth under the bed
…there’s always a monster under the bed, can’t you hear its teeth chattering?

Who would you make?
What would they do?
In August, I am doing sessions in 9 Leicestershire libraries, taking Reading Challenge ideas and helping people create their own mischief makers. You might make a puppet of your favourite naughty character from a book, or you might invent a whole new someone...or else has met before. 

"Hallo, I'm really very nice. Sometimes..."
Join me for sessions of storytelling naughtiness. We’ll share wild ideas and terrible people and then make them as quick puppets and perofrm their mischief in instant, improvised puppet shows

The crow who would, the rook who could, the raven who wouldn't, the magpie who DID!

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge celebrates the 80th anniversary of The Beano with its famous mischief makers Dennis, Gnasher and their friends. Follow the link to find out more about the Challenge and sign up at your own library to become part of a nation of mischief-makers!

Leicestershire Libraries: all events need booking. Call the relevant library to book a place or visit the Leicestershire Libraries page on facebook
Date, August
Tel number to book a place
Friday  3rd
Broughton Astley
Main Street, Broughton Astley, Leics, LE9 6RD

0116 3053553

Tuesday 7th
Wanlip Ln, Birstall, Leicester LE4 4JU

0116 305 8756


Upper Church St, Syston LE7 1HR

0116 305 3500

Thursday 9th
Hall Croft, Shepshed LE12 9AN

0116 305 3678


LE65 1HU

0116 305 5917

Friday 10th
Sandown Court, Station Rd, Glenfield, Leicester LE3 8BT

0116 305 3591

Lutterworth Rd, Blaby LE8 4DW

0116 305 3516
Monday 13th
Earl shilton
Wood St, Earl Shilton, Leicester LE9 7NE

Tel 0116 305 8392

George St, Lutterworth LE17 4ED

0116 305 3619

Thursday, 26 July 2018

A wolf in shadow

 Old animals in older caves

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

26th July 2018

As Buxton Museum's contribution to the Festival of Archaeology, we had a morning of working on “cave drawings” and generally being inspired by the animals we find in the bone pits and caves of the Peaks….

We shaped a wolf in paper,
Another stood, a darkness,
A mammoth haired with tissue,
A beaver slaps a card tail,
Newts sport dragon crests and colours,
Bears watch from cave walls and
A painted pug on a stone ledge waits.

Past rabbits, and rams horns, a well-browed moose,
Beyond a horse, reindeer and a rare cave fish,
Shadows hold the silence where the sabretooths wait.

With many thanks to all our artists and their wild imaginations and readiness to improvise and invent new ways of decorating cave walls…. 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Rippling ribbons of colour

Voices from the hay

 a BM125 event

gathers thoughts, feeling and wonders from an old meadow

An earlier blog described the new BM125 project and the following grows from the first public event there.

With BM125, we are encouraging people to reflect creatively on the connections between the Museum collections and the local landscapes they came from. Wherever we can, we will record those reflections. So here is our first collective poem, growing like a meadow itself from many seeds whispered on the wind or as word-pollen and thistledown blown on the breeze of people’s voices.
There will be a spoken version available soon as well


We sink
Into a field rustling and bustling with life,
Into a froth of grass,
Into a sea of grasshopper sound,
A dream where nothing changes.
The cows sleeping under a willow
Have been resting there for centuries.

Memories are rooted in these meadows,
In the fleeting lives of butterflies,
In nodding seedheads,
In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze.
Farms, families, paths, tools and stories,
All knitted to the earth as tightly as the turf.
Childhood holidays rooted here too,
New names, first meetings,
Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again

The rhythm of a scythe echoes across centuries
They walked where we walk,
Those old farmers on a summer day,
The slice and hiss of a blade and
The whetstone that hones the edge,
Finding shade under these same trees,
Cutting the waving grass from the same sward.

Harebell and cranesbill
Selfheal and tormentil,
Scabious and burnet,

The names are an enchantment
A spell for a meadow,
Whispered on a dusty wind
Colour, scent, pollen and promise,
Foxtail, cocksfoot,
Fescue, vernal and bent,
The rooted and the free,
Meadow brown and large white,
Ringlet and tortoiseshell,

Prayers blown between earth and sky.

Futures are rooted in this rare and ancient place,
Still growing memories
Having fun in the river, catching insects,
A diving beetle!

Knapweed and burnet knod purple heads
Studding the rippling ribbons of colour
Black medick nods, yellow heads in the hot dry grass.
Seeds of the future in a rare and ancient place,
Lose the meadow and the memories wither too,
The cows across the field will sleep only in the present. 

And here is a set of small pieces that didn’t quite fit into the larger poem


1. Bumblebees embroider the meadow
Knotting threads with flight paths
Charting by pollen, by nectar, colour coding
Scent-coding, the maps of their lives.

2. Yellow rattle whispers,
Dry and sandy,
Small bones in a bag,
A snake’s angry warning.

3. Bony fingers in the tops of the ash trees
Point a warning to the future

4. Falling sky splinters
Into scabious and cornflower blue,
While tormentil nestles in the grass,
Droplets of sunshine on the green

5. The promise of memories to grow with the hay
The dread of fields empty of hope

With many thanks to all our poets and artists
There will be more BM125 events and posts here and in other blogs and on other platforms from our artists