In the run up to Christmas myself and a couple of friends were talking about gifts, and how it would be nice to give ‘experiences’. We discussed a couple of ideas of ‘experiences’ that would be viable in lockdown and in the end I came up with the workshop idea that I am going to talk about here. As it happened the other ideas didn’t come to fruition although perhaps in the future they will do so.

I sent a packet to each participant for Christmas, with an invite to the workshop. They were requested not to open the packet until told so. Not that the contents were particularly exciting, but it meant everything would be kept together until needed. The packets contained: A4 paper, a newspaper, glue spatulas and glue (for those I thought wouldn’t have any at home). We arranged an afternoon when all would be free and then met up via Zoom. The technology a year ago many of us had barely heard of and now is a mainstay of work and social life!

I had of course prepared one earlier (the previous weekend) to be able to show people what I wanted them to make. My first offering was “The Little Book of And”. During the workshop I followed this up with “The Book, The The”.

The workshop was split into two, during the first half I took people step by step in making the actual structure of the book. Once we had the structure, then we could turn to the content.

I hoped that people would use words – although I encouraged the children (and any adults too) to use stickers and felt-tip pens too. The reason I sent them a newspaper was in case they didn’t have any magazines or anything else to cut up. My father-in-law gets a paper every day and when we visit we tend to take them home so use in the cat litter tray, so we had a spare stash.

So, words…I suggested creating a found poem, or choosing one word or letter and finding lots of instances of it, or picking a theme, telling a story – whatever they felt inspired to create. Then we sat and got on with our cutting and sticking, chatting along the way, showing things we’d found that were amusing, or expressing frustration at not finding what we needed.

The end results were (in my opinion) fabulous, and everyone’s creation was totally unique. People had taken directions I hadn’t even thought of and I was so happy with the results. It was an afternoon spent with friends, albeit virtually, and everyone came away with a created object, their own mini book. Not all were finished on the day, but their creators carried on in the own time to complete them.

Here are a few photos: