Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dyeing with friends & teaching

BLUE NAILS DYERS GUILD: Another Yahoo list I’m on is the Blue Nails Dyers Guild, a loosely organized group of fiber enthusiasts, particularly dyers, but it is open to all who love fibery things. We welcome all like-minded souls who enjoy dyes of all kinds: natural, laboratory-made, earth oxides, even powdered drink mixes. Those of us who live near each other in Southern California gather for occasional hands-on dyeing and experiments with all dyes and dye processes.. Online, we talk about dyes and dyeing, exchange research, give out information, answer questions that newbies come up with, and enjoy each other’s company. “Blue nails” was a medieval derogatory term describing the color of indigo and woad dyers’ hands so it’s time the term got some respect. The nails shown here are medieval finishing nails; heraldic puns were common practice back then. Though many of us are members of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), the Blue Nails Dyers Guild is not strictly limited to this group, but open to all. Join us for discussions, announcements, workshops, and dye demos!

TEACHING CRAFTS CLASSES: For an all-too-brief time this fall, I taught 24 to 32 developmentally disabled adults in the Villa Esperanza Services Adult Day Program. The ADP is held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. My students’ disabilities included dementia, cerebral palsy, severe rheumatoid arthritis, Down’s syndrome, other types of retardation, hearing and sight impairment, Alzheimer’s onset, and a variety of other problems. Some of them had several disabilities, which made teaching even more challenging. It was daunting but exciting to redact crafts and sewing projects to a level that many of the participants could handle. For some students who had no eye-hand coordination or whose physical problems would not allow them to use the floor pedal, I put it up on the table to press on by hand. That got very exciting because the person holding the fabric through the sewing machine had to say “Stop!” early enough to avoid a well-sewn thumb. We turned out some fun items, including elegant pillows with woven trim centers that delighted my students. They had never had such beautiful crafts materials to work with.

But there came a sad day just recently when I really could not deal with some of the administrative personnel without appearing on the evening news. So I am no longer collecting crafts and sewing donations for ADP. My wonderful former students don’t even understand why I left, so it would hurt them to see me arrive with donation boxes but not stay to teach. Locals are welcome to drop by the church or bring donations to the Villa Esperanza office, corner of Craig and Villa, Pasadena. Alternatively, collect crafts and sewing donations for your local retirement homes, which are always in need of something to do. Or bring donations to your Youth and Children’s Activities people. All these agencies are on severe budgets, so can use just about anything you can donate.

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