Three Field Trips with Bullseye Glass

Portland KinderschuleField Trips

In the last month Portland Kinderschule went on three different field trips all organized by Laura from Bullseye Glass.

On May 5th we visited Zena Forest Products, a sustainable tree farm run by a family with German roots a few miles northwest of Salem. After braving some downpours on the freeway and navigating a bumpy forest road out to the farm we were greeted in perfect German by Sarah and Ben the owners, who used to live in Germany. Sarah even brought an old German children’s book of hers. Laura had prepared some snacks and coloring activities to entertain the children while we were waiting for everyone to arrive, but that was no match for the big mudpuddles and the heavy equipment including a bulldozer. Who wants to color when you have a bulldozer to climb on?  After every kid got to sit in the driver’s seat Paul of Zena Forest Products gave us a very interesting tour of the place. We walked through the forest and learned about the different kinds of trees, what environment they need, how to help them grow, what kind of products they are used for and a lot more. Paul challenged the kids to observe and develop their own ideas about what they see. At the sawmill a cut up slab of a tree was shown as an example how to cut rectangular boards from a round tree with the big saw and we also looked at the kiln in which the boards are dried. And last but not least we picked a few pieces of wood that would be used in the art project on the third field trip.

The second trip took us on May 18th to the Bullseye Glass Factory in Southeast Portland. Here Laura greeted us again. After a safety instruction Laura compared making glass to baking cookies. Instead of flour sand goes into the dough and instead of food coloring you use all kinds of different minerals to stain the glass. We saw the big storage room with glass sheets in pretty much every color.  Then we visited the glass “bakery”. At the first station we were very impressed by someone putting a mass of hot glass “dough” on a work table. The hot glass was roughly kneaded and folded with a spatula and then rolled out into a thin sheet of glass. Although the “baker” didn’t use a rolling pin, but had a machine do that for him. Dan, the owner of Bullseye showed us jars with the different minerals that are added to the hot glass to give it the color. You can even add gold and the result will be pink glass, which the girls seemed to remember very well. In another room big sheets of clear class were rolled out, cooled and cut into shape. And finally we met an artist who was working on a big mosaic of glass in many different colors and looked at her work. A little snack concluded that interesting trip.

On June 1st the final activity took place at Bullseye Projects in the Pearl District, which is a gallery and art studio. The goal was to create some glass art by ourselves. Laura had gotten small sheets of clear glass for everyone and a lot of different pieces of glass in various shapes and all shades of green and brown. The little brown sticks were created by letting the hot glass drip through holes, the glass “confetti” was made by letting little glass bubbles cool down and pop and there was also “frit” which are small grains of glass. Now everyone arranged the different colorful pieces on the surface of the clear glass and glued them down. There were a lot of trees designed , some flowers, butterflies etc. The finished artwork will then be put into a kiln and heated up, so that the glass melts and bonds together, a process called fusing. And for the presentation of our glass art we got a stand made from the wood that we got at the Zena Forest, linking all of our three field trips together.

Those three trips were a great experience for the children (and the parents, grandparents,…). A big thank you to everyone at Bullseye Glass and Zena Forest Products and of course a very special thank you to Laura, who prepared, set up, organized and guided all three of those trips wonderfully. Vielen herzlichen Dank!!!!!