Mittens on sea creatures and mastodonts?

by Kate Larson, guest blogger and yarnbomber

17 feet of I-cord!

Happy International Yarn Bomb Day! My friends from SWIFT (Spinners and Weavers of Indiana Fiber and Textiles) and I helped yarnbomb the Indiana State Museum the last weekend of May. We installed temporary projects ranging from colorful knits that encase architectural beams in the museum to striped mittens for a creature from ancient seas. Several of my co-conspirators decided to knit I-cord to wrap around handrails in the Earth Science area of the museum. I-cord is a knitting technique that creates a seamless tube, which in this case, is about an inch in diameter. The goal was to make about eight feet of I-cord, but both knitters got carried away by their needles and the longest piece ended up measuring over 17 feet!

Stylish mittens keep an ancient sea creatures appendages warm.

As I knit my own yarn bomb contribution, I incorporated some handspun yarns from my own flock of Border Leicester sheep. I keep a flock of about 30 of these curly fleeced sheep on my family’s farm in Delaware County. I loved having the opportunity to use a bit of local wool for this exhibit at the Indiana State Museum — knit by a sixth-generation Indiana farmer.

Thank you to the Indiana State Museum for allowing us to yarn bomb the museum and express our creativity through our craft. Thank you to Joanna Hahn and the museum staff for working so hard to bring this project to fruition!

Yarnbomb in is the house!

by Joanna Hahn, Manager of Arts and Culture Programs

Last week, Indiana State Museum staff assisted volunteers from the Crochet Guild of Indianapolis and SWIFT (Spinners and Weavers of Indiana Fibers and Textiles) with the installation of a few new objects to the museum’s core exhibits as part of our Yarnbomb the Indiana State Museum. Yarnbombing allows fiber artists of any skill level to leave a non-permanent creation using public spaces of buildings, sculptures and infrastructure such as telephone poles, parking meters and bike racks. The idea is to help bring warmth, color and personalization to objects that are often ignored or overlooked. We have gone one step further and allowed our core exhibits and the artifacts to be the inspiration for some fun creating.

It has been a lot of work (and some sweating and even a small bit of blood) taking these fun two and three-dimensional creations and placing them throughout the museum. Some are right in your face and not hard to miss, but I will bet there will be a few that will be hard to find. They are so well made that they just blend in with our exhibits and artifacts. So if you are looking for something new to see at the museum, come check out these wonderful and colorful additions to our spaces. And if you really want to have some fun, join us for International Yarnbomb Day on Saturday, June 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We have some lovely rocks in front of the museum that would love to receive some color. Create your own knitted or crocheted squares, rectangles or any shapes. Or, come prepared to create on the spot!

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The Naturalist’s Lab needs you!

by Karine Huys, Coordinator of Volunteer Services

Coral reefs and crochet, photomicrography, and animal noises! It’s an exciting time to be a volunteer in the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab here at the Indiana State Museum.

Just outside the door in the Ancient Seas gallery The Indiana Reef has opened. A coral reef in landlocked Indiana? Absolutely! Volunteer crocheters from across Indiana have created all aspects of a real coral reef. The Lab volunteers can answer questions about the reef, talk to people about the fossilized remains of the real coral reefs that used to be in Indiana or just enjoy the view through the large glass wall.

A new videomicroscope has been installed in the Naturalist’s Lab! With this microscope guests (and volunteers) can capture images of items at the microscopic level and then e-mail the images to their home e-mail. I was just downstairs explaining the process to today’s volunteer and we captured a microscopic view of the fossilized coral! 

Of course, guests can still mimic animal calls and replay them over the loudspeaker, try to figure out the difference between mastodont tusk and bone, and all the other great things always going on. And lots of volunteers have been reporting great interaction with guests visiting Indianapolis from different countries.

Join us as a Naturalist’s Lab volunteer — find the crab in the Reef, take a microscopic picture of your hand and make new friends … what more could you want?! More information about volunteering is available on the museum webpage at indianamuseum.org/volunteer.

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Telling the whole story

One of the goals of The Indiana Reef is to not only highlight the beauty and wonder of the world’s coral reefs, but also to share how these reefs are affected by human actions and natural events. It does not take much environmental change to stress coral reefs. A slight increase in temperature, growing pollution, disease and increased sedimentation all play a part in damaging coral reefs.

The Indiana Reef will have a section dedicated to showing how vibrant reefs are disturbed by these factors in a section of the exhibit known as The Toxic Reef. Volunteers creating these pieces have worked hard to present a reef that visually shows the stress that underwater coral are currently fighting. On some pieces, the colors of yarn are faded and pale while recycled trash pieces are also attached. The fading of color is one way a coral reef reacts to changes in its environment and is the beginning of a process known as bleaching, where sections of the coral begin to die and turns white. The death of coral affects all the organisms that rely on it as a link in the oceanic food chain.

Efforts are underway in many areas in the world to conserve and protect living coral reefs from environmental dangers. Scientists are currently researching how corals in certain areas of the world seem to adapt to environmental changes easier than others with the belief that these stressors may have happened in the past. For more information about coral reefs and bleaching, check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website.

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Bringing an ocean beauty to life … one stitch at a time

Carol Frohlich is a member of the Crochet Guild of Indianapolis and is coordinating the volunteer effort behind the creation of The Indiana Reef, a representation of ocean coral created through crochet, which will be exhibited at the Indiana State Museum from Sept. 1 – Oct. 31.  Recently, she and other volunteers came together for a work session to determine a plan on how many pieces of crocheted coral will be mounted for display. Currently, the group is experimenting with sewing the coral to upturned baskets.

Indianapolis Crochet Guild members and friends gathered together to make a coral reef. Since this was our first meeting, it was a time of trial and error, cheese, fruit and Mexican dip. We quickly learned to streamline our batting/backing process, making an outline of the basket first and then cutting and sewing these materials to the basket. Using strong thread and sharp needles, we found this to be very labor intensive. I think next time we’ll use hot glue for the attachments. The coral pieces still need to be sewn, no glue for the Stars!

What a pleasurable time we had! Each covered basket had several corals sewn on, and the results were stunning. The big corals were the “Stars” and were surrounded by smaller pieces. It took a lot of work to cover these baskets, and we soon realized that we need to ask for lots of small corals. An occasional fish, too! What began as a two-hour expectation ended four hours later. Thanks to this dedicated group, we now have an idea of how beautiful the coral reefs are and how much we need to protect them.

Interested in getting involved? Everyone is welcome to join in the effort to help make this exhibit a reality. We can’t do it without you! Whether you are an avid crocheter, or just a beginner, you can create a piece of beautiful coral that can be used in The Indiana Reef. For more information, or if you have questions, please contact Carol Frohlich of the Crochet Guild of Indianapolis at crochetcoral70@lightbound.com. And to learn more about programming and other activities related to The Indiana Reef check out the museum’s website.

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