Handwork and crafts are key components of the educational approach in Camphill, and are introduced to the pupils at an early age, both in the class and house setting.
Once the pupils reach the Upper School at the age of 15, more specific craft activity is introduced and each pupil spends part of his/her morning programme in a craft workshop where they can be introduced in a gentle and creative way to the realm of work.
Pupils are initially encouraged to move from one workshop to another in order to provide them with a breadth of experiences in regard to sensory awareness, processes, materials and skills.
Working with crafts:
- gives pupils opportunities for creativity and self-expression
- encourages pupils to become 'masters of own action', focusing attention and movement, and further the ability to apply knowledge in practical/new settings
- shows pupils the purpose of achievement, leading to the ability to create items that are useful to others and introduce pupils to working
- provides a frame of activities in which pupils can learn to relate and interact with others
- guides pupils to create products that are of practical purpose in daily life.
Generally each workshop will have 2 to 6 pupils, a workshop master and some assistants.
At present the School offers the following craft activities:
- Felt making
- Candle making
- Willow work
- Stone working
- Tools For Self Reliance
Woodwork lessons take place in a purpose-built Wood Workshop which adjoins the Tools for Self Reliance Workshop on Murtle Estate.
The lessons provide pupils with an opportunity to work with different species of timber in a variety of ways to produce attractive, useful and well-finished items.
A strong emphasis is placed on the correct use, care and maintenance of hand tools.
Workbenches with suitable vices and bench dogs are used to hold working pieces safely. Power tools and machines are operated only by the woodwork instructor in order to prepare wood for pupils.
Pupils are encouraged, wherever possible, to make objects to their own design, as long as the object fulfils some practical and useful function.
A wide range of skills can be taught in wood working, for example, measuring, drawing, cutting, carving, spatial
awareness, number work, the following of instructions and plans, identifying timbers and knowing their appropriate or traditional uses.
The Metal Workshop is located on Murtle Estate. It forms part of the workshop complex which includes the Estates Maintenance Workshop.
The Metal Workshop aims to give pupils an understanding of and practice in the basic techniques of metal work. The pupils are encouraged to design their own work pieces and are given the opportunity to work with different soft metals—copper, aluminium or brass. Occasionally, iron may be used in blacksmithing.
When pupils practice metal work, they are taught to handle the variety of tools required for this craft. These include tools for measuring, tracing and cutting as well as the use of wooden moulds and various hammers. Under
supervision pupils learn to use a gas torch in order to soften the item on which they are working. Safety measures are always observed. An example of an activity in which pupils might be engaged is the making of a bowl.
Using similar processes a variety of items, such as candleholders, jewellery or plates, can be produced. Able pupils can learn to engage in further and more complicated processes. Items, such as fireplace tools (e.g. tongs, pokers)
can be made as well as candlesticks, copper balls, metal sculptures or pictures. The list is almost endless!
Metal work is a craft in which the direct engagement of the will is needed. To work on a piece and to finish it requires patience, determination and persistence, qualities which pupils with special needs often find difficulty in
acquiring. The involvement of hard/cold material (metal) with fire makes metal work an attractive craft.
It is very gratifying for craft instructors to help pupils to complete beautiful items which then go into the residential households where they serve a valued function in the household’s daily life.
The Felt Making Workshop, which is a neighbour to the Weavery, is located on the Murtle Estate. This workshop offers pupils the opportunity to experience a craft activity which is fairly easy to learn. It involves creating textile articles—a process which starts with the raw material—unspun, natural and commercial coloured wool.
For felt making the pupils are taught to prepare a raw fleece which involves sorting it, removing dirt, and then washing and drying it. After teasing, which necessitates loosening and separating the wool fibres, the wool can be carded. Once the wool has been carded, it is ready to be felted, spun or dyed. In the workshop the wool is used for felting two- or three-dimensional items.
Using warm, soapy water and rhythmical movement of the hands over the wool fibres are reduced to a flat piece. The felted piece can be decorated or sewn into a variety of objects, such as bags, pouches, clothing, dolls, toys, etc.
The pupils are encouraged to participate in all stages of the process. But pupils will do so according to their ability and needs. There are many possibilities in this craft where pupils can express their own creativity, for example, by choosing a shape or item they wish to make or by creating colourful patterns or pictures with the wool.
Felt working requires in pupils an ability to concentrate on their task and to direct the application of their will. At the same time the process has a soothing effect and can engender warmth and a peaceful working atmosphere. Whilst it is an activity which is stimulating to the senses, it also lends itself readily to group work.
The Weaving Workshop is in the Rowan craft workshop building on Murtle Estate.
In this workshop the pupils obtain experience in plain weave and have the possibility for pattern weave. As far as possible they are involved in creating useful textile articles like tablecloths, table runners, bags and cushions.
Cotton and linen yarns, as well as commercial and homespun wool, are woven into fabric, using floor looms, table looms, inkle- and tapestry looms.
The basic knowledge for weaving is gained at a simple loom through demonstrating the alternating over and under thread process. According to the skills and interests of the pupils further work is chosen. The aim is to help pupils to weave independently. In the weaving process an appreciation of colour combination is fostered.
Because of differences in ability it is often necessary to share weaving tasks: part of the work may be done by the pupil and another part by a helper. The pupil’s contribution to the end result—to whatever extentis always the important consideration.
Weaving needs an orderly working process. Weavers sit at their work and perform a range of tasks involving a specific sequence of movements. There is the back and forth movement of the beater, the right to left movement of the shuttle and the up and down movement of the levers. Through this process pupils are likely to gain a heightened sense of spatial awareness.
Candle Making and Craft Studio
The Craft Studio, is located next to Camphill Cottage on Camphill Estate. It is a multi-craft workshop where pupils can learn to experience working with different materials and craft techniques. This permits a greater degree of flexibility which it is hoped will make craft activity more easily accessible to pupils.
In the Craft Studio activities are planned in such a way that they mirror the seasonal changes. Activities are also influenced by the festivals celebrated in Camphill and by the meaning and value that these festivals have for individuals in their daily life.
In the Craft Studio pupils have the opportunity to work with:
wool for felting
yarn and material for tapestry weaving
beeswax for candle making
paper and water colours for making boxes, folders,
cards, envelopes and books
candle dipping (see candle making)
The Craft Studio offers the possibility for pupils to learn many different techniques for making useful and beautiful items. To work with so many things naturally sparks interest in the pupils. It also provides a good way of stimulating the curiosity of young people and a trigger to their enthusiasm to make things using their hands and imagination and in the process enjoy the experience.
The Pottery Workshop, which is situated on Camphill Estate in a small courtyard next to the walled garden, aims to give pupils practice and understanding of basic pottery techniques. Pupils are guided to work on a task individually or as part of a group. Pupils are given the opportunity to experience working with different types of clay and, using glazes, they can design patterns and decorations to finish their pottery items.
In the Pottery Workshop pupils are introduced to handling a variety of tools. These include tools for measuring, tracing, shaping and slicing or rolling out the clay as well as using moulds made from plaster casts.
One activity that pupils might learn in the pottery workshop is the construction of a bowl. Throughout the process of making the bowl, pupils are encouraged to focus on their work.
Using such a process a variety of items, such as cups, plates, vases, jugs or pots, can be produced. Some pupils
can progress to more complicated procedures where they may learn to ‘throw’ clay at a potters’ wheel or use clay for
Pottery is a valuable therapeutic activity insofar as pupils are guided in such a way that they may gain confidence,
improve their fine/gross motor skills and learn about the importance of being motivated and enthusiastic about
their work tasks. Pottery making can also be a helpful medium for creating friendship and the appreciation of
Pottery can be ‘magical’ for pupils. Witnessing a lump of clay being transformed into a recognisable shape can
make their eyes light up with wonder and joy.
Tools For Self Reliance
Since 1992 the Camphill School Aberdeen has been running a tool refurbishment workshop for our final year pupils. Local people have generously donated a large number of broken and unwanted hand tools. These are repaired, sharpened, cleaned and painted as appropriate. They are packed into crates usually containing approximately 100 tools forming carpentry, blacksmiths, building and mechanics kits. These are dispatched to Southampton for shipping to Africa for distribution by Tools For Self Reliance’s partner organisations.
By now over 6000 tools have been dispatched by Camphill Tools in more than 70 kits. Recent kits have included:
* A carpentry kit for a workshop in Kampala, Uganda, for the training of widows, orphans and the disabled, that produces furniture and school uniforms.
* A blacksmith’s kit for a six man co-operative in Kamuda, Uganda, making spares
* for ox-ploughs and repairing bicycles. Three small kits to Zimbabwe for students completing their carpentry training.
The work of Tools For Self Reliance is especially valuable because three distinct groups gain from its work: the recipients in less developed countries, people in this country who are able to ‘recycle’ unwanted tools for a worthwhile cause, and those who refurbish the tools who benefit from taking part in a worthwhile activity.
Our pupils particularly benefit from:
* Work experience in a place clearly different from the rest of the school.
* Tasks suitable for a wide range of abilities, ranging from dismantling and re-assembling tools, using simple machines such as grinding wheels, sanding off rust to putting shredded paper into crates.
* Basic skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic, to be used in a practical setting.
* Learning about other parts of the world and the problems faced there.
* Building links to the local community.
* Offering real help to others.
The Workshop provides an opportunity for senior pupils to be trained in basic tool refurbishment. The related educational programme looks at the history and use of hand tools, intermediate technology and international social
and economic issues.
A pupil will take a tool apart, note all the different parts and the way in which the tool had been assembled. The cleaning of parts is carried out using sandpaper, wire brushes, de-rusting and de-greasing agents. For the refurbishment of wooden and metal parts a range of tools and techniques is employed. On completion of the refurbishment pupils are involved in box making, then working through a checklist to ensure that all the tools have been packed in the kit and, finally, including a letter of goodwill to the recipients of the tool kit.
The recycling and refurbishing of old and broken tools into good-as-new ones can be an encouraging, positive and challenging experience for senior pupils with special needs.
The repaired tools are assembled according to trade: there are kits for black smiths, builders, joiners and even shoemakers. These are then sent to developing countries to aid disadvantaged people. This aspect of the work gives additional value to it and motivates the pupils to use their hands and work in a precise and reliable way.
Contact Camphill Tools via the School office:
01224 867935 Fax 01224 868420
Tools for Self Reliance...
Netley Marsh Southampton SO40 7GY
Tel 023 8086 9697
Fax 023 8086 8544
Registered charity 280437