Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's How We Got Here That Matters

After three days of being mowed, watered, and otherwise "tended" our indoor meadow was looking rather shabby. My plan for the day involved separating the grass from the good potting soil we'd started with, by encouraging the kids to pull the wheat grass up by the roots and fill a bucket. By way of making this happen I called some attention to myself, then attempted to yank up a couple fists full. Instead of the nice clean root-and-all extraction I'd anticipated, I found the grass just breaking off in my hand, the roots holding firmly to the soil.

Holy cow! If we'd been impressed with how tall the wheat grass had grown after only a week, we (and by this I mostly mean the adults) were at least as impressed by how deep and intertwined the roots had become. We pulled up a corner of the turf to discover the white roots had formed a tangled matt, making it possible for us to just roll the whole thing up.

This was a bit of a problem given that I'd intended to use the grass, with minimal soil, for an art project. We took one square of sod outdoors and rolled it out on our baby-steps effort at earthworks (a super secret project I'm sure I'll share with you some day) to see if it will continue to grow. The other square we saved for our art project.

The original idea had been to dye fabric with grass stains, so now, with all that unanticipated soil attached it it, the idea became to dye it with grass and dirt stains. We did this by folding the grass into an old white curtain, then going after it with rubber mallets, in effect "juicing" the wheat grass. 

Initially, a group of girls took it on, pounding together, watching the juice and dirt stain the fabric from the inside as they made rhythms. When we opened the fabric we noticed the pattern we made was symmetrical.

The pounding alone made this a successful project, I think. Sometimes the pressure of trying to hit a target, like the head of a nail, takes away some of the large motor joy one can get from just whacking something.

Our lilacs have started blooming and Henry's mom Ann had the idea of adding a bunch to our grass stain experiment, leaving a bit of purple stain behind. Once the neighborhood dandelion crop comes in later this spring, I think we'll re-create this project in bright yellow.

As fun as the pounding was, however, I suspected it would get old, so I was prepared for a next step. Earlier in the week we'd been making bubble prints, the concept being to blow a straw into a colored bubble solution, then lay a piece of paper atop the mound of bubbles to take prints that look like this:

There were several bowls of the solution left over, and not liking to waste anything, I figured the kids would, after staining their fabric with grass and dirt, enjoy overflowing their bubble bowls onto the fabric adding some "spring color" to their background of green and brown.

The girls driving this project, however, were not so keen on the bubble blowing idea and instead elected to just start pouring the paint, mixing it, and otherwise dying the fabric by their own means.

We wound up dying three pieces of fabric altogether.

I don't think I'd call the results beautiful.

But that's beside the point.

It's how we got here, and that we got here together, that matters.

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1 comment:

Meagan said...

Something very like the last one hangs on the ceilings of dorm rooms across America.