Pinterest is a remarkable tool. I use it to collect ideas for blog posts, artworks for possible exhibition topics, creative and professional inspiration, and cute and geeky things that make me smile. It also, however, has made me really think about the way I do Ideabox posts, since it is so easy to type ‘playdough’ into the search box of Pinterest and find 90 recipes for everything from scented to sparkling to glow in the dark doughs. (See my Ideabox: Dough post for some of my past favorites.)
So what makes the Ideabox different from losing a few hours to pictures of smoothies and babies in Ewok costumes on Pinterest? Why keep doing it? I’ve decided the answer is context and connection, which is still at the heart of why I write here.
And so (because it’s summer and the beach is calling to us all) I present:
A Grand View of Sand (Geography & Travel)
I currently live on Massachusetts’ North Shore, which has an awful lot of pebbled beaches just waiting to churn underfoot and dump you on your rear when you’re carrying 50 pounds of dive gear.
But even here in Massachusetts there’s a lot of variety, such as the purplish sands of Plum Island, or the soft white dunes of Provincetown.
And of course, lots of other places are known for their colored sands: black, pink, etc. I can imagine a lot of great geography assignments featuring sand samples and postcards with writing prompts from different places, discussing the plants and animals found nearby, what makes for a good travel destination (or not!) and why, and all of it tying back to our next topic, the geology of the area involved.
A Granule of Sand (Geology & Scale)
Magnified sand is one of my favorite things to look at through a microscope or as a piece of science/art photography. Dr. Gary Greenberg has a number of beautiful images here, and I have also seen amazing posters of magnified sand from around the world, though sadly I haven’t found any recently. I can, however, imagine creating a set of sand cards in the classroom to look at through magnifying lenses or a good microscope. This would be a great introduction to a study of scale, an opportunity to do magnified drawing practice, a way to further explore the process of erosion, or even a fun comparison with a similar study of snowflakes.
Aggravations of Sand (Architecture, Engineering, Etc.)
Anyone who’s tried to walk on soft, shifting sand knows how aggravating it can be–slippery as snow and with three times the abrasive power, unless you skim the surface like a sidewinder.
So beyond the uses of sandblasting in architecture, how else can you explore sand from an engineering point of view?
Design Challenges: Build a better beach wheelchair or other adaptive device. (Sand skis? Apparently these are a thing, but it just looks like an invitation to the world’s worst rug burn to me…)
Explore the effects of sandy ground in an earthquake with a shake-table, tray of sand, and Lincoln Log towers.
Test the efficacy of various kinds of interventions to prevent erosion (breakwaters, jetties, dunes and beach plantings, etc.)
Aggregations of Sand (Art & More)
Lots of places have sand castle and sand sculpture festivals (above image from wikimedia commons), but here are a few artists I enjoy, some of whom I’ve come across in working on a proposal for a Dirt themed exhibition.
How else do you suggest exploring sand? Any good stories, songs, or non-fiction to recommend?