Thursday, 27 February 2014

Crowle create the Aztec Calendar

Yesterday we got to spend all day with Crowle Primary's year fives and sixes. The whole school are studying Aztecs and we had the school's year three and four pupils visit before half term to create their Aztec head dresses. This week, though, was a little more hands on as we recreated our very own Aztec calendar!

Pupils joined in conversations about what made us able to recognise a piece or art from Aztec culture. We talked about what sort of materials they might have used to create their artworks and how they would've made tools to carve and manipulate stone.

Words we used to describe Aztec times

Quick thinking words and drawings that were stuck all around the room by children, so be used as inspiration throughout the day

To have direct hands on experience of something similar to the stone carvings of Aztec times, pupils got to visit 20-21's Rose Window in the sculpture garden. We talked about the similarities between the window and the calendar, thinking about shape, size and materials.

Pupils answered questions on a specially designed worksheet specific for this workshop. Once the questions were answered children were challenged to draw not only the Rose Window, but to make it look 3D in their drawing.

There were some excellent results!

Our Aztec calendar was to be a real group effort, with pupils working in teams of three or four to create their own segment of a much larger design. These segments will eventually go back together to decorate the halls of their school. The segments had been drawn with the basic Aztec calendar and was to be filled with detail by the groups, concentrating on collective decision making and working as a team.

These detailed drawings would become 3D by using a wide variety of materials that would attach to the board.

The best material we used, though, was a new experience for us all. Paper clay had been made by the Education Officer and Gallery Assistants at 20-21, to use to make relief patterns on the MDF segments we were decorating.

The final pieces will take a few days to dry completely, before we spray them gold and join them up on the school walls. Hopefully, in a few weeks, you'll get to see the final result!
"A great project that comes back to school. It's great to see them use new things." - Year Five Teacher
"My class loved it! The children were engaged and enjoyed it." - Year Six Teacher
"I really enjoyed the morning and feeling the paper pulp" - Jessica aged 11
If you or your school are interested in a similar workshop designed to suit your every need, please don't hesitate to contact us on or call 01724 297070. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Crowle Primary Pupils Become Aztec Warriors!

Crowle Primary are studying the intriguing and beguiling world of the Aztecs! This week Years three and four came to visit the centre to be inspired by architecture and unusual printing techniques.
We started the day with drawing challenges to draw something to do with Aztecs in 20 seconds! This got everyone's creative juices flowing and made us think quickly as little artists for the rest of the day.
We took a trip around the gallery spaces to find architectural features that looked to be inspired by Aztec patterns. We thought about geometric shapes and repetition and drew our findings on research sheets.
Inspired by the drawings, we drew repeated shapes onto a piece of faom that became a relief pad for printing a repeated pattern over and over onto a template of a head dress.

We had to draw as many large feathers onto one piece of paper as possible and used these feathers as a stencil for something called screen printing. The screens are made of wood and silk which is pulled tight over the wooden frame. The silk allows ink to be pushed through its tiny tiny holes. Our stencils would make sure that only the feather shapes would be printed, meaning we could make lots of them from one sheet of paper. The feathers were dried, cut and folded to make them more 3D.

Using the foam relief pads, we printed onto the main body of our head dress, using block printing ink which is really bold and colourful. The feathers were attached along with the head of a bird (even though some people thought it was a frog). Aztecs were greatly inspired by nature and things around them. Birds were seen as gods and bird imagery was often used for warrior head dresses, which is why we used them to inspire our work today.

Once all the inks and glue were dry, the head resses could be assembled for us to wear on the bus home. We looked really colourful and bright walking across Church Square.

If you or your school are interested in the team at 20-21 building a bespoke workshop around your class topic, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us: 01724 297070 or email