On Saturday 26th April 2014 we had another workshop at the Poly. 14 people were at the workshop where we made bunnies based on Sue’s project, 1000 Bunnies.
All the people who came have attended previous sessions, apart from the guests that some brought. A sense of group identity: of people who are comfortable with one another, is starting to emerge and it’s great that people are bringing friends and family members in.
This is a workshop that Sue has run on many occasions, mostly with children, and she introduced the concept behind the ‘bunny project’, which began when she was working at the Eden project and was amazed by the large number of garments that had gathered in lost property and never been reclaimed. This provided some discussion about waste and re-use. Su initiated her 1000 bunnies (www.bunnylove.co.uk) project, a response that combines the politics of ecology, sustainability with the fun of creative making, and reflecting through doing.
Sue began by reminding us about the significance of the date, 24th April 2013, when the Rana Plaza textile factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh causing the deaths of 1,129 people and injuring thousands more; she drew our attention to on-going efforts to commemorate the day worldwide. Su’s workshop is part of a larger project that aims to raise consciousness about waste while taking part in a fun activity and sharing skills. She showed us the book of textile swatches/brand logos from all the good collected at Eden and re-circulated via the bunnies; she also showed us her bunny basket, full of bunnies made from the garments, her sewn texts communicating the project ethos, all those who have helped her to date, and the pile of ready-cut pieces that she had prepared for the workshop.
After the flurry of activity involved in selecting sewing pieces, a hush of concentration and what Sue remarked the “soft noise of scissors” descended over the room. A group discussion about the time involved in making the 1000 bunnies developed. Reflecting on the time and effort involved in making things, and the real life cost of cheap textile goods is an important part of this activity, and something that people were keen to discuss. Su remarked on how often ‘ugly’ garments are transformed when the scale changes and take on new appeal. Stuffing the bunnies with the fillings from old duvets was next, and then people started the design process – sewing buttons for eyes – riffling through the button boxes produced the sound of shells on a beach – embroidering faces onto the bunnies and creating their personalities; or rather letting their personalities emerge. This led to great hilarity and much laughter as the bunnies took on a life of their own and people’s ‘inner bunnies’ emerged! ‘Lodge a complaint bunny’, ‘rock chick bunny with piercings and tattoo’, ‘Mercenary bunny – with buttons from an army uniform ’, ‘constructionist bunny – complete with a Bauhaus label’, were only a few of the many bunnies named. Discussion ranged from current textile exhibitions and museums to visit to stories about teaching crafting and sewing skills to others and the pleasure and fulfilment this brings, particularly when people take things further using their own ingenuity and creativity. Laughter filled the room as people started ‘bringing the bunnies to life’ and wandering about to see what others had done.
We were all amazed by the variety of bunnies that emerged from one simple pre-cut pattern, reflecting how this was so different to the ‘choice’ (no-choice) of consumerism.
The session ended with a demonstration of how to sign into the Making Things Together platform with quite a number of the group eager to get signed up and start sharing.
Extracts from the Doily Archive:
What Have I Learnt?
“ways to reuse stuff in fun ways”
“craft as politics = love that!”
“how lost property can be given a new lease of life by being made into a bunny!; Mottainai – Japanese term for the sense of grief over the waste of resources – the lovely word Mottainai; Ideas for sharing and will be”
“another craft; making use of recycled materials; about other countries; how ‘bunnies’ can help children”
“that there is no ‘away’; stories always get told/made/created when a group of people get together, no matter the context; ‘making things’ is often more fun in groups; there is creativity and potential even in ‘waste’; aesthetics define an item’s level of ‘acceptability’”
“value of fabric and how many lives it can have; working in a group creates a relaxed shared atmosphere; to experiment without any fear of failure; re-cycle or more importantly reduce consumption; the concept adds value and context to finished bunny; the group encourages experimentation by seeing what others have done; the fun of being in a group that fosters creativity”
“how to make a bunny with personality; reduce, reuse, recycling; info/knowledge of theme; mottainai – no waste; encouragement to RRR old garments more often”
“That it’s been a year since the Bangladesh factory disaster; that display is all-important when it comes to collections; that we search for stories (narrative personality) in the things we make; that I really, really, REALLY need to make time to make stuff. My brain/self/heart is ENTIRELY different from how it was at 10am”
“to create something; to recycle materials; to make cute bunnies”
What Have I Shared?
“memories of my dad; Some tips about sewing; Hilarity; A little more than I’d expected about my woo approach to naming things”
“time with like-minded people; stories; words”
“stories about emotional attachment to objects; past sewing history; my ‘bunny’history”
“giggles; the fund of making; stories”
“people ideas; people designs”
“laughter, memories, a happy atmosphere”
“Quite quiet today; shared what I’d like my bunny to look like; I suppose, thinking about what the story is about the way you decorate your rabbit!”
“My love of the colour ‘pink’; my sense of humour; my lack of expertise with anything practical!!”