A masterclass in bespoke model-train design

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Here are some photos from the session that David Seagrave gave a couple of weeks ago now, demonstrating his different model trains and train sets he has put together carefuly and very attentively all from recycled materials. David is a very erudtie and outspoken man and taught us some in depth information on the care and concern that goes into his deisgns and constructions, based upon different trains and railways which he chooses for specific purposes. He also showed us how to mkae the basic chassis from an old license plate, lollipop sticks, cardboard and a tin can.

I would like to express many thanks to David for coming down, and if anyone would like to get in touch with him then contact him through the Adult Learning Project in Tolcross, or follow his passionate creative writings at


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Forest ‘Free-school’ Workshops

This is the final schedule for this weekends Forest Cafe Free-school as part of The Meadows Festival in Edinburgh: Much to do and learn and get involved with. Do come down at any point to explore some of the multifarious skills and ideas on offer, and to sample the kinds of things the Forest Cafe supports and helps run.

Saturday 5th June – (Scotland’s National ‘Pass-it-on’ Day)
11am – Self Defense for beginners with David
12pm – Recycling Jewellery Making with Colleen
1pm – Quilling with Catherine
2 pm – Monster Making with Cornelia and Lizzie
3 pm – ‘Crazy Chemicals’ with Magnetic Matt
4 pm -Mask Making with Elisa, Micki, Will and others

Sunday 6th June
11am – Qi Gong with Rob
12pm – Moodmapping with Caroline
1pm – Goethean Observation of a Nettle with Roland
2pm – Exotic Plants with Mahboob
3pm – Canguro (Kindergarden games and sports) with Kasia
4pm – Gaelic with Marc

Anyone interested in helping in any way then please get in touch.

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Forest free-school at the Meadows Festival

Following on from sentiments suggested in the last post; technology can often become a victim of its own success. That is, it’s own market use and value often dominates and monopolizes its own materiality and potentiality, determining how we approach it and use it. Education, which focuses on the increasing specialisation and self referential system of clarification (inherent in the canonistical system of footnoting rules and regulations in social scientific academia) can suffer a similar fate.

Creative Recycling Technologies acts as a practical way to re-condition materials in different ways to both learn and think about its other possible uses and esthetics, but also to develop a greater sense for the form, structure and identity of the thing produced. Creative Technical Learning, as talks, demonstrations, presentations and workshops in alternative ways to approach and engage with different materials, and ideas, and the physical world, seeks to do a similar thing through education.

I personally feel that I tend to learn best through making, creating or doing something, and understand most clearly through teaching. It is in this way that through teaching in a skill sharing session and through practical interactive demonstration I gather a better sense of the thing I am trying to demonstrate or try out, in the same ways that other participants are interacting and learning in that process. Being able to share a sense of empathy and a similar level of understanding through the educational experience is very important.

To use an old analogy, if education is not treated as a method to fill an empty glass, but rather a way to ignite a spark then we can all share some skill, idea, craft or game with potential to light the fire of someone else’s curiosity, thoughts, inspiration, and engaged learning.

From Joesph Beuys Free International University, to the Da Galleries Temporary School of Thought, PS122 Galleries summer school, The Edu-factory collective, The Treehouse Gallery in London, and Edinburgh’s own ‘Don’t DIY Alone’ and Outdoor Skillshare events, these happenings are occuring all over in a multiple number of different styles, environments and approaches. What is shared and learnt is not just dependent upon the content, but the space and the environment this occurs within is also absolutely integral to how the whole matter is broached and experienced.

Through temporary integrated learning environments or educational happenings the space is created through which different ways of learning as a form of deep social and personal experience, can evolve and take place in bespoke and unique settings. It is in this vain that the Forest Free-school will be hoping to extend the workshops and activities from the Free-fair outwards from the Forest Hall to the new and different spaces.

With the fine and fair Meadows festival soon to be upon us, it is a perfect chance to get out of cavernous studies and into the open to share our winters work, thoughts and practices. This is an opportunity to help try to foster one of these active Creative Technical Learning environments through which anyone can take part on any sort of topic, skill, craft, art or idea. We will have 1 hour slots for people to come to run a session on anything they would like or have hidden in their pouch. To coincide with Scotland’s 1st ‘Pass-it-on’ day on Saturday we would like to have workshops specifically themed around crafts where participants can make something themselves and take it home to give to someone or pass-it-on if possible.

We seem to learn best by teaching, so why not try and share one of your passionate obsessions with others, or even try teaching something completely new you have never tried before.

There are a limited number of slots to do workshops so please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested, what day and time you can do, and what general, or specific, theme you would like to unleash on the meadows.

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Creative Recycling Technologies; technical education in the shaping of form and character

A couple weeks ago now a man called David Seagrave came along for one of the One Man’s Junk workshops. David is a lifelong enthusiastic and experienced artisan in the art of scrappage salvage. His passion and belief in it as a constructive art and practice was very clear through his multifarious examples of re-uses for different scrap and insistence on how far its benefit is apparent as form of model engineering and as a service is philanthropy. David has spent much of his life re-salvaging materials to build model railway sets, landscape dioramas and adapted apparel. He was very ardent that through the processes of creating model versions of trains, machines, environments and other material objects we can learn, through having to shape these with our own hands with the materials available, to, not just emulate and imitate, but engineer and develop form through greater engagement and control over how we identify with it and shape its character.

Today there are still limitations to the access most people have to shaping both the form AND character of things produced or developed; both technical and environmental. David is clearly dedicated to using scrap materials to build model objects (Creative Recycling Technologies) as a way to try to challenge and change this. Essentially and importantly for him every part could me made from recycled materials and, as such, could be affordable and accessible for all and also involves individual and idiosyncratic attention to detail and form, and thus its character. Through involving yourself directly in this process it also consequently affects your own character and relation to the thing produced and the experience, knowledge and relations it is based upon.

It is in way that replication of objects through Creative Recycling Technology can not only have benefits for the understanding and awareness of the thing replicated, but also helps to develop a greater connection with these things that we engage with in everyday life and live amongst, and how they relate back to us. It is as such that it acts as a service in philanthropy, providing people with their own means of engaging with their own environment and learning greater forms of empathy for the things that inhabit our world and how they are formed, but also how these affect others in ways that are not always apparent from the objects conventional ‘use-value’ or purpose.

I found the ideas that David discussed and actively demonstrated of great inspiration, and I would like to think that they could apply not only to material objects but also to the immaterial or incorporeal, when brought into physical form.

David is also a compulsive writer, of which I attached a couple documents on recycled model railway sets as art and engineering. He will be coming along next Sunday (30th) between 1 and 4 for the workshop to give a demonstration and discussion around these areas and particularly on his model train work.

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Recycled Textile Workshop (This Sunday)

Weaving away in the furrows of your den on your own trying to patch up a new pocket? Come along to this Sunday’s workshop at The Forest Cafe (1-4) to a drop-in recycled textiles session using old rags and garments and freeshop clothes to join fellow crafters to share ideas, techniques and patterns for re-using, re-designing and re-imagining old fabric. Bring any materials you might have or want to use, if you can, and we hope to have lots of rags, needles and thread too.

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A successful Sunday Free-Fair

Congratulations and thanks to all who took part and attended the Forest Free-fair a couple weeks back. As well as the bustling and lively free-market with its mixture of integrated areas and environments, there was also many great free workshops in re-using materials including some puppetmaking with SOOT, bookmaking newspaper plant pot making with One Man’s Junk, a bike tyre belt workshop with Sophie, seedbomb making and food forgaing discussion with Hazel Street, fabric re-use and pattern share with Gathering Threads, and a great origami workshop making envelopes, bags, flowers and other decoration. Hopefully this will be the start of many similar free-fairs to come – both within, and outside of the Forest walls.

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Into the eye of the beholder

Here is a couple of examples of some recent works made during the workshops. Both have been deposited into the collective market-place and could now have taken on their own journey into new and unexpected territories.

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