I’ve introduced you to Camp Breac back in January with our “Leaping Trout” chainsaw sculpture project. Now I’d like to share with you a bit more about Camp Breac’s mission and how we made a boot rack into art. Camp Breac is a historical site and is a fly fishing community for our military, veterans, and their families with the mission of conservation of natural resources, the arts, & education conveniently located on Spring Creek in Bellefonte, PA.
It all began in September with a phone call from Jim Lanning. If you ever met Jim, you know you are going to spend some time…as you enjoy an Irish Coffee or a cold beer from the tap while you are brought up to speed about the latest happenings within the camp. Jim relies on many volunteers to help with projects ranging from stream improvements, land and facility upgrades and maintenance. Always with conservation, community involvement, and recycling in mind.
During one of these chats, Jim shared a problem, a wet stinky problem. As part of the camp’s mission to educate they offer fly fishing education, hands-on training, and even supply the equipment needed. The problem was lots of wet smelly fishing waders and boots. After a great day on the stream fisherman and women hang their boots and waders up on hooks in an upright position indoors. The result is they don’t get completely dry. Jim’s needed was a growing concern and he desired to have an outdoor boot rack conveniently located allowing the boots and waters to dry out in the fresh air before being stored indoors. As easy as this may sound to do, Jim had some pretty interesting requirements…
First it had to hold at least twelve pairs of boot and tall waders. Next, it had to be constructed of recycled materials, materials sourced from the camp itself or locally. It also had to fit within the camp’s theme and mission. The location had to be easy for the fisherman and women to get to and close enough to the indoor storage area. Jim, Ed, and I scouted the landscape and agreed upon the location. With such a visible location Ed and I knew a board and some pegs just wouldn’t do. We truly wanted to show our appreciation to the many veterans and service members visiting the camp. We left the camp with a 14’ board laying on the passenger side mirror and tied to the side of our pickup truck.
Ed and I were excited about the project and discussed ideas all the way home. After tossing around several ideas, we landed upon one we both had passion to build. It started out as a simple and relatively easy project and grew into a very large and detailed project. We took great care to use recycled materials, selecting materials sourced or manufactured in Pennsylvania. Thanks to the Penn State students who unknowingly suppling us with wine bottles, and Yuengling beer cans as we pilfered through their recycle bins. And a big shout out to the staff at Champs on North Atherton as they collected bottle caps and shared in our enthusiasm.
The Crow’s Nest was buzzing with activity. Ed started his chainsaw and chips were flying everywhere. When the saw stopped, I hardly recognized the plain flat board we brought home. After large holes were drilled into the textured wood, I began painting. Using colors native to the creek at the camp the board was no longer a board, it had been transformed into a flowing stream that 2 large 4’ trout were going to be leaping out of to catch a tasty handtied fly.
With the vision of the art piece was clear in our minds, it was time to prepare the site, the location where the art in boot rack form would like. I was very grateful to be accompanied by Jim, and two volunteer veterans Chuck and Godfrey. They made quick work of pruning and weeding. Chuck being skilled at building rock walls took on the task constructing rock tiers within garden area and Jim filled in the platform with pea gravel.
It was a large project and admittedly I felt overwhelmed, not just by the size, but I had underestimated how much more difficult it would be to turn recycled materials into usable pieces and how many hundreds of pieces I needed for just one 4 foot fish. I truly understood the saying “Nothing is ever as easy as it looks!” Thankfully my mother, Sandy stepped in to lend a hand with cutting hundreds of rows of scales out of aluminum cans.
The Volunteer Team
Veterans Godfried, Charles (Chuck), Walt, & Jim
Sandy, Tani, Holden, Sparkles, Ed, & Janise
The rest of the story is better told in pictures. Click here to view the album of our visual story making the fish boot rack.
On Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2020 we honorably dedicated “A Good Day Fishing” aka Art in Boot Rack Form with everyone wearing masks due to the Covid 19 pandemic, to all veterans and service members who were there and will visit Camp Breac. We thank you.
A pair of empty military and a pair of fishing boots in honor of those who served and did not return home will be bronzed and place under the rack on pedestals as soon as possible.
I encourage you to visit Camp Breac, meet Jim Lanning, and see if he has time for a tour and a beverage. Tell him “The Crows sent you”.
Comment back to me and tell me all about your experience at Camp Breac and how you like our art work.
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Hi, I'm Janise Crow a jewelry designer and mixed-media artist. Here you will find our latest projects, experiments, and even how to's.