How the tree project emerged.
While in the studio exploring leaves three weeks ago, a conversation emerged with three students from the morning Ward-Hobbs classroom. The students involved were Laurel (L) age 4, Amelia (A)age 5 and Joseph (J) age 5. The conversation proceeded as follows:
Angelina Have you noticed any changes happening in our trees outside?
J The leaves are changing colors. The leaves are dying because they are turning so hard and the rain is making them change colors.
L The leaves were a little bit changing purple. I saw some purple leaves on the ground and on the tree. I saw a leaf changing rainbow: orange, pink, purple and green. I saw leaves change turquoise. I think they’re all gonna fall to the ground. Can we make a tree of leaves? It would look like a real tree. We could glue leaves on it, then we need to make a big circle of brown paper.
A Yeah! We could make it out of brown paper.
J Real trees have wood.
L Can you get some wood Angelina?
Angelina Yes, but what kind of wood do you want?
L A branch, we could hang it from the ceiling!
J So it is standing up like a tree. We have to make the sky higher, cuz the sky is air.
A Water makes air.
L Really hot water makes air.
Angelina What kind of leaves would you like to hang from your tree?
L These leaves! (points to the ones on the table)
Angelina Okay. These may change by the time we make our tree. (I show her an old leaf and how it is brittle)
L We don’t want breaking leaves.
Angelina Would you like to hang some of your drawn leaves on the tree?
(Amelia, Laurel and Joseph all say “NO!”)
(I told them about a technique where leaves are preserved in wax so they maintain their color and remain intact.)
L Do you have wax?
Angelina No but I can get some.
J YEAH! Then we will make our tree.
A With leaves falling down.
L Can we do it today?
Angelina We will have to wait for another day.
L Okay but you get wax and a branch
Angelina And you can start looking for leaves.
My sons and I went hiking and found an interesting branch near a creek bed above Morrison. I brought it into the studio and asked Laurel, Amelia and Joseph if it would work. They all agreed that it would. Next, I tried out laminating the leaves and found they retained their color well, while the veins and texture remained evident. I asked the three students involved if we could use laminated leaves rather than waxed leaves and they agreed that we could. I selected an open studio day and we made an appointment to meet.
Angelina What did you notice while making the tree project?
L I saw rainbow leaves!
J The colored leaves
L We glued them on with honey glue, (deep intake of breath) it looks like those big yellow trees (points at a cottonwood tree outside). Maybe they’re made with honey glue too!
A Yeah! Maybe we could make a tree outside now. We would do it just like this (pointing to the tree).
Angelina How do you think the leaves outside stay on the tree?
L They’re connected to the branches without any glue, they hold onto the tree branches.
A Their arms are really tired and that’s how they fall off.
L They let go like this and lay on a bed.
A Yeah, like an acorn bed.
L But flat like this (slaps her hands together).
A A smooshed acorn bed with mud.
Angelina How will they look differently in the winter?
L Maybe they will turn white.
A In winter we could throw snow on the tree.
J The trees are gray in winter.
Angelina Is there anything else you would like to say about our tree project?
L We hanged it up by string.
A But real trees spread up and POP! Spreading leaves, spreading trees! Growing!
J And I think we should bring more leaves in and stick them on the tree one we made.