Saturday, June 29, 2013

HYCC kids explore greenhouses

Another Spring - another fun project with kids at
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center's after
school program. Last year's project was Green
architecture, this year's focus was  greenhouses.
With a grant from the Boston Foundation for Architecture
we helped the kids learn about different types of
greenhouses, their construction and uses. Then had
them visualize, plan and make a model of their "own"

During  initial discussions of greenhouses, we looked
at pictures of different styles (super fancy to simple),
locations (urban to rural) , and elements (glass, plastic,
metal or wood construction etc. ) Next we took a field
trip to the nearby working greenhouse on the top
of the Roxbury Community College. Ms. Nasreen
Latif,  in charge of programs using the greenhouse,
showed us the seedlings growing there.

 The kids took lots of photos inside and outside and

and checked out the solar collectors on the roof  as well.

Back at the center, the kids began exploring ideas
of how they might design a greenhouse.
They drew designs, thought what they would
like to grow inside, then turned to construction
ideas. The youngest kids (K1-1st grade) worked
on their ideas via blocks.
The older kids (2nd to 6th grade) used leggos:

We combined elements to come up with
a collaborative design and talked about scale.

A  small group went on  a special tour of the
greenhouse at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum,

Ms. Johnetta Tinker showed us around and
explained how the staging greenhouse in the
new wing is used to hold plantings used
elsewhere in the museum, as well as used
for art activities.  The kids took notes, photos,
and reported back to be able to report back
to the entire group. They explained how
they saw some of the nasturtiums which hang in the
courtyard in the Spring, talked about the flooring,
metal mesh tables and ventilation.

Then the serious model making began. ...Working on a
1"= 1 foot scale we created a 20" x 28" model on a
plywood base.  Colorful duct tape made a border, and
vinyl tiles the flooring - the kids wanted to be sure it
looked waterproof. Using model magic, self drying clay,
and other materials the kids created flowers, benches,
fountains,planting  beds etc.

Dowels up from wood kneewalls, wood cross supports,
wire curved roof beams...and the basic structure took
shape with liberal use of hot glue.

The kids had observed fans and watering systems in
the greenhouses, so made fans from popsicle sticks
and linked straws which stretched across and down the
walls offered the illusion of a sprinkler system.

Our finished walls were of heavy duty plastic stapled
to our structure.

The final model was displayed in the Isabella Gardner
Museum greenhouse as our contribution to the
Community Creations celebration. It's always
exciting and a real affirmation for the kids to see
their work exhibited, especially at a museum.
The model will be there through all June and
July for everyone to enjoy.
 Later we will take it to the Dudley Library to put on
display for additional viewing.

This spring the kids planted their own garden
plot behind HYCC and helped plant raised beds in the
lot next to HYCC. Maybe HYCC can have its
own full sized greenhouse someday. It's such
fun seeing kids excited in the presence of nature.

For now, I'm turning to working in our garden
and spending the summer  with our grandchildren.
Although, I hope to finish up a commission or
two as well.. I'll try to get up some process

My best to everyone for a wonderful
action filled summer.

Adventure on,  Wendy

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sculpture and inspiration in Northampton at Paradise City Arts Festival

Is it really worth setting up at fine craft shows when 
price of participation keeps going up, and profit margins can be
questionable?  Friends and colleagues ask.  True, it takes
energy and money, neither limitless at this point in my life. And,
for all of us, figuring how to balance family, work and community
is a challenge.  Then I participate in an event like the Spring
Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton over Memorial Day
weekend and am reminded just how important participation is to me.

At times, Matt Evald Johnson's sculpture pictured above seems
a metaphor for the effort and futility involved. But more often, I
see the dance:

Or the challenge  - how about pulling this stone into the abyss
and seeing where  it lands - or where you fly with it?

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, it's about being
in the presence of artistic synergy...and fun.  Walking
by the creatures of Chris Williams

Wishing we had a back yard to accommodate this guy:

or pond for an octopus or two:

Equally important is seeing artists willing to take risks.

Constance Talbot, an amazing potter whose dinner
service I have been collecting for a while, decided to
"go for it" and present her elegant sculpture this year:

Connie reported the conversations the sculpture stimulated were
worth the show.

Talk was lively in my booth as well. I had some long conversations
with a few Northampton writers and illustrators, even talked of
possible collaboration.  Stay tuned for more on that front.

Often attendees become friends as well as customers. Inspiration
can come from those relationships. I was invited to see the new
project of a now long term friend found through the show.  At 79
years young, she is building a dream - a passive solar house and
attached glass studio not far from Northampton.
We sipped hot tea by the 89 foot pond she has created:

How can one not return home more inspired, energized and ready
to take some risk?  You never know what may be lurking around
the next corner.

Adventure on!    Wendy