Rock Paper Boats that Float with Loving Awareness

The RAM knows how to float a rock paper boat with intention.


The Riverside Art Museum in California is a 60 year old institution with a straightforward mission statement…

The Riverside Art Museum strives to integrate art into the lives of people in a way that engages, inspires, and builds community by presenting thought-provoking exhibits and providing quality art classes that instill a lifelong love of the arts.

hmmmm engages, inspires, and builds community ! Perfect- so I was really keen to hear from Valerie Found and Caryn Marsella from RAM and their recent community project. BTW their genius multi boat launching system is so simple and effective!


Share a little background on the RAM – Float YOUR BOAT!

We collaborate with alot of other organizations and individuals in our community. Often when people have ideas they call us and we are really good at saying YES!

The project came to the museum via the City Commission on Aging. A citizen approached this commission (sadly he lost his wife to Alzheimer’s at 59)  asking if the city culture could be more aware, more friendly to Alzheimer and Dementia. An initiative from Knoxville, TN was discussed called The Purple City Alliance. (FYI In a Purple City, community members and organizations execute specific steps to learn about dementia and help those with dementia feel safer and better cared for in their community. The Purple Cities Alliance is a team of local volunteers, practitioners, and community leaders leading this initiative.

We were asked by the commission chairman Shari Fleischman if we would be interested in being involved in a community out reach project along this concept.

We said YES.

From this evolved the idea of people in our community touched by Alzheimer’s or Dementia to be welcomed in building rock paper boats to float and hold tealights and share in a candlelight moment on our lake’s edge, to acknowledge their loved ones and each other. Raising awareness to the public and getting to know each other by this beautiful gesture.

boats-that-float-heart-stone-paperThe boats were folded, painted ( purple of course to connect with Purple City Alliance) and made ready to launch by our community at large.

RAM-california-rock-paper-boat-float-heart-stoneWe made it part of the museum’s free community-wide Arts Walk event on Thursday night (We have anywhere from 600-800 people pass through our museum on these nights).

RAM-california-rock-paper-boat-float-heart-stone-paper People of all ages participated ,a women celebrating her 68th birthday, lots of college and high school students and even a boy scout troop!



decorating--boats-that-float-heart-stone-paper-RAMEveryone enjoyed participating in this hands-on arts activity, and it gave us an opportunity to promote dementia awareness and Saturday’s Boat Float event!


distinct  advantages to using our heart stone paper to make the boats include:

  • water resistant…oh, in boat form can hold a candle 🙂
  • grease proof
  • fold-able weights of 8 pt & 12 pt ( 12pt was super sturdy even if it a little stiff to work with)
  • accepts most mediums like paint, pigments, inks, markers,charcoal…
  • cuts like butter and never a paper cut to complain about!

What do you need?

1.your choice of 8pt, 12 pt (light cover stock) Heart Stone Paper TerraSkin™

2. flat bottomed boat origami pattern here

3. sharp scissors or knife to cut 9×9 squares or larger

4.tealights (we took the metal casings off so they would not fall in the water)

5.water soluble acrylic, tempera and Jazz paint  (tempera paint that dries like glossy enamel – very effective under candlelight)

How did it go?

We wanted to let you know that the boats worked great! The paper worked really well for the project and we felt confident we would not have any issues with sinking boats.( and yes we tested in bathtubs and sinks 1st) All 200 boats floated beautifully.The Jazz paint had a spectacular effect out on the water -the boats glowed luminescent! The wax was easily contained by the boat too! Our intrepid crew were pleased with the ease of the launch.



Alzheimer-awareness-RAM-paper-Boats-that-float-heart-stone-paperWe did this on a lake in a park so it was easy to collect the boats by nets at the end.

Who joined into the launch ceremony?

It was a rich mix of people sensitive to the issues faced. Husbands, wives, grandchildren, people currently suffering from Alzheimer, even our Major -Rusty Bailey joined in.


riverside.california-art-museum-boats--that--floatNext year we plan for a 1000 boats.This time was 200 stone paper boats and it was spectacular. Maybe even save boats and date them to link the years together. Our thanks to Larissa Hahn for the beautiful photos!


This project fit well into our initiative to change the direction of our museum programming – we are interested more and more in being in the community both onsite and out! We want the rich benefits of art experienced way beyond the walls of the RAM. boats-that-float-heart-stone-paperAlso of note 🙂 as of November 10th Riverside has been declared part of the Purple City Alliance!





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