Carousel of Animals is Back!

One of the biggest Covid-19 related teaching losses I experienced was in March of 2020 when we left school for what we thought would be two weeks. My high schoolers at Stone Ridge had all just finished a magnificent round of giant chicken wire and papiér mache sculptures. They were gorgeous and ready for the spring art show, but they never got to leave my classroom. Then, to make things worse, when we returned the following year I had to ask students to either retrieve them or throw them away to allow for safe spacing in my classroom… and because they had been group projects and no one felt strong ownership of them I ended up throwing a lot of them away. It was devastating.

But now! Now, I have returned to my summer gig, in-person, and I am so excited that I was able to bring back the classic summer Glen Echo Park tradition of the Carousel of Animals Camp! This past week I had a group of 8 young 13 and 14 year olds and we had a lovely, but fast-paced week.

At the Carousel of Animals Camp each camper makes their own carousel-animal-inspired-sculpture or a miniature carousel. They start the week by visiting the historic Dentzel Carousel built in 1921, and yes this is a very special year for the park because the carousel is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary! After sketching some of the beautiful hand carved animals each campers draws up their own design the actual size they envision it! I stay late Monday and build them some armatures based on the dimensions of their drawings using 2″x2″x8′ lumber. Then they’re off to the races! Tuesday we form the shapes out of chicken wire and Wednesday we papiér mache like mad! Thursday a layer of house paint adds some flexibility and another layer of strength, and finally on Friday we add finishing details. Campers even have the opportunity to use spray paint if they like.

Below you can see some of the process, and the end results!! I hope you enjoy this midsummer break from my 6-12 year olds, and admire the work of these determined teenagers! I honestly think these are some of the best results I’ve ever seen! Ever!

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