Bring your dreams to life

‘In our forest, everyone can reach out and touch their dreams.’ This summer, artist Jenny Langley and storyteller Marion Leeper have been working along SENSE families and staff in six different areas of the country to make a multi-sensory piece of textile art, the Forest of Dreams. Our workshop days were full of laughter, chat, and mountains of fabric everywhere. There were many different activities as we made artwork top put in the final ‘Forest of Dreams’.  The work of children, parents, and staff sat alongside Jenny’s professional artwork, all valued equally.

Sean sewing
I thought I couldn’t sew…
... but look what I've done!
… but look what I’ve done!







Here are some of the activities that were particularly fun and easy to do: perhaps you could make your own textile ‘dream’ at home.

Leila' sister rolled the felt on her hand.
Leila’ sister rolled the felt onto her hand.

Felting was the most popular activity in all the centres. It’s easy to adapt so that everyone can enjoy having a go. Leila doesn’t have much movement in her limbs, but she enjoyed the feel of the soft wool, and the warm soapy water.

Some participants went on to make complicated shapes and techniques. With the group in Wales, we wrote our dreams on a long strip of paper and felted the paper into wool ‘rovings’.

felting our dreams!
felting our dreams!

Jenny’s detailed guide to felting techniques is available here.

Zusha and her sister Natasha had a great time ripping fabric together. We used recycled fabric – some of it from SENSE charity shops.

a ripping time
Natasha loved the sound of fabric ripping . Afterwards she kept making pulling movements with her hands.

We used the ripped fabric for plaiting and knotting and wrapping.

wrapping a hoop
We wrapped fabric round hoops, rings, even panscourers.

‘We’ve all got things we’re specially good at, and Ellie, you are the queen of wrapping!’ said Val.

Testing the birds out in Bristol
Testing the birds out in Bristol


In Birmingham we had the idea of combining fabric strips with feathers to make birds: the other groups enjoyed this too.



The activities were fun for adults too; especially the finger-knitting.

'I'm going to do more at home to make toys for my cat!'
‘I’m going to do more at home to make toys for my cat!’

In Bristol, they liked the messy activities best.

glueing rattan balls
Thomas likes playing with glue!



Thomas chose fabrics and threads to decorate a rattan ball and rolled it in glue to stick them on.



Other people liked sorting through our ‘feelie basket’ of fabrics. Mandy at Touchbase London spent nearly a whole session taking the different textured fabrics out one at a time and choosing the ones she liked best.

testing the birds out in Bristol
Logan and his dad play a tickling game

Logan showed his dad by the way he looked at the feather that he was enjoying the game they were playing.



tom's work of art
tom’s work of art

In Wales, Tom made his own art installation using all the chairs and fabric he could find!





Everybody found their own way of having fun with  textiles and we hope you do too.

Here is our forest, with some of the dreams we made: tweet us your dreams at @sensetweets #forestofdreams.

What dream would you like to add?
What dream would you like to add?



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