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Showing posts from May, 2013

JHQ Commission Update 23rd May 2013

I am home and all my kit has arrived safely back in the forge, I have my lovely painted 'Melissa's Forge sign on the wall at the back of the workshop to remind me of my time at Ark School.
I have great memories of my time in Germany and loved the last day when I got to work with the tiny Foundation stage children making birds from tin foil.  It is the best medium, you can do so much with it with small hands and still get the feeling of metal from it.

I was given a Leavers Book in assembly on my last day, just like the other children who move on from Ark School as their parents are posted across other bases.  It is a great reminder of my time in school and I was really taken with the creative writing and poetry that was read out in assembly by the pupils who were inspired by my visit.

I have the post box sculpture assembled in my workshop ready to finish next week. This last two weeks have been taken up with an interview for a public art commission - didn't get it, a bit t…

JHQ Commission Day Nine

This is the last forging day on the project, the last day for anyone who hasn't had a go at making a feather in copper, wire bird or forged feather to try their hand.

I had four members of staff come and forge feathers for the bird designed by Toby, this will be just small forged feathers put together to form his bird, pretty much just like his drawing.

Year 5 came and made individual copper feathers to take home, they worked really well as a class and the end results were fantastic.  Year 6 made small wire birds in the afternoon, again to take home.

Today we had Jack, a pupil from Windsor school come with a professional photographer (David) to document the project.  Jack only stayed for an hour due to exams but David stayed all day capturing the processes and children at work.  This was organised by Joy Harris Service Children's Education Arts Adviser who also visited.  Joy has been involved in sorting the contract for this project working with Mike Chislett to make it all ha…

JHQ Commission Day Eight

Today I had lovely Year 2 to work with, the last class to spend their day with me.  They started off watching the demonstration and asked really great questions and stayed fully attentive for the whole demo which I was really impressed about.  With so many questions I had gone over my allotted time!

We worked through with this class on a 1:1 ratio making wire birds from the selection of wire available.  Each child has around 30 minutes to do this , including getting their 'little blacksmith' uniform on of glasses,gloves and leather aprons; this is brilliant in itself mainly as the gloves and aprons are leather and dirty and smell different and the glasses are really little to fit the smallest children so everything is in the right proportion!  It took me years to find the right small glasses suitable for children!  The gloves are leather gardening gloves and I made the aprons myself so they would not be flapping around by their feet!

One of the pupils I worked with had the mo…

JHQ Commission Day Seven

Today's making time was kindly given by Head Teacher of Ark School Mr Chislett to the local German School from Hardt.  They came with 6 pupils and two teachers and one older pupil to document their day!  I love this kind of cross school/age group involvement in a community school project.

Each pupil spoke a little English, my German is pretty much non-existent which is rather awkward in this situation - I wish I had learnt more languages at school!  We had a translator for the day in German/English teacher Ludovic who was able to communicate all the bits I was worried about, mainly the health and safety part!

The school hadn't realised quite how hands on they would be with the metal work, it was a revelation to discover all the forging equipment in the playground and that they would be working the forge themselves.
We started with a demonstration for forging, we were making one of their own designed birds so I used that design as an example of how to forge the shapes we needed…

JHQ Commission Day Six

What a fantastic day we have had at Ark School!  The sun shone all day, even hot enough to warm the metal and tools without using the forge!  I was working with teacher Mrs Rickards and her Year 3 class today and brilliantly the class decided to have their whole day outside in the tented area working alongside me an using the time to get lots of creative writing, poetry, observational drawing and making done!  This is just how I love to see my visit in a school used to its full potential!

We were working on the bird designed by Mr Rowles the art Learning Support Assistant based at school - I think every primary school should have one of these, and a sports LSA, there all the time to add extra-specialised learning for each pupil making arts and sports a mainstream part of learning rather than special time! (that and each teacher being given a sabbatical after seven years of full time teaching to refresh and recharge and experience life out side of education and then take those experien…

Staying at JHQ and exploring the local area.

For me not being used to military life it was slightly daunting to come and stay at JHQ for a two week duration while working at ARK School. I am so used to my freedom and autonomy as an artist, military life is almost the exact opposite I imagine.

I have been allocated a room in Cassels House which is available for members of the military to stay in if they have work to do at JHQ or are passing through on their way to another base.  The building is just like all the others here, solidly built in the 1950's and updated with double glazed windows and fresh coats of standard issue magnolia and steel grey paint.  I have been made to feel so welcome by the staff here and they have been so helpful, making my job easier while I am here.

It all goes on in the courtyard area, people congregate here in the evenings and I love hearing about how people ended up in the military, what their jobs are and what their plans are for the future.  Being here as the base is closing down gives me a sl…

JHQ Commission Day Five

The end of the week was really hot and sunny on the playground, working with year 4.  We managed to get some birds completed today so are only a little behind schedule. Year four had some pupils with real strength and accuracy which enabled them to push on with the work.  The bird we made was designed by Lauren and she was the last person to work the forge with me today.  We made the outline of her bird from 8 mm round bar in one piece, pushing my skills to make this manageable and workable for the children.
Making a taper and forging a scroll for the eye was straight forward,  making over lapping loops for the tail feathers which could then be hammered flat and scrunched up into a more 3D shape was slightly more tricky but it worked.  Lauren got the final job of hammering the metal on the edge of the anvil to make 'teeth' for the beak.
The copper wings were hammered out carefully with scroll punched details on each and it is now ready for me to finish up rivet together when t…

JHQ Commission Day Four

Today I was joined by six pupils and their teacher from Windsor School based at JHQ.  A couple of these pupils had previously attended Ark School so it was great for them to return for a day.
They were a fantastic bunch, they got totally into making copper feathers using repousse techniques and although they have done some cold metal work in school, the forge was a new experience for them.
We were working on one of the birds designed by a member of staff; all the children and staff at Ark School designed a bird, the favourite 20 were chosen by all the pupils after the drawings were displayed on the big wall in the hall, from these I choose 10 designs I thought would work up well in metal.  The school devised a great way to share ownership of an art project by using this selection process.

The dove we were forging today is nearly complete, a few lines to finish and some joining to be done at home for me.

JHQ Commission Day 3

I had an amazing day making wire birds with Year 1 pupils, it was really lovely for me to work with the younger children on this project, not something I usually get time for when working in schools.  Fantastic help was provided by Mrs C and Mr R and Yr 1 LSA so each child had 1:1 help.  I love the way the children  choose which wire they think is suitable and then even if they don't think they are 'big' enough to do it, they get really stuck in and start creating!  They amaze themselves and gain in confidence as they make, it makes me really enjoy teaching!
I owe this wire working skill to www.celia-smith.co.uk who worked with some school groups at Puthall Park Sculpture Show in 2004 and 2006.  I think she has the best wire work sculptures out there and was a joy to watch working.

Take a peek at these marvellous creations from yesterday!



At the end of the project there will be an amazing flock of wire birds hanging in the school hall for everyone to see.  I can't wait…