Monday, 6 March 2017

Maker's Month at Norwich Forum

Last month the Forum in Norwich ran Maker's Month again this year. It is a month long event in a large space in front of the wonderful library and this year was throughout the month of February. Volunteers and others are invited to take part. The main aim is to show our crafts to the public and enthuse visitors to consider taking up or finding out more. Diss Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, along with the other Norfolk WSD Guilds took part last year but I wasn't really well enough to be involved, the migraine was still vicious. 
This year the 5 Guilds were there for 5 days and there was a real buzz about the place. Personally, despite misgivings of not feeling in control before it started it worked well. The 5 Guilds had met during the year but I wasn't quite sure what would happen, and having organised exhibitions before it is much easier, for me, to know exactly what will happen when. I spent 2 full days there and was also involved in the setting up and taking down of the Diss Guild contribution. For me it worked brilliantly, lots of really interested visitors and lots of communication with other guilds with mutual exchange of tips. I even began a journey on  a completely new skill, spinning with a Bavarian Spindle. 
The Bavarian spindles are on the left. These were on the sales table.
I demonstrated on my 8 shaft Katie Loom and took my little rigid heddle lap loom one day so that it could be used by a visitor to see how it worked. I had with me long samplers for both the Katie - it was a 4 shaft sampler but long and gave an idea of the scope of 4 shafts, and mesmerising thoughts of what 8 shafts could yield in terms of pattern. 
Honeycomb on the loom at the Forum, the wool warp will shrink when washed to accentuate the honeycomb pattern. 
The  rigid heddle sampler was a 'pick up' sampler that I had made in preparation for teaching a workshop when based in Cheshire. This in particular caused a lot of interest with many owning rigid heddle looms were surprised that it was produced on what they thought was such a simple system. ( am going to blog about this soon) 
Our main display piece was Diss Miss - a mannequin fully clothed in knitted and woven items, complete with socks, boots with inkle woven laces and with a half mannequin showing some possible underwear for our Miss! 
It was a real talking point. We were continually involved in talking to the public, demonstrating and teaching or letting people have a go on an ad hoc basis. 
I also had my natural dyeing with me so spent  some considerable time talking about that and reassuring people that all that was there was naturally dyed, despite the strong colours! 
We had the opportunity to run a longer workshop for up to 6 people during this 5 day period. After much thought I decided I would give it a go and choose to teach 'Natural Dyeing by solar dyeing ' for complete beginners. Not doing this at home, but in the confines of a part of the Forum meant lots of preparation in advance and also much list checking to ensure we had everything with us. I had a group of 6 very keen participants  so that was great. The workshop was over subscribed and I got some lovely feedback so I feel it was a real success. 
A lot of preparation was involved as in all successful exhibitions but all well worth it. The Forum team were fantastic, calm and very flexible and seemed able to respond to any request from the 5 Guilds as personnel and activity varied over the 5 days. Unfortunately I was also running a workshop for Diss Guild the day after this 5 day event so I missed going to see the Costume and Textile Association ( there was a talk on Chanel!) but I hope to catch up with that again soon - in Norwich Fashion Week. When I went to the Guild on Thursday we had a new member - and she had been to the Forum and decided to learn spinning and weaving- how great is that? 
My mind is already full  of ideas for next year....where's the list?