What a joy it was to spend the day building animals at the Plaster Cloth Animal Workshop at Spring Bird's Cottage. This workshop was part of the A Season To Make Workshop Series , which seeks to connect community with creativity and nature.
We began by choosing an Animal Card from the Medicine Card Deck by Jamie Sams, as a means to connect more deeply and spiritually with the animal world and the animal in us.
Then, we dove in to the mess of making armatures and slapping plastercloth onto our sculptures. We giggled and laughed through the lumps and bumps.
Making art can often lead to our feeling out of control, but we must trust the process. It will be okay. It might not be what we expected, but it will be something we needed. That is what this workshop reminded me about artmaking.
I was so grateful to the four women who participated and trusted me to lead them through the plaster cloth process. Some of our animal friends are still works in process. So, I will hopefully be sharing updated pics when I receive them!!!!!
The Workshop Process
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I am so pleased and excited to announce this year's Spring Bird Artist Residency Recipient, Dawn Bertuca!
Dawn's application spoke so well to the spirit of this residency, which supports artists, writers, and makers needing to find time away from busy lives.
Furthermore her work as a nature photographer connects so well to the mission of Spring Bird which seeks to connect humans with nature, to notice the patterns and changes in the seasons, and to use our creativity to build the world that we imagine.
During her residency, Dawn hopes to begin a new series of macro photography that will look at the patterns in nature. The residency will allow her to have time and space to capture just the right image!
I am so excited to see what develops (pun intended), and I think our founder, Torkel Korling, would be pleased that our first recipient is a photographer like him.
I posted some of Dawn's photographs's below, but follow her work and see more here:
Instagram: @dawnbertuca and @everybeautifuldayDB
Thank you to all who applied, your projects were inspiring!
Pat began the Forest Garden by defining its perimeter. It’s important to have strong defenses against hungry deer. He built a thick wall from the cutting down of honeysuckles, an invasive weed shrub. If the deer can’t see where they can land, they won’t jump. So far, it’s been pretty effective at keeping away our dear, deer friends.
In his first round of planting which included pawpaws, strawberries, raspberries, perennial onions, herbs and flowers, he planted a couple of rows of willow. The intention for the willow was to develop living hedges. Now after a couple of years getting established, our little shoots have grown into beautiful, long branches.
And after getting inspired from the likes of Mary Reynolds and Monty Don, we really want our gardens to embody a sense of magic and wonder. Our gardens have the potential to give us so much more than their fruits. We want our forest garden, in particular, to be a place for Spring Bird guests to experience and connect with the cultivation of food and beauty.
So, getting back to the willow, springtime is the best season to work with willow because the plants are still dormant and cuttings will have the whole growing season to become established. Over Spring Break, as a family, we decided to harvest some of the willow to make living willow arches.
It’s my intention that these two arches will be a focal point and add a level of sacredness to the garden. I hope the birds will enjoy them, as well. Now all I need is a bird bath to complement them!
As you know, I write Woolgathering, a nature magazine about our connection to the seasons. Part of the mission of this magazine is to inspire awareness of the patterns and cycles in nature, which requires observation and a practice of noticing.
My process of doing this has been most consistently to write notes on the list making app on my phone. Last Summer, the kids and I kept nature journals that would capture the place and its happenings of a particular moment in time. It also made note of the moon cycle and weather. It was involved, but I wanted to get better and keeping a log of the natural occurrences - the “firsts” and “lasts” of any season. I tried a couple of written methods that I incorporated into my Annalog Planners, but they didn’t endure. I really want to create a visual representation of these seasonal changes - so that I can grasp the feeling of the season instantly.
Another practice that I have let go of is keeping a sketchbook. At some point last year, I decided that my drawing and painting had to be “for” something, that I could eventually sell. In other words, if I was making something, it had to directly lead to making money. And, I have come to realize that I really miss having this place to play with ideas. I miss the experimental nature of a sketchbook and having a place to just make something for its own sake.
Finally, one lovely practice that I started last year was to send a monthly emailed Almanac to subscribers that recounted all natural and creative milestones of that month. I really enjoy taking time to reflect on all that happened during a month and sharing this with readers who may not be able to visit Spring Bird. They can get a taste of what’s going on and stay updated, etc. AND although I try to take pictures of nature, they do not always capture the feeling of the season.
SO, it occurred to me that I could revisit my sketchbook by visually portraying the monthly natural happenings, and share the illustrations within the context of the monthly Almanac! Duh!
Anyway, I had the most fun making this illustration of March, which saw our first duck egg getting laid on the 2nd, the great melt happening on the 13th, snowdrops, jonquils, and chipmunks poking up on the 14th, skunk cabbage sprouting on the 17th, and we planted milkweed seeds also on the 17th in the upper meadow. Also, throughout the month, we saw flocks of robins return, and the bucks shed their antlers. The grasses are still brown, and the leaves exist in paper thin layers, devoid of color, and oh yes, there is the mud!
If you would like to be receiving monthly updates about Spring Bird, please subscribe here. And if you have signed up for monthly updates but haven’t been receiving them? Check your spam folder. Sometimes we get pushed there. You have to mark us as “not spam”. We are working on trying to prevent this from happening with our next Almanac.
Speaking of, the March Almanac will be mailed at the end of this month, which is REALLY soon. So, look for that in your inbox.
Thank you for going through this lengthy process of discernment. I encourage you to notice seasonal changes. You don’t have to write them down or draw them, unless you want to, of course. Just notice the things happening around you. It’s amazing what surrounds us!
So last week, I led the workshop for a small group, and was delighted to find that Joyce was right! She and the participants taught me much more about the process of wrapping yarn around sticks. The workshop was an opportunity to practice creativity without having too much pressure on technique and outcome. Even better, it was an opportunity to share stories while our hands were busy winding.
We also talked about life’s stages, works, passions, jobs, and passions and how we choose to spend our time here on earth. As we talked about our experiences, we slowed our minds and hearts as our hands kept busy. There was opportunity to listen while we wound, to admire the color combinations of each other’s branches - to notice that the color choices and patterns resemble ourselves. We found joy in this simple experience.
And by the end of the evening, I realized that this Sweater For Sticks Workshop was much more than I had thought it could be. The participants encouraged me to develop it further.
So, I decided to formalize this workshop and make it available to groups of all shapes and sizes. I'm excited to see how it takes shape!
I believe we all possess unique purpose for this life, and we all have something important to share with the world. Our creativity is an important engine for revealing ourselves to the world in fulfilling ways.
The Sweaters for Sticks Workshop allows participants to visualize our branching sticks as a metaphor for our true purpose and reason for being, which flows or branches into each area of our life - family, school, work, friends, spirituality, and hobbies.
The bits of colorful yarn represent the choices and intentions we all make as we express our true purpose within each area of our life. When choosing colors to wrap around the sticks we can think about how we spend our time how we want to make our lives. We can ask ourselves, how is our life taking shape and how would we like it take shape.
Meanwhile, during the process of choosing and wrapping, participants can share stories and practice listening and being heard.
When we put thoughts and intentions behind our choices - we can create beautiful and interesting lives. We manifest these beautiful lives that are unique to us - that reflect our beauty.
I even planted some old oat seeds in an empty tea tin to witness sprouting. (This is great to do with kids, by the way. I poked some holes in the bottom with a nail for drainage). It’s sort of your own DIY chia pet. You could even turn your container into a head and the oats would become the hair.
Also, I filled an Ikea greenhouse with favorite collections of stones, sticks, seeds, and shells with some potted succulents, a couple treasured kidmade ceramics, and a stack of cherished books to create a sacred green space.
It feels intentional and devotional and a place to focus my restless energy as the seasons are changing!
Try making a shrine to green at home! It could be a small terrarium or a potted plant. Hopefully, the real deal will be budding soon!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.
Adventures In Natural Dyeing
A Season To Make
Creativity Tools And Books
Make And Do Art
Philosophy Of Creativity