#LetsMakeWednesdays – Spring!

March 24, 2021

Step into Spring!

Hooray – spring is upon us. Spring is a wonderful time of the year – a time of change when something new and exciting can begin. It brings warm rays of sunshine, new leaves on trees and the enchanting smell of flower blossoms. In Spring, the days become longer and warmer.

Can you think of any flowers that grow outside at this time of the year? Have a look at some examples of Spring flowers from the V&A collection to help you.

Clockwise from top left: 'Cream jug’, by Clarice Cliff, 1928. Mus. no. CIRC.674-1975 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London / 'Primroses’, biscuit tin by Hudson, Scott & Sons, 1930. Mus no. M.123-1983 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London / ‘Wilhelm Pantomime Designs’, drawing by Wilhelm (Charles William Pitcher), 1890. Mus no. S.90-2011© The Victoria and Albert Museum, London / ‘Oriana’, furnishing fabric by Althea McNish, 1960s. Mus. no. T.179-1989 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Can you find crocuses painted on the cream jug, primroses printed on the biscuit tin, a daffodil in the pantomime costume and purple flower on the furnishing fabric?

Spring has always been a big inspiration for many artists and designers. Have a look at this version of the painting, La Primavera, which means Spring in Italian. The original is by the famous artist Sandro Botticelli. It shows a group of mythical creatures in a garden full of orange trees and blossoms. One of the characters is Flora, the goddess of Spring and flowers. Can you tell which one she is?

'Copy after La Primavera, Sandro Botticelli in the Uffizi (Florence)’, copied by Emilio Constantini after Sandro Botticelli, 1860-1880. Mus no. E.34-1995 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Flora is walking on the lawn wearing a white dress covered in flowers. Her headpiece is also made of flowers. She is sprinkling flower blossoms around her as she walks. This is how Botticelli imagined what Spring might look like if it was a person. Do you think she looks like Spring?

Can you spot the character Zephyrus on the right? He is a symbol of the biting March wind. He’s making way for Flora and Spring to come. What colour is he? How do we know he represents the cold wind?

Would you change or add anything to her look to improve the painting? What about adding a hat made by milliner Phillip Treacy?

Left: 'Hat’, designed by Philip Treacy, 2011. Mus No. T.64-2012 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Right: Butterfly headdress, Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen, La Dame Bleue, Spring/Summer 2008, Britain. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London/Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Let’s design an accessory for the goddess or god of Spring!

Step (or look) outside to find some inspiration for your Spring accessory. What can you see that shows us Spring is nearly here? Are there flowers of various shapes, sizes and colours? Maybe insects flying in the air, or rays of sunshine?

Think about what you would like to make. Your accessory can decorate any part of your body. It might be a headdress, a hat, a bracelet, a neckless, a cape – or something else.

Now gather your materials. You will need:

  • Coloured card or cartridge paper; you can also use magazines, tissue paper, or newspapers
  • Glue, a glue stick, sticky tape, or masking tape
  • Stapler with staples
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Pencils, felt tips or pens

How to make a Spring accessory:

1. Draw your accessory idea on paper. Think about what inspired you outside. Draw some of the shapes and colours that represent Spring. When drawing your idea, think about how your accessory will attach to your body.

2. To start making your design, cut a strip of paper long enough to fit around your head, wrists, tummy or wherever you want to wear it.

3. Use the glue, tape or stapler to fasten the strip at the end to make a band. This is the structure for your accessory. Cut your Spring inspired shapes and begin to attach them to your band. Are these flowers, plants, animals or butterfly shapes? Or are they another shape or design?

Our example of making paper flowers. Image © V&A
  1. Build up layers of card shapes to create a structure like the V&A collection headdress examples.
  2. You can further decorate your accessory by drawing or colouring onto your layered paper shapes.
  3. Try your accessory on for size. How does it fit? Is it comfortable? Does it stay on when you move around? Does anything in your design need to change?

Well done for making your own Spring accessory! Show your friends and family. They might be inspired to make their own to celebrate the arrival of Spring!

Our example of a Spring inspired headdress. Image © V&A

Let’s look at it another way! 

It’s time for another activity, this time with a twist! Can you think of another meaning of the word ‘spring’? You guessed it! Put a spring in your step and leap into the new season! In this activity, put on your inventor head. You will invent a pair of Spring shoes!

In Japan, ‘geta’ shoes are worn with a kimono, an often-treasured piece of Japanese clothing. Geta shoes were designed to and save a kimono from muddy splatters. In this way, geta shoes were just perfect to wear in Spring weather!

Geta shoes can be unique in their design and adorned with rich decorations. This pair of geta shoes from the V&A collection were made recently by Japanese designer Noritaka Tatehana. They are 15 centimeters tall! Do you think they would be comfortable to wear?

‘Pair of Geta’ by Noritaka Tatehana, 2009. Mus No. FE.51:1,2-2012 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

What is the weather like in Spring where you live? In the UK, it still rains a lot this time of year, so we need to choose the right footwear to keep our feet dry. Could you invent a new type of shoe to help you jump over puddles?  

‘Pair of Moon Shoes’, by unknown maker, 1950 – 1960. Mus no. B.3-2016 © The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

You could hack a pair of shoes that you already own if you like. We chose a pair of summer sandals and made them suitable for running through muddy puddles! For this activity you will need:

  • Paper or card to sketch your ideas
  • Pencils, felt tips, pens or crayons to sketch with
  • A soft material to make the body of your shoe. This can be cardboard, tin foil, old fabric or your own shoes (just make sure that you don’t damage your shoes when innovating!)
  • Cardboard tube, egg box or similar things
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape, string or stapler with staples

To invent a pair of Spring shoes:

  1. Decide if you will use a pair of your own shoes or want to create a completely new pair. Think about what your Spring shoes will look like. What challenge do you want to tackle with your invention? Will you create giant springs, or big soles to keep out of splashy puddles or big grips to stop you falling in the mud? Draw a quick sketch to help you work out your ideas! You could add notes to your ideas to help explain your design to others.
  2. If you want to make your own base, draw around your feet on a piece of thick card or cardboard and cut it out.
  3. Once you have a base, get sticking, wrapping in foil or fabric, and creating your shoes!
Our example of hacking a summer sandal into a Spring shoe! Image © V&A

Think about how you will attach your shoes to your feet. Will you need to tie your shoes on? Can you use sticky tape? If you used one of your own shoes, simply slip them on.

Our example of a Spring shoe invention. Image © V&A

Test your cool invention in real Spring conditions in the garden or park. Did your shoes stand the test, or do you need to make improvements?

Well done for making your designs today! Don’t forget to share images of your creations with us on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays and #VamFamilies

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