Gray Squirrels 2017-18: Week 4 - Foraging and Natural Pigments!
Natural Pigment Introduction
Today at opening circle, after sharing gratitudes, we talked about how the art of painting first came around, and what materials were first used in its inception. Ancient cave paintings can still be found today, and the native people who created them are thought to have used natural pigments from the land in order to create them. We talked about what types of things could make good paints where we live - berries, flowers, mud - and then set off in our clans to collect items from Abbey Foy that we thought we could use to make our own.
We found lots of items we wanted to test as natural pigments while in our clans. We harvested flowers and berries (after first asking the plants for permission), collected things we found on the ground such as pine needles, moss, nuts and leaves, and harvested clay from the mud banks that we like to climb.
Painting With Natural Pigments
After returning from our adventures, we put all of our found items together to share as a community, and then had lunch to refuel on energy. Afterward, we set to work testing which items from our collection would make the best paints. We tested the different berries by crushing them on a piece of paper, and realized that many of the ones that were colorful on the outside, like beauty berries and holly berries, did not produce any color on the inside, and therefore wouldn't be great for painting. We also found that many of our items were too difficult to crush up, even with the mortar and pestle, like the nuts, leaves, pine needles and moss. We were excited to find that the clay and the wax myrtle berries we found produced rich colors, and we took turns learning how to use the mortar and pestle to grind them up the most efficiently. We also had some natural charcoal that Ms. Kathryn and Ms. Britt brought from a fire at Nature Connect last spring that we used to make a paint as well.
After all of our items were crushed into a fine powder, we added water, chalk, and egg yolk to turn them into paint. Then it was finally time to start painting! We used stencils to decorate the covers of our new nature journals, and got creative with using nature items, like feathers, leaves and moss in place of paint brushes.
We had a casual rest of the afternoon with some choosing to work longer on their nature journal, and others exploring the cedar thicket and working on forts. It was a great day!