Category Archives: Blog

Wood Fest 2016

Ipsden, Oxfordshire
We’re  back again at our lovely local festival: WOOD Festival!

The plant fibres workshop was very popular, preparing flax, nettle and other fibres ready for spinning, into thread and weaving into cloth. Many people made their own nettle string to take home.

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We were also spinning yarn(s), weaving all kinds of magic (including 2:1 twill on the warp weighted loom) and dyeing socks every colour of the rainbow. New dyes from the festival field were used, including nettles and burdock, and bracken collected from welsh hills. These dyes make beautifully soft greens, yellows, greys and browns.

Highlights of the festival were the harmony singing workshop led by Katy Rose Bennett, food from Taste Tibet and music from the Owiny Sigoma Band, and Sam Lee & Friends. We don’t get out of our workshop tents much during the day but really enjoyed everything we heard drifing over from the main WOOD stage!

See you again next year, WOOD Fest!

Pitt Fest (Video)

Pitt Fest is the Pitt Rivers museums annual festival. Each year has a theme and 2015 was: Handmade!

We were demonstrating natural dyeing, drop spindle spinning and the warp-weighted loom. it was really exciting to be able to relate our crafts to objects in the museum.

A video about the event has been published by the Pitt Rivers, we are featured from 02:07.

Pitt Fest: Handmade! 2015 from Pitt Rivers Museum on Vimeo.

Hopefully Pitt Fest will continue for many years to come!

http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/

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Our stall and dyeing area on the lawn outside the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Salisbury Archaeology Festival

Salisbury Museum held an Archaeology festival around their new Wessex Gallery. We were demonstrating wool crafts next to our good friends Ancient Music.

It was a very hot event, and many people were realising some of the drawbacks of what we imagine as traditional historical costume. It got us thinking about what people would have worn when the weather was so hot. It’s certainly possible that they only had a few light coverings of linen, to prevent sunburn while keeping as cool as possible.

We greatly enjoyed this event, there were very many interested people there, and many experts in their respective fields. We certainly enjoyed watching the other expert craftspeople plying their trades.

We were also featured on BBC Radio Wiltshire, while we were combing some wool. Listen below:

Museum handling objects

We have made a range of items for museum handling collections. These have been made to show ancient crafts and creative techniques. Being able to hold and use something can really bring archaeological artefacts to life for students. They can also represent the mass of organic objects which haven’t survived, to supplement museum objects. The objects are resiliant enough to be used and handled by groups, and being modern, are easily replaceable.

 

For Wallingford Museum we have supplied hand-made ceramic-weighted spindles. These will be a part of their handling collection for school visits and other groups. The spindles are very similar to some archaeological examples which the museum has on display.

 

 

 

For the Ashmolean Museum we have suppied a range of items for their new Bronze Age education sessions.

For their handling collection: Birch bark containers, lime bark cordage and nettle cordage.

For an activity or demonstration: the base plate and willow withys for wattle weaving.

For the Pitt Rivers Museum, we have supplied a range of natural dyestuffs and dyed cloth for a matching game, part of an education session on light and colour. This is part of the Need Make Use / VERVE project at the Pitt Rivers.

Dyes and Pigments matching game for the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Wood Festival

This year we ran drop-in workshops on weaving, spinning and grinding wheat in the morning, and in the afternoon, we ran natural dyeing demonstrations. The workshops were as popular as ever. Some people stayed for hours peacefully weaving, we really enjoyed seeing them progress. The dyeing intrigued passers-by all day, we got lots of questions! It was gloriously sunny, Wood Festival always means that summer is on its way.

The dyeing was very successful, especially the cochineal, and we even tried ochre as an experimental dye. This year was a little windy and one of our newly dyed green and yellow scarves blew into a tree. It was so well disguised that we nearly left it behind!

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Buster Ancient Farm – Beltain Festival

We had great fun at Butser. Firstly, it was wonderful to be able to demonstrate spinning, weaving and natural dyeing in a newly built Neolithic Longhouse. We were kindly invited to the event by Ancient Music as part of our new partnership. Alongside them, we were also part of the Mumming group, performing the travelling play during the evening. Mumming has a long tradition and is related to Morris Dancing. Each character is always the same and the plot is similar every time it is played. Thanks for you lovely feedback. Many of the visitors also seemed to enjoy meeting Knobbin ‘Oss, who loved eating the garlands from ladies heads!

Not suprisingly, the event was very popular, thousands of people were there to watch the Wicker Man burn down to the sounds of Pentacle Drummers.

http://www.butserancientfarm.co.uk/beltain-festival-2015/

The two knights, St. George and Turkey Snipe, with Beelzebub and Little Johnny Jack behind. Photo courtesy of Emma Sumpster.

Partnership with Ancient Music

This year we are beginning a partnership with Kate and Corwen, who run Ancient Music.

They have worked at Stonehenge, the Ancient Technology Centre and Poole mueums among others. Their many years of experience in running workshops on music, drama and early prehistory fits well with our expertise.

Together, we are known as The History People.

(L-R) Romilly, Corwen, Kate and Rachel – Sunburnt after a long week at Salisbury Museum

The Salisbury Museum – Living History Fortnight (Newspaper article)

Another delightful week at Salisbury Museum. We have created a new partnerships with Ancient Music, so alongside them, we varied the activities from last year. The schools got to experience a wider range of anient crafts than ever before: Fire-lighting, spear-throwing, natural dyeing, natural paint-making, using quern stones to grind wheat, spinning wool, weaving and experiencing the fantastic Wessex Gallery of the museum. Over the week we worked with 5 classes, both primary schools and a group of college students with special educational needs.

An article about our work at the Stone Age living history week appeared in the Salisbury Journal.

Many thanks to Salisbury Museum for hosting us and ensuring the sessions ran so smoothly.

www.salisburymuseum.org.uk