Friday, June 21, 2013

Making Whole: Healing Through Art: Sticks and Stones

Select thin, narrow branches for this project
by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal. 

The old adage: "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Names Will Never Hurt Me" was something your Mother may have told you when you were picked on by other children. Meant to teach you not to let the hurtful words of others effect you emotionally, both adults and teens can still reflect on this lesson and find meaning.

Adults may look back and find that although names Did indeed hurt, they also made us tougher, and taught us lessons about friendship. Teens or pre-teens who experience bullying present day may learn that the negativity that surrounds them can be wrestled into submission by controlling their own reaction to it. 

This dimensional art project uses natural elements of tree branches and stones, along with a glass vase to illustrate the adage and the beauty of self awareness.

Sticks and Stones:

 What you need: A straight round, tall, clear glass vase, 
Thin tree or bush branches, trimmed to the same height as the vase
Small and medium sized  pebbles and stones in whites, grays and blacks

Think about the old saying "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Names Will Never Hurt Me."  What does that saying mean to you. When did you hear it? What memories do you tie to the saying.  What does it mean to you now?

For Adults:
How did the negative and difficult experiences of your youth help shape you into the person you are today. What were the positive outcomes of those experiences?

For teens or pre-teens: 
How do we give power to the "names" and negative thoughts of others? How can we take that power away?

Think about the power you have to overcome negative influences. While doing so, choose branches and place in the vase in an appealing manner, fill the vase moderately full with branches.  You'll be able to view the branches through the glass vase and as you do it should resemble a wooded forest.  All branches should be trimmed so that they are straight across the top.

Add the pebbles and stones, allowing them to fall into and amongst the tree branches. You'll see them get caught, some will fall through. Much like how we dwell on some memories, and let others go completely.  Reflect on your memories while you work on this meditative art piece.

Once complete, you'll have a stylish reminder of how difficult things can turn into beautiful form ... how we can overcome darkness and make our past pain into present day strength.

Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

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