Creativity blooms in glass garden

Art therapy has an outdoor angle.


— Repurposed glassware is helping residents at Eagle Meadows Assisted Living and Retirement Community enjoy more creativity. The result is a glass garden, sparkling in the sun, something the residents can enjoy, both for its beauty and for their sense of accomplishment.

Art Therapist Vicki Puller and Life Engagement (Activities) Director Diane Miller both said it’s been a fun project for the residents and staff. “Walkers going by often give a ‘thumbs up’ on the garden. It’s fun,” Miller said.

The project involves making towers of glassware, such as a punch bowl on top of vases on top of vases. Miller and Puller both mentioned that many homes have cabinets full of glassware, used only once and just sitting there. “How can you use a punch bowl? It’s repurposed glass,” Puller said.

The idea began to quiver when Puller was visiting family in Centralia. She saw inspiring art glass displays all around town, in glass shops, antique shops and second-hand stores.

During this year’s ice storm the project kicked into gear. When you’re stuck at home, ideas for new creative projects can come to fruition.

Puller integrated the glass project into group art therapy.

“It pushed their creativity; it’s outside the ordinary. It’s a way of looking at things differently,” said Puller.

As the enthusiasm grew, so did the collection of glassware. “We brought in more glass, piece by piece, then we dug the holes and started the glass garden,” Puller said. The display has taken shape on the east side of Eagle Meadows.

“They are tapping into their creativity, way outside the box. You have a vase with a plate on top. It’s as functional as you want it to be. You could have Coke bottles and boot cups stuck on a rod, too — cool, too funny. When the sun comes up, they all sparkle,” Puller said. The enthusiasm for the creative project led to taking residents with her so they could all shop for glass.

“When we got some pieces put together, it was very, very enlightening for me. They just loved it. They’d rather be making art with me than playing games,” Puller said.

“It’s enriching and enhancing,” Miller said.

Puller said, “It gives me merit for what I’m doing. It validates my purpose. Part of that purpose is making life more enjoyable for them. They are making something they can give to their family. It’s a living legacy; part of themselves go into what they make. One person with Parkinson’s was painting and their hands never shook when the

brush hit the piece. I want to leave part of me behind, a way to celebrate what they are capable of doing.” According to Puller making art focuses and calms participants, slowing their heartbeat and breathing.

Part of the glass garden includes old plates in salmon pink and cobalt blue, clear candlestick holders and vases. Rain on them is fine, as the glass creations are put together with multipurpose, all-weather glue and painted.

We broke our share, they said, laughing.


Log in to comment