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In the last few weeks, the entire world has been a bit uncertain. School is out, most of us are staying home and just about everyone needs to relieve stress.
One of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers is,
My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.
One of the helpers in this time of crisis is Jo Ellis, founder of Make.Do. in Searcy. Make.Do. is a place where children and adults can take classes on all things crafty – sewing, embroidery, quilting, hand lettering, weaving and so much more. The classes are “pay-what-you-can,” so people from all walks of life learn skills and are creative together. Make.Do.’s vision is to restore hope through creativity (the Make.) while we encourage one another through genuine connection and compassion (the Do.)
Photo courtesy of Ashel Parsons
Jo realized kids and parents would be bored at home when Arkansas schools closed, so she quickly put together Quarantine Craft Camp (or QuaCC) to give them activities to do together. She said, “QuaCC seems fitting since we’re all bound to get a little stir-crazy and “QuaCCky” in the upcoming weeks.”
QuaCC features daily live videos on simple crafts. The first craft was watercolor, which featured artist Elizabeth Reeves. Other crafts include hand lettering, beginning crochet, a macrame plant hanger, faux stained glass windows, embroidery and much more.
If you live in Searcy, kits with all your supplies included for each craft can be purchased online (also pay-what-you-can) and delivered or picked up curbside at the studio. If you are not local, you can order your own supplies online or your favorite local craft store. Each class has a materials list and pattern if needed.
All the QuaCC classes are live in the Make.Do. Group on Facebook. But you can go back and watch any of the live videos when you have time. All the videos are also shared on Make.Do.’s YouTube Channel. And speaking of the YouTube Channel, be sure to check out the other great project tutorials while you are there. My favorite is “Sewing Machine Basics for Beginners.”
Jo said, “At first, I was worried we would lose the “community aspect” of Make.Do. Seeing strangers become friends over the shared experience of a crochet or sewing class is one of my favorite parts of the classes we teach in the studio. I didn’t know how we’d replicate that vibe online. The Facebook Group has definitely helped! People are sharing pictures of their projects and encouraging each other. It’s not the same, and I’m really missing the studio classes, but it’s better than I’d imagined!”
She added, “I was blown away by the community response last week! I thought we’d have a few families participate, but we sold nearly 100 kits! And the Facebook group has over 200 people.”
Raney Yancey made a macrame plant hanger last week and found a perfect plant to hang in her room. She is already planning to make two more for her family members. She said, “Miss Jo made it really easy, how she explained it all. It was a lot of fun. It felt like we were in the same room.”
Ellis and her sister Jes Mason, a pediatric nurse practitioner, recorded a video this week for handmade medical masks that include a pocket for an air filter. Jes had not sewn in over a decade, so the video shows a very detailed, step-by-step pattern. (It is also hilarious!)
“Normally, our schedules are packed to the brim with activities. But now, everything is canceled, people are stuck at home… it’s the perfect time to learn something new!”
I’m most looking forward to my three embroidery projects through Quarantine Craft Camp. I usually attend Make.Do. classes in person, so I’m excited to see how I do with the video tutorials. I appreciate all the work Jo and her team have done to help make this uncertain time easier for us all.
To find out more about Make.Do. or register for an in-person class later in the year, go to the website – makedocreate.org.
Creativity is like the sunshine of our souls. It brightens our mood and lifts our spirits.
– Jo Ellis
Cover photo courtesy of Ashel Parsons
UPDATE: for more on Make.Do. and other creative places in Searcy, check out Searcy Art Scene: Artistic Endeavors Abound.
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