From de­tri­tus to de­sir­able

Sand Ridge Na­ture Cen­ter pro­gram par­tic­i­pants turn de­bris into works of art

Daily Southtown - - NEWS - By Frank Vaisvi­las Frank Vaisvi­las is a free­lancer for the Daily South­town.

Gath­er­ing a few feath­ers and some twigs, Thomas McDow­ell set out to cre­ate a but­ter­fly on Nov. 4 at the Sand Ridge Na­ture Cen­ter in South Hol­land.

“I’m hop­ing it turns out right,” the Markham res­i­dent said.

McDow­ell and a few oth­ers took part in a free monthly pro­gram at the cen­ter that en­cour­ages peo­ple to cre­ate art or prac­ti­cal items from dis­carded or­ganic ma­te­rial found in the pre­serve. In au­tumn, the projects of­ten in­clude color­ful fallen leaves.

McDow­ell said he plays sports dur­ing the sum­mer, but wanted to learn new ac­tiv­i­ties to stay busy dur­ing the fall and win­ter. He had found out about the pro­gram through word-of­mouth.

Keyanna White, of Har­vey, said pro­grams such as the one Nov. 4 keep her com­ing back to Sand Ridge.

“I love any­thing in­volved with na­ture and do-it-your­self crafts,” she said. “It’s sim­ple and cheap to make and you can ad­just and mod­ify it to your lik­ing.”

Dur­ing an­other ses­sion White cre­ated a wind catcher us­ing sticks, stones and string. A wind catcher is a cross be­tween a Na­tive Amer­i­can dream catcher and a wind chime and can be dis­played in­doors or out­doors. White said she was sup­posed to use a wil­low branch rather than a string, but the wet weather at the time made the branch hard to use for that pur­pose.

On Nov. 4, she was look­ing to cre­ate an artis­tic rose by fold­ing sev­eral fallen sy­camore and maple leaves. With the red, gold, yel­low and brown col­ors of the leaves White was con­fi­dent in the fi­nal out­come of her cre­ation.

“It’s go­ing to come out beau­ti­ful,” she said.

Alex Palmer, a nat­u­ral­ist for the Cook County For­est Pre­serve District who helped or­ga­nize the event, said other art pro­grams at the cen­ter in­cor­po­rated plas­tic bot­tle caps and other trash into mak­ing sculp­tures.

“It’s re­lated to our con­ser­va­tion mis­sion of reusing ma­te­ri­als,” he said.

The cen­ter is sur­rounded by sev­eral na­ture trails and some art-mak­ing pro­grams are held out­side when the weather is pleas­ant.

“We’re al­ways in­cor­po­rat­ing art­mak­ing ac­tiv­i­ties along with with na­ture hikes,” said Sophia Vela, a re­cre­ation aide at the cen­ter.

The next re­us­able art pro­gram at the cen­ter in­volves wrap­ping presents us­ing old for­est pre­serve district fly­ers, pam­phlets or maps, or mak­ing gift boxes out of those ma­te­ri­als. Palmer said some old cal­en­dars that are dec­o­ra­tive would make es­pe­cially aes­thetic gift wrap­ping.

A date for the event has yet to be de­ter­mined but will be posted on the cen­ter’s Face­book page and the district’s web­site. But the next ma­jor event at the na­ture cen­ter is on Nov. 18, when the 46th annual Set­tler’s Day brings cos­tumed his­tor­i­cal re-en­ac­tors, his­tory hikes, crafts and an imag­i­nary wagon train ad­ven­ture to Sand Ridge, 15891 Pax­ton Ave. The event is free.

FRANK VAISVI­LAS/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN

Alex Palmer, a nat­u­ral­ist for the Cook County For­est Pre­serve District, holds a wind catcher cre­ated from nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als dur­ing a pro­gram at Sand Ridge Na­ture Cen­ter in South Hol­land.

Pro­grams at the Sand Ridge Na­ture Cen­ter en­cour­age peo­ple to cre­ate art us­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and trash, such as plas­tic.

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