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!
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.
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.
Our first week-long event! It was very hot all week, and the tents which we brought in case of rain were used for shade instead. We were showing the story of cloth and teaching practical fibrecraft skills to primary school groups (years 3 to 6), a college group and a group of “the stitchers”, who volunteer for the museum making childrens costumes. A highlight of our experience was to be able to work with such a great group of museum volunteers over the week, who looked after the schools very well indeed, and helped our busy days run smoothly.
On the afternoon of the first day, we were given a sheep, which has been in one of the museum galleries for about 20 years, and they wanted to get rid of her! We’ve named her Gladys. She was very useful explaining to children where wool comes from, and we’ll do our best to give her a good home.
It was also great for the visitors to be there for so long, as we had time to set up some of the more complicated secondary coloured dyestuffs, which the groups visiting on Thursday and Friday really appreciated.
Wood is a wonderful first festival of the season. Small, family-friendly and very varied, they’re always very kind to us.
With spinning and weaving in the mornings and dyeing in the afternoons, we had a busy time. A lot of interested spinners and many children who mastered weaving on both the modern and Iron Age looms in a suprisingly short length of time! Weaving seems to have the power to transfix many children, and some returned to our workshops both days to get as much weaving done as they could!
The dyeing demonstrations and workshops were especially popular this year, many people got an opportunity to be on the our side of the rope and dye some wool themselves. We also dyed the new range of silk scarves, which will be on sale soon!
Despite not many people being booked on ths course, it went very well with those who were there. All participants were very enthusiastic and seemed to be very satisfied with what they dyed. One person came all the way to Oxfordshire from Cornwall to learn about dyeing!
We were honoured to be invited to Silchester for both of their Archaeological open days in July and August.
Silchester is a Roman town in Hampshire, which has been excavated for the last 17 years by Reading University. They have discovered both the layout of the town and the Iron Age settlement which was there before.
At the first open day we took our new quern stones, as well as some grain, and helped the visitors use them to make flour. We ground all the grain we took in just the morning, the stones never stopped turning. It was brilliant to see the opportunities families took to educate children about the origins of bread they eat every day. The archaeologists were also exhibiting a Roman quern from Verulamium (St. Albans), and having ours for demonstration really brought it to life for the visitors.
Before the second open day, we made a replica of an Iron Age warp-weighted loom. We set it up and started weaving at the open day, demonstrating how it worked. This helped to put the finds of loom weights into context for both the public and the students.
An incredibly relaxed family festival in the sunny grounds of Braziers Park. There was music and workshops galore. Our morning spinning and weaving drop-in sessions were popular, but the highlight was the afternoon natural dyeing demonstation – including the Woad Show!
We spent Saturday evening dancing to beautiful music by La Mort Subite, and watched everyones names in Futhark (the Runic alphabet) gather on our board.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Wood, though we slept for a very long time when we got home! It was brilliant to meet so many fantastic people, everyone was so kind and interested in what we were doing. We felt very inspired by the relaxed atmosphere of the festival and how everyone was taking the time to learn something new at a workshop or just relax in the sunshine.
We hope that everyone who came to learn spinning, weaving or hear about natural dyes enjoyed themselves and learnt something new. We’d love to hear if anyone has continued at home anything they learnt!
The crowd gathered for the “Woad Show”.
Wood Fest: A great photo of us from Saturday evening. Thanks to Amelia’s Magazine.
Wood Fest: Talking about yellow on Sunday. Image thanks to Miranda Rose and Daily Info.