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“Materialized Magic Spans the Generations”
From Jefferson Retirement Community to Upcycle Center for Creative Reuse and Recycling to the Arlington Arts Center
Stacy Cantrell shares her crocheted mermaid with a Jefferson Community resident-left
Elders bring crochet and knitting expertise to Materialized Magic
Materialized Magic, a community fiber exhibit, featured in the Jenkins Community Gallery, throughout the month of July, includes participants of all ages. Some, as young as 3 (assisted by a parent), and the eldest is 94 years young! At the Jefferson Retirement Community located in Arlington, participants crocheted and knitted squares of green, brown and beige yarn, to be sewn together in order to create moss and grass (green,) tree bark (brown,) and sand for the different habitats in the Materialized Magic environment.
Artist/curator, Stacy taught some of the Jefferson residents to crochet, while other already active crocheters and knitters were excited to participate in such an unusual project. This knitting group often knits and crochets for charity, making baby blankets, hats, lap throws and many other items for donations to local hospitals and veteran centers. We were honored that they welcomed us and gave us their time to contribute to our project.
In addition to the crocheters and knitters, some of the residents were willing to try out the much newer medium of needle felting. Ruth, a former anthropologist, needle felted a woodland gnome. Erika taught Ruth how to felt and in turn, was treated to wonderful life stories told by Ruth, an unofficial “mayor” of her residential community. Ruth told stories of her adventures as an anthropologist and more recently, of her initiatives within the Jefferson community, such as creating a theatrical production involving 75 residents in singing and dancing a story based on their lives. As she spoke, other residents came in to watch her and to join in the story telling.
Jefferson’s activity director, Anne Jacobs made it possible for Erika and Stacy to bring Materialized Magic to the Jefferson knitting group. Anne has also arranged for a special shuttle for the participants to attend the opening of Materialized Magic on June 25th. Come to the opening and meet these wonderful seniors who contributed such a valuable part of the project and warmed our hearts with new friendships.
The youngest participants
On the other spectrum of the life cycle, young participants in Materialized Magic learned to felt, crochet and knit at the Upcycle Center for Creative Reuse in Alexandria. (Children also attended Materialized Magic with their parents at the Torpedo Factory and also at the Arlington Arts Center.)
Exuberant and open to new ventures, children at UpCycle learned quickly to needle felt, as taught by Erika. Needing only a beginning set of instructions, children went on to create felted mushrooms, rocks, fairy creatures and animals, using their abundant creativity. Some children learned to crochet and knit with Stacy and other regular participants of the Materialized Magic project.
UpCycle, with its own series of workshops for children and their parents, has a mission to encourage recycling and the use of recycled materials. Upcycle provided their space free to Materialized Magic and was a source for some of the materials used in the project, such as foam pads used in needle felting.
Entire families came to Materialized Magic meet-ups at UpCycle. Older children learned to felt, knit and crochet while their younger siblings would watch from their mother’s laps and even participate with a supervised stab or two of the needle into the felted creations unfolding before their eyes.
The Arlington Arts Center was also a hotspot where children joined the project with the preparations and habitat construction in a special room off of the exhibit space. During this phase of the meet-ups, final preparations were underway and portions of already completed elements of the habitats filled the workshop tables.
Imagination abounded with the creation of pigs with wings, more woodland fairy creatures and colorful mosses were added to already felted or crocheted rocks.
Elena Hocker (age 9) shows her needle felted pig with wings at the Arlington Arts Center
I've been making dolls for about five years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am exited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!