Birds’ Nests Making

I work on a local therapeutic farm where I facilitate an art studio. Yesterday we made birds’ nests out of various types of foliage that we harvest from the large farm lands. I am documenting what we did yesterday to introduce what our usual studio activity is like.

Birds’ nests making was inspired by an empty nest we found in an abandoned planter placed near the studio building. We looked into the planter nest as a sample, found an image of what each participant would make and went out for a walk to collect materials.

I went with one of the participants, Paola, who is a Canadian First Nation lady. As I had an image of making my nest with all fresh ferns, I picked up new leaves of broken ferns. Paola looked in my basket, smiled at me and said, “You pick all the new leaves and I take all the dead ones on the ground.” While we were going up along the hill we found a dead squirrel on the ground. The tail of the squirrel looked as beautiful as when it was alive. Paola said, “My grandpa used to put a cigarette butt on a dead animal so that the animal will have an- after-life.” Although we didn’t have a cigarette butt, we gently moved the body on a piece of tree bark. Then- Paola gently placed it under a shrub, saying, “This will help other animals”. On the way to our art studio, Paola broke off a twig with new leaves and yellow flowers. I asked her why she suddenly picked a new fresh plant instead of a dead one. She said, “Flowers are good to be seen”, then handed me the branch. Its thorns pricked both Paola’s and my fingers. Paola said, “You know what? My last name is Sting, and everyone laughs about it.” We laughed loudly together. I enjoyed the conversation with Paola; I felt her beautiful personality and was happy. Though she has been struggling with her personal life, she is still so loving and caring about nature and others.

One hour later all the participants came back with basketsful of different plants. In order to tie the pieces of foliage together we used hempen thread although in real life birds use spider’s web. At the end of the studio time, we had nine different birds’ nests and each was slightly – or some were radically – different.

I loved all of them. I felt each nest tells something about each person – one nest had dandelion seeds carefully placed in the center as if it was a comfortable bed; a relatively large nest was made with various grasses, and flowers were arranged at the bottom outside the nest so that people could see them from underneath; another nest was made with plants but also a used plastic bag found in the forest; a small globe shaped nest was still quite stable on the flat table -and so on. As different birds make different nests, each participant made something characteristic of themselves. This was a simple and short activity but everyone looked content.

I always hope that our therapeutic art studio is like a bird’s nest that everyone will fly from, but will return to for recharging anytime when they need that. Art therapy is like weaving a bird’s nest. I feel our casual conversation in the studio is like tiny strands of spider’s web that connect each moment of the time we spend together.

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