Bend kids building Bendites

Art Station class combines art and outdoor activities

By Monicia Warner / The Bulletin

Published Jul 30, 2014 at 12:01AM

Educational news and activities, and local kids and their achievements.

• School Notes and submission info, B2

Creating your own Bendite is easy — just ask a local like Ben Bruce.

“Making the wire figures, that was the easiest part,” Ben, 8, said. “Even if you make a mistake, you can fix it. I was speeding along and before you know it, I was done.”

Ben is one of nine Bend kids creating their doppelgangers this week at the Art Station’s Bendy Bendites summer art class.

The class is a pilot program, designed to combine art with outdoor activities. Kids ages 6 to 9 bend and twist structural wire to create small figures and then use glue and colored yarn to wrap the figures.

“We started with one piece of wire that we folded in half, and then we were able to construct the head, the arms, the legs,” said Gillian Rathbun, class instructor and Artist in Schools coordinator for the Art Station. “Each person got to construct their own so they’re all a little bit different.”

During the four-day class, Rathbun also will help each child construct outdoor equipment to turn the figures into true Bendites.

“For some kids, an art camp is something that appeals to them because they are always creating,” she said. “This whole class is thinking about what we like to do in beautiful Bend. … We’re going to create skis and snowboards and paddleboards and longboards, things like that.”

On Monday afternoon in the Art Station’s multimedia room, the kids were busy constructing their Bendites. Thea Mandel, 8, was hard at work creating shoes for hers.

“My Bendite is pink and purple,” she said. “Those are my favorite colors.”

Thea said her favorite part of the class is creating something unique and getting to take it outside. She even comes up with a great activity for her mini-Thea.

“We can make a roller coaster!” she said. “Take two long pieces of wire and connect it with tiny pieces of wire, make sure it’s facing down, put our people in it, and whoo!”

Will Schaffer, 7, admitted he needed a little help with his Bendite and made a necklace for Rathbun as a thank-you gift. He decorated his figure with orange yarn, named it Chase and planned a few water activities for later in the week.

“I suggested we make a tube that you float in,” he said. “I also want mine to drive a boat.”

Rathbun said she hopes the kids learn patience, hand-eye coordination and how to have fun in the outdoors while still being creative.

“I hope they come out of this class knowing that they can build something with their hands,” she said. “And to me it’s all about the fun and not getting frustrated, knowing that mistakes can happen but everything will be OK.”

—Reporter: 541-633-2117, mwarner@bendbulletin.com