Once upon a time, Gordon MacLellan, an inspirational environmental educator, gave us a small lump of clay. He prompted us to make a round ball with the clay and then turn it into a ‘somebody’. He suggested we start by looking for something with which to make the eyes… seed pods, seeds, sticks with buds on the end… “anything that takes your fancy, and then fix them into or onto the blob.” And so a blobster was born!
Blobster making is an incredibly versatile activity of which I never get bored. It’s a chance to play God, to make creatures of your wildest imagination and to remember that our bodies are all made of the earth and the beings that live and grow on it. Blobsters can be any shape you like, can have as many eyes, arms, legs, hair, spines, wings, teeth, heads as you like - the opportunities are endless and change with the environment and the seasons.
If you want to use soft stemmed flowers, like daisies, as eyes, then try making a hole with a little twig in the blob first, then poke in the flower stem. Use hidden sticks to pin blobs together. Wrap clay around twigs to make snakes and other kinds of long thin blobsters. Remember to have respect for what you use or pick. The way I convey this is to say something like: “There are Nature Spirits in everything. We need to say thank you to each one before we pick something from Nature to stick into the clay”. For older age groups I tell them a wise saying I heard from my childhood in Africa that “every tree has a spirit that the careful listener can hear and understand”. It follows that every plant has a spirit, and it may be wise to give thanks for the things they provide. Sometimes, to emphasise the point, I slap a blob onto the bark of a tree and make the face of a spirit as suggested by the tree, pressing in leaves as hair. While modelling, I talk about the green man, the Celtic protector of the wyldwood, reminding listeners of the more animist, pre-Christian roots of this green and pleasant land.
You will need blobs of clay or sticky mud (from a riverbank, a hole in the garden, a bag of clay from the pottery suppliers) and some natural objects to stick into the blob.
“Come on in everyone, let’s make a toe-to-toe circle.” A toe-to-toe circle is a way of getting people to stand in a circle without having to hold hands - they arrange themselves with their toes and outsides of the feet/shoes touching instead.
“We are going to make blobsters. Blobsters are characters made from blobs of clay with bits of nature stuck into them.” Taking some clay off the lump (or out of the bag), I start by making a demo blobster, often telling the Mama Africa story at the same time.
Hand out blobs and guard the clay from people wanting to make herds of blobsters.
Children love to name their blobsters, give them a home or make up lives for their blobster, so round off the session with a circle time, when everyone gets the chance to share the name of their blobster and show it to the group. If there is time, each person can say a little more.
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