Home-grown lessons in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

Home-grown lessons in Vail Valley

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail Valley artist Katherine Homes, center, shows kids at a birthday party in West Vail, Colorado how to decorate their herb- and flower-filled pouches to look like spiders, snakes and ladybugs

VAIL, Colorado – Vail, Colorado resident Tracy Gillette’s daughters couldn’t wait to show their mother the jewelry they had just made – quite literally.

As part of an art class taught by Eagle artist Katherine Homes, 8-year-old Lily and 6-year-old Wells had made their own beads out of cornstarch and food coloring and strung their own creations on hemp string.

“They made the clay, baked it, formed the jewelry and painted it,” said Gillette, who had Homes work with her daughters throughout June. “(All the projects) are hand-made, and they were so proud of their work. The girls loved explaining the whole process, not just showing me the finished product.”

The home-made beads are just one example of the projects Homes works on with her students through Little Mountain Artists, private art classes that focus on cultural and environmental education.

Homes teaches different ages of children, and on a regular basis does everything from bigger groups, such as birthday parties, to one-on-one sessions.

“I found that a lot of families were discouraged because there weren’t any art programs for children in the valley,” she said. “I wanted to create a program for kids to be in a quieter environment and just play. I want them to connect with the earth.”

She said her projects vary, depending on the age and interests of her students. For example, with the Gillette children, she also helped them build flower boxes in which they planted different herbs. With a bigger group of children, she built wooden compost boxes decorated with shells, yarn and paint to plant vegetable seeds. The children learned about where food comes from and how it grows, she said.

The goal is for the children to take part in every step, from stirring the pot of clay for beads to putting the seeds in soil.

“They take full responsibility for what they create,” she said. “It’s such a fun thing to watch them from start to finish. It makes them more confident, and they can tap into their creative sources.”

Gillette said Homes’ program provided an alternative to other summer programs for her daughters.

“There are so many great sports camps in the valley, but they wanted more of a creative outlet,” she said. “Sports are great, but I wanted them to do something artsy, too.”

The simplicity of the projects is kind of the point, Homes said.

“It’s about getting them excited about smaller things and not bombarding them with information – they already have that at school,” she said.

Home’s background is diverse, although she said she’s always loved teaching – she’s taught young children at a variety of different schools, and has worked in various community service and cultural projects.

She wrote and published the book “Little Yoga Warriors,” which focuses on how yoga is expressed in different cultures, and is working on her Bending Grass project, which focuses on nonprofit charity work and environmental awareness through art and music.

Her latest art venture has been especially rewarding, she said.

“I love my job,” she said. “It’s about instilling confidence and all these possibilities in the kids, and they have so much fun.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

Learn more about Katherine Homes and the Little Mountain Artists program, go to http://www.bendinggrass.com.

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