Saturday, August 2, 2008

At Play

Last year this time, Franklin Park Conservatory (where I used to work full-time) was gearing up for an exhibit called The Enchanted Express. It consisted of model trains going around miniature landscapes made from natural materials. One of the artists who created the landscapes is Diana Heyne. She is a delightful person and a wonderful artist. She is a multidisciplinary artist, but she also creates collages and other pieces out of found objects and materials that she gathers from nature. Last fall, in conjunction with the exhibit, she led a class called “Gnome Homes and Fairy Furniture.” My friend Jen and I were so intrigued with Diana’s art and person, that we just had to take it.

It was the most fun I think I’ve ever had at a craft class. Everyone in the room, about ten women from their 20s-50s, three girls around age 12, and one (remarkable) dad, exhibited a willing suspension of disbelief as we all got serious about creating spaces for the gnomes, sprites, and spirits of our imagination. Diana walked around the room saying things like, “Well, they don’t like right angles, you know, so it’s okay to be off a little.” And participants said things like, “I want them to have vertical space, too, so I need to find a way to put in a second storey.”

People made chairs out of turtle shells and down feathers, tables out of bark, windows out of mica, walkways out of snakeskin, and beer mugs out of seed pods with tiny grapevine handles. Garden snippers, glue guns, and sheet moss for covering up the seams were the only tools needed. I ended up making what I called a Faerie Altar—a place where the forest faeries offered up some of their garden bounty to the gods.

Some of you will understand that gnome home making is addictive. (And some of you will not…) Yesterday, I made another gnome home with things I found on the farm. This one is a little scary—a Bone Finder’s cottage. (You have to go with whatever suggests itself to you when making gnome homes.) The Bone Finder is one of those entities from the shadow side—a little frightening, but necessary to have around. Or at least, impossible to deny.

I have the feeling that a whole village of gnome homes might pop up out here on the farm. Next time you visit, keep your eyes open. You never know who’s watching from under that leaf!


Anonymous said...

i LOVE it!!!

Anonymous said...

anonymous = jen...its the only way i can seem to publish my comments for whatever reason.