By Reader Staff
The popular grilling planks made right here in Sandpoint are becoming art canvases in a local classroom. These imperfect wooden planks didn’t meet the quality standards to be sold as a premium product, but are getting a new life in Amy O’Hara’s art class at Forrest M. Bird Charter School.
After O’Hara’s students requested wood surfaces, O’Hara mentioned it to a friend who works at Wildwood Grilling, and the first few boxes of wooden planks traded hands.
“They were instantly excited; they started going through them so quickly, I thought I was going to have to ration them,” O’Hara said of her students’ response.
The grilling planks have found their way into each area of the art classroom.
“We can paint on it, we can collage on it. We can do pretty much everything,” said O’Hara.
One student is building a planter with painted planks for a Mother’s Day gift, and another is using planks to construct a model of a modern house.
A mixed-media artist herself, O’Hara said her students appreciate having access to quality materials, like those a working artist would use. Getting supplies donated allows tight budgets to stretch further.
“I can spend my money even more judiciously,” O’Hara said.
When she has enough supplies to go around and doesn’t have restrict usage, the students have more room to experiment: “Abundance makes it easy to imagine lots of possibilities,” she said.
O’Hara is continuing to think of new uses for the cedar planks. She’s planning an installation piece using the planks for her students to collaborate on for the school’s Night of Culture coming up in April.
“Responsible forestry is one of our key values at Wildwood Grilling,” said Wildwood Grilling General Manager Craig Wikoff. “When the materials we can’t use can end up supporting education, and stretching the budget of a local school, that is an all-around win.”
Wildwood Grilling is a manufacturer of wood grilling products, such as planks, smoking chips, grilling wraps and skewers. All of the products are locally sourced and produced in Sandpoint with a team of over 60 employees. The products are featured in grocery stores, restaurants and other shops nationwide, and also internationally.
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