Wolf track carved from plastic wood decking

Wolf track rubbing carved from plastic wood decking

This year, one of my big projects at work is to help pull together the Hike & Seek events in September-November. I’m really enjoying working on this project! It takes place in 11 cities in the United States. My role is project manager. I help each team get things done early and well.

I’m working with my colleague Dani Tinker to design the activities for the Stop & Study Stations, and it’s so much fun! As you know, I have designed, tested and photographed hundreds of activities to get families outside for National Wildlife Federation, all featured at our Family Fun website. As much as possible, I try to incorporate Trashmagination thinking into my activity design.

Today I was testing an idea, which was that at our Mammal Stop & Study Station, we could have the kids walk around a trail learning about various mammals. At each stop, they can make a rubbing of that animal’s track. By the end, they will have their own mini-animal-track field guide.

A few years ago, our family was at Corn Maze in the Plains. They had stations scattered throughout the maze where you could put down a piece of paper and rub a crayon over a carving. Slowly, the whole map would come together like a puzzle. It was the best corn maze we ever did (also because they promote heirloom seeds and let you slingshot pumpkins). That’s where I got the idea for this.

Nora and her grandmother Marilyn at the Corn Maze at the Plains - October 2005
Nora and her grandmother Marilyn at the Corn Maze at the Plains – October 2005 – check out how small Nora is!

I also remembered a project from high school where we carved an image into linoleum, put on a layer of ink, and then took prints from the carving. That was a lot of fun. You had to remember to carve the image “in the negative” to get the effect you wanted.

So I went to a craft store and got a wood carving set for $10. We had some scraps of plastic wood left from when Bob and I replaced our deck last year. I thought the plastic wood would be easier to carve than regular wood because it does not really have a grain.

Bob Replacing Deck, Summer 2013
Bob Replacing Deck, Summer 2013

I carved this in about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, I had a blister on my palm and realized I needed to wear a glove and shove some padding inside the glove at that pressure point. But I’m SUPER thrilled by the result.

So we have 11 cities, and I want to do four tracks each. Maybe I can avoid carving 44 of these things by shipping the collection from city to city. I can make at least three sets though, because some weekends we have two Hike & Seek events happening at one time.

Isn’t this fun?