Monday, 4 October 2010

The Wardrobe of Wonders at Erddig....

Some photos from Erddig Apple Festival, a lovely day.....full of crafty fun with crown decorating, paper flower making, playing  with props, dressing up and storytelling

Miranda in the midst of A Snow White rendition

our papier mache apples! full of rattling pips!

decorating crowns....lots of fantastic apple kings and queens!

Miranda and Silence the Swan puppet perform a duet with Geoff of Drama in Education with his Victorian games events!

Apple baby!

The wardrobe festival props galore, lots of children had fun exploring the contents and dressing up in what they found...we even had a little girl announce herself to be the 'Season Queen'! brilliant!

paper flower making with the audience

ducks....prior to the rain easing off, this was our core audience!

some of the wardrobe's merry troupe!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Erddig Apple Festival and the Wardrobe Fantastic!

Having just returned from a fantastically fun weekend spent at Erddig Apple Festival we have had a chance to see the reaction of an audience to our wardrobe ideas and activities. After four months of prep it's been brilliant to see how children are able to interact and enjoy all the wardrobe props and stories. Pushing the boundaries of the children's book format into a more interactive experience has been a really rewarding experience and after today, we are brimming full of ideas for future events and ways of getting children's imaginations reeling!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Apple Day Preparations and MA Exhibition

 We have had a very busy couple of weeks, not only have we been preparing the wardrobe for exhibition in a show of MA work to welcome new and returning students back to NWSAD but we also have been preparing for our first major public event. Over this weekend we'll be taking part in the Apple Days at Erddig in North Wales, with the wardrobe and its contents illustrating the tales spun by our storyteller, Miranda West.

So in preparation for this we have been working on making some props and puppets to bring to life key points in the stories, which as well as being used by ourselves and Miranda, can also be passed around the audience. These include some apple rattles, which we've made out of papier mache, using lovely large bramley apples as moulds, and which we have filled with lentils, so they make interesting noises when shaken.
These were also fantastically therapeutic to make, sometimes it's nice to just make without having to engage your brain too much.

We also scaled up our previous puppet attempts to create the 3 goddesses for one of our stories, and Jess created them using gum strip over bunched up newspaper with cardboard used to build up the features of the faces in between the layers of gum strip, and then twisted long lengths of the gum strip to create hair styles. We decided to just create the heads and to leave them plain, with just a coat of gold paint rather than painting on faces like we did with the smaller puppets, so that they would be more iconic and other worldly. We attached the heads to long sticks of wood, so that they can be lifted quite high, and be quite imposing and eye catching, also the gold paint looks rather spectacular when it catches the light.

We have also made lanterns, decorated fabric to appear like the night sky, made some star mobiles and an 'apple baby' to be used as props. We have also sorted out a costume for Miranda which has layers which can be added and removed depending on the story she is telling and the character she is being, so as well as being the storyteller at times she will also be as a prop from the wardrobe, and have a magical persona. As we came up with Miranda's costume we also sorted out plenty of other costume bits and pieces to fill the wardrobe with, so that there is the possibility for children to dress up as characters from the stories too.

Here are some pictures of the wardrobe as we exhibited it over the last few days alongside some work by fellow MA students.

And to finish this is Oli and Lukas helping us to transport the wardrobe this afternoon, with an anxious Cait looking on as we realised the sign from the top needed removing in order to get it into the car and, just after this picture was taken, 2 of the casters fell off, again! but these will be fixed, with longer screws this evening. At least we know it is definitely waterproof after standing with it in the rain, which could prove very useful judging by the weekend's forecast.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fitting out the interior

Well, we've been a bit quiet online over the last week because we have been putting so much time into working out how the insides of the wardrobe are going to work. We have drawn up lots of exciting plans, and are in the process of realising them in as practical a way as possible. There is so much for us to consider, the finished weight of the wardrobe for one, as we need to be able to move it, and then there is lots to think on when it comes to health and safety. It seems like we might have some interesting solutions though, without giving up too much of our aesthetic, and isn't it funny how restrictions can often lead to much better solutions to a problem? more exciting and interesting. Lots of work still to go! pictures should be up soon.

We're also working on getting ourselves ready for our first public appearance as a storytelling spectacular at Erddig's 20th annual Apple Days on the 2nd and 3rd of October.

Information about this event can be found at

Busy times indeed, but very exciting none the less!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Central Bazaar

Yesterday we took part in Central Bazaar at Central Station in Wrexham, The first official outing of the wardrobe!

Of course getting the wardrobe to the venue was interesting, but as Cait observed, at least the car is gold, so it sort of fits, and it did catch a lot of attention on it's maiden voyage.

We were given a really good spot at the top of the stairs, so the wardrobe was the first thing people would see as they came up the stairs to the bazaar ...

We think it looked pretty fab in the space. We opened up one half as a display for some of our fabulous wares.
This was our fabulous stall, displaying work from the wardrobe project, greetings cards we made up from our prints, and some of our individual work. We also took along some of Rae Welch's beautiful paper birds , 'Squats' paper toy kits by Hairy T and gorgeous knitted accessories by Ruby Knight.
We were really pleased with how well the wardrobe worked as a display case, and the attention that it drew.
Although the event itself was pretty quiet, we enjoyed our day and met lots of lovely people, who we were able to enthuse at about the Wardrobe, and where we plan to take it next ....

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

I know it looks oddly like a moustache at present, however, this wooden cut out was the first step in transforming slightly the wardrobe shape more akin to that of an old theatre....or circus sideshow...
Fantastical font created by Jess....the chrysalis'wardrol'...emerging as a fully fledged wardrobe(we hope!)

The emerging paintwork, victorian fairground inspired...

courtesy of Pollocks Toy Museum
courtesy of Tivoli theatre
...and voila!(now to attatch the hinges so Cait's not a permanent part of the structure...)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Painting part 2

We have spent many long days in the studio over the last couple of weeks, having conversations and making decisions which are allowing the decoration of the wardrobe to move forward and develop organically. The overall finished look is now starting to emerge, and it is brilliant to see how our sketchbook ideas and scribbles are translating onto the wardrobe.

We have been building up patterns using a combinations of painting, paper cuts, stencils and hand carved stamps.

Today, Tuesday 31st August, we finally began work on the decoration of the main panels on the front of the wardrobe, and we're feeling very pleased with it so far. Basing the decoration on including elements from different fairy tales which are all tangled up in a beanstalk.

We drew the basic shapes out in pencil and have painted in the paler background colour before beginning to paint over the pattern in the same blue as we used for the sides.

The decoration is a combination of Cait's more traditionally figurative and detailed drawings and Jessica's pattern doodles, silhouette birds and other recurring sketchbook thoughts.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Making our Puppets

Having decided we rather liked the princess puppet, we thought it would be good to make some other archetypal fairytale characters. Having lots of fun making newspaper forms and applying newspaper and paste, and finishing them off with a layer of gumstrip.

We then coated them in a layer of emulsion.

Before applying their unique personalities.

Jess made a wig out of wool for the fairy, by herringbone braiding a strip of wool, and then tying individual strands down the sides of it. So when it was glued in place you cannot see the machanics of it.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Painting the Wardrobe

Our blank canvas ..... so exciting!

The wheels have been spraypainted gold.
We divided the surface into diferent sections, echoing our research into the decoration of old fashioned fairground rides and folk cabinets and boxes. Using basic stencil shapes we cut out to map the areas for painting. 
Ta Da!
We chose to paint the background in blocks of colour, which we will be building over with layers of illustrations and patterns. Our colour palette was again influenced by our research into fairgrounds and victorian side shows. 

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

pretty flowers

A lovely flower arrangement i spied from the bus, decorating the gate to the church in Rosset. It sparked some thoughts in conjunction with the enchanted garden theme weekend at Erddig which we are hoping to get our wardrobe to, about making some kind of crazy decorations for the wardrobe, possibly as a way of getting the children involved in some making. I also liked the way bits were hanging down, and we've been thinking about making some weather ... to the sketchbooks .... doodley doodle dee doooo .....