When Sylvia Deveaux heard that the Selkirk Millennium Seniors Club was giving basket weaving classes at the Belfast Recreation Centre earlier this winter, she was hesitant to sign up.
“I was a little nervous until I got started,” says the Eldon resident.
That’s because, while she had lots of experience in needle arts like crocheting, basket weaving was something she had never done before.
But after a few sessions, her nervousness disappeared.
“I really got to enjoy it. It was wonderful to see the progress I was making. The company was great, and the teacher was lovely,” says Deveaux, one of the participants in the L.E.A.P. (Learning Elders Arts Program) project, which is administered by the P.E.I. Senior Citizen’s Federation and funded by the P.E.I. Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture.
Kathleen Ross also experienced a learning curve.
“We were slow learners at first, but once we caught onto it we ripped right through. Then we started competing with each other to see who could make the prettiest basket,” says Ross, of Pinette Road, who finished off her market basket with strips of blue and green rattan.
They were two of the many students who showed their work during the exhibit/open house at the Belfast Recreation Centre this past Tuesday.
Watching her students glow with pride as they point out the completed baskets, artistically arranged on tables, to their family and friends pleases instructor Faye White.
“It’s always fun teaching them. Often, they’ll start out not knowing where they’re going, but as soon as they get the base done and start working up (the sides of the basket) they feel more confident.”
As confidence grew, so did their creativity.
One woman had a commercial basket that was damaged so she took home some material. She fixed it by adding a decorative handle.
Another participant took home scraps that were on their way to the waste can and came back with a little basket that she made with her new skills.
“They went above and beyond my expectations,” says White.
Besides participants and their families, members of the public dropped by to see the finished crafts and enjoy the lunch prepared by members of the Selkirk Millennium Seniors Club.
“It’s wonderful….The work is lovely,” says Billy Cook, who is visiting from Montague.
MLA Darlene Compton was also impressed with the “great talent”.
“It’s a great program. It’s a great way to get people out of their homes in the wintertime,” she says.
At a nearby table, Paul White demonstrates his basket making skills to visitors.
“It’s fun. But, if you try to make the same one (as mine) you can’t. They all turn out differently.”
Now that Deveaux has developed the skills her initial hesitancy has been replaced by enthusiasm.
“Seeing my finished basket makes me feel excited. I’d like to do it again if I ever have the opportunity.”
- What: L.E.A.P. (Learning Elders Arts Program).
- Benefits: Provides Island seniors with the opportunity to learn artistic disciplines from professional and semi-professional artists.
- Open house: Feb. 21, 1 p.m., Brackley Community Centre, 14 Union Rd. (storm date, Feb. 23) for exhibit displaying locker hooking and felting pieces created under direction of artist Hazel Spencer. It’s hosted by the Brackley WI.
- Performance: Music for the Soul, created under the direction of Katie Kirkham will be held at South Shore Villa, 159 Sherwood Forest Dr., Crapaud. (storm date, Feb. 28).
- For information about other events, contact the P.E.I. Seniors Citizens Federation at 902-368-9008.