About a month ago, I saw a call for submissions to a show called “Whatever Floats Your Boat”. The parameters were simple: each submission had to be a functioning boat, smaller than 10″ long and made entirely of natural materials. No tape, glue, paint, metal, etc.. I was so excited by this challenge that I started collecting materials right away, picking up leaves from various trees on my way home. I figured out the sail part of the boat pretty quickly but the hull seemed more complicated. Then I remembered racing boats in the gutters on our street when I was a kid. We used walnut shells from the neighbor’s tree! They were simple and excellent little vessels.
So I got myself some whole walnuts, cut them up with a borrowed Dremmel, and got to work. I experimented with many different kinds of leaves: oak, laurel, azalea, ivy, tan oak. I also dug into my store of feathers for a little variety. I attached all of these little sails with melted beeswax and tested my tiny vessels in bowls of water in the kitchen.
An armada of 6 boats will be on display at Apricity Gallery at the Tannery Art Center here in Santa Cruz. The show opens on September 5 and runs through the month. If you miss it this time, the boats will make a second appearance in San Francisco this December.