One of the things that makes Catalyst Ranch such a wonderful place is the incredible talent and creativity of the staff. Many of our Ranch Hands lead a rich and talented artistic life outside of the Ranch! From actors to crafters, sculptors to musicians and everything in between, our employees’ creative lives enrich the Catalyst Ranch experience in countless ways. Because of this we love participating in events that showcase our Ranch Hands’ many talents. One of our favorites is “Make The Case,” hosted every year by Open Books. Not only do our Ranch Hands get to put their creativity to work but they get to do it as a team in support of a great cause.

“Make the Case” is a bookcase decorating competition in which teams compete to transform standard bookcases into artistic and literary marvels. At the end of the event Open Books fills the cases with books and donates them to needy schools. While we didn’t win this year, we had an amazing time at the event and were so impressed with the bookcase created by Ranch Hands Krissy Dabrowski, Gabrielle Rucker, Grace Hamilton, Xavi Gamboa and Kaitlin Brewer. We asked Xavi “Quick Draw” to walk us through their awesome “layers of the earth” inspired design!


The Living Bookcase

For our bookcase design this year, we were inspired by the earth itself & by diagrams of the earth’s strata that we had seen and learned about when we were in school.  We got the idea to recreate these layers within each shelf of our bookcase and make it come to life!  We wanted to put our collective creativity and artistic skills to the test by using a wide variety of materials and techniques to make the case both visually interesting and tactile.

035We decided to make the bottom shelf/layer an underground cave, complete with stalactites, coral and glow-in-the-dark paint over a collage of blue.  Above that was our rocks & minerals shelf, which we covered with paper that looks just like limestone and pictures of fossils.  On the side of this shelf, we put together several layers of materials to form a canyon and give a cool 3D effect.  The shelf above this represents the layer of earth containing soil & roots, which we created using cork tiles and twisting yarn, fabric and raffia for the roots.  The top shelf depicts the earth as it comes to life with trees & plants.  We covered the inside with a collage of green plant life, real leaves and astroturf to represent grass, and added moss to the outside!  Finally, we created a kind of sculpture of book pages within an open book that we affixed to the top of the shelf.  We also added some kids’ books about the earth and the environment, attaching them with magnets so that kids can take them off and read them whenever they want!

We really had so much fun making this case and hope that it will bring joy to the classroom where it finds its home and gets kids excited to read (and excited about the Earth, too!)

Let us know, what do you think of “The Living Bookcase”?