The Citiparks’ Roving Art Cart is more than a cart. It’s an entourage of people under tents leading children in creating various forms of art, from puppetry to easel painting, for nine weeks in a different park each week day.
Art Cart has been rolling out its free summer program for 40 years and it started its first day of the summer this morning in Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side under leaden skies.
Opening day featured something completely different — sheep shearing and wool spinning.
Near the Story Mobile, Jean Adams and her sons had corraled eight sheep from their family farm in Perryopolis. Greenfield Farms trots out its sheep for petting zoos and provides its Belgian horses for carriage rides but it is primarily a farm that has been in the same family for five generations.
Carol Cragos of Manchester set up her spinning wheel and baskets of supplies under a tent to demonstrate to children how the rough, dirty-looking piles of wool that are sheared from a sheep can become yarn for a sweater. She had clean examples that had already been carded.
Jean set the first of six sheep she would shear today up on it’s bum with its front legs in the air, explaining to a bevy of open-mouthed children that when their feet leave the ground, they are disabled enough for her to work on the belly without too much fuss.
"This isn't their normal way of relaxing," she said. "But this way they don't mess with me."
As she shaved the first animal down to its birthday suit, several children sat, fascinated. One little boy had a worried look as he watched.
The wool was clearly ready to come off; it had already begun to hang from the animals' flanks in dull ropes like the hair of anarchist hippie chicks. As Jean sheared down the belly of one ewe, the animal tussled mildly.
“It’s like a 2-year-old getting his hair cut,” she said. "They don't mind it a lot, but they’d rather be doing something else.”
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