Top designer gives children a lesson in doll-making

Costume designer Paul Shriek teaches year three pupils from Diamond Hall Junior School how to design and make clothes for peg dolls.

Costume designer Paul Shriek teaches year three pupils from Diamond Hall Junior School how to design and make clothes for peg dolls.

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A LEADING designer visited a Sunderland school to teach children about the old art of peg doll making.

Paul Shriek, a haute couture and costume designer, went to Diamond Hall Junior School to work with the pupils.

The designer, nationally renowned for his opera and ballet costumes, is aiming to introduce a generation of youngsters to the almost-forgotten art of making peg dolls.

While at the Well Street school, in Millfield, Paul showed the pupils how to design and create clothes for wooden pegs.

About 30 seven and eight-year-olds took part in the activity, each making two peg dolls, one to give their mums on Mother’s Day, and the other to form part of a sequel to an exhibition of Paul’s work on show at The Customs House in South Shields.

The exhibition, Leopard, reveals the memories and objects, such as peg dolls, that inspired Ashington-born Paul in a career spanning more than 30 years.

He said: “Peg dolls gave me an introduction to designing and making clothes. But it’s a craft that’s in danger of dying out as electronic entertainment takes over and as busy parents forget to hand the skill down to the next generation.

“Using traditional materials such as pipe cleaners, doilies and fabric scraps I showed the children the basic skills they need to create their peg dolls and hopefully inspired them in the way I was inspired as a child.”

Paul hopes the peg dolls created by the children will form the basis of a further exhibition showing the public response to Leopard. He said: “I’d love to display a whole ‘terracotta army’ of peg dolls.”

Glynn Welsh, deputy head teacher at the school, said: “We were thrilled Paul gave up his time to share his skills with the children.”

Admission to the Leopard Exhibition is free and it runs until Saturday, March 31.