Dr. Arline Rubin is always creating. A retired Brooklyn College professor, Arline now quilts in colorful fabrics, presses dried flowers into lampshades, assembles brooches from old buttons, recycles photographs into decoupage on rocks, and has sold her handmade cards in 22 states.
If it’s crafty, Senior Planet NYC member Arline Rubin has probably tried her hand at it (and maybe even taught a course about it too). A frequent participant in our Monday evening discussion group Creative Creations, Arline brings her craftiness to Senior Planet and beyond, using technology to meet with other artists virtually.
Besides photos of her beautiful work, we love sharing Arline’s story of groundbreaking work in the field of human sexuality, her passion for education and determined spirit.
SP: What have you been working on lately?
I’ve been making masks. I made 36 of them for family and friends.
SP: Is that how you’re staying busy during COVID-19?
You know, I didn’t leave my apartment for 87 days but I didn’t mind being in quarantine because I just have so many interests here. I always have a project. Whether it’s my quilting, (picture at right), my card-making, sewing masks, the computer, Zoom….
SP: I want to talk about your craftiness, but first was that always what you did full time?
No, I taught at Brooklyn College for 35 and a half years. I was taking courses in home economics and they hired me to teach sewing, clothing construction and costume design. I was a good technician and they needed someone, so they asked me if I could teach it.
At the same time I was getting my doctorate in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family and I was interested in human sexuality. So I wound up also teaching child development and human sexuality courses. I actually introduced the human sexuality courses to the college in 1967. The law changed that sex education was supposed to be taught in high school. And so my main focus was “who was teaching the teachers?” It’s not that they wouldn’t know the information, but how do you become comfortable talking about the subject with younger people. So I was doing a lot of sensitivity training.
Then I was doing research on open marriage in the 80’s. I had the largest study of anyone doing research in the area at the time.
SP: What’s it like being a student with Senior Planet after being a teacher for so long?
It’s so great! Now I go to classes in Senior Planet @Avenidas, in Montgomery County, in San Antonio- all over. But my favorite right now is Creative Creations (link is here). People come up with all sorts of things that they’re doing.
SP: What do you get out of Creative Creations?
I get ideas! And I met another participant who I can connect with over genealogy. He is computer savvy, so we email about it and it spurs me on. I’m also part of a group called Auspicious Stitches. I write the newsletter and host the weekly Zoom meeting. What can I say, I’m comfortable in groups!
SP: Seems like you’re always creating something.
I am. I make my throw pillows…I make my decoupage. I used to take just an eye from a picture in a magazine and put it on a rock in such a way that it doesn’t just look plastered on it, it looks real. I would sell them in a shop in Woodstock a while ago. It’s interesting- Once I made a decoupage with a black rock and this picture of a couple in an embrace, partially clothed on a black background. At the time I was going out with different guys and one guy came up to my apartment. I showed him some of my crafts, including that rock. He said not only did I take that photo, but that is my ex-girlfriend!
SP: Let’s talk about your beautiful pressed flower cards. How did you start selling your cards?
I used to bring them to dinner parties, instead of bringing wine or cake, I’d bring a packet of my cards (example at right). One woman sent one I gave her to her mother in law. The mother in law bought the cars from me for 17 years. Whenever I traveled I would take a box of my cards with me. I would go into a store and see if they wanted to buy some. My cards cost $10 each so if I saw that the store had Hallmark cards I knew the store wasn’t for me. At one point I was selling them in 22 states.
SP:One more question- what does Aging with Attitude mean to you?
It means that I am interested in lots of different things and I have the time now to pursue them.
See more of Arline’s pressed dried flower cards on her instagram: @Arline_Rubin