Entry from Mack Baker

Blog Post- Clay 6.26.17

Hello! My name is Mack and I’m an Intern with Nancy at Bread and Butter farm. I am currently studying Psychology with a minor in writing and Studio Art at the University of Vermont. After undergrad, I hope to go into Art Therapy. I have been working with clay and the earth for many years and it is a media that I hold very dear. I believe that the earth is a conduit for spiritual balance and has brought much harmony to my life.

Right now, at the farm we are working with the earth as a way of creating both functional and sculptural ware. What I am focusing on is figuring out the clay’s limitations and ultimately, trying to make a functional piece from it. First, I harvested the earth from the ground, separated it into small particles, and then dried it out in the sun until the earth was bone dry. Once the earth was dry we ground it up into a fine powder, which I then added water to until the mixture was of a yogurt like consistency. This gooey clay mixture is called Slip. I then spread the slip onto a tin plate and began to torch it so that the earth dried at a consistent temperature. Once this was completed, I then began to work the earth so that I could sculpt with it. Right now, I am testing out the limit of the earth’s plasticity by forming it into a functional bowl. I am doing this by using a salad bowl as a mold and sculpting the clay to the inside of it for maximum support. 

What’s most interesting about this kind of clay at the farm is that it is very versatile. There are different ways to make art from it. At first we added hay and sand to it to create cob, which is an old technique that was used to make housing. By adding the hay to the earth, we are making the clay less flexible but more durable. We began to sculpt a cow head (using found skull bones on the farm to understand the form) from the cob by taking material away. In the past couple of days, we have begun to burnish the outside of the sculpture by using a technique called tadelakt. Tadelakting is a method originating from Morocco to use oil and stone to make the earth to be as smooth as possible. It has some very interesting effects. 

This process is very much experimental and fosters a new experience for me in how the earth reacts to this method of working the clay. I am excited to see how this all turns out!

Entry from Gabrielle Rosenbacher

Sensory Hike - Environmental Painting with Gabrielle Rosenbacher and Eleanor Reagan

Tuesday, June 20 2017

Being able to participate in the children's camp at Bread and Butter Farm was incredibly rewarding. Since it was artisans week at camp, us interns were able to lead a creative exercise with the kids. We decided to lead a sensory hike that included aspects of environmental art. This would engage the kids by taking them on a small hike while concentrating on our sense of place. Using earth paint as the only medium for expression, we asked the kids to isolate a sense and observe all they can with the remaining senses. The goal of this activity was to get the kids thinking about not only being present but also being able to communicate their experience in the environment with a creative, artistic medium.  

As our hour-long activity was approaching, so was a large storm.  Fortunately, the leaders at Bread and Butter were prepared, so the activity was moved to inside the barn. Although we couldn’t go on a hike, we were able to have a storm passing which seemed to be an inspiration as it was strongly portrayed in the children's artwork. 

Being able to share this activity with 7 to 10 year old kids was inspiring in itself.  Hopefully we will be able to lead this activity at camp once a week!

 Campers at Camp Bread and Butter paint with earth guided by Gabrielle Rosenbacher and Eleanor Reagan as part of Nancy Winship Milliken Studio environmental art internship program

Campers at Camp Bread and Butter paint with earth guided by Gabrielle Rosenbacher and Eleanor Reagan as part of Nancy Winship Milliken Studio environmental art internship program