The Young Ones

July 20, 2010

It was our final week at Ecological Arts camp this year.  I worked with four and five year olds for five dayes of adobe, felting, natural dye painting, immersion dyeing, harvesting, silk paper making, and spinning.  The two ladies in the above picture are sharing their prayer flags.  They used one color at a time.  Each paint symbolized a part of the ecosystem.  We began with soil, we then added a layer of plants in the form of indigo wash, and finished the pieces with a layer provided by insects– cochineal beetles.  Each member of the ecosystem contributing to the colors– overlapping, and intersecting through each child’s imaginative intention.

Ben is seen here admiring his adobe house, wearing his Toyon dyed recycled T-shirt and habatai silk scarf on his head.  He became a Ninja, once he decided to wear his silk scarf around his forehead.  Dicing the air with his hands and kicking at invisible attackers with his feet.  He was quite entertaining.

Hannah was the youngest of our group.  She dyed an old towel dress, and her silk scarf in Toyon.  Her adobe house can be seen in the corner of the above picture– she called this her pancake house.

The Pancake house was a perfect home for a hand.

Some of these houses were perfect homes for little creatures– this one was made for insects and butterflies especially.  Working with such young children is a pure joy.  When we painted our prayer flags the children meditatively painted for an hour.  One girl said, ‘this is the best day of camp I’ve ever had,’ as she carefully painted ochre onto her cotton flag.

It amazes me how simple the requirements are for facilitating joy.  The children responded purely and with such focus to the use of these natural paints, not once did they request other colors– they peacefully and gratefully worked with the palate that nature provided.

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