BROOKINGS – It’s past 6:30 p.m. at the Brookings Public Library – a bit on the late side, certainly, but an upstairs room is filled with eight focused individuals, carefully getting started wrapping twine or yarn around an egg.
Eventually, branches will be drawn onto the yarn and flower sequins added to the ends of the branches. It’s a calm setting, with Rae Brecht instructing the group on the steps for this spring-themed craft, called a sakura egg. Sakura is a Japanese word that refers to a cherry tree or cherry tree blossoms.
Brecht is the library’s community services coordinator, and she’s been leading the library’s adult craft night sessions since it began about four years ago. It started when she got inspired by community interest in such groups as the Fiber Arts Guild and the Brookings Quilt Guild. The library already offered crafts-based programs for children, so it wasn’t much of a stretch.
Brecht said that these craft nights offer participants a chance to get away from their busy lives for a short while. A typical craft night only takes an hour or two. From college students to mothers to retirees, Brecht has seen a variety of people come by to try their hand at the crafts.
Brecht is always hunting for craft ideas. She tries to plan for the next month or two so that she can have the materials ready and try it herself first to see if it’s something that can easily be done and taught.
Pinterest and craft magazines commonly provide her craft ideas, though she does have craft night goers make suggestions on occasion. Other times, crafts are the result of what materials she has on hand at the moment.
One of the first crafts they did as a group was a tamari ball. A similar concept to the sakura egg, it has the crafters wrap up a sphere with thread in such a way as to produce different designs just from the way the thread is wrapped. They’ve also made Polish stars, flowers out of wire, glue and nail polish.
Brecht said handmade books that have pages that are turned in unorthodox ways have been one of her favorite crafts. It’s fitting for a library employee.
“One lady made one for everybody in her family, and she was just thrilled. Of course, the people getting the gifts were like, ‘Wow, where did you get that?’” Brecht said.
This month, crafters already created bookmarks, and next up are geometric boxes.
Sometimes, it takes a bit of extra work to prepare a craft for a class-like setting, such as converting centimeters to inches or if the project guide is written in another language.
The basic appeal of adult craft night is that it is a time for relaxed socializing.
“It’s an evening where nothing is really expected of you except to come and have a nice evening,” Brecht said. “They like being able to make something be a bit creative and chat with people.”
And Brecht enjoys craft night because art has long been a part of her life; she even got her degree in art.
“I love doing all sorts of things like this and coming up with different ideas. It’s fun to see how people will change the things, and I think to myself, there is no set way of doing it. It’s nice to see people take it and change it and see other possibilities,” Brecht said.
One of the nice things to come out of these craft nights is that the crafts can then be taught by the participants to others at their home. Some of the grandmothers who attend have found out that doing these crafts at home with their grandchildren can be a fun way to spend time together, Brecht said.
In the four years this program has been done, one of the main changes made to it has been how often it meets. Previously, it was held on a certain night of the month, but sessions were getting a bit too crowded for one teacher to effectively provide instruction and aid. So, they do two crafts a month, with four total meetings. Each individual craft is granted an afternoon meeting time and an evening meeting time so that people with different scheduling needs should be able to make one of those times.
There is no cost to attend, but she does like to have people register to attend so that she can make sure there will be enough materials for everybody. People can register by calling the library at 692-9407. They also post information about upcoming craft nights and their scheduled times on the Brookings Public Library’s Facebook page.
Brecht encouraged anybody who stumbles upon an adult craft night session to come and join: “I can always set up another chair or table.”
Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]