Christmastime means crafting time for local artists, enthusiasts
Entering Luna’s Beads and Glass on Main Street in Frisco is like entering Ali Baba’s cave. Everywhere around you, multitudes of Swarovski crystals and semi-precious gemstones produce a glistening swirl of kaleidoscopic color.And according to owner NitaLisa Jorgenson, many of those beads and gemstones are destined to adorn a holiday gift for a loved one this year.”People are coming in to get materials to make earrings, bracelets, necklaces – all kinds of jewelry,” Jorgenson said. In addition to beads, crafters at Luna’s Beads will find all the necessary implements – books, bendable wire and tools – to make their projects come to life. “We have everything to make their projects work. I consider us to be the Home Depot of bead stores,” Jorgenson joked. To a lot of people, Christmastime means crafting time. Handmade items reflect not only caring and kinship, but also represent traditional skills handed down through generations of family members. And for those who are creative, Christmas is one of the most fulfilling times to employ their talents. According to Jenn Cram, administrator of the Arts District of Breckenridge, Christmas crafting is important to a lot of people in Summit County.
“It’s easy to purchase items from stores, but when you’ve applied your creative talents to make something special, the level of pride when you finish it and give it as a gift can’t be compared to anything else,” she said. For the last two years, Cram and her colleagues from the Arts District of Breckenridge have sponsored Christmas gift-making workshops. This year’s classes will teach participants how to create handmade paper items such as ornaments, cards and boxes, and how to create hand-beaded jewelry and accessories. Cram said that, while both classes are open to all ages, the paper class is particularly geared toward children. “Paper-making is messy and colorful and interactive, so it’s great for kids,” she said. “It’s such a fun thing – and it gives you instant gratification.” During both classes, the materials, as well as expert instruction from local artists Lisa Kohlhepp and Jennifer Swift, will be provided. Cram, who is a ceramics and textiles artist, has her own personal tradition of creating hand-painted silk items as gifts for her friends and family every year. But coming in contact with the rest of the arts community in Breckenridge has broadened her creative horizons for gift-giving. “A lot of us get together and work on these things,” she said. “I didn’t know a thing about beadwork until I started working with Lisa Kohlhepp, and now I love to bead. And by the same token, Lisa had never worked in hand-painting silks before, and now she loves it.” Meanwhile, over at the Mountain Top Children’s Museum in Breckenridge, executive director Laura Horvath is busy planning to take her children’s crafting workshop to Keystone later this month. Last week, more than 60 children attended her workshop in Breckenridge. They spent the day making canvas snowmen with google eyes, jingle bell instruments, cardboard snowflake ornaments with glitter, and reindeer food out of oatmeal, Cheerios and colored sugar, which they took home with instructions to sprinkle it outside on Christmas Eve.
Horvath said that the museum has hosted an annual children’s craft day for the last five years. “A lot of the kids come back every year,” she said. “I think they love the hands-on aspect of doing these projects. And their parents love it as well. A lot of them tell me they want their children to become creative, because they’re not themselves.” Local crafts merchants like NitaLisa Jorgenson have noticed the new interest children are taking in crafting. “Kids are very bead knowledgeable nowadays,” she said. “But it’s partly because this kind of crafting wasn’t as easily accessible to them a few years ago as it is now.” Jorgenson said that more people seem to be involved in creating beadwork than ever before – and not just for jewelry items. “People are working on all kinds of bead projects for this Christmas,” she said. “A lot of people are making backpack zipper pulls and wineglass charms.” This year’s biggest sellers are Swarovski crystals. “People are into them because they’re so bright and sparkly,” Jorgenson said. Another popular trend is to work beads and crystals into crocheted and knitted items. And according to Kim Parker, co-owner of What’s Needling You on Main Street in Frisco, winter wear is still a favorite gift here in Summit County.
“Since the colder weather started, there’s been a big shift to working with wool instead of acrylic,” said Parker. “A lot of people are buying wool now to make their Christmas projects, such as hats and scarves. Parker said that this year’s hottest craft is felting. “You knit something very large and oversized, according to a pattern, and then put the completed project in the washing machine, where the hot water shrinks the fibers and smoothes down the nap,” Parker said. “It creates a felt-like surface, and it’s very popular for purses. “Felting makes things wind-proof, so it’s popular with sweaters and hats, too,” Parker added. So many people are coming into Parker’s shop to learn felting, as well as knitting and crocheting, that she is planning to offer a full slate of classes starting in January – just in time to get Summit County beginners ready for next year’s holiday season. But whether beginner or advanced, bead-expert Jorgenson encourages everyone to try their hand at a little homemade gift-giving for the holidays this year. “It makes your gift very special,” she said. “People feel it has a higher value because it was handmade.”
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