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Hannah King, Maia O’Neill and Grace Copner collecting the freshen shorn wool fleece during their traditional crafts project on the Story of Wool at Clouna National School. Photography by Eugene McCafferty

Kids’ shear joy in story of wool

Clouna pupils treated to display of sheep shearing as part of their Story Of Wool project for Cruinniú na nÓg

THE creative work of children in a North Clare national school will be showcased as part of an exhibition for Cruinniú na nÓg on June 12, subject to Covid-19 guidelines.
Scoil Cholmcille, Clouna has been a hive of activity and imagination in recent weeks as the
children were introduced to The Story of Wool, first from a heritage perspective, including where the wool comes from, how it is carded, dyed and spun.
They learned how wool takes on various forms moving on to the various uses such as felting, knitting and crochet.
Students discovered how felt is made through the process of bonding wool fibres together and have designed and made their own pieces of felt, using the wet felting method, which they have used to make a pencil case.
They are currently in the final phase of the project and all the participants will be introduced to more felt making techniques.
They will have the freedom to take the project in a direction of their choice to make felted items, weaving and felt pictures.
All of this innovative project has been documented through video and it is hoped this can be displayed on June 12 with a short film about the creative process.
Children were guided through the project by textile craft teacher, Susanna Anker, who is originally from Switzerland, and has been living in Kilmihil since 1992.
Based in Raheen Steiner School three days a week, she also visits schools where she teaches children about the heritage of wool and how people made clothes in olden times.
She has built up a wealth of experience delivering textile craft workshops to children, adults and people with special needs.
Her workshops introduce children to the world of wool, where it comes from and how it is spun, dyed woven and felted.
Children are given a chance to spin their own wool and to create their own pencil case, wall-hanging or to make a weaving loom from recycled cardboard.
Students can examine a range of sheep’s wool skins, dyed using locally-grown plants.
In The Story of Wool project, she taught children how to make natural dye and to make items, designs, shapes and textures from wool creatively.
This included making pencil cases and lion masks as well as felting using hot water and salt to join wool fibres together. Felting is an ancient craft that has been performed for thousands of years.
Principal, Éadaoin Ryan said the whole project was “fantastic” for children, who were very excited about what they have learned.
She said the school were very fortunate that Cruinniú na nÓg Clare sponsored the project, which gave teachers the opportunity to teach children this special gift.
“It is unusual to have a sheep shearer coming to a school, particularly with Covid-19, as we are very restricted in terms of visitors coming into the premises.
“We were very lucky to be able to have the sheep shearer on site on such a fine day. The whole project has been hugely educational.
“The students learned a lot about the history and heritage of wool in Ireland and the importance of sheep long ago.
“They learned about cleaning, dyeing the wool using natural products and using the old fashioned drop spindles and spinning wheel as well as how to use some of the creative processes with the wool such as felting, knitting and crochet.
“The project follows the whole process from farm to different creative processes.”
Third Class student, Harry Copner (9), enjoyed learning how to make a lion’s face out of wool.
Maye O’Neill (11), Fifth Class, said it was fun learning about the history of wool and making new items. Josh Reidy (12), Sixth Class, said it was cool learning about carding and how people made goods in the past without the benefit of modern equipment.
Hannah King (11), Fifth Class, said they learned how to be creative with wool, making a pencil case and 3D art.
Jack Lavin, (12) Sixth Class, enjoyed felting and learning how to sew. Sean Carmody, (11), Fifth Class, described the overall project as very interesting and enjoyable.

By Dan Danaher

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