It’s taken years to “train” my colleagues and parents that they should call me before they throw anything out. Over the years, they’ve witnessed the beautiful creations my students make from discarded objects that were thought of as trash. Now, many of them think about me and my super-creative students before placing interesting objects in the dumpster.
For example, three years ago when I first discovered the beautiful plastic fish of David Edgar, I knew I must make them with my students. After studying his designs closely, I asked permission of my Middle School Head, to give me a few minutes of his scheduled faculty meeting time. Permission was granted and I asked every middle school teacher to save empty laundry detergent bottles for me. After six months, I had enough colorful bottles to start a project. Three years later, after that initial announcement, they still bring them in.
Last year, the mother of a former student of mine, who graduated about six years ago, remembered me when she was cleaning out her husband’s closet. She brought me a trash bag full of neckties in every imaginable color and pattern. They are now carefully stored under my desk waiting to be used for just the “right” project.
This year, the Director of Technology came to me with an idea. The technology department had many old keyboards, hard drives, speakers, clocks, cables, cords and mouse (mice?). They wondered if my upper school students could turn any of this into attention getting wall sculptures for their offices. After some discussion, I decided that I would absolutely like the challenge of this commission!
On Monday, my high school sculpture students began hauling all these old computer parts over to the sculpture room and by Wednesday, the students were given permission to begin disassembling all the parts. What fun! This is what I did as a kid . . . tinker. But kids don’t tinker anymore. They play on their iPads. So when given the chance to open things up and explore their parts, they love it! They were amazed at what these objects look like on the inside. We laughed as we talked about “dissecting a mouse” in Sculpture class!
I invite you to tinker this week. Or, just collect – - anything! Everything is Incredible is a beautiful documentary about a disabled Honduran man. He has been collecting objects and building a helicopter for 50 years! Have a goal and believe in yourself, even when others don’t. Enjoy the film…