Crafts offer people of all ages an outlet for creativity, relaxation and stress relief. Published research indicates that arts and crafts hobbies improve mental health while encouraging self expression and creativity. (One award winning actress wrote Hooked: How Crafting Saved my Life.)
But crafting is also a great way to meet new people, as well.
Senior Planet Crafting Groups
At Senior Planet Community, the Space for Creatives discussion group meets online regularly for discussions, and ‘show and tell.” The Creative Creations group at Senior Planet meets Tuesdays weekly via Zoom. (More info here). It includes paper artisans, watercolor and mixed media artists, jewelry designers, quilters, crocheters, knitters, fashion designers and more.
After a “Show and Tell”, there’s generally discussion that includes advice, technique, and encouragement. “It’s an incredibly gifted, skilled, kind, and inspiring group,” says facilitator Jeannette Gianspro.”The best part is when a participant shares a creation inspired by another maker.”
Retirees in their 70s and 80s are regulars at La Mano Pottery studio, says staffer Isabella Jensen – as are any number of younger men and women. Some regulars sell their creations to private customers and specialty stores.
Experienced potterers like to swap ideas and can be a big help to beginners. As in any “family” there’s cheerleading and support plus everyone enjoys seeing their fellow potterers’ finished creations.
“I’ve only worked here for a few months and now I feel that I have a whole new family!” Jensen says.
If mucking in clay doesn’t appeal but sliding yarn or fabrics through your fingers does, knitting, crocheting or quilting might be for you. Lively groups exist everywhere.
Denver’s LambShoppe store (www.thelambshoppe,com) is an example. “People drop in from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm for Wednesday Knit Night and every Friday we have a morning group,” says manager Rachel Sinn,
While most drop-ins are retirees, all ages are represented. “The older drop-ins tend to prefer knitting,” says Sinn. “The younger ones tend to crochet – but almost everyone enjoys crocheting granny square sweaters!” The designs, colors and variations are endless as you can readily see (https://www.etsy.com/market/granny_square_sweaters)
Likewise, quilting draws enthusiasts who make everything from (of course) bed quilts to pin cushions, Christmas ornaments, handbags, place mats and more. Jeannette Jay turned her quilting passion into a small business with her own online store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/busyfingersworkshop)
There’s more. “Quilts have real value: People buy them,” says Ida Kujawski, a long-time member of the Greater San Antonio Quilt Guild, a Texas 501C non-profit with dozens of active quilters (https://www.sanantonioquilt.org/).
In addition to raising money through quilt sales, every year members gather to make over 100 quilts in different sizes for children — from babies to teens — that are donated to organizations helping homeless and displaced children.
Finding Crafting Opportunities
Here are ways to find lessons and groups practicing your favored craft:
- Senior Planet’s Creative Creations group meets Tuesdays via Zoom; the Senior Planet Community Space for Creatives is open anytime. You must join and register for each session. Here’s the link for the next one as of this writing.
- Many yarn stores hold classes and/or host knitting and crochet groups.
- Quilting supply stores are a resource for lessons and information on groups.
- Pottery studios offer classes, wheels, clay, kilns and studio time to work on your creations.
- Senior centers, libraries and community centers often host a variety of craft groups; Facebook is another resource.
Whatever you choose, find something fun to do with your hands – and your creativity – and let your spirit soar while meeting new people.
Do you have a favorite craft? Let us know in the comments!
Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books. She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan, and in The Business Owner.