Willow and paper and glue, oh my!

Ok, who let me loose on a family workshop with artsy implements a-plenty on a brisk Sunday morning in the Ton? Who’s bright idea was it to let me through the doors and give me sharp pointy things for cutting and wet sticky things for gluing, without parental supervision? Come on, who was it? We’ll stay here all day until the guilty party shows themselves. Yes, Same Sky, I see you there at the back. Step forward. It was you wasn’t it. Bad Same Sky. Bad!

Despite the fact I am neither a family (one Cuplet does not a family make), parent (good god no!) or child (hmm, debatable…) or even a local for that matter (I’m working on it though, man am I working on it!), the lovely folks at Same Sky – an artist-led charity based in Brighton who produce amazing participation art projects – allowed me to sneak into one of their family workshops to make my very own lantern for their annual “Burning the Clocks” event. I did pay for my place though, before you start thinking I hoofed a five-year old out on their ear into the cold so that I could play with the pretty stuffs myself!

I’ve been wanting to take part in Burning the Clocks – a stunning parade of handcrafted paper and willow lanterns, carried through the city by the makers and then burned on the beach as a token for the year-end – for years, but I’d never gotten my act together in time before. Not this year though; I’ve had a reminder about it on my phone since August. It’s all about forward planning and preparation. Be prepared. And I was. Like a boy scout. Except I’m not a boy. Or a scout. So not really like a boy scout at all. But you get where I was going with that. Anyway, this year I was all over it like, well, someone who’s all over something. I know, awesome analogy, right? :). So I got in touch with Same Sky about the lantern making workshop, hoping they wouldn’t turn down a creatively-challenged 30 year old who was more than likely going to spend the entire time in the darkest corner of the room (and probably Bogarting all of the helpful lantern-making elves), shying away from the sideways glances of the parents, and the painfully honest quizzing of their children – Child: “Mummy, what’s wrong with that lady?” Parent: “ssshhh Peter, and don’t point…”. Happily, they didn’t turn me down. But there was some pointing…

Now, the Burning the Clocks website said that even children as young as 3 can successfully make a lantern with a parent. Oh dear. I’m not as young as 3, and I didn’t have a parent with me. Disaster! I was nervous enough before reading that. You see, I have about as much talent in the arts as a squirrel has in crocheting a blanket and then embroidering matching cushion covers. But I needn’t have worried (too much anyway). The workshop was incredible fun. Although it felt like I had checked in what little artistic flair I had at the door, and had turned into a bumbling incoherent simpleton, the lantern elf – or Sharon to her students – was a great teacher! Encouraging and supportive, wildly enthusiastic, and a little bit nuts, all of which are qualities I look for in my elves.  In short, she was brilliant, and made me feel like I was making something quite impressive, regardless of how much more paper was stuck to me than to the willow frame – oops! When I went back  later to collect my piece – so I didn’t have to risk it being kicked to oblivion round the mass hysteria that is Brighton town center during peak Christmas shopping hours – I was told that they had been using it as an example for the afternoon class. Aw, how lovely!  Mind you, they didn’t say whether this was in a “this is how it’s done” or “this is what you don’t want to end up with” way, and for my own self-esteem I didn’t want to ask. But from the tone John – the afternoon elf – spoke in, I think it was the former.  Of course they could have been swayed by the handmade truffles I gave them at the end of my session; a small, tasty gesture of thanks from me for a very enjoyable Sunday morning :). There was even talk of me getting some sort of award for being the workshoper that had travelled the furthest distance; 45.8 miles in case anyone’s interested.  And I do love an award!  But I understand that someone might be coming over from Italy for the event!  That’s just a little bit further than me.  Still, it was a nice fake gesture :).

So, after three hours of twisting, taping, bending, cutting, and gluing myself to myself…

         

… here’s my fire bound offering. Ta-Dah!

Ooo, isn’t it pretty?! I made that I did :D. And I’m quite pleased with it. It may be pretty humble in comparison to the huge, and quite frankly stunning collaborative pieces that will be paraded alongside all the workshop and homemade efforts. But it was all sorts of fun making it, despite my own issues with having glue on my hands (it’s an OCD thing – well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it – ohhh what an awful pun.  Sorry!).  It’s kind of a shame that in about a week and a half’s time I’m going to be tossing it onto a huge bonfire on Brighton beach. But it’ll be in good company. And judging by the other lantern makers I met today, so will I. I can’t wait!

4 thoughts on “Willow and paper and glue, oh my!

      1. Lantern-making workshops are good fun, I agree. I once went to one for the Tunbridge Wells lantern paradere (every February) and made a lantern with a old, local lady. As a result, we’re the firmest of friends.

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