in the news (5)

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january 2014 | by linda repplinger | show project

Handwriting can reveal a lot about a person and an era. As a young girl, I admired my grandma's perfectly looped cursive handwriting - she was so beautifully composed in a letter. I also enjoy looking over notes from my mom, all written in a friendly, optimistic hand and enhanced with humorous illustrations.

Sea Reach has recently had a couple of projects where the interpretive story unfolds in a letter or series of postcards. For me, designing the letters and creating the handwriting was like casting characters.

Our latest project of this nature was a "Path to The Past" at a picnic site in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Along the trail, a series of letters tucked into old canvas mailbags reveal what it may have been like to be a young man working on a Civilian Conservation Corps team in the early 1930s. Tom, a fictional "CCC boy," learns new skills, develops self confidence, and sends earnings home to help his family.

Casting the handwriting of Tom started with some research. What type of writing utensils were used in the early 1930s? The ball point pen didn't make its mark until after it was patented by Laszlo Bira in 1938. Fountain pens were popular in the 1930s, but I settled on a pencil, which would have been more likely to work even in the cold mountain weather. Next, I researched handwriting samples from the 1930s, on the internet and in my own ancestors' documents, to pick an appropriate style for Tom.

While copying Tom's letters, I had to slow down from my quick dashes to achieve the angular, deliberate letters of that handwriting style. I was later to learn that young men in the CCC actually took classes to improve their handwriting skills!

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1 document with 4 pages

april 2013 | by peter reedijk | show project

The Paiute at Mount Charleston have been coming to this site before recorded time, and they continuing to do so. This mountain provides shelter, food, medicine and a place to reenergize. As you travel up into the mountains, the temperature and moisture change and this creates varying environments for different plant and animal communities. In a relatively short distance going uphill there is tremendous variety.

The Paiute's history is intricately woven into this landscape. To help make visitors aware of this relationship, new exhibits will celebrate the Paiute's presence on the land with a series of full size steel silhouettes. The steel sculptures are designed from historic and contemporary photos of local tribe members. After artwork is generated, full scale mockups are created and tested in the field. Each silhouette is designed with layers providing a three-dimensional affect. Fabrication involves cutting each layer out of a steel plate and attaching them with in a way that is reminiscent of old fashioned sewing patterns.

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february 2013 | by linda repplinger | show project

We spread out through the snowy forest, walking from one exposed patch of ground to another. Hunters and gatherers.

"You've got to see this over here!" Nancy calls. "Hold that spot!" Susan shouts back as she gathers one more handful of pinecones into her box before making her way over to Nancy. As we wander, searching for interesting patterns and colors, we see the ordinary with new eyes - orange colored puzzle pieces from ponderosa pine bark, feathery mountain mahogany seeds, silver scaled pinyon pine branches, dark loamy piles of decaying fir needles. As artists selecting paints in a palette, we fill our boxes with these treasures. We are preparing to use these materials to create artwork from nature in an exhibit for the Spring Mountains outside Las Vegas.

Back at Sea Reach, the staff gathers together to play. We hope to inspire others to let go of modern entertainment for a while and become kids playing with twigs and pinecones!

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february 2013 | by alex ogle | show project

For months, our designers have been finessing the layouts for eighty-five (85) exhibit panels. These six-foot-long exhibits will be inlaid into concrete picnic tables in the newly renovated Cathedral Rock Picnic Area in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. When the project finally reaches print pre-press (my area), the general manager and I sit down to review the timeline. I can feel my blood pressure rise. Seemingly, no one was thinking about how long it would take to get 85 exhibits through production. We put the calendar in front of us: how much time do we need to run final color tests, prepare files for printing, print, proof prints, embed prints, QC embedments, tally and organize, package for shipping, ship, receive and install - as we forecast the tasks and we quickly realize, we do not have enough time to meet our installation date. Houston, we have a problem.

We gather the business together and re-examine our process. Each person identifies a more efficient way to perform a task. All together, we feel we can improve the timeline by a couple of weeks - giving us some wiggle room and ensuring that we can meet our deadline.

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may 2012 | by kathy hocker | show project

Sue was up ahead, following the proposed trail route through serviceberry brush, ponderosa, white fir, and aspen. We were scoping the site for avalanche evidence, and I knew I should catch up, but... wait... what's that shape in that rock? I stooped down for a closer look: a circular fossil with small radiating lines - probably a rugose coral. And what about that one? And that one? I knew I should catch up, but my naturalist's soul was tuned to the Carboniferous, and I just couldn't tune out.

The Spring Mountains are an island of tall limestone peaks that rise from the Mojave Desert just a few miles west of Las Vegas. They're truly a world apart: thousands of feet above the cracked desert floor, draped in cool pine forest and tundra. Our job is to create interpretive and orientation exhibits for this very popular National Recreation Area.

On a breezy May morning, geologist Steve Rowland of UNLV met us for a walk down the planned Kyle Canyon Trail and an expedition to Cathedral Rock Picnic Area. By noon, his experience, knowledge, and love of the subject had tuned our ears to the stories in the stones - and the stories were spellbinding.

The strange formations along the road to Kyle Canyon told of wetter, Pleistocene climates when perennial streams tumbled stones down from the peaks, filling the canyon with hundreds of feet of rubble. Gradually, calcite deposits cemented the rubble into "fanglomerate" and flash floods sculpted it into the hoodoos and cave-riddled escarpments that line the road.

The varying hues of limestone in Mummy Mountain, Cockscomb Ridge, and Mt. Charleston told of rising and falling sea levels, and an Antarctic ice cap that waxed and waned on a timescale that ran into the tens of millions of years.

And those pale shapes in the gray boulders and pebbles? Cones, ovals, circles, fans, reticulations... Over 300 million years ago, when there were dragonflies the size of ravens, and dinosaurs were still almost 100 million years in the future, this place lay at the bottom of a shallow sea - and these rocks were reefs, alive with horn corals, brachiopods, crinoids, and bryozoans.

No wonder that for our last half-day, as we explored the site and discussed our interpretive approach, our eyes strayed again and again to the rocks below, above, and around. Fossils, seas, sharks and floods... the rocks were telling their stories, and we couldn't stop listening.