This Easter we have welcomed a new exhibition into our Special Exhibition Gallery. HOOT (Happy Owls on Tour) is home to 60 felt owl wall hangings, designed and made by 60 units of Brownies in Cumbria North as part of the celebrations in 2014 for the Big Brownie Birthday. You’ll have to be quick to catch them though, they’re only here for a flying visit before heading off to their next perch on the 19th of April.
The Brownies celebrated 100 years of Brownies and created the Owls with the help of Girlguiding Cumbria North’s Assistant County Commissioner and local artist, Karen MacDougall. The Owls were first seen together at Muncaster when over 3,000 Brownies celebrated with the biggest ever birthday party!
The Brownies were given a brief and created a number of designs for their hanging. Some units voted for their favourite design, other units chose a little bit from each – different ways of showing democracy and how Guiding helps girls to make decisions.
Karen MacDougall is an artist who works with communities, she took the girl’s sketches and worked out how these could be made in felt and made up felting packs for each unit.
Karen led all the felt making sessions, step by step, teaching and encouraging as girls, leaders and helpers from different units came together in halls throughout Cumbria North. The Trefoil Guild helped stitch on badges and tabs to the felts so that they can be exhibited in professional galleries and museums.
Leaders learned something new and felt confident to be able to do more with their units. Everyone was amazed at the process and the results. The Owl hangings will become souvenirs and part of their unit’s history for the next 100 years.
Karen tells us how to make felt,
“To make felt you need soap (alkali), water (warm), fibres and friction (we rubbed for ages) in a controlled way. Bubblewrap was used (and reused until it fell apart) to give us extra fingers to shorten the rubbing time and the hanging was finished by rolling in bamboo mats and then rinsed, squeezed and then dried flat.”
On Sunday 12 April we will be holding a fun and informal craft session to make a free owl themed souvenir of your visit to see HOOT between 1pm – 4pm. You can also find out more about Brownies, Rainbows, Guides, Senior Section and Adult Volunteering opportunities in your area of Cumbria.