NEW BOOK 

‘Crafty Leaves’

Created, written and illustrated by Jenny Kenna

To be published October 27th 2014

This innovative children’s craft/nature book is full of illustrations and ideas for creating unique characters with leaves. It’s aimed at the 6/11 age groups but it will also fascinate anyone with a keen interest in art and nature. Each illustration is accompanied by simple facts about the particular tree from which the leaf ‘character’ was created.

crafty-leaves-book

The shapes and textures of the natural materials and the instant artistic effects used in ‘Crafty Leaves’ will stimulate imaginations and also encourage children through their own observations to become more familiar and interested in the natural world around.

crafty-leaves-characters

I’m delighted to say that Wildlife Watch and Woodland Trust have endorsed this book.

woodlandtrust

wildlifewatch
Later in the year they will be holding a ‘Crafty Leaf’ competition for their members.

How it all Began

Alongside my career in theatre, cabaret and television, I always made time for creative interests – from writing poetry to sketching, painting, and clay modelling. I was also fond of designing collages from pressed flowers and leaves, and became captivated by their varying shapes, colours and textures. This led towards a passion for wild-life and before long I found myself humanising plants and began to conjure up little ‘nature truth’ stories for children about wild flowers and even weeds.

To illustrate these stories I experimented with the pressed flower techniques to create ‘plant people’. Each character had to correspond with the ones in the stories, so had to be made from exactly the same plant. Many months of trial and error followed till eventually the pressed flower ‘plant people’ were believable. When all was complete I happened to show the concept to a film producer friend, who immediately thought they could make a TV series that would appeal to the pre-school age-group.

More experimentation followed and after a considerable time a TV series was commissioned, which I would present and it was to be called The Windfalls”
It was so well received that a 2nd series was commissioned!

Not satisfied with static characters I had a yearning for them to be animated and the long road to fulfilling this dream was about to start.

It was suggested I contact ‘FilmFair’ the animation company responsible for producing many TV successes, one of which was ‘Paddington Bear’. Graham Clutterbuck ran the company and he agreed to give my concept a chance on conditions I could get my characters to walk within a month!

I was given a small studio with a rostrum camera above a bench and a few instructions of how to operate everything. Being non-technical it was a daunting task but I was determined to learn the fundamentals of animation and persevered with the mission to bring my characters to ‘life’. Early tests produced slight ineffective movement. Hours upon hours of tests continued well beyond the allocated studio times. Eventually, all those frustrating hours proved worthwhile because by the end of the month my characters were able to walk across the screen albeit in a very jerky fashion.

After weeks of decisions and negotiations it was finally agreed that my concept would become a 13 part children’s animated series for ITV. A team of experts were then brought in for the production but I was given the job as director, a very challenging responsibility. I was literally learning on the job, but being put in that position you certainly learn fast! Animation is a very long winded process and it took nearly two years for the series to be completed. When finally on air, I felt as though I’d climbed the highest mountain ever and the great reward was knowing that my aspirations had been achieved, but most important was the knowledge that young children throughout the UK and beyond were able to share my fantasies, and perhaps the simple stories would have helped to promote their appreciation of the natural world around.

Several decades have passed since those interesting‘Windfall’ years. Many other projects have been accomplished including my two published books, ‘Susan’s Secrets’ & ‘Quaking Pudding’, but my naïve passion for creating pictures with natural materials has returned and though it seems I’m going back to square one there is a difference – ‘Crafty Leaves’ is the book that shows children or anyone else for that matter how to create pictures and characters from leaves and natural materials.
All examples in this book are bold, easy to construct and far less intricate than my fairy-like creatures that were called ‘Windfalls’.

Jane-Plane

Greenfingers

As well as appearing in ‘Are You Being Served’, I worked with John Inman in many other productions and we became the greatest of friends. John loved all things associated with flowers and plants, so he was always most enthusiastic about my organic art-work, in fact it was John who came up with the title ‘Windfalls’ for the TV series.

After creating and writing a TV format for a new ‘live-action’ children’s programme called ‘Greenfingers’, I thought John would be perfect for the starring role. I was overjoyed when he agreed to play the part, especially as he was at the peak of his career and therefore very, very busy at that time.

John Inman demonstrates his versatility as an actor when playing ‘Greenfingers’ the eccentric old gardener.