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June 2016

Time flies when you’re making fun

By | artists, Craft, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, Technology, young people | No Comments

Time just seems to be flying here at Wavemaker, it doesn’t seem two minutes since we welcomed in the New Year but six months seem to have flown by! May has been a particularly busy month, Maker Days are now in full swing, new groups are coming in for workshops and the last half term of the school year was lying in wait at the end of the month, which could only mean one thing. Workshops.

A workshop that I was particularly excited about was the Introduction to Sewing using a Machine, and I wasn’t only excited because I was leading the workshop…I’m not bias…I just love sewing and making. To prepare for the workshop I decided to do some CPD (Continuing Professional Development), and go to a sewing workshop to brush up on some skills. This workshop was run by Abakhan, a fabric shop and favourite Hanley haunt of mine. This particular session was at a store in Mostyn, North Wales. I say store, it was more of a converted farm complex, that boasted workshop rooms, hobby and fabric shops as well as a lovely cafe and gift shop. This CPD sounds terrible I know, and to make it even worse the sun was shining all day which made eating lunch outside unbearable…Who am I kidding, this is the best type of CPD I’ve ever done! Boasting aside, the workshop was extremely useful and laid to rest some fears around running my own sewing workshop, especially as this was the first one Wavemaker had ever done.

Back at Wavemaker, the sewing workshop day had arrived. The white machines stood proudly on the tables, the needles reflecting the rays of the early morning sun, ready to be reined by cotton thread like a cavalry of mechanical horses or metallic soldiers marching steadily across fabric fields, laying down line after line of stitching with military precision. Okay, maybe not military precision, the first class was specifically for parents and children after all, I could already hear the sound of the machines racing at breakneck speeds as foot pedals were pushed very firmly to the metal, the controller of the machine momentarily imagining themselves caught up in a Hollywood movie car chase, rather than creating a very fashionable and versatile accessory, the infinity scarf, or snood to those who know their Birkin’s from their Alexa’s.

These concerns aside, the day was a brilliant success. The parents and the children had a great time learning a new skill. The pride and sense of accomplishment of creating something out of nothing is a feeling that makes you truly happy. That moment when you finish, take a step back and admire your efforts, congratulate yourself at your ability to create does wonders for self-confidence, especially in children. That’s not to discredit the adults in the session in anyway, and in the all ages workshop that ran in the afternoon, theses feelings were reflected just as strongly. Helping to improve people’s skills and confidence is the underlying ethos of Wavemaker and I like to think in months and years to come, when our participants sit down in front of their trustee sewing steeds they will think back to their session, and my words will echo in their minds just like Mister Miyagi during the final fight scene in Karate Kid. Sorry I digress.

On Friday of half term, what is fast becoming one of Wavemaker’s most popular activities made an appearance, but this time with a twist. That activity is Minecraft. To those of you completely unaware of what this is, it is a computer game that allows you to build in a virtual world using pixel blocks. That is the extremely simplified version! The twist was that rather than building houses, bridges and towers made of rainbow glass they were making art using the pixel blocks and a Raspberry Pi. The young people who attended could create whatever they wanted within their Minecraft frame. We had Super Mario, Mushroom and Pokeball to name but a few. In the afternoon we went from computer screen to paper, with children designing pixel art on 16 x 16cm grids before copying these images using 1cm squared tiles glued into a wooden frame. The creativity and finished pieces were truly fantastic and really effective. It was great to create links between modern and more traditional mediums of art and making. The session was relaxing and yet productive, the young people walking away with an array of pixel art to proudly showcase and display on bedroom walls, a true testament to their creative skill and imagination .

All in all, half term was a really successful week and although the workshop output smaller than usual due to the Bank Holiday, the activities that we did run were thoroughly enjoyable. Wavemaker are now designing and putting together ideas for our summer activities programme, we are also open to suggestions, so if you have any ideas, get in touch by emailing info@wavemaker.org.uk.