“Using recycled materials is in line with our mission,” says Cindy Hansen. “One way to help the whales is by helping the environment, which is something kids can wrap their heads around. It’s something easy they can do.”
Cindy is a zoologist and the Education Curator at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. For more than 34 years, the museum’s mission is Promoting stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. The museum is home to two gray whale skeletons: one hangs from the ceiling, and the other can be put together like a giant puzzle on the floor. Last year, the museum’s gray whale project was in need of a new display when Cindy happened upon Eberhard Eichner and the REvision Division booth at the Green Village during the San Juan County Fair. Eberhard, The RE Store’s designer/builder, launched the REvision Division two years ago, taking orders for custom building projects using recycled materials for businesses, home owners, and organizations. The Whale Museum received a grant for the gray whale exhibit, and they commissioned Eberhard and the REvision Division to design, build, and help install the interactive/interpretative information station.
Cindy, Jenny (the museum’s Executive Director), and Jill (Communications Manager) met with Eberhard in Bellingham to discuss the project, and, “As the four of us were talking, it all fell together.” Cindy said they had envisioned something with several panels on it, but it was Eberhard’s idea to work with the materials that he used: a door and a table at the center of the design, and louver doors as a decorative touch. “We decided to use those to display trivia cards, which are a huge hit,” she said.
Eberhard described the process and the result: “In three design, planning, and feedback sessions, we developed a very unique and functional display. The components are still clearly recognizable parts of former uses and purposes.”
Says Eberhard of the design, “I was after a whale/maritime/Pacific Rim theme, and a compliment to the magnificent skeleton above. I made very few cuts or alterations to the original size, shape, and appearance of the components. It was a process of true collage and fitting matching pieces to each other.”
“The top “whale’s tail” panel came from a bed headboard and is floating on and among stacked “low tide rocks”, a.k.a. furniture legs.
“Eberhard was great to work with. He was so great at listening to our thoughts and suggestions,” said Cindy.
The grant that The Whale Museum got for building the gray whale display also included some funds for bringing students from low-income schools out to San Juan Island to see it and participate in the gray whale skeleton articulation program. Some of the students had never been on a ferry before. The program and display really complement each other and has been a hit with the students and teachers. Cindy said, “We’ve gotten so many great, great comments on it! It’s been a really popular exhibit.”
You can see the whale skeleton and the custom display at The Whale Museum, of course, and also on its website.
The REvision Division has built, among other things, a puppet theater for the Lummi Island Library, custom furniture for an elderly retirement house, and a picnic table for a dog park.
You can get a free 15-minute consultation on your reclaimed materials project—anything from full remodels to simple DIY projects:
In Seattle on the third Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In Bellingham on the first Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. beginning in September, 2013
And you can find The RE Store educational DIY videos on the REvision Division page.
Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.