Fly Tying 101 – Week Two

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva

I love fly tying. Today we got to make a fly that is suppose to resemble the Caddis Fly. The Caddis Fly, in it’s early life or nymph stage, lives in a tube that it makes out of little pieces of rock and wood.

You can find them in creeks, streams, and some rivers. The trout loves to eat them, so this is a fly that works well on trying to catch trout.

You usually tie the fly with a small hook. This is a really cool fly when you are done tying it. One cool thing about tying this fly is that you use a torch and just catch the end on fire to make a butt.

This is my friend that is doing the fly tying class with me. I’m glad that we get to do it together. I think it is more fun that way.

The Mighty Chinook (includes Free Salmon Life-Cycle Printable)

Upon return from our Roots & Shoots outing last week, the kids were intrigued by the many trials or challenges salmon encounter in their effort to return to their home streams to spawn.  We thereby did a little research on the life-cycle of salmon.  Thereafter, I gave them each a handout I created and asked them to illustrate the salmon life-cycle.

This printable is available for free here, Salmon Life-Cycle Printable.

As they worked on their notebook page, the kids started to talk about creating a letterbox to celebrate the mighty Chinook.  We brainstormed possibilities and settled upon a series of boxes … one stamp for each of the major steps in the life-cycle:  egg, alevin, fry, smolt, migrating smolt or juvenile, and the adult. We printed out some simple illustrations and then set about carving.
We carved two stamps each and then created a simple logbook for the sixth and final stamp (the adult). We then packaged them up in protective tins and made plans to return to the area the following day with their dad.  They were excited to share their salmon observations and equally eager to share the joy of finding a few new letterboxes with their dad.  Coincidentally, he had recently purchased a logbook of his own and registered his own trail name on Atlas Quest.

Meeting Jan Brett

We have been looking forward to this day for some time now … our local Barnes & Noble was hosting an evening with Jan Brett.  They had stated that we would be required to purchase her new book, Mossy, on the day of the event in order to obtain a ticket to her book talk and signing.  We thereby arrived early – long before the store opened – to assure ourselves a ticket.  We were surprised to discover however, that there was only one other person in line.  Fortunately, another homeschool family, so we chatted while we waited for the doors to open. 
Occupying themselves while awaiting their chance to meet Jan Brett
She was scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m. and we thereby decided to come at 3 p.m. in hopes of finding a comfortable place to sit.  Upon our arrival there were only two others with the same intentions.  The staff informed us that we had the option of taking a seat for the book talk OR standing in line for the book signing.  At the time, however, the line was queued to wrap around the backside of the book shelves and those in line for the signing would not have a view of the book talk.  I talked it over with the munchkins and they voted to sit comfortably at a table – knowing that we might NOT be able to get a book signed in the end.   
Engaged in conversation while Jan signs their book

We had brought along our schoolwork and purchased a cocoa and a little snack from the onsite Starbucks.  It made for quite an enjoyable afternoon actually – surrounded by enticing books and artistically intriguing illustrations.  The kids managed to complete their math assignment but spent the majority of the time browsing the new titles.  Sweetie even made a list of books she would like to read. 
I was disappointed in how the staff chose to organize the event, however.  I felt they could have distributed tickets to patrons upon their arrival to indicate their place in line for the signing that was to follow the book talk.  In this way, those that arrived early could have seated themselves comfortably and been assured of a good place in line as well.  What further aggravated me was that just prior to Jan’s arrival, the staff chose to move the book shelves to allow the line that had formed for the book signing to have a view of her talk.  Had I known they were going to do this, I would have gotten into line.  Oh well.  

Mossy as illustrated by Jan during her book talk

Thus, after her talk – which was amazing – the crowd that had formed quickly dissemenated into a queue for the signing.  Because we were so close to the tiny stage where she had spoken, it took us some time to make it into line.  We thereby had to wait quite a long time for the signing.  It was well worth the wait, however.  Jan inquired if the kids like to draw and they informed her that they did indeed.  “We have a nature journal and we draw things we observe in nature all the time.”  She was very intrigued to hear this and she stated that this was the first time she had heard a child remark that they had a nature journal.  Her remark of course had my kiddos floating in the clouds through the weekend.  

As we drove home, I suggested that they write her a letter for the 52 Weeks of Mail Challenge.  They were immediately interested.  🙂

Fly Tying 101 – Week One

My daughter has been interested in fly fishing since she was a toddler.  Fly fishing is a big sport in Central Oregon and we were surrounded by avid fishermen and women who loved their sport and were keen to share their passion with others.  The retail store, Orvis, even had an outdoor casting course downtown.  Our neighbor welcomed her into his ‘office’ on a few occasions so she could ask questions and admire his amazing collection of flies.  He even took us out for a lesson one afternoon for our first lesson in casting, Fly Fishing ~ A Future Hobby.

Since then she has occasionally talked about getting her own fly pole (though they didn’t make a weight light enough for her until now – she has grown, after all), taking fly fishing lessons, and even getting a fly tying kit with which to tie her own flies.  We never knew how serious she was until recently – after all, my husband and I aren’t fly fishermen.  Then again, we were not archers either until Buddy took up the sport.

Shortly after we moved to Northern California, a nearby children’s museum featured an exhibit on fly fishing that provided us a greater understanding of the art, science, and history of fly fishing.  Her interest was peeked even more and she asked for a fly tying kit for her birthday.

Serendipitously, at this same time, I stumbled upon an advertisement in a local publication of an upcoming fly tying class for youth.  Perfect!  We thereby informed her that we would buy her a kit upon completion of the course.  In this way, we could also make an informed decision about what type of vise and other tools to purchase.

She has been looking forward to this class for a couple of months now.  To make it even more exciting for her – a new friend we met this summer is joining her for the six-week course. Finding her passions is great – sharing that passion with a friend is priceless.

Over the next few months, she will be featured as a guest blogger to share what she has learned in fly tying class. I encourage you to follow along – I know she’d love to hear from you.

Week Two – Caddis Fly

Week Three – Zebra Midge

Week Four – Lures

Week Five – Pheasant Tail Fly

Week Six – Copper John

Discovering Scherenschnitte with Hans

I have loved the stories of Hans Christian Andersen since I was a little girl.  I remember very clearly listening to my dad read aloud Tumbelina as he tucked me into bed at night. To this day, it is one of my favorite stories. You can imagine my delight when I finally got to “meet him” while we were in Copenhagen last May.

Scherenschnitte with Hans Christian Andersen @EvaVarga.netHans, as I will affectionately refer to him here, was known not only for his skill at storytelling, but also for his ability to cut intricate paper designs.  Remarkably, he would entertain guests by snipping away at paper while he orally told his stories.

At the conclusion of his story, he would reveal the delicate image he had been cutting. Most often, the image he cut told a pictorial story completely different from the one he told in words and his audiences were amazed.

History of Scherenschnitte

Papercutting has a long history dating back to ancient Chinese who used it to form stencils to decorate fine silks. The technique likely found its way to Europe in the early 17th century through trade with Asia.

The term “Chinese shadow” was originally used but was replaced by “silhouette” in France when a banker, Etienne de Silhouette, lent his name to the term. As the minister for finance of Louis XV, he proposed that the king should commission only black-and-white shadow portraits instead of expensive oil pictures.

In France it was originally a bourgeois art but soon became a favorite pasttime for everybody.  Famous artists like Philipp Otto Runge, Adolph von Menzel, and Goethe and later well known artists, such as Matisse and Picasso, created art using this technique.

Scherenschnitte with Kids

Kids are generally familiar with the art of paper cutting – having made paper snowflakes to adorn their windows in winter. However, scherenschnitte is an art that can be enjoyed year-round.

I recently introduced our Barnesklubb kids to the scherenschnitte work of Hans Christian Andersen and was delighted with the number of families that turned out for the activity. I began by reading aloud his short story, The Beetle, which he wrote in 1861.

Upon concluding the story, I revealed to the kids a beetle that I had cutout previously [alas, I would not have been capable of doing it simultaneously].  I also shared with them the book featured below; the kids were all intrigued and spent the next hour trying their own hand at paper cutting.

Author Beth Wagner Brust tells the story of Hans Christian Andersen as an artist, describing how and why he made paper cuttings, which, like his tales, were innovative and original. His work is striking – the cutouts, typically from white or light-colored paper, are set off by dramatic black backgrounds. The accompanying text outlines the major events in Andersen’s life, from his childhood in a slum of Odense to his later career as a celebrated writer.

Scherenschnitte Tutorials & Templates

If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating and ageless art medium, here is a great tutorial:

Cindy Bean, the artist in the video has also graciously provided numerous templates on her website, Scherenschnitte, that you can download for free to help you get started. Here are a few of our favorites:

Please leave a link in the comments if you have given this art a go yourself.  We love to be inspired by others.

Barnesklubb Fair Booth 2012

Our beloved Sons of Norway Lodge in Central Oregon had an active youth group.  Our lodge here in Northern California does not.  This is one of the hardest things about moving – adjusting oneself to the changes and finding a new niche.  Not disheartened, over the past few months the kids and I have been working to establish a community of young families interested in learning about Scandinavia.  We started a Barnesklubb or youth group that meets one afternoon each month.  Our hope is that they will become members of the lodge – but ultimately, we just want to share our love of our heritage with others.

We thereby chose to take part in our local county fair – putting together a Youth Feature Booth to share with the public a little about our activities.  An added incentive was the premium offered per class – $100 for 1st, $80 for 2nd, $60 for 3rd, and ribbons for 4th and 5th.  As our new lodge is small and has no source of income (our former lodge owned their own building that they rented out for weddings, classes, etc.) – there is no funding for the club activities we desire to do.  I’ve had to pay for everything out of pocket.  Winning a premium would be awesome!

sons of norway

Sadly, the group here is so new … we didn’t have much help in constructing our booth. Those who have taken part in our activities were unable to help.  True to their Viking ancestry, my two didn’t let this deter them.  They said they would do it alone.  When Grandma was in town last month, we brainstormed ideas and they settled upon a Viking ship to represent our focus on our heritage.  The kids painted the mast, unique shields with the flags of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland for the ship, the Sons of Norway logo for the mast, and drew out a dragon hull onto cardboard.  I cut it out for them as it required the use of an Exacto-knife.  I then helped them to tape the cardboard pieces together with shipping tape.

When we set it up, one of the fair coordinators came up to us with some misgivings and concern, “You realize,” she said, “the feature booths are for youth groups?”   “Yes,” I replied. “This is a youth group.”  “Where are the kids?  The kids are supposed to put the booth together.”  “These are are the only two active members,” I replied.  “Oh!” she exclaimed in surprise and walked away.

With that, my husband cautioned us not to expect much.  “Don’t get your heart broken if you don’t win,” he said to us.  I assured him that winning was not our primary goal.  Most of all, we want others to simply have knowledge of us – perhaps to take part if they are so inclined.  I should have realized he was foretelling the future.

sons of norway vikingWe then walked over to see our other entries – the kiddos had each entered a few “Arts and Crafts” as well.  They were again disappointed.  Those that know me personally, know that I do all I can to teach good sportsmanship and humbleness in my kiddos.  We have been taking part in the fair since the kids were toddlers.  We use it as a means of learning from others and to seek new inspiration for creative projects and handcrafts.  We look at individual entries carefully and evaluate what was done well.We attended the fair on opening day – eager to see the other exhibits as well as to see how we fared.  

We allowed the anticipation to build by first walking through the commercial exhibits.  We then browsed all the exhibits and entries en route to where our booth was located near the rear of the building.  By the time we arrived at our booth, we knew there was only one other booth in our division – Junior Feature Booth.  While we were in the “Activity” class – the other was in the “Fair Theme” class.  Knowing therefore that we had no other competition – or perhaps only one other competitor if they judged the division as a whole rather than by class – we expected to do pretty well.  We were heartbroken to see that we didn’t receive any recognition whatsoever.   

I honestly believe that I am NOT one of those moms that feels my children are entitled to accolades.  I don’t give them false hope or praise.  I am the first to admit when they don’t put in their best effort or when I can see areas of needed improvement.  The focus of this blog entry, however, was on the Barnesklubb Youth Feature Booth.  Regardless of how the kids fared in the Junior Still Exhibits “Arts & Crafts” division, the lack of any ribbon whatsoever for our Youth Feature Booth perplexed us.  If there were other entries with whom we could compare – we perhaps could have come up with some theories.

I inquired with a volunteer on hand who led us over to one of the judges – the same woman who had questioned us earlier about the lack of other youth.  As she spoke, she gave me the impression that someone else judged the booths but I can not be certain.  She stated that the judge had felt our booth didn’t have a clear message.  That we failed to utilize the 10′ x 10′ space effectively.  They don’t like people to walk into a booth and thereby the pictures on the back wall were too small.  There was no lighting.  “The judge thereby decided not to award it at all.”  Essentially we took this to mean we had been disqualified.

viking boat fair boothAccording to the County Fair Exhibitor Guidebook, Junior Feature Booths are judged using the American System of Judging and use the following score card:

      • Title  10
      • Subject  10
      • Conveys Message  30
      • Holds Interest  15
      • Appearance  10
      • Workmanship  15
      • Lighting  10

 100 possible points

So what does American System of Judging  mean?  I did a little online research and came upon the following clarification:

A rank-order scoring system which awards the top exhibitor 1st, another 2nd, 3rd, etc. based on a score is called the “American System” or the “Peer System.” There may also be special categories such as “Top of Class”, “Best of Show”, etc. While the American system uses standards and requirements, it primarily uses the idea of competition between exhibitors, pitting one competitor against another to establish the rankings. In the Olympics, there can be only one gold, silver, and bronze. That is the “American system” of awards.

In the “Danish System” sometimes called the “Group Method”, exhibitors are measured against standards, not ranked against other exhibitors.  In 4-H, and in many junior classes of events in state and county fairs, most judging involves the Danish system of judging. In this system, the judges do not judge one person’s work by comparing it to another’s. Instead, a judge determines whether the exhibitors meet or exceed standards. Often a score sheet, available from the county 4-H office, is used to help the judge group exhibitors consistently.

Wow!  So based upon this information, we should have been compared to other exhibits in the same class (there were none) or perhaps the same division (there was only 1 other).  The woman I spoke with this afternoon said,  “The judge thereby decided not to award it at all.”  She further added that she would give me the score sheet the judge used to score our booth when we picked it up at the end of the week.   Score sheet? Sounds to me like they were using the Danish System of Judging.

I am so frustrated.  If there were other booths that had better met the qualifications or received a higher score, I could understand why we had not fared well.  But this was not the case.  There was no competition.   I thereby do not understand.  How then, do I explain the results to the kids??