Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from us all at Little Bird SOS.
It's been a very festive few weeks in and out of the studio.  Here are some of the things we have been making in at our health and wellbeing group...

We have lots of sheet music paper and Lynda, one of our volunteers, came up with the idea of making these snowmen..
We also made these fabulous christmas trees from our vast stash of fabric scraps, an idea inspired by Claire, our volunteer.  The group made suffolk puffs or yoyo's, as some prefer to call them...
They are cut into ever decreasing circles.  Then around the outer edge there is a line of running stitches.  A smaller round of cardboard and wadding is placed inside then the running stitch is pulled to cover...
Starting with the largest to the smallest, suffolk puff or yoyo, they are threaded onto some strong cotton...
 Then embellished with beads and buttons etc...
 And here are the results...











 In early December, we had a stall in our local village hall at the Birstall light switch on...
The items we sell are upcycled from materials previously unwanted by others.  We have been piloting a group on Wednesdays, for the past year, made up of people with good crafting experience who make the items you see in these pictures. The income helps to support our social aims that are of particular benefit to people experiencing mental health difficulties.  We will be expanding this group in the new year and will be able to offer more places to people who would like to come and help us with our sustainability work.  We also will be offering opportunities to people who do not have crafting experience but would like to help in other ways.
In December, we breathed new life into some old baubels by covering them in sheet music  and paper from old books and embellished them with bits of lace, beads and buttons from our stash...
Hanging out to dry!
Then finally, one of my favorite activities that we did on the last day was making christmas wreaths.  We are so lucky to have access to the beautiful Belgrave Hall Gardens and ivy is plentiful.  We made these on a willow hoop and added handmade felted flowers and other bits and bobs whilst munching on a delicous buffet lunch...
 An unusual triangular wreath that will be a christmas tree when it is completed...
  Apologies for the blurry image below - I love the heart on this one...
Rather then the tradition of hanging them on doors, some of us like to wear them on our heads!
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us over the past year.  This includes all those who use our health and wellbeing service, who come along on Wednesdays and help us to make saleable items, those of you who have bought from us and those of you who give up time to help ensure we keep running.  The year ahead is already shaping up to be fantastic with the expansion of our Wednesday group, a hospital project and a presentation at a national conference!  Keep an eye on our website and social media pages for more information about these project soon.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Guest blog Dave Pidgeon :: Sketchbooks

I recently ran a couple of workshops with Lisa, for her health and wellbeing groups, at the Little Bird SOS studio.  When I was asked what I would like to do, I chose to promote the ideas around keeping (and using) sketchbooks, or indeed any kind of random notebook, as a developement tool and extension to your creative mind.

It was a very relaxed and informal group, who were warm, welcoming and curious.  We all sat around the amazing large white table full of stuff, and I could see immediately why the participants like attending these sessions so much.  Even I could feel the tensions and worries dripping off me while I chattered and pottered around this calming environment.
One thing that became quickly apparent was the concerns some of the group had about their own abilities to 'draw'.  I pointed out that even people who can draw are seldom satisfied with their own efforts, and the trick is to do it, and try not to worry if it is any good or not - afterall it's just a sketchbook!  I also tried to allay their fears by explaining that the sketchbook was fundamentally their book, and need not contain drawings at all, but might be a place to jot things down, write or stick things into, or doodle in any random way, or collect photographs etc. I showed that books have jottings, spider diagrams, poems, lists etc.  What they did in the book did not have to be successful, or polished - it just had to be done!  I tried to push the idea of the book being a place to take part in a process, and that process was more important that the finished product.
One participant had kindly bought examples of work she had done previously and the group enjoyed looking through these and this demonstrated the degree of trust the group share.
We had a range of examples from sketchbooks of JMW Turner (which are always amazing), Tracey Emin, our daughter Lily, Picasso and Tim Burton.  In order to reinforce the idea of writing as well as sketching in the book, we also showed Wainwrights walking guides.  The group soon relaxed enough to flick through the materials and that was enough to set them going when Lisa bought pastels, paints and other materials to the table.  Most needed no encouragement and were soon making marks.

Following on from this session, these sketchbooks were personalised with the group making their own covers from old bits of fabric.

I was delighted that the group seemed to grasp the idea of the book as a tool and a place to safely 'go wrong' (whatever that is!) and their efforts were quite bold and highly individual.  Some liked drawing or painting directly in the book and others were making materials and collecting them in the books.

Dave Pidgeon



Thursday, 12 November 2015

Snippet Rolls


What a relaxing couple of weeks we have had making these little snippet rolls! Lynda, one of our volunteers, suggested them a few weeks ago at our planning session, and  I went home to set up a Pinterest board for snipper rolls

Lynda's sewing themed snippet hung with a bobbin

Claires snippet made with her favorite fabrics and random found things
These little snippets are a lovely way of gathering together memories in the form of photos, trinkets, objects, bits of paper etc that hold meaning to either yourself or the person you give them too.  They are conveniently rolled up and once unrolled can be hung on the wall as a work of art and cherished by the recipient...

Lisa's snippet with all things that remind her of her daughter
We started the session by selecting bits of fabric that we likes and stitched them together to form a long thin strip...




From our large stash of lace, ribbons buttons and bows, we started to embellish the snippets... 


The studio was a fantastic creative mess, and the atmosphere in this Georgian setting very conducive to this kind of vintage craftmaking...


There's seems to be little research on snippet rolls, and the internet is replete with the currently fashionable 'vintage' aspect they bring and nothing about the current reason for resurgence. However, a recent programme on the BBC called 'At Home with the Georgians' recounted the story of poor women who could not afford to care for their own children and had to leave them at the Foundling hospital (now a museum), in London, to be cared for.  The programme highlighted that even the poorest of women, in Georgian times, craved colour and beauty and they would leave an identifying mark with their child in the form of a textile snippet, which could have been an item of clothing of a piece of patchwork.  The mother would keep a counterpart in the hope that they would eventually claim their child back, by accurately identifying their snippet, from the foundling hospital if ever they were to raise enough money to do this.  There are few historical artifacts to tell the tale of these relics, but this accounts show that 'the smallest of relics can have breathtaking power'.

A strip of patchwork made from pieces of woven silk and printed cotton or linen, embroidered with a heart and cut in half, left at the Foundling Hospital, as an identifying token with a baby boy christened Charles on 11 February 1767
Foundling Hospital Billet Book, 1764-7, Foundling no. 16516. © John Styles and The Foundling Hospital Museum.



































Who knows, one day our own snippets may be examined by a contemporary historian...

A selection of our completed snippets