Friday, 16 December 2011

Talking to the Earth worksheets

Latest instalments of the Talking worksheets...originally published years ago, I'm releasing these on the blog for anyone to use, enjoy and make a mess with!

the original book and the subsequent Celebrating Nature are both still available....lots more activities there!Celebrating Nature and other books

Worksheet 17, String Marionettes: quick and easy puppets

Worksheet 18, Junk Puppets, uses similar ideas but lets go with scrap materials to improvise more....

Worksheet 19 Giant Puppets encourage you to get really ambitious and go for bigger and bigger puppets....and I have no idea why the scans for these have come up green!
this elegant Lady was made using similar techniques to those described below....

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Winter celebration (3)

Images arriving from our end of project procession on 3rd December at Calke Abbey

Setting the site...

a bird and a seed pod 

sun lantern catches the sunset

the procession assembles

and sets off...
the walk began in twilight but darkness gathered quickly....
at the front of Calke Abbey itself

at the end of it all, relaxing and enjoying the music
With thanks to everyone involved!

Drummers came from Calidiscopio, a lively, lovely group based in Derby!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Gordon's new book: The Wanton Green

Over the last year, I have been one of a team editing a book that has now been released. The Wanton Green is an exciting collection of essays from (mostly) British pagans exploring their relations to places

From the main Press Release:

From the lost magics and holy waters of London to bleak Staffordshire Moorlands; from childhood adventures in Rochdale to faeries in Devon and Cumbria, a new book, The Wanton Green, offers readers a different perspective on landscape

As our relationship with the world unravels and needs to take new form, or maybe to reconnect with an older pattern, The Wanton Green presents a collection of inspiring, provoking and engaging essays by modern pagans talking about their own deep and passionate relationships with the Earth. With contributions from 20 authors that range from Druids to Heathens, from Chaos Magicians to Witches, Shamans and Voudou Mambo, Wanton Green brings voices from the diverse and growing Pagan community of Britain to the environmental debate and promises food for thought and inspiration for the spirit

Contributors include Emma Restall Orr, Runic John, Robert Wallsi, Jenny Blain, Melissa Harrington, Graham Harvey, Maria van Daalen, Susan Greenwood and Susan Cross. (Visit the Wanton Green blog for tastes of the treats within...)

All the contributors have forgone their royalties, allowing any arising to go to Honouring the Ancient Dead 

Ordering copies
a) direct from me £ 11.99 a copy, + £2.00 P&P for first copy and £1 per copy after that (cheques to Creeping Toad, or I can invoice you - address
b) from Mandrake, the publishers
c) through a local bookshop or on-line store

The Wanton Green:
contemporary pagan writings on place
editors: G MacLellan and S Cross

Mandrake Books, Oxford, 2011
ISBN: 978 1  906958 29 9
Images that didn't quite get there - ivy and ice for the Lud's Church chapter 

Chapters and sections include
Personal journeys, intimate connections
Fumbling in the landscape,             Runic John
Finding the space, finding the words, Rufus Harrington
Stone in my bones,                         Sarah Males
A Heathen in place: working with Mugwort, Robert Wallis

By river, well and sea
Wild, wild water,                                     Lou Hart
Facing the waves,                                     Gordon MacLellan
The dragon waters of place: a journey to the source, Susan Greenwood

Exploring - mud on your boots, mud on your hands
Catching the Rainbow Lizard,             Maria van Daalen
The rite to roam,                                     Julian Vayne
Places of Power                                     Jan Fries
Art is natural magic,                         Greg Humphries

Step back and consider
Pagan Ecology: on our perception of nature, ancestry and home, Emma Restall Orr
We have no imagination,             Susan Cross
Crossroads of perception,             Shani Oates

Where are the wild places
Devon, Faeries and Me,                         Woody Fox
Lud’s Church,                                     Gordon MacLellan
Places of spirit and spirits of place: of Fairy and other folk, and my Cumbrian bones.                                    Melissa Harrington
A life in the woods: protest site paganism, Adrian Harris
We first met in the north,             Barry Patterson
The king who sites upon the water, Barry Patterson
The Ballad of the Tyne Plover,             Barry Patterson

Urban wildness
Museum or Mausoleum – A Pagan at play in King Solomon’s House ,                                                             Mogg Morgan
Hills of the ancestors, townscapes of artisans, Jenny Blain
Smoke and mirrors,                         Stephen Grasso
America,                                                Maria van Daalen

Standing at the crossroads: A beginning at the end?
                                                            various authors

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Moments of beauty

sagging into the aftermath of the Winter celebration project, I'm sure I'll say something more coherent soon but here are immediate reflections and some images
the toadstools always draw interest

a seedpod lantern

the company assemble

Moments of Beauty
a morning of stormwind and rain lifting into a cold, bright afternoon,
my mood after a sleepless night clearing with the weather,
seeing installations growing,
excitement brewing,

late afternoon sun catching a sun lantern

sunset and crowds gather,
come one, come many, and more
ten becomes twenty, becomes fifty,
musicians arriving,
fifty becoming a hundred and more

the first beats of the drums,
samba shaking the bricks,
echoes bouncing  off the old walls of Calke Abbey
a trail of lanterns through the trees
a hundred becoming two
too long a trail to see the end
but ti cherish the movement of lights through the trees

sunsetting behind old oaks,
the beat of the drums,
the sudden shift to fiddle and guitar,
the silence of  the company lining an avenue of lime trees
to the huskiness of a native flute,
a wonder of lantern ghosts and carriage,

to watch the company fall in behind
holding a moment poised between noise and wonder

the company

a ghostly lantern coach

even after the event, the toadstools were causing trouble

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Winter Celebration 2

Hasty posting here of images form this week's workshops - lively, messy, full of excitement!

first stages of a Lantern Coach

the Lantern Family waiting for a lift
a toadstool lantern escapes!

glue everywhere

some glue ends up in the right place
after workshop - the lantern collection grows

the beginning of one of the more sedate toadstool lanterns

Add caption

starting point for some toadstool lantern adventures

Monday, 21 November 2011


How to make pop-up theatres
With the Footsteps project within the bigger Enlightenment!  initiative, we were finding ways of encouraging people to use some of the Museum's collections of prints and postcards of the Peak District.
Pop-up theatres were popular Victorian entertainments for children so using some of those 18th and 19th century prints to make theatres like families might have played with seemed like a good way of working with some of the material

We used images from Dove, Monsall and Wye Dales mostly, to make our theatres and built stories that then belonged to those landscapes…

Now, we're presenting two worksheets:
1. Making your own pop-up theatres (this sheet)
2. Building stories for your theatre

You will need:
2 sheets of A3 card (30cm x  401cm) - 1 black or white and 1 coloured
a smaller sheet of card or some scrap bits
two 20cm sticks (thin garden canes are good)
a pipecleaner
glue: gluesticks are OK but a bottle of white PVA would be stronger
double-sided tape and masking tape
scissors (and maybe a craft knife)
coloured pencils

Pictures to work with
You can always draw your own landscapes and people - or cut pictures out of magazine - but when we have made theatres as part of the Footsteps project, we've printed out pictures from the Museum collection. These have given us 18th and 19th century landscapes of the Peak district  to work with
Find some to work with at the Enlightenment! blog.  Look at Pictures in the Landscape

You will need at least two pictures printed on A4 paper

What to do
1. Take your white (or black) card and fold it in half. This gives a BACK and a FLOOR to your theatre

2. Glue your first landscape picture onto the folded card to give  the BACKDROP. If you have used our black-and-whte prints, you can always colour them in

3. Choose several pieces of scenery from your other picture. Cut these out and stick them onto scrap card (again colour if you want to). If they start to bend, try giving them a thin painting of glue on the front PVA glue should dry colourless)

4. Fold some card strips to make the pop-up sections. 'X" needs to be the same length as your scenery and 'Y' will determine how far out from the Backdrop the scenery stands

5. Fix pop-up sections and scenery onto your background. You could finish your pop-up here and colour the floor of the theatre to carry the background  outwards

6. Measure and cut the front of your theatre. Be careful here.
            A: the distance from the top of the card to the edge of your backdrop -
            B: how deep you want the 'stage" to be - from front to back
            C: how tall you want the front of the theatre to be ('A' also affects this)

Draw a box onto section C and carefully cut it out. If you want to decorate the front of the stage it is easiest to do this now. (We've put several different suggestions on the same theatre)

Fold carefully along the lines, using a ruler: notice the different forwards and reverse folds

7. Fit the front. Double-sided tape is easiest here although you could use glue or a stapler:  stick the top of the theatre on first, then stand the whole thing up and work out just where the front needs to sit on the floor. Peel ff the tape backing and fix the front to the floor

8. Gently fold everything flat (the folds often change a bit now - don't worry). With the sizes we have used here, the top of the stage tends to stick out from the original white card. Use this as a place to write a title. If you want a theatre that doesn't do this, you need to work with smaller pictures and a smaller stage within a starting A3 card

9. Open up and you should have your theatre!

There isn't a lot of room in your theatre for lots of actors so start with just two or three characters. Working on some left-over card, draw and colour them to suit your story and landscape - with the theatre sizes we've used here, 3 or 4 cm tall is a good size.

Or you could find historic characters in the costume pages of books or on-line

Puppet-rods can be made by taping half a pipecleaner onto the end of a stick and stapling the pipecleaner onto the back of your character. The pipecleaner lets you change angles or even swap which side of the theatre the character enters from

What to say and do? Often a story takes shape as we make the theatres but some ideas for scripts will come in the next Pop-up Theatre instalment!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Winter Celebration

music under the trees, and a long line of glowing lanterns weaving down to the Hall, 
shining deer may step briefly out of the woods and unexpected flowers 
and butterflies suddenly shine in memories of summers gone
(our first ideas)

"what makes our villages special?" is the question lying behind a Winter Celebration project now in full glue-and-tissue bedlam in south Derbyshire.

Combining workshops with communities in the villages of Ticknall and Weston-on-Trent with the neighbouring National Trust Calke Abbey estate ( visit them here!  ), the project sets out to celebrate people, places and creativity, culminating in a lantern procession through the estate grounds in the late afternoon of Saturday 3rd December

Workshops to date have offered:

skill-sharing with local volunteers

a noisy evening with Ticknall Youth Group

an afterschool session at Weston-on-Trent ( Weston Primary School  )

cooperative sessions involving the Ticknall Toddlers Group with Key Stage 1 children from the local school (  Dame Catherine Harpur's School )

an exciting afternoon where Key Stage 2 pupils worked with the Ticknall Art Group to make the most ambitious lanterns of the project so far!

People - because "people are what makes our village special"