22 May 2020

Keep well with creative activities at home, part 3

Culture and creativity make you feel good! Whether you’re going on a virtual museum tour, listening to music, writing poetry, or making your favourite craft, there’s lots of research that getting involved with the arts can work wonders and improve everyone’s mental and physical health.

All week, organisations across the UK have been sharing activities, online workshops and ideas, all linked to this idea as part of the national Creativity and Wellbeing Week.

At Birmingham Museums Trust, we’ve been putting this idea into action for years, using our venues and collections to inspire creativity and improve wellbeing. Just a few highlights from the last few years include creating a vegetable garden at Sarehole Mill with people living with mental health difficulties; hula-hooping, dance and baby Zumba at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to get people moving; delivering dementia friendly tours at Soho House and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery so everyone can continue to access culture throughout their lives; and running regular visual arts projects to support wellbeing.

Once we can all start to meet up again safely in person, we’ll be looking for ways to allow everyone back into our buildings and gardens to take part in more programmes, but until then we want to share more of our activities online that everyone can try from home.

Over the last two weeks we’ve already shared six activities for everyone to have a go at, which you can find here:

Take a look below for more activities you can try, and share your creations with us! Tag us on Twitter @BMTEngage or email your photos to us at Rosie.Barker@BirminghamMuseums.org.uk and don’t forget to take part in our annual art competition, Inspire20, while you’re being creative! You can find out how to enter on our Inspire20 competition blog.

With thanks to the artists Tina Francis, Claire Leggett, Amy Hoult, and Rita Patel for Creative Health, for letting us share their creative ideas in these blog posts.

Enjoy these ideas and take a few minutes to let your mind switch off as you get creative.

Paper weaving

Birmingham Museums has a fantastic collection of woven textiles designed by William Morris, the 19th century artist. We know you probably don’t have a loom at home for weaving, but you can create amazing woven effects using paper!

Paper weaving activity


  • Collect any paper you can find around the house. Magazines pages, wrapping paper, wallpaper, old doodles, and the insides of envelopes can all be used.
  • Choose one piece of paper to be your background – cut long slits in this, stopping a little way before each end.
  • Cut your other paper into long strips. Weave your long strips through the background paper. Start the first long strip going over, then under each slit; for your next strip go under first, then over. Repeat until your background is full. 
  • Why not try using a mix of thin and thick strips – what difference does it make? What about going over two and strips at a time?

Be inspired…

  • Search our Digital Image Resource for 'woven’ on to find images of some of the woven textiles in Birmingham Museums’ collections.
  • Can you make stripes like the woven dress on the Chancay doll in our collection?

Chancay Textile Doll (left). Bird curtain by William Morris (right).
Chancay doll (left). Woven bird curtain by William Morris (right).

Paper beads

The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, one of our venues, celebrates Birmingham’s long jewellery making history. While you might not be making silverwork from home, you can turn paper into beads!

Paper beads activity


  • Cut long thin triangles from old magazines or comics. Start with triangles as long as the page, and about 3cm wide. Mark them with a ruler, or just cut them freehand!
  • Starting at the widest end, roll your triangle tightly around a pencil, cocktail stick, or anything else long and thin. Add a bit of glue as you roll, and then glue the thin end down tightly. Slide your bead off the pencil and leave to dry.
  • What happens if you use shorter or fatter triangles? What does a bead made out of a page full of writing look like?

Be inspired…

Cree Woollen Cloth Hood (left). Christabel necklace (right).
Beaded Cree hood (left). Christabel necklace (right).

Get sketchy!

Lots of people think they can’t draw, but if you add in a challenge and don’t aim for perfection, it can be a great way to sit and switch off for a while. Spend five minutes with a pencil and paper and you’ll be surprised at your results with a few unusual ways to sketch!

Drawing activity


  • Pick a view or an object you like, and try drawing it without taking your pencil off the paper. You’ll need to go back over your lines and wander around the paper – that’s fine!
  • Now try drawing your object without looking down at the paper at all. How does it end up?
  • Get up close – draw one small detail of an object, but try and fill the whole paper with it
  • Take a different angle. Look up high and sketch the sky or a roof; draw the underneath of an object.

Be inspired…

  • Search for ‘sketch’ on our Digital Image Resource to see how even famous artists try things out.
  • 150 years ago, three famous artists swapped sketches to create this strange figure – take a look and try your own with friends or family, everyone drawing a different body part.
  • Use the Digital Image Resource to pick your favourite object, and try sketching it!

Caricature - Composite Drawing of a Stunner, 1861-63. Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
Caricature drawing.

Don’t forget to share what you try – we’d love to see!