Markham Public Library Blanket Fort!

Hi everyone!  This post is coming to you from guest blogger and CIT (Crazy in Training) Francis!  I’m an OCAD U Publications student, writer and printmaker doing a work placement with the Crazy Dames, learning about artistic studio practice and how art can be combined with information with other fields to create some amazing things!  This Sunday I was lucky enough to tag along and help with the latest installment of How to Build a Blanket Fort.  Here’s what you need to know:

This Sunday, Crazy Dames partnered with the
Markham Public Library to create their most intricate blanket fort to date, and in record time!  The setting was especially nostalgic for
Jennie since this was her hometown library. 
Not much had changed except for the indoor trees were quite a bit bigger
than when she had seen them last, making them perfect support beams for our
fort.  With the help of an amazing team
of kids and grown-ups, we transformed the space into a castle, a maze, a
clubhouse…just some of the many interpretations of the sprawling fort that we
created using tablecloths, rope and some clothespins.

Without much planning other than a quick
explanation of context, we set to work on stringing up a spider web of rope
from tree to tree in the main entrance of the library.  As one young participant pointed out, there
was an atmosphere of ‘adults helping kids, kids helping adults’: when small builders
were too short to reach the high points to hang the ropes, helpful grownups
pitched in, while kids provided the main creative force behind the project and
came up with ideas such as a storage room, meeting area and nap site, as well
as innovations such as glassed-in windows (an illusion created with clear
packing tape), an art gallery and an indoor clothes line.   

Our final fort ended up with a main meeting
room in the center, with many more private rooms around the perimeter that were
assigned different purposes.  The smaller
rooms provided some privacy for people who wanted to stay after the workshop
and chat, draw, take selfies, play and admire the fort.  There was no main door, but rather many
openings along the outside that invited exploration and curiosity.  Many new people joined in throughout the
process or interacted with our finished creation.

Afterward, we had a chat about what it
meant to be able to change a space temporarily, and how next time we visited
the space we were in now would be completely different.  We thought about how collaboration and experimentation
were powerful tools that enabled this amazing, playful structure to be built in
only a few short hours.  Many of our
young participants explained their unique additions in a show-and-tell style
debrief.  After our chat, the many “rooms”
of the fort gave people opportunities to do everything from having
conversations about city building to sharing special moments of creation and
fun with their families. 

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