Rock guitar and apples….

Apple Day

Dove Valley Centre,

14th October 2018

early for apples maybe…

An applyfish, not to be trifled with

Small feet flapping on a tablecloth,

small hands wave with fruity good cheer,

an angel flutters wings

and a strawberry fish and an Appllyfish* swam together through the waters of the Dove….

 

This was a Creeping Toad event for Stone and Water, I do hope no-one was expecting sensible….

 

There was a musician, a musical apple, who couldn’t play but who could hold his guitar and head bang dramatically……

 

We were at Apple Day at the Dove Valley Centre. A celebration of old orchards and new trees, a wonder of cakes and apple juices. Apple Days are almost always lovely events. This one was wet. Very wet and very cheerful with about 80 people over the afternoon coming to taste and test apple cakes, sip apple juice and help crush the apples that arrived in bags and boxes and baskets from trees across the Moorlands and the High Peak.

 

Quietly, there was also a chance to think “owl”, to watch images, to talk about help and listen to their stories, to see what any of us could do to support these beautiful, mysterious ghosts of field, meadow and open moor

 

And I was there to tell stories and lead people astray…so we did

 

There will be some film of our assorted puppets posted shortly

 

the strawberry fish, very rare, very wiggly

Apple Rock Star, one day

 

(* like a jellyfish but freshwater and probably tastier)

 

This event was a combined one with partners including Stone and Water’s Summer Excitements! project and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s BM125 project

The next Summer Excitements! activity will be posted on this blog soon

The next BM125 activity will appear on the Creeping Toad and Buxtom Museum pages soon

Advertisements

Stone puppets and pebble people

PEBBLE PEOPLE AND STONE PUPPETS

A Creeping Toad activity for
Derwent Stories and
BM125

 

Thanks to Jo Wheeler for the photo

 

a cheery puppet c/o Jo Wheeler

Every stone tells a story: a tale that runs over millions of years. It might be a story of mountains and eruptions, of magma and lava and the long slow cooling of ancient crystals. It might be an adventure of ancient seas and the slow accumulation of sand and mud and minerals. There might be bones becoming fossils, shells building shapes….

Looking at a stone can become an exercise in the detection of ancient processes and modern erosions. But taking your knowledge of a stone and turning it into a puppet gives us a chance to play with stones as characters and to tell their stories in livelier ways

This is a puppet making activity – building your own stone’s story is another activity which will follow – but once you have used a stone to insprie a puppet, you can probably decide on a character and a backstory for your pebble puppet without us trying to organise you!

Getting started

fossil rich limestone from Peak District hills

Look at a stone: hold it, handle it, look at colours, shapes, inclusions – fossils? crystals? other pebbles? How hard is it? Does it crumble or flake?

Close your eyes and scribble the stone on a piece of paper into a sort-of person……

Making a puppet
These puppets are simple hand and rod ones that stand about 20 cm tall. We usually make them quickly and are working with several people at a time. Working at home, you can do everything in a more relaxed way. Or maybe not

You will need
There seems to be a lot of things: read through the directions and see where you could use something else if need be

  • a bath sponge or two
  • some thin card (or art foam)
  • scissors – big sharp ones are useful as well as sensible children’s ones
  • glue: “rubber solution” glue is best – Copydex or similar
  • a handful of dress-making pins
  • googly eyes maybe
  • permanent pens – Sharpies are good
  • scraps of wool or rags
  • about 40cm of cloth tape or riboon – or just strips of cloth (DO NOT cut up school shirts without permission)
  • a couple of barbecue skewers or similar
  • masking tape
  • a pipecleaner
  • a stapler

1. Sponge: cut your sponge in half – maybe not quite equally – one piece will be the head and the other the body. It is nice if these can be different colours – so use two sponges and make a puppet with a friend? We also use painty sponges: ones that we’ve used for acrylic paint so that they have ended up stained into interesting colours

2. The body: cut the “body” sponge in half to make a front and back (this is where large sharp scissors are useful). Arms and legs are strips of tape….with a standard bath sponge as our starting point, we’d usually go for arms about 10cm long and legs about the same …but there is no reason why a stone should have matching limbs, the same numbers and proportions as us or anything…..Slobber some glue over the inside of the spong, place the arm and legs ribbons on the glue. Add a neck ribbon as well – long enough to let the head move easily. Add some glue on top of the ribbons then fit the other half of the spong back into place. Hold everything in place with pins

 

 

 

3. Head: use your sharp scissors to snip a cut in the underside, making it deep enough and long enough to poke the neck ribbon in…..slather some glue in there and poke the neck ribbon in (the skewer help with getting ribbons and hair into the sponge. Pin in place

4. Now, working carefully around the pins, start drawing patterns on your sponges. You could do this first but we usually like to get the glueing done and drying. Fossil patterns? Or maybe stick on some glittery foil as crystals, or just scrap bits of foam as other rocks

5. Head: keep eyes to the end but just now you could try giving your puppet some hair (or maybe moss? or seaweed?). Use scraps of wool or cut up carrier bags perhaps. Put a little glue on this and then poke it into the sponge using the skewer. This can be tricky but is the best way of glueing things firmly to the sponge

6. Eyes: either draw some eyes on card or use a pair of googly eyes (or more?). Glue eyes in place, add a mouth or other features.

7. While the eyes are drying, draw some hands and feet on card or foam. Cut out and staple these into place on the end of the arm and leg ribbons

To animate everything, if you stick half a pipecleaner onto the end of a skewer, that can then be stapled over the pipecleaner to the back of one of the puppet’s hands. Then, if you hold the back of the head in one hand and the skewer in the other, you have a puppet ready to go wandering off on adventures. Usually one hand and one rod is enough the make a puppet active. You can try more rods but it can all get a bit awkward trying to manipulate everything….

a sea of grasshopper sound

sinking into a sea of grasshopper sound

National Meadows Day

6th July 2018

National Meadow Day (Saturday 6th July) found the Stone and Water team loitering in the dry but beautiful meadows of the Upper Dove Valley, revelling in the sweep of grass, sudden flutters of butterflies and swallows flickering overhead. In a partnership with with the Dove Valley Centre, South West Peak’s Glorious Grasslands project and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s BM125 project, our Summer Excitements! project got off to a hot and flowery start

During the day, there were meadow walks and river dipping, insect drawing and book-building, time to talk and sit and enjoy the atmosphere of an ancient meadow under the wide skies in that peaceful valley.

Our Summer Excitements! project will see events running through the South West Peak area. Other event themes will include old buildings, local wildlife and the value of picnics. Other Excitements! events can be found here

Meadows are part of our agricultural heritage as much as any old farm tools or buildings or ancient farmers. Their use, management, decline and recognition reflect our own awareness of the importance of our agricultural landscapes. You may find old scythes and seed drills in a museum, you may even find a toothless ol’ farmhand, but a meadow needs the earth beneath its roots and the weather that ruffles the grasses. You won’t find a meadow in a museum and they cannot be collected. They can be protected, grown and valued as places where history, culture and wildlife coincide. As well as experiencing the meadow for themselves we invited visitors to think, reflect and record their thoughts about the importance of such places both to themselves as individuals and within the landscape.

Those reflections became lines within a poem growing out of a hot, dusty afternoon among the grass stalks…..

 

 

We sink
Into a field rustling and bustling with life,
Into the 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.

trees hold the edge of the meadow

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 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 nod 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNIPPETS
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 hay meadow artists and poets

and our partners on this rewarding day

Stone and Water thanks South West Peak

and The Bingham Trust for their support