Over the past ten years, whilst working as a freelance textile artist, I have been fortunate enough to work considerably with the Hancock, now known as the Great North Museum. It is a fabulous Natural History Museum, with even a full size T-Rex skeleton. Over that time, I have made Habitat Bags and Dinosaur Bags to be used by schools. The textile bags illustrate the theme of the self-led workshops and contain lots of fun interactive pieces inside.
This week, during the school Easter half-term, I’ve temporarily had the bags back as all their handles needed repairing. The Learning Officer at the Hancock, told me that the 13 bags I have made are used, on average, by 10,000 school children a year on self led school workshops! This is a remarkable number and the photos I have taken and used on this post show how the bags look today – almost like new!
Under the Sea, Octopus Bag
One of the most fun bags I’ve created was the Octopus Bag, which not only meant I could work with beautiful colours and fabrics to evoke the colours of the sea, but that I could also have a great time with freeform crochet to make an octopus hat for the school children to wear whilst taking about and exploring the octopus habitat.
My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!
Camouflage is an important aspect of the way ac octopus lives, so I also create a mat to aid teachers when introducing the idea of camouflage.
Octopus camouflage mat.
Another very popular bag, deals with the Arctic and that’s the Polar Bear bag and as you can see from the photos it is great fun! I ensured that when I made the polar bear paws, they were accurate in size to help the school children understand the enormity of the creature!
Polar Bear Bag.
My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.
Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.
Above is a picture of a squirrel’s ‘Drey’ or nest, with other elements like crinkly sound making leaves and acorns.
Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.
Dinosaur pre-history bag.
This coming week, I’m making some additional elements to the dinosaur bags, to help school children with the visual understanding of fossils. These photos show some of the bags that these additional pieces will be put in. The bags deal with the swamps, the nests they built, creatures that evolved in the seas, reptiles and amphibians.
Evolving creatures under the sea.
Besides the Hancock Museum, I have also made the Animal and Habitat Bags for Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Liverpool.
Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.
Marsh harrier mask and wings.
Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.
Once I have completed the new pieces to go into the dino bags this week, I shall then begin fabric painting a banner to be used for schools to be used as a resource in the Egyptian workshops. The image will show a section from the weighing of the heart in the Book of the Dead.