Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “kids”

Blogosphere to Bard: Kickstarting METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE

Friends of Grackle & Sun,

I am writing to all of you for help in funding a program that is near and dear to my heart.  I am the Faculty Sponsor for the St. Louis Homeschool Network for METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE, an innovative arts education program put on by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.   SFSTL is an organization that puts on incredible free productions of Shakespeare’s plays in St. Louis’ Forest Park every summer.  The productions draw tens of thousands of people each year to share in the beauty and richness of these plays.  But that is only one part of what the Festival does.  The rest of the year they are hard at work bringing Shakespeare and arts education to young people in St. Louis.   One way they do this is through a unique program for high school students called METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE.

For over a decade, METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE has engaged, empowered, and changed the lives of hundreds of students in St. Louis.  Through the beautifully dynamic language of Shakespeare’s plays, the power of performance, and the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration, these students learn that their creative voices are important and that they can be a force for positive change in their communities.  Because the words of Shakespeare speak so true to heart of what it means to be human, these students are able to make connections with the works that span time, overcomes the difficulty of the language, and creates an abiding understanding of why these works are still relevant today.   Students who may have never even heard of Shakespeare before emerge from the program 10 weeks later indelibly changed by what they have learned and accomplished.

The program provides a valuable opportunity for serious arts education that is not always available to students in their own schools or communities.  It reaches students from a diverse population and multiple backgrounds and brings them together for an amazing weekend of performances.  Beginning in January 2013, students from 7 different schools will spend a semester working with professional Teaching Artists from SFSTL, as well as their Faculty Sponsors, to perform a version of Twelfth Night for Shake38.  Students from an additional 5 schools will perform an original commissioned work entitled Winning Juliet which deals with the challenges kids face today with bullying.  And all of this is FREE for the schools and students.

In order to provide METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE to the more than 150 students who will participate in 2013, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is reaching out to the community and to the world for help in funding this amazing program.  They have asked us, the volunteer Faculty Sponsors, to assist them in raising awareness about this fundraiser.  I am writing to you because you because you are part of my community—my  online community.  As a Faculty Sponsor, I have personally seen the impact MYS has made on all of the students that I have taught.  My own children have performed with this group, and it is vitally important to them, as well.  You can see my children and me talking about the program in the short video in the Kickstarter link below.  :D

We are raising money for METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE through a Kickstarter fundraising campaign.   Kickstarter fundraises are ALL-OR-NOTHING fundraisers, and they tend to be fast and furious.  This means that we have until October 28th to raise the $10,000 needed to fund the program for 2013, or we don’t get funded at all.  I cannot impress upon you enough how much any amount donated will help.  Please take time to click on the link  and find out more about MYS and consider a donation.  Feel free to share this post with everyone you know.  Every dollar counts.

Many small amounts add up to a big amount.  We can come together as an online community to make this possible for these kids.   Thank you.

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At the Burrow Dyetable # 3: Children’s Class

Just finished teaching a children’s coop class on natural dyeing for my local homeschooling coop group. The kids were great, the timing went perfectly, and the dyepots were awesome.  In all, it was four hours of fun work. I am very pleased, and more importantly, I think the kids had a blast.

The Prep:

I pre-scoured, weighed and divvied, and pre-mordanted (8% alum/7% CoT) all the yarn, so we were able to jump right in.   Each child (and a couple parents) got a 20g mini-skein of yarn for each dyebath.  There were 9 participants and 4 dyebaths.  It was a lot of divvying and weighing and winding.  I did it in my pajamas in the wee hours.  Good times.

The Class:

We began with an introduction to natural dyeing:  types of fiber, dyestuffs, terms, safety, and a show-and-tell with fiber, dyestuff, and dyed samples.  I even made posters with illustrations and everything.  I love teaching.  I wish I had more time to do classes like this.

We dyed with black tea (English Breakfast, 20 bags), yellow onion skins (.75:1), red onion skins (just under 1:1), and I sent them home with a bonus black beans solar dyeing project. They had fun stuffing pantyhose legs with onion skins and weighing and calculating the ratios. They really liked getting to wear the blue gloves and using the Grackle & Sun super-scientifical gear—you know, the pH meter and temperature probe. Who wouldn’t? Lol. The real winner, though, was the awesome presto-change-oh! trick with the red onion skins. The magic of a little washing soda. Red dyebath, green yarn.  Show-stopper. :D

Quick scientifical aside here:  My tapwater is pH 8.8.  The black tea dyebath dropped to a 3.4.  The yellow onion bath went down to about a 4.1.  The red onion bath was made more basic with 1/4 teaspoon of washing soda which brought the pH up to 9.4, and that instantly turned the extraction green.  But later (after about 45 min.), the dyebath was claret coloured again.  So we remeasured the pH, and it was 3.5!  But the yarn still took the green colour.  Interesting that it dropped back down though.  Will have to play with this again later.  All the dyebaths were done as a combo extraction/dyebath deal.  The yarn and dyestuff was added at the same time.

In the down time, we took a tour of my yard and learned about various native dyeplants and their proper names. We also took a tour of the Grackle & Sun DyeTable (aka, my studio space in the garage). They called it my dyer’s lair. Funny.  And true. They loved all the different extractions and experiments going on.  I love to see the inner mad scientists of 10 year olds being engaged and encouraged.

The best part was seeing how excited they got about their successful dyepots. Mad skillz little dyers. I think a couple of them are hooked. They’re already asking for more classes and planning what dyestuffs they want to try out next. Total success. :D

The results:

Sorry for the over-exposed picture. I didn’t dye any yarn myself today, and so I tried to snap a quick picture before the kiddos had to go.  The green is actually greener, and the peach is actually browner. The yellow is pretty bang-on, though. I didn’t tell them what colour they’re going to get with the black beans though. I can just imagine the surprise when they see blue yarn. Good times. Love sharing this awesomeness we call natural dyeing.

Yellow Onion—Red Onion—Black Tea

Live happy, dye happy!

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