01 Dec

March 10 – Return of the Whirligig

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History Lab does it on their own

Making folk art

Sunday, March 10th, 1PM to 4PM – FREE

How do you decorate your spaces and why do you choose some objects over others? Why do the things we keep matter to us? These are some of the questions we asked in one of our exhibits last year; we’ll try to answer them together for our first installment of this year’s series of History Labs.

While we’re all used to being able to buy decorative objects, many of us are less familiar with the process of crafting our own. Much of the art that decorated American households in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was made by individual artisans, many of whom were self- or informally taught. This Sunday, we’ll follow in their footsteps and make one of the more popular forms of folk art, the whirligig, pinwheel, and the buzzer.

Wait, a buzzer? A whirli-what?

Whirligigs, pinwheels, and buzzers all share the common feature of having basic rotating parts. (This style of toy is currently popular as the fidget spinner). If you’ve ever seen a rooster on a weathervane, you’ve seen a kind of whirligig. These objects served as keepsakes, toys, decoration, and in some cases even served as signage for businesses before literacy was as widespread as it is today.

What do I bring?

Because this workshop involves paints and markers, we recommend wearing clothing that won’t mind a few stains and blotches.

We’ll provide all the materials you’ll need to build and decorate your own whirligig, pinwheel, or buzzer. Folk artists will have a chance to choose from pre-cut shapes or branch out and create their own designs from scratch.

Do I have to be there the whole time?

No! This is a drop-in event. Most children should be able to finish a project in about an hour.

While the paint’s drying, we recommend testing your observational skill on our historic house scavenger hunt or playing one or more of our heritage games.

Questions about this or any other event at the Neill-Cochran House Museum? We’re here to help!