Thursday, 10 October 2013

Club Day. The Nature Version.

There's a lot of inspiration for nature-related projects around this time of year.  I have a bit of a line-up of projects that would all be good for right this very moment, but only so much time before the weather becomes uncooperative.  Given the blustery days we've had and the abundance of leaves that have fluttered to the ground of late, I decided I couldn't wait another two weeks to make leaf tiles, which were a project featured in the 2013 Fall Living Education Journal from Oak Meadow.

There was so much in this project that was fun.  A scavenger hunt for leaves, mushing and manipulating clay, dreaming of what the tiles would look like when they were dry...oh, there was goodness at every turn.

While we didn't need to go far to find just-right leaves - tromping through our front yard was good enough - we still needed to be selective.  We were hunting for leaves that were not too big, yet not too small, combined with enough definition that they would leave a print behind when they dried and peeled out of the clay.  The leaves still needed to be pliable - the leaves that crackled under our feet were best left for raking into piles for jumping in.  Most of the clubbers chose leaves from the raspberry bush, the strawberry patch, the old elms, the baby maples invading my garden boxes, or the high bush cranberry.

Then there was the task of squishing the clay out of its brick shape and into something that could be rolled out with a rolling pin.  We used Sargant air hardening clay, which had a better consistency than other air hardening clays we've used in the past.  It needed just the slightest bit of water to be malleable enough to roll out. 

The project instructions described making a border from wood that was 1/2 inch thick.  I opted not to do this, partly because I didn't have any pieces that were that thickness, and partly because I didn't have enough clay for the Clubbers to make large tiles that were half an inch thick!  We simply cut away the edges with a butter knife and then proceeded with the rest of the instructions.
I don't know why I thought this project would leave a simple self-contained mess at best, but that was an error of judgment on my part.  If I were to do it again, I would do it all outside...that way, I could simply hose off any outdoor furniture that got clay or clay-coloured water on it.  And I would have lots of rags handy for spills or clay inadvertently getting here, there, and everywhere.  I would also think a little harder about buying the grey air hardening clay instead of the terra cotta that we used...the red clay really wanted to stain everything, although it is such a gorgeous colour.  Something to think about for next time!


I'm looking forward to seeing what lies beneath!

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