Botanical artists create ‘Drifthenge’

Nature Works of Escondido is best known for its faux botanical projects for places like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Euro-Disney. Now it’s designing structures for school playgrounds, and the very first has just been installed at Santa Fe Montessori School in Solana Beach.

“It’s similar to our zoo projects,” says Nature Works owner Nancy Moran, “but this time it’s for children.” Called “Drifthenge” (see photo at right), the climber, handmade by Moran with business partner Valerie Salatino, has the look of genuine driftwood. In reality, it’s a leggy maze of Schedule 40 steel piping overlaid with epoxy, carved to look like driftwood, and sanded to smooth-perfection to make it kid-friendly. “We use our own epoxy recipe,” says Moran, “and we have to work fast — it only takes 30 minutes until it’s hard as rock.”

Embedded in the sculpture is a collection of interesting items — geodes, scrimshaw, glass beads, and other items to engage and delight the young climbers, creating ample room for lots of enthusiastic children.

Santa Fe Montessori School is located at 1010 Solana Drive in Del Mar. Call (858) 755-3232.

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