Fancy having a mini version of Stoke-on-Trent’s iconic bottle ovens in your garden?

chrisparrbodbarSocial entrepreneur Chris Parr is helping to fire the imagination of young people – by turning recycled wood into mini bottle kilns.

Chris, aged 44, has been making wall planters out of wooden pallets in the shape of Stoke-on-Trent’s historic pottery ovens.

He has a variety of designs for the ‘Stoke2,000’ project – including some featuring Stoke City and Port Vale badges.

Now he is hoping to pass on his skills to young people by organising workshops in schools, starting at Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in Fenton at the end of next month.

Chris, from Burslem, said: “It’s all about passing on our knowledge, history and heritage to the next generation. “I’d attended meetings on cultural educational partnerships focusing on how to engage children in schools and came up with the idea of the kilns.

“I’m interested in recycling and a social entrepreneur, so I wanted to do something involved with the environment. “I’d seen a 3D wooden kiln and although I could make that it was too long a process. I wanted something quick that children could do so settled on the 2D planters.”

Chris started his career making wooden fireplaces in Burslem before venturing into play-scheme leadership and youth and community education. He is also the creative director of Shine in Media which provides film for education, training and events.

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The company has won several awards from UnLtd, the foundation for social enterprise. His latest project, TheStoke2,000, was inspired by the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 and is named in recognition of the number of bottle kilns once standing in the city.

Chris uses wooden pallets donated by Titanic Brewery and turns them into wall planters,bird boxes, bird feeders, insect hotels and are all individually numbered using pyrography skills.

footballcrestversionsOn top of the football ones – which Chris hopes to sell in the club shops – he is also planning one in Wedgwood colours to tie in with the 260th anniversary of the pottery giant’s foundation.

The schools project will mean Chris passing on skills in after-school clubs and workshops. He said: “It’ll be fun, engaging, and the youngsters can learn basic woodworking skills while learning about the history of their city. “We’ll also be making a short documentary film using archive footage.”

Paul Williams, who led the city’s bid to be City of Culture 2021, is chairman of governors at Our Lady’s Catholic Academy.

He said: “Making kiln-shaped wall planters from recycled wooden pallets is a wonderful example of how to use culture, education and the city’s heritage as inspiration and a resource to engage people in creative learning.


“The project also chimes with the groundbreaking work the school is doing around the development of a Stoke Curriculum which draws upon the city’s cultural and creative heritage to animate and bring the curriculum to life.

“Our Lady’s has received funding from the Opportunity Area Partnership Board, some of
which we are looking to use to support the delivery of workshops where children will make kiln planters, bird feeders and bug hotels for the community garden.”

  • By Andrew Lees | Stoke-on-Trent Live | 08:50, 31 JAN 2019

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