(Please note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct address of The Graceful Planet, to acknowledge the donor of the cloth for the ongoing project, and to include additional locations and dates for additional peace flag workshops.)
Sandy Hook Peaceful Arts, a collection of friends with a mission to change to world, recently announced plans for four peace flag workshops. Workshops began May 7, but will continue on Tuesdays, May 14 and 21, and June 4, each from 5 to 6:30 pm.
The group is inviting children and adults to visit any of the workshops to be held at The Graceful Planet, where attendees will continue creating flags with messages and images of peace to be sent to Boston and other locations.
In addition, according to Sandy Hook Peaceful Arts President Heather Morgado, workshops are also planned as part of the 4th Annual Strutt Your Mutt event at Fairfield Hills on May 18, the 13th Annual Great Pootatuck Duck Race on May 25, and during each of the Parks & Recreation Summer Concert Series shows this summer.
On Tuesday of this week, a small but happy group of children and adults spent 90 minutes creating flags on recycled pillowcases and sheets that had been cut down to approximately 12 by 8 inches. The fabric for the flags has been donated by Courtyard Marriott in Norwalk.
“They were donated, so we are recycling,” said Kim Hossler, who was facilitating this week’s workshop. She and Wendy Cole will continue running the workshops. “This fabric is perfect because the flags are supposed to fray and become weathered,” she added.
As they are created, the peace flags will be grouped together. One center flag will contain a message of peace, said Ms Hossler, and then four of the handmade flags done during the workshops will be strung on either side of the center flag, creating a banner with nine total flags. The nine flags strung together, with their heartfelt messages, are meant to evoke the design and purpose of Tibetan prayer flags.
Sandy Hook Peaceful Arts had a booth at the Newtown Earth Day Festival last month, where people were also encouraged to create peace flags.
“The Earth Day flags will all be sent to Boston,” Ms Hossler said. “Some of the ones being made tonight will also go there, while others will be sent to places as a way to thank people for sending things to Newtown” following 12/14, she said. “The idea, like Ben’s Bells, will be to send a symbol of peace back to those who sent things to us.”
Ms Hossler and Ms Cole are also hoping to have enough peace flags to hang some around Newtown as well.
Heather Saunders and her daughters Annabel and Natalie were at this week’s workshop. Natalie takes yoga classes at The Graceful Planet, and the trio decided to stay after her class to make their peace flags.
Natalie was not initially sure why she decided to try creating a peace flag, but then realized “it really kind of connects me with nature,” she said.
Natalie’s flag was a detailed design. She had drawn a large tree in the center of the flag, and then she created daytime and evening skies on either side of the tree. Below the tree she had written the word Peace.
Next to her, younger sister Annabel had filled the lower half of her peace flag with a rainbow. Above that she had written Love Is in large letters, and then filled the remaining space with words like gentle, hopeful, strong, and kind.
Alexa Schmid also had an elaborate design for her flag. The 5-year-old started working with a piece of paper and a pencil, putting her thoughts onto the paper before transferring her sketches onto her cloth. Her idea was to divide the flag into four quarters, which each area featuring a different picture. She had filled one area with a collection of polka dots, another section with what she called “fuzzy men,” and another quarter with a tree, sunshine, and grass.
After a bit of thought about the fourth section of her flag, Alexa decided to draw a self-portrait to complete her design.
Also working on peace flags were Graceful Planet dancers, who would work for a few minutes on their designs while taking a break from their rehearsals. A large space on the studio floor was filled with markers, clipboards, and cardboard (to provide a sturdy surface, and a buffer for ink that occasionally soaked through the cloth), and paper and pencils.
Unlike the Saunderses and the dancers who were already at the Berkshire Road studio for earlier appointments, Suzanne Davenport sought out Tuesday’s workshop. Ms Saunders volunteers at HealingNewtown Arts Center, where she is part of a team who continues to read and organize cards and letters that have been sent to Newtown following 12/14.
“This is a nice way to destress,” Mrs Davenport said, while writing Peace in the middle of one of her flags. “This is a nice break from the letters, a way to give back to all who have sent us their thoughts and love.”
Because traditional prayer flags often celebrate the elements of nature, Ms Hossler opened Tuesday’s workshop with a brief talk about water. She encouraged participants to somehow incorporate water into their flag. Many artists responded to that encouragement, including one flag had an anchor drawn in the center of the flag, surrounded by waves of water. Below the anchor were the words We Refuse To Sink.
As the workshops continue, Ms Hossler and Ms Cole plan to introduce different processes. This week’s artists were encouraged to use fabric markers on their pieces of cloth. Future workshops will include batik and tie dye designing, among other applications.
“This way people can return and do things they like, or try something new,” said Ms Hossler. “We definitely plan to make this an ongoing thing.”
Sandy Hook Peaceful Arts is a nonprofit corporation committed to a generation of healing through the arts and peaceful practices. To learn more visit www.SandyHookPeacefulArts.org.
The Graceful Planet is at 7 Berkshire Road in Sandy Hook.
Workshops are appropriate for children and adults. Children under age 6 need to be accompanied by an adult. All supplies are provided.
Residents are welcome to attend a full session and make a few flags, or stop in and make just one. There is no charge, but donations are accepted.
Space is limited so reservations are requested; send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.