Long-term residencies provide students with the opportunity to become immersed in an intensive project, allowing for tremendous in-depth learning and curricular tie-ins.

Residencies encourage personal growth as well as teamwork and community building.

E-mail me for more information about planning a residency.



SCHOOL RESIDENCIES                         




    On July 5th, 2004 the infamous white oak tree which had been growing in the Senior Courtyard of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, CT, was severely damaged in a wind storm and had to be removed from the site it had occupied for over three-hundred years.

    Teaching Artist, woodworker and Housatonic alumnus, Joseph Jude Brien (Class of 1981) was engaged by the school to develop an educational program honoring this magnificent tree. The program involved over thirty students and included woodworking projects, educational displays, woodworking demonstrations, cooking with acorns, a Trivia Contest, fundraising activities and much more.

    Students hand crafted 50 presentation-quality gold pens using lumber harvested from the revered tree and raised over one thousand dollars which was used to purchase a replacement white oak tree.


    In 2008-2009, the Lee H. Kellogg Elementary School in Falls Village, CT, which is located a few miles from the High School where the White Oak had lived, implemented and expanded this program to include projects and lessons for all K-8 classes. Students in the eighth grade made over seventy-five pens and RAISED $1300.00 for their school trip to Quebec!     


Lost Art can present this program AT YOUR SCHOOL.



ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES - Tree of Knowledge Program


Home Economics, Native American Studies,  Early American History, Survival


Acorns as a Food Source

    The seeds of the oak tree, acorns, are a highly nutritious, abundant food source which were used by Native Americans and Early American Settlers. Deer, turkeys, squirrels and many other wild animals consume acorns. Acorns must be shelled and then leached of bitter tannic acid residue by rinsing or boiling in several changes of water. The meat can then be dried and ground into a flour. I have mixed acorn flour with wheat flour for use in pancake batter.

    Collect acorns - work with students shelling, leaching, drying and grinding them into flour.  Pancakes work well and can be cooked on a portable camp stove.

Biology, Medicine, Science, Chemistry


    Oak lumber, bark and acorns are high in tannic acid. According to my research, the water in which acorns or acorn hulls are boiled can be used as a gargle for sore throats, as an antiseptic for wounds and as a treatment for poison ivy rash. Can we perform a few tests and experiments?


Business - Manufacturing and Marketing of Pens

    Marketing, graphic design, advertising, spreadsheet, book keeping, accounting.

Mathematics, Forestry, Botany, Science

   It is estimated that the White Oak Tree was seventy feet tall with a trunk diameter of sixty inches and a crown spreading seventy feet. Students may wish to confirm estimates by measuring the stump and scaling from photographs.   

    Calculate the following:

        volume of tree-inches, centimeters, tons

        number of leaves       

        weight of wood

        cords of firewood

        board feet of lumber

        gallons of water transpired daily

        amount of carbon dioxide consumed

        amount of oxygen produced

        gallons of sap

        number of acorns-annual/lifetime

Chemistry, Art

    Wood that is high in tannic acid can be chemically stained black using a simple solution of white vinegar in which ferrous metal shavings have soaked (steel wool works well.) This relatively clear liquid will turn oak a deep blue-black color in a matter of seconds. It is an impressive reaction to watch. This finish was used to “ebonize” or blacken less costly woods as ebony is expensive, rare and difficult to work with.

    If you are interested in incorporating this reaction into your class, I can prepare wood samples and solutions for you and provide a demonstration. Color variations can be  achieved by varying solution strength, number of coats and species of wood.



    History of oaks, Druid worship of, Native American Stories, medieval British tradition of planting oaks for birthdays and holidays, Charter Oak in CT, oak in industry - ships, barrel making/ cooperage, etc.

    Read “The Man Who Planted Trees” by Jean Giono. Curricular tie-ins include: myth/ fable, altruism/sacrifice, World War One, France, making a difference in your community, Johnny Appleseed, etc.

    Creative Writing-write a short story about oaks, oak/acorn/tree as metaphor.

    Documentary about tree and/or projects. Research recent news articles.


       Art, Music

    Printmaking - I have experimented with inking sections of branches from the White Oak and  pressing paper over the surface with a brayer. I’m sure with proper technique, beautiful prints  could be made.

    Graphic Design - We also need to develop promotional materials and order forms for the sale of pens, Tree of Knowledge Logo, Art Show, T-Shirts, etc.

    Ceramics - Imprint white oak leaves into clay, study the acorn form as vessel, pit fire using chips from the tree. Study bark and grain textures.

Miscellaneous -

    Colors of wood bark, lichens as log pile decays, wood sculpture, art projects.

    Please let me know if I can be of assistance with any art projects which involve oak trees or parts thereof: acorns,                         roots, bark, fungus, sawdust, leaves, etc.

    Drawings, paintings, photographs,  of tree, stump, wood

    Logo, silkscreen- T-shirts, hats, book bags

    Block printing, etching using oak blocks

    Sculpture using wood, acorns, leaves, sawdust, wood chips

    Ceramics-pit fire with oak chips, dust, leaf impressions, acorns

    Multimedia presentation about tree and projects


      Joseph Jude Brien circa 2020