Sunday 20 July 2014

Make your own ancient rockpool

Make your own ancient rockpool

We have used this easy technique many times.We designed it for public events where we would have to make a lot of rockpools with visitors in a short space of time but it is very versatile and you could adapt to suit your situation. While this was set up as an Ancient Landscape event you could of course make a modern rockpool, or perhaps a pond!

This activity guide uses the materials we used with notes about why we chose this or that

You will need
  • a dish - we used waxed card pie dishes (buy in packs from discount stores and supermarkets). Most of our dishes were white but the occasional blakc ones that we found worked well, too!
  • acrylic paint - to paint on the waxed card - we use large bottles but you could get some small tubes, or try mixing some poster or redimix paint with PVA glue and see if that works
  • paint brushes or sponges
  • Plastic plate to squirt the paint onto (easy to clean)

  • small sheets of card
  • coloured pens or pencils
  • sharp scissors
  • a small stapler (the smaller the better)
  • PVA glue
  • scraps of stuff: sponge, wool, carrier bag, felt, glitter, sand.....

some of our sources of ideas
Thinking about fossils
Our aim was to make a rockpool that you might have found if you could have gone walking along a Carboniferous seashore 300 million years ago. You might want to find pictures of some of the animals of the time to help you. Or maybe you have some fossils to look at? Or some plastic ancient sea creatures? Could you visit your local museum and do some drawings...Perhaps if you printed out this page and waved it at them, they would set up an event for all you ancient rockpoolers?

Prepare the pool
Cover your work surface with a sheet of paper - acylic paint can be hard to clean off. Cover yourself as well if you are a messy worker. You might want an old shirt rather than another sheet of paper

Select your rockpool colours: blue, green turquoise and raw ochre are often good. Smear them round the inside of your pool (paintbrush or painting sponge). You do not need to be too precise here. It is  background and more a sense of sand, rock and water that is needed rather than detailed painting

Set of one side to dry

Prepare the wildlife
Ok,. Now it’s up to you......

In this pool we have:

  • drawings or a trilobite and an ammonite (should we have coloured these in?)
  • drawing of a horseshoe crab that has been cut, folded and stapled to give it a more 3-D effect
  • drawing of a coral
  • fragments of one of my painting sponges have given us some rock
  • green wool and a shredded green carrier bag have give us some seaweed
  • Fingertip coral: this is another technique - we’ll post a “How-to” guide to that in a week or so

a lively stand of fingertip coral

Fitting the wildlife
You could glue everything straight onto the dish, or make little brackets to lift things up off the floor and wall a little

Brackets might be small bits of foam or thin strips of card either folded or zig-zagged into a spring

Carefully glue them in place.  A matchstick can be helpful in applying glue

Let it all dry, sit back and admire. Then go and tell someone about the day you found a trilobite.....or take and print a photo and send it as a postcard to someone else?

Or send us that photo and we’ll have a gallery of rockpools!
a richly populated rockpool at a workshop
rockpool in a mixing bowl

Thursday 3 April 2014

Draw your own trilobite!

As our project tides run out quietly, we thought we would keep ideas and activities going out there in the wider ancient seas of everyone else's lives.

We are going to produce several activity blogs to encourage you to explore fossil worlds creatively!

Draw your own trilobite
This might seem silly but we've found this little activity a useful one to encourage people to really look at and examine their fossils closely. The pattern given here is for a very general trilobite. There are so many different types that your personal one might be a very different shape. We suggest trying this pattern to give you a good sense of trilobitedness and confidence in your pencils. Then look at other trilobites and think about how proportions change….

1. Draw a cross: if the main line is 3 units long, put the crosspiece at 1 unit with arms of 1 unit each. Make a mark at the halfway point

2. Draw an oval using the tips of the cross as guide

3. Trilobite details
head: use the tips of cross-piece as guides  for the curve of your trilobite's head and that crosspiece or the half way point as a guide for the back edge of the cephalon (trilobite head)

4. Draw in segments across the thorax - 10 is a good number but on smaller drawings look crowded (exercise some artistic license). Look at the symmetry and try to make that what you do on one side you also do on the other

5. Trilobite features: head shield is a cephalon, middle bit: thorax, tail pygidium. Trilobite bean-shaped eyes are compound (lots of small facets)
 Underneath: lots of legs and gills

6. And just how colourful was a trilobite? Who knows? We do know that on our workshops, groups of Rainbow Trilobites often appear. The originals were probably - possibly - maybe - shades of grey or, like some modern crustaceans, they might have been reds and purples or coloured to suit their preferred habitats....

Trilobites in Derbyshire - were rare and fossils are even rarer! By the Carboniferous, the trilobites were fading away. After millions of years they were dwindling. If you really want to celebrate Trilobite richness, sink back still further in time and pay a visit to a Cambrian rockpool

Developments: try adjusting the intial cross to get a trilobite from different angles. Once you feel confident with quick drawings of these trilobites start shifting the proportions to extend those side spines on the head (look at Fallotaspis and others)

that initial cross was tilted and the cross piece shifted off-centre

Fingerpuppet trilobites

These can start with either a drawing like the one above or half a drawing, drawn onto a piece of folded card with the fold corresponding to the main line of the cross

Cut it out, cut a line in from the edge to the side of the eye (the longer the better usually). Fold the cephalon along this line, folding front over the sides. Staple in place. This will pull the head into a nice curve and the original fold will help shape the rest of the animal.

Add a ring of card to the underside, slide the puppet onto your finger and off you go! (Why not make one for every finger and have a family of them?)

Other trilobite models: the Australian Geological Survey Association do a lovely trilobite model printout. Australian trilobite model

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Life in limestone seas!

Life in limestone seas
make your own prehistoric puppet!
Date: Tuesday February 18th
Times: 2 sessions: 10.30 - 12.30, 1.30 - 3.30 
some colourful finger-trilobites
This is a drop-in activity, no booking is needed and there is no charge for materials (although donations are always gratefully received!)
Where: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Rd, Buxton, SK17 6DA
Inspired by the fossils of Peak District limestone, join the our artists and make your own finger-puppet trilobites or a rockpool full of ancient animals or some ferocious fossil fish model

This event will be held among the exhibits of the Museum's White Peak/Dark Peak exhibition where you can find out more about our local geology and see how our dramatic landscapes have inspired artists over the centuries
hand-held Dunklosteus (the originals were about 5m long!)

Monday 20 January 2014

The tide is still in!

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

our ancient seabed poses in a corner of the Gallery

The Ancient Landscape seabed is still cheerfully oozing (in a fluffy sort of way) in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery as part of the White Peak/Dark Peak exhibiton. if you are passing, please do drop in and stroke a seaweed

We have a public event on Tuesday 18th february: details will follow soon

you are advised to approach cautiously
a chair may offer good cover

...for a surreptitious approach
or you may loiter round a corner
the unsuspecting reef espied from behind a flipchart
triumph! a close encounter with with woolen wotsits! 

but please beware of the guardian seasquirts:
they have been known to swallow whole fingers

White Peak/Dark Peak runs until Saturday 22 February 2014
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
Terrace Rd
SK17 6DA

Opening hours during this period
Mondays: closed
Tuesday - Friday 9.30 - 5.30
Saturday: 9.30 - 5pm

Saturday 28 December 2013

Apple Day, 2013

the ammonite tree

A bit belated, but here are images from our Ancient Landscape activities at the Dove Valley Centre's delicious Apple Day but in October

We sent the AL artwork and artist) in as a reminder to visitors to look under their feet and to remember that the earth the fruit trees were growing in drew its form from the stony bones of the earth. And here those bones reflect the ancient seas of 300 million years ago….

preparing decorations 
a jellyfish is captured in wax crayon 
ready for action

the fossil streamer-tree

Saturday 21 December 2013

High tide again!

High Tide again

From December 14th to February 22nd 2014, our Ancient Landscape will be adding its own distinctive wooly touch to Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s “White Peak, Dark Peak” exhibition

Celebrating the inspiration that the gritty Dark Peak and softer landscapes of the limestone White Peak have offered  artists over the centuries, the exhibition features prints, paintings, finds and poems from the Museum collection. It includes several new pieces added to the collection during the Enlightenment! initiative.

Quietly loitering on one wall, is a poem by one of our own Ancient Landscape artists. Gordon MacLellan’s “The Hills are Waiting” is included as an invitation to visitors to step out and go exploring these dramatic landscapes for themselves.

Public events: we are planning a public event on Tuesday 18th February 2014 - more details to follow. There might be a weekend event as well...

Useful links:
The Museum’s Collections in the Landscape programme

who could resist paddling in this ancient sea?

Sunday 29 September 2013

Apple Day, 13th October

Apple Day
Sunday 13th October 
11.30 - 3.30

No, we're not fossilising apples nor pretending they are the first of the Carboniferous fruits! But thsi Apple Day falls from its tree deep in our ancient limestone landscape, just where muddy water shales meet the limestone of the lagoon floor
Add caption

So, our Ancient Landscape will be rippling itself around on this Apple Day to remind everyone of the geology under their orchard feet!

So come along and play with a trilobite or two!

And try some of the Apple Days activities as well:
apple tasting and identification
apple recipes
apple juicing
orchard wildlife walks
techniques for pruning your own trees
and other fruitful delights!

Where: Dove Valley Centre, Under Whitle, nr Longnor, SK17 0PR (on the road between Longnor and Sheen)
Cost: free!