Devereux vendor turns leaves into cement water fountains
April 28, 2014 at 4:28 a.m.
Under the oak trees of Devereux Foundation Campus, Stephanie Shroyer talked to passers-by about the process of turning leaves into cement water fountains Sunday.
The fountains she makes look like organic convex brown and orange leaves holding handfuls of water, which spill over into larger leaf-shaped basins.
Many of the leaves in the fountains and bird baths come from Shroyer's own garden in Schulenburg, but some are harvested from others' trees. Last winter, Shroyer harvested Bishop's Cloak leaves from the plant on the Devereux Victoria campus. When she returned to the campus for Spring Fling this past weekend, she brought with her a bird bath for the campus made with those leaves.
Shroyer's nature-inspired work will remain in the entrance to the Devereux Gardens, where children and adults experiencing emotional, behavioral, developmental and psychiatric disorders learn vocational skills on a 400-acre campus of woodlands off U.S. Highway 59 between Victoria and Goliad.
"We're very honored to have such a beautiful piece," said Devereux spokeswoman Sandra Neely.
Each piece of the bird bath was handcrafted by Shroyer and her apprentice, Dallas Wilkinson, 19, of La Grange.
The two were among more than 25 vendors at Devereux Victoria's fifth annual Spring Fling Art in the Garden. Each artist was vetted to ensure his or her wares were handmade, Neely said.
Though Shroyer and Wilkinson's wares are handmade, the design came from nature itself.
Shroyer was a mosaic artist for 12 years before she began shaping cement four years ago. She began creating bowls out of cement to mosaic, leaving undecorated basins in her garden as bird baths. The birds, dogs and cats loved them, and the leaves that fell from the surrounding pecan trees stained the cement with rich colors, Shroyer said.
"We've seen other artists with similar work painted with acrylic. They're just not as soothing," Shroyer said of her use of neutral-colored concrete acid stains.
In addition to the artisan booths, attendees shopped the Devereux Gardens nursery, which is maintained by individuals with mental health and developmental disabilities. Profits from the nursery go back into educational training, including the gardening program and the Devereux Bakery.
Rodney Cony, 29, of Beeville, has been a part of the bakery program for two years. On Sunday, he helped shoppers with their carts. Cony's favorite part of the program is the people.
"They're fun to be around," he said.
The handcrafted artisan show is a natural fit at the Victoria Devereux Campus, where plants, candles and baked goods are nurtured by the hands of people experiencing psychological, behavioral and/or developmental problems, Neely said.
"Any time that you create anything with your hands, you're putting part of your identity, your love into it. It becomes a very personal thing, whether it's candle making, baking or creating a fountain out of plants," she said.