Archive | About Fool's Prints RSS feed for this section

The busy season for Playwork is here!

8 Jun

Now that the Spring is finally here (fingers crossed that it stays) things in the Play world are hotting up!

Hackney Playbus in Millfields Park, Hackney

Hackney Playbus, where I work, is expecting it’s busiest summer for years, with free play sessions around East London planned on 6 or 7 days of the week all through the summer holidays! Children under 5 are welcome during term time and under 8 in school holidays. If you have children and live in East London have a look at the timetable and come along. You can also stay up to date with new sessions as they are announced by following  the Playbus on Twitter and liking the Facebook Page. Can’t wait to come to play? The Playbus will the at the Well Street Common Festival, (near north side of Victoria Park) on Sunday 9th June from 12noon.

 

Shoreditch Adventure Playground, Hackney.

I’m also working at an Adventure Playground in Hackney which is suddenly looking very beautiful and wild with wild flowers blooming and finches chattering in the trees. Adventure Playgrounds are fantastic urban play spaces. They are designed to compensate urban children for their lack of access to adult-free wild play spaces. You will find trained and experiences Play staff who are there to support play and assess risk vs benefits in these adventurous spaces. If you live in East London you probably aren’t far from your local Adventure Playground. There are more than 80 across London. If you have children and you’ve never been in, you should go and explore. Click here to see what Adventure Playgrounds are near you. They are usually open after school, on Saturdays and during school holidays. They are free and open access, meaning children are welcome to come and go as they please. 6 -16 year olds are welcome, along with under 5s with a carer. Get out there and explore!

Along side all this playing, the book making and creative work is taking a back seat for now, but I will be making whenever I can.

I’ll also be moving…to my 10th house in 9 years.

I hope you all get out and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Exhibition at Candid Arts

27 Jan

I was very fortunate to be able to assist fantastic artist Zulema Lily to prepare and display her art work at Candid Arts’ recent exhibition.

The exhibits were a real mixed bag with a wide range of media. There was a real buzz about the private viewing which was probably the busiest I have ever seen a gallery.

Zulema’s sculptures took prime position; her thoughtful and evocative towers created out of found objects attracted lots of curiosity and interest.

And it was lots of fun loading the items carefully into a taxi in the ice and snow to get them home!

Well done Zulema for such a fantastic show! May there be many more.

Check out all of Zulema’s beautiful work here.

Sharing skills to make a beautiful memory book

11 Jan

Recently a friend of mine went to a wedding and wanted to make a very special wedding present. Throughout the big day she took lots of photos and, knowing there wasn’t a wedding photographer, she wanted to make a photo album.

We talked together about what she wanted to book to be like. She found and gave me the perfect cover paper for this unique book (Mr Men!) and I prepared the front and back covers using this paper and grey board.

We set a date and my friend came over. I showed her the basics of coptic single sheet binding. We practiced step by step on some paper. Our first job was to get the photographs in order and stick them back to back in that order. We used double sided sticky tape along each edge, being very careful that the edges lined up. We then pushed 2 holes along the edge we will be binding, each sheet in line with each other and with the covers. Then we set to sewing.Mr Men memory book making

Our paper practice really paid off. I used scrap paper to sew along but all of the sewing on the book was done by my friend and she was very proud to have produced something so special.

Mr Men Memory Book spineMr Men memory book inside cover Mr Men memory book front cover I had a fantastic time sharing my skills, my friend loved gaining new skills and producing such a beautiful and unique book and her friends were over the mood to have a wedding album after all, and such a heart-felt one at that.

If you’ve got a book project that you’d like some help or advice with do get in touch.

Handmade memories

30 Oct

In the last few months I have been getting stuck into book making using the fantastic new skills I gained at the Book Arts Course at The Art Academy. I’d really recommend the course if you want an overview of different book making techniques, whether you have made a book before or not.

One of the skills I learned was a beautiful single sheet coptic technique, which is fantastic for binding thick pages. One of the best uses for this is binding photographs into albums.

In August I finished my job working 1:1 with a young person with Aspergers Syndrom who is out of school. After two years or working together we’d shared some fun times. I pulled together all the pictures I’d taken, prepared some covers and created a photo book.

 

I was really pleased when I gave this handmade gift to the young person I worked with and her mum asked me where I had bought it.

I then had the opportunity to do what I really enjoy, share what I’ve learned. I worked with a close friend of mine to make a memory book of her friend’s wedding…but I can’t show you pictures yet as she hasn’t yet given the book to her friend.

If you have got some photos that you’d like to bind into a memory book, you’d like some help and you live in London, get in touch!

A week in the life of a Playworker/Maker: Tuesday

29 Feb

Tuesday morning I was up bright and early for the very indirect commute from Tower Hamlets to Walthamstow where the Playbus hosts a morning play session funded by the local children’s centre.

The parents and careers at this session are always there waiting for the bus, their children literally jumping up and down in excitment. This week was very busy with 15 under 5’s along to play. I was talking to one parent who lives the other side of Walthamstow where we used to have another session funded by another children’s centre. We haven’t got the funding to carry on there and as we finished up our work  they were under going some staffing cuts and reshuffles that really affected their brilliant outreach and family support workers. Walthamstow, they told me, has seen a massive number of centre closures and cuts.

No front line cuts they keep saying. Every now and then they blab on about bridging the opportunity gap between the rich and poor. As if. East London has a desperate shortage of nursary places and its the kids from the more deprived areas who always miss out, their parents not being able to afford private care. Children’s centres have done a fantastic job of giving all children access to play sessions where they can explore and socialise with other children and where parents can meet each other, support each other and access all kinds of other services that they might well have missed out on otherwise (speach and language advice, legal advice, language classes). The playbus is used by the children’s centres to reach families who are less likely to go to the centres or access any services, as we can park right on their street and are an easy first place to come. For these kids to have a good start they need the space and opportunity to play. This government aren’t just taking these opportunities away in a short term sense, they are undoing the infrastructure that was only just beginning to make a difference.

Tuesdays session was lots of fun. We blew up baloons and all the kids loved chasing them around. Kids who, at the start of the session were very shy and clingy to their parents, were running around independently by the end. As the bus drives off there’s always a few tears but we will be back next week.

After packing away from the busy session, I had some time to kill. On Tuesdays I work on the bus in the morning and then at an adventure playground after school. A big gap but not big enough to go home and come out again. Thats what comes of working several jobs where each are just a few hours at a time. I went for lunch and tried to come up with some fundraising plans for the playbus. I’ve got a few ideas. Then, as the weather was so warm I headed to the park. Absolutly beautiful scattered with spring flowers and ducks.

Come 3.15pm I arrived at the playground which is especially for children and young people with disabilities and special needs. I’ve not been working there long and am still getting to know the other staff and the children. minibuses bring the children straight from their schools or their homes to the playground. Each member of staff is designated to work 1:1 with one of the children, so once you arrive and help get the place set up, it’s a waiting game for when your 1:1 arrives. The last few times my 1:1 hasn’t arrived and so I am on general duties. This has proved a great way to get to know the other staff. For example, if there is a young person who is known to take all of their clothes off, then I’m able to support the member of staff working 1:1 with that young person to help get them sorted and back out playing. I also relieve people if they need a break. Yesterday, when I relieved one member of staff I was launched into some wonderful imaginative outdoor play. The young person and I layed back on the grass and gazed at the sky which was slowly turning pink. There were tigers hiding out there, bees in the ground and spiders everywhere! (of the imaginary type). Later I joined in with the musical genious who was enjoying playing the keyboard at maximum volume, holding one key at a time. His eyes were closed and he rocked his head just like all the old blues greats. With his other hand he grabed a brightly coloured underella and moved it hypnotically to the durge, breaking into a big smile.

Before we knew it it was time to pack up and get on the minibuses to go home. After being an escort on one of the buses, I was finished for the day; back on the bus to Tower Hamlets.

In the evening, we made the most of the mild weather and planned to walk along the river to a pub in Wapping. Off we went. Every few yeards the pathway was blocked with locked gates. The water front here has been well and truely privatised. Where not so long ago where wharehouses and dockers pubs there’s now luxury developments and gated communities all claiming their own private chunk of the public right of way. In a crack between two houses were were lucky enough to discover an accessible bit of beach. The Thames is so beautiful and should be accesible to all.

 Then, as if some ominous threat, floating past on the river goes a boat pulling some giant olympic rings…as if we needed reminding. As if most people’s lives in London, especially east, haven’t been affected in some annoying way or other since they announced we were to host them. The people of East London knew or have quickly come to learn that these games are not for them and actually, if their lives get in the way of the plans to woo the worlds dignitaries it’ll be no contest who will win. All those I’ve spoken to are dreading the summer. Money has a way of ruining everything.

A week in the life of a Playworker/Maker: Monday

27 Feb

Being a Playworker and making stuff for a living is a precarious way to live. I’ve got 3 jobs plus the self-employed making. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m going to give you an insight into my week of job juggling in East London. Who else can say their week is like this…every week!

I spent my Sunday sewing new lined notebooks and taking a short trip on the DLR to Greenwich Observatory Park to do some drawing. I love that park, and what an amazing view of the city.

From up there you can see the whole skyline of the city which is currently littered with cranes as the pre-Olympics building work goes underway. You can’t escape it. Greenwich Park itself is planned to host the Equestrian events with a strong local campaign brewing against the plans.

This morning I kicked off my week with the all too familiar travel from Tower Hamlets to Hackney where I went to the house of the family where I work 1:1 with a young person with Aspergers Syndrome. I’ve worked supporting this young person since June 2010 and we get on brilliantly. Spending time together is most of the time a total pleasure. In the past I’ve worked as much as 20 hours a week with this young person but currently we have a once weekly catch up.

Today our task was to tidy a typical teenage bomb site of a bedroom. While we sorted the clothes I become agony aunt, acting as a sounding board for interactions with peers. This kind of coaching is crucial for a young person with Aspergers for whom implicit social boundaries and rules must be explicitly learned.

After we had cleaned the bedroom until the sense of achievement was strongly felt we were off on the bus to Madame Tussauds! What an exciting and fantastic time we had. There was even chance for some impromptu history lessons prompted by Nelson Mandela, Hitler, Margret Thatcher amongst many many more.

I was happy to have the chance to vent some anger at a man both me and the young person I work with know as the man taking all the money away from communities…

After meeting all the celebrities and international figures there were to meet we then went on an adventure to find this famed new Routemaster bus that Boris keeps banging on about. We went to Tottenham Court Road to catch the 38. After all the hype surprise surprise it is literally just 1 new bus which wasn’t in the area when we were waiting. The ‘Vanity Bus’ some people call it…hmm…whatever could they mean by that?!

And then home I came.

Tomorrow morning bright and early I’m on the Playbus in Walthamstow. Looking forward to telling you all about it.

Making lines and breaking rules

22 Feb

I’ve fallen a bit behind with the blogging.

The life of a Playworker and maker is a busy one if you are hoping to actually be able to sustain it. I’ve now got three different Playwork jobs each with unpredictable sessional hours. As well as working on Hackney Playbus and 1:1 with a young teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, both of which I have done for nearly 2 years, I have just started working on an Adventure Playground of children with disabilities and special needs based in Hackney. It’s a fantastic and crazy place to work. I certainly can’t say I am ever bored at work.

I am really enjoying being around some amazing people with a brilliant playwork ethos; child-led, rule breaking, boundary pushing, based on the personality of the child not their diagnosis. It’s fantastic seeing the creative ways playworkers use to interact with the kids. For example, there is one child who enjoys going into a particular part of the soft-play area which makes it impossible to get them out and then taking all their cloths off. A team of staff are on hand to initiate all kinds of games that might possibly lead to this child deciding they are going to put their clothes on and come out. Some have included one staff member putting the clothes on and all other staff complementing them loudly on their excellent fashion sense, continuing a previous game of running from a tiger…which obviously requires getting dressed(!) and bursting into renditions of ABBA songs and inviting her to dance. Brilliant. Can you imagine how differently a school (for example) would deal with this kind of behaviour. I LOVE Playwork.

I’ve also been making notebooks and you can see my collection so far here in my Online Shop. Hopefully you’ll see a dramatic improvement in the picture quality of the books as I am learning more and more about how best to present things as well as getting to grips with my camera. I was chuffed recently to recieve a book order from Australia(!!) and wrapped it up like a present to post it. I got some really lovely feedback;

I received the notebook safe and sound. Thank you so much for asking. Its tucked away in a draw waiting for an upcoming trip to Thailand.. I always keep a journal when I am away somewhere. Kinda nice too look back on. Fill it with memories and what not. You did a really good job with it. Will be buying for you again.

Very exciting! I then got a lovely message from someone else on Etsy;

Hello, I absolutely LOVE your a5 notebooks. I’m wondering if you are able to do some with lined pages? I would use them as university books.  I’ve looked everywhere for good quality paper notebooks with interesting cover designs and these are the only ones I’ve found without going “status” moleskine. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Ooooo, how exciting is that! I’ve put off making lined books previously for the simple reason that…I don’t know where to get the lines from. Sounds stupid  I know, but to make an A5 lined notebook you need horizontally lined landscape A4 paper. Haveing looked before I knew I couldn’t buy it anywhere so I drew then lines myself. Here is my first lined notebook (click on the picture to see the inside);

The lines inside are a bit too dark so I’m working on making them more faint before I make more but whatch out for this space if you’re more into lines.

Right. I’m off to enjoy my first proper day off for 14 days after an action packed half term.