Tag: garden education

Art Education: Sculpture Garden, an Outdoor Classroom


sculpture garden

When I started at my new, fancy, private school, I was amazed at the classroom I was given. I had so much space, it was fully stocked, and it was set up to specifically serve as a sculpture classroom. I barely had to change a thing, it was practically perfect. I even had double doors leading outside, to a walled in patio space. I already had a beautiful classroom, and now I even had an outdoor workspace.

While my classroom was well put together, the patio space was a blank slate. There was nothing but a concrete slab and a beautiful brick wall enclosing it. For a year I sat at my desk, stared out the double doors, and saw a space going to waste.

At the beginning of my second year I decided it was time to spruce it up. I put in a few wish list items to our school’s arts alliance, and was granted enough money to make the space useful and more aesthetically pleasing. I purchased two planters, one round planter, and two picnic tables. I am blessed to have a landscape architect husband who helped me fill the planters with interesting flowers, wonderfully smelling herbs, and interesting foliage to look at and touch.

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When everything was put together I was excited at the transformation, but I quickly realized it wasn’t enough. Walls still stood empty, space was being wasted. The next year I added even more. I purchased two more large planters, 4 round planters, a storage shed, a storage box, and succulents to add as centerpieces to my picnic tables. Once again Nick came to my rescue and helped me select the many plants necessary to fill up my planters.

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I couldn’t believe how beautiful the space was becoming. The piles of straw for my raku firings was hidden away, my propane and acetylene tanks and a protected space to live, and my planters could barely contain my plants. My watering system was working well, automatically watering every three days, causing growth spurts in everything I planted.

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The final touch I added to the space were four sets of three slip casted tiles. These beautiful pieces sat unglazed and abandoned in my storage closet for years. Once I added bright coats of glaze and fired them, they were the perfect addition to the walls of my sculpture garden.

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I love seeing my students working out there. This forgotten space has finally reached it’s potential, and is being put to good use. I can’t wait to continue to add student made sculptures to the space, and continue to grow my beautiful sculpture garden. Check out my first blog post about transforming this space here.

IMG_8106Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by!

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Sculpture Garden: The Beginning Stages of Transforming a Space

High School Art Sculpture Garden

I’ve said it over and over in my posts, I am incredibly lucky to be at the school I currently teach at. After 3 years of public school teaching, with little to no budget, I am absolutely spoiled at my private school. I have an enormous classroom, a budget that allows me to purchase supplies for interesting and fun projects, and small class sizes.

In addition, we also have a very active parent organization that raises money specifically for the fine arts department. Every year we can put in requests  for “wish list” items. These can be things that don’t fit into our budget, and can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands. I take advantage of this program every year.

The first year I put in for fused glass supplies, and now have an amazing fused glass studio set up. My second year I considered adding to my glass inventory, adding a brazing project, and other new sculpture based equipment I could use. After brainstorming in my classroom for awhile my gaze drifted out the double doors that lead to my very own “sculpture garden”.

The space is wonderful, it is a small patio with a lovely brick wall enclosing it. We have access to a gas line and hose, with a large drain in the center. The pros end about there. A former sculpture teacher managed to clog the drain, and every time is rained the patio turned into a small lake. Dead leaves collected into corners, nothing was pretty about it, besides the brick wall.

I made a decision to put my wish list money towards that space. Although I could beef up my program, this space needed it more. It was planned and built to be utilized, and here it was empty and useless. I decided I would turn it into a aesthetically pleasing, functional space.

I asked for two large, green picnic tables, two planter boxes, and one round planter. I requested funds to purchase plants, soil, and hoses. This was going to be an enjoyable place to create artwork.

I was thrilled when I found out I had been approved, and I immediately put in my orders. Throughout the school year things began to slowly roll in. The picnic tables were in place, I finally found time to put together the planter boxes, and Spring was right around the corner. It was the perfect time to purchase my plants and use a very useful resource, my landscape architect husband.

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I had a few requirements for my plants. They had to a: be perennials, I didn’t want to replant every year, b: look pretty, c: feel good to the touch, and d: smell good. I wanted this space to peak the senses. We strolled around our local Pike’s and slowly picked out our plants. We pulled a rosemary for the round planter, an amazing smell, as well as some thyme for the large planters. Creeping Jenny was added for the bright green color and ability to quickly fill up space. Lamb’s ear came next, because it is so fun to touch, along with Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop. Last but not least we picked out beautiful purple cone flowers and yellow coreopsis for their lovely blooms.

IMG_7966The plants, soil, and river rock was loaded up and moved to my outdoor space. The river rock was added to the bottom of every planter, for better drainage, followed by a mix of potting soil and garden soil. Because I was limited on time to get my plants planted I purchased 10 bags of soil from my local plant store. It would have saved me money to purchase soil by the pound from a place, such as The Green Centre. As I continue to add to my garden I hope to find a local stone and soil yard to save money.

After the soil and stone the plants went in last. In order to create a worry free planting I also purchased a hose timer and drip hoses. A normal hose runs from the timer and faucet, to a drip hose, which weaves between the plants. Every 3 days the hose automatically turns on, waters the planters, and shuts off.

My space is slowly transforming into a welcoming area. Students have already begun working at the picnic tables on nice days. After my successful first planting I decided I couldn’t stop there. I put in for even more items on next year’s wish list, and have already been approved to continue to beautify the space. I just put in for two more rectangle planters, four more round planters, a storage bench (for the straw and hay I use in raku and smoke firings), and a storage shed (for my propane and acetylene tanks).

I can’t wait to get the remainder of my “sculpture garden” plans together. I believe with this second order the space will look beautiful and complete. I will continue to post as my outdoor space continues to grow. I can’t wait to shop for more smell, feel, and look good plants. I will be sure to post the plant list as well.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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