Posted tagged ‘living crafts’

What have you learnt this week?

May 10, 2011

It’s early in the week but Nell, 10, and all those other children around the world are expected to be learning. Pix above show the girls in an historic oak; Vulcan listening to the brass band; admiring sculpture from horseshoes; watching Morris Dancing plus a taste of the indoors – felting.

With SATs this week (a test the state primary children do in Year 2 and Year 6) it got me thinking about just what I’ll learn this week. Or even when I last learnt something purposely – something it’s all too easy for grown ups to forget (a) to do and (b) how difficult it can be… (post by nicola baird from ideas adapted from her book Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children).

Shopping, now that’s a different thing! Not only is it the nation’s number one past time (shudder), it’s also hard not to get caught up in, or at least that’s what the stats show – an average child costs £200,000 plus by the time they are 21 and that’s not including any school fees. Even at a craft exhibition with plenty of free events there was considerable pressure to part with cash.

The show was held in an ancient parkland – filled with the most fabulous old oaks, (one of which Elizabeth I is supposed to have been sitting under when told she’d got the top job) – at a craft fair. A “living” craft fair of art, design and innovation which saw me and the kids goggling at chairs made from oars, a wheelwright at work, a display by a man who makes coracles (hide-covered boats often with the cow tail still attached) who plans to coracle 2,000 miles along the Yukon River in 2012.

The annual event at Hatfield House, Herts, attracted loads of families – plenty of free activities for kids including pot making, stone carving, jewelery, painting and weaving. For once we totally chilled (having a dog in one hand and two kids exhausted by sleepovers in the other helps this process) and spent most of the afternoon sipping half a pint of cider very slowly while watching St Albans’ brass band and a group of Morris dancers. I guess it’s a festival – lots of things going on, music and a happy vibe – just dressed up in a different way, as a craft experience. (See here in the Guardian for other child-friendly festivals where you can camp).

Too girly?
Pete felt it could have been a lot more fun for a bloke  if Living Crafts exhibitors also had some boy/bloke puchase opportunities such as hats, walking gear and real ale – then went back to study footie form determined not to believe that his team West Ham is going down.

Bit of learning
Tired though the children were it was a fascinating day – which taught us that traditional oak baskets from the Lake District are known as “swill”, people still make leather cups (as seen used by Pirates of the Caribbean) and that anything on sale for £1 is a pocket money magnet, even a pebble with stuck-on eyes. Perhaps one day we’ll be exhibiting with our homemade tent – a taught tarp kept up with hazel stakes and handcut tent pegs – in which will be baskets hand woven from yellow-flag iris leaves cut from our pond. So long as I find a way to learn just how to do this…

What do you and your family want to learn – or could do with learning this year? It’s a great way to kick start the big re-skilling most of us need.

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