Eco-Arts on the Bay
July 4, 2010
Two weeks of Eco-Arts classes just wrapped up… and I can say I am thoroughly content and exhausted from the experience. In one week we cover between five and seven ancient art forms whose modern applications have a strong potential to create a more sustainable material culture– adobe house building, wild paper, animal and plant fiber spinning, felting, weaving, and natural dyeing are all covered..
The children create their own adobe houses from clay, sand, and dirt… We gather, cut and measure willow frames, and make our own silk paper roofs.
The silk paper is made with raw fibers, and gathered objects that the children harvest from the site. We make sure to use materials sourced from the ground– or from invasive species for this particular project.
The houses are sometimes quite minimalist…
And others are more ornate.. In both cases, there is a strong attention paid to detail, and the houses always represent the aesthetic of the creator. Every child spends hours, and sometimes days composing their homes.
This year I was asked if they could add jellyfish to their adobe homes… I gently re-directed the beach gathering practice to sea glass, and rocks, which make much better furniture than do dead jellyfish.
These sisters were very proud of their sticky monkey dyed T-shirts and silk scarves, the hint of pink came from cochineal that was painted on as a final touch.
Milo made his T-shirt come alive with cochineal brush work, and a pounded pansy. His silk scarf was placed just-so– that he could be a ‘sushi chef.’ All of the Japanese shibori patterns, kumihomo braiding, and silk paper must have trickled into the children’s psyches, because by the end of the week, they were all pretending to be sushi chefs.
We also made paint from soymilk and clay.. This cotton fabric piece was painted with red dirt, and filled in with a cochineal wash.
By the end of the week, we were weaving medicine pouches with all of our naturally dyed wool yarns. Some of the children handspun their wool as well. I brought a spinning wheel in for them to begin to learn and understand the processes of fiber– and the technology surrounding it. Overall, a fabulous week was had by all– and as you can tell– a very excited, and sometimes silly group makes for a great learning community!