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A New Totem Tradition

On Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th June every student in KS2, KS3, KS4 and KS5 had the opportunity to work with two totem pole carving artists – Mel and Will – who had previously worked with Forest School so they were both familiar with our students.

In preparation for the day students tried out soap carving to understand the concept of ‘taking away’ in order to create the design compared with clay where you build up and model with it.

Although the students had all produced some fabulous Native American designs in Art, the carving process was quite tricky so we had to scale down our expectations.

First they were taught how to peel the bark from the tree trunk using a double handled draw blade. The students loved this process and found it very gratifying; describing it like peeling a carrot or cucumber.

Next they carved into the trunk a simple design of choice using chisels. Every single student who came to take part was really calm, sensible and remained focused for a long stretch of time.

They all really enjoyed the activity; it was a big success! Once the poles have been stained they will be situated at the entrance to Forest School.

We hope to repeat this annually and students will be able to visit their totem poles as they grow and develop through the school, we hope to have a ‘forest’ of totem poles one day!

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