Training Week in Helsinki

Training Week Programme

The second training week was hosted by Craft Teacher Education in Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki in the beginning of May 2016. The weather was exceptionally warm at this time of the year, and despite of busy programme we had the change to enjoy springtime Helsinki too!

Spring in Helsinki
Enjoying the sunshine!

For the start, Sirpa introduced the hosting institution, the Craft Teacher Education. Mari presented the workshop process in elderly care centre and related research activities. The workshops are designed and guided by craft student teachers who are performing their teaching practice in with elderly. The planning of the workshops with the student teachers begun in January and the actual workshops have been carried out in the last few weeks, this being the final week. Data for research has been collected by e.g. video recording the workshops and interviewing the student teachers.

Handmade Wellbeing team
Serious business!
Expert Lecturer & Workshop

In the afternoon, we had a visiting expert lecturer Marika Sarha from Finnish Pensioners’ Federation. Marika is the project manager of Life with Hands, a current project aiming to inspire elderly to be creative and use arts and crafts methods in voluntary work and clubs. To follow this aim, national courses are arranged to educate volunteers about creativity and different kind of methods and techniques for them to utilise in their voluntary work. Also other activities have been and are arranged, for example a magnificent Cow Parade as part of the cultural theme of the federation’s annual meeting.

The big idea of the Life with Hands -project is that being creative and making by hands are for everyone. Creativity doesn’t vanish when you get older, but instead, should be encouraged.

Marika Sarha, The Finnish Pensioners' Federation

After lecture Marika decided it is time for some hands-on action. Marika and her collegue in the project, Johanna Kivelä, guided a workshop where we got a chance to be creative ourselves and make a collaborative rya wall hanging! This was a modern version of traditional Finnish handicraft, rya rug, with a bit rougher materials. Making is easier in bigger scale which makes this suitable for anyone, from children to elderly!

Rya workshop
Tracy & Andrea working on the collaborative rya wall hanging

Looks like a lot of fun!

Rya workshop
Ready! The result of collaboration presented by Jenny & Madeleine.
Observing the Workshops in Care Centre

On Tuesday morning we headed for the elderly care centre to observe the workshops guided by student teachers and to learn about elderly care in this centre in general.

This is a big care centre with many residential departments and day care centres. There is also a service centre, open for retired and unemployed persons living at home. Service centre provides many different kind of activities, e.g. study circles, physical exercise, social and health counselling. They have a handicraft centre, in which some craft courses are arranged, but it is also open for independent projects. You can find for example weaving looms and sewing machines here. So, you just pop in and start with your project!

Two student teachers had their workshop in service centre. This was a small part of their teaching practice, a one day workshop. The theme was dyeing wool and yarn with Kool Aid – soft drink powder. The participants seemed to be excited about this workshop, and it looked like fun. All the wonderful colours!

kool aid dyeing
Dyeing wool and yarn with Kool Aid drink!

After service centre we split in two groups. The other group was first observing the CD weaving workshop in day activities centre, and the other one was touring the care centre area with one of the head nurses.

The idea of this workshop was to weave different kind of yarns of one’s own choice over an old CD. Everyone could make as many as they can, and in the final session the CDs would be combined in to a wall hanging, that is to be placed in day activities centre for all the visitors to admire. This was the 5th session, the one before the last one. The participants are elderly persons with memory disorders. They live at home, but visit the day activities centre once or twice a week.

Read more about the workshop HERE.

Crafts workshop with elderly
CD weaving workshop
Traditional Rya Rug Workshop

After lunch in care centre we returned to university, where craft student teacher Saila Hellsten gave a presentation and a workshop about the traditional rya (or ryijy in Finnish). See Saila’s presentation here.

rya rug workshop
Sewing small samples of rya in rya rug workshop by craft student teacher Saila Hellstén.

Traditional rya rugs can be made either by weaving with looms or sewing on sparse fabric, and for a short workshop sewing is obviously an easier option!

The theme of the workshop was forest. Each one could decide, what does the forest represent to them; something scary, fun, or both.

rya rug workshop
This is how it works!

This kind of masterpieces we got!

Rya rug is actually a type of craft familiar to many elderly, and it is a common decoration textile in Finnish homes. It is very valued and the makers are too, because traditionally the rya rugs are very big (appr. 125x165cm) and it’s a lot of work to finish one.

It is common that pupils sew small rya rugs in comprehensive school.

rya rug workshop
Good work! The theme and inspiration of the workshop was the forest
Crafts in Finnish Comprehensive School

Wednesday morning was for reflection session about the workshops in care centre the day earlier.

In the afternoon we explored the Finnish craft education in comprehensive school, and paid a visit in one of the teacher training schools of University of Helsinki, Helsingin normaalilyseo. In Finland, the school subject crafts is compulsory in years 1-7 and optional in years 8-9. All pupils learn to work with different kinds of materials and techniques, e.g. textile, wood, metal and plastic. Arts and crafts have a strong position in Finnish school system, because they develop the pupils’ personality and both artistic and motoric skills.

Handmade Wellbeing partners visiting Helsingin Normaalilyseo craft class
Handmade Wellbeing -partners visiting technical crafts class in Helsingin Normaalilyseo

There are separate classrooms for different materials and the equipment needed. The classroom for textiles craft is equipped with sewing machines and everything you would need for sewing, fabric dyes, yarns, papers, paints, all kinds of fabric decorations… All materials found in the classroom are free for pupils, but it is an essential part of learning crafts to also learn how to use materials wise and not to waste. Recycling, upcycling and remaking is popular and encouraged, and also the lesson we observed was about remaking fashion and clothes.

Handmade Wellbeing visit to Helsingin normaalilyseo craft class
Clothes design by draping newspapers at Helsingin Normaalilyseo crafts class.

Another crafts classroom is for hard materials such as wood and metal with all kinds of machines. The visitors were amazed about pupils being allowed to use the machinery. Safety education is an essential part of craft education!

Machinery in crafts class
Machinery in crafts class
Cultural Activities

Thursday was for cultural activities. In the morning all the partners could visit cultural sites of their choice, like museums and such. Visits were paid to Finnish National Museum, Finnish National Gallery Ateneum, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma etc.

In the afternoon we headed for the Unesco World Heritage site, the fortress of Suomenlinna. Work on this fortress begun in 1748, during the Swedish era in Finland. The fortress is located on a group of islands in front of Helsinki, and it is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, definitely a must-see in Helsinki! There are actually residents on the islands, so it’s not only a tourist attraction.

visit to suomenlinna
Handmade Wellbeing Team in the Fortress of Suomenlinna

There are museums on the island, as well as arts and crafts galleries and shops, restaurants and cafés. Locals like to come to Suomenlinna on a sunny day and have a picnic. For first time visitors, it is popular and recommendable to walk the main route across the fortress, along which all the main sights are located.

Fortress of Suomenlinna
Ready, aim, fire!
Reflections & Educational Model
Handmade Wellbeing educational model
First Draft of Educational Model