Where can you find some of the most fun and fulfilling (and free!) art activities in Seminole County? Look no further than your local library.
Walk into any Seminole County library branch, and you’ll see the expected. Avid readers stroll through aisles, browsingshelves filled with books. Students and adults sit at computer stations, working on school assignments, checking email, andsearching for jobs. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice something you might not expect – people exploring their artistic sides.
Fans of fiber art are busy knitting, crocheting, and quilting at the libraries. Grownups come in and let their stress melt away bycoloring intricate pictures. Youths learn about the art of printmaking and how to turn obsolete technology into artwork.
All five branches of the Seminole County Public Library System offer free, hands-on arts and crafts programming for a varietyof ages. The main library branch is in Casselberry, and the others are in Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood/Wekiva, and Oviedo.
Arts programming is a good fit because libraries are all about lifelong learning, says Ginny Howerton, public services managerfor the county library system.
“One of our missions is to provide a sense of community, to have a community space where people can gather and work withtheir hands and learn something new,” Ginny says. “So, it’s not just reading a book to learn, it’s actually doing and learning.”
Arts programming at libraries often falls under the umbrella of “maker programs,” which are all the rage, according to Ginny.
“Maker programs are anything you can do with your hands to create,” she says. “These programs are very hot for all agelevels in libraries across the country and especially for families. It’s a push-back from having so much intense concentration onthe electronic screen all the time. You’re so solo with that.”
Maker programs allow participants to engage in a tactile activity, learn a new skill, and interact with other people. In SeminoleCounty, recent programs for families have included knitting by using your arms instead of needles and sculpting roses out offondant. Fiber arts have a strong following at four of the county’s library branches, which offer groups for those who like to knit,crochet, and quilt in a social setting.
“It’s a creative outlet,” says Ginny. “Everybody brings whatever beautiful thing they’re working on, and they sit together andshare thoughts and ideas and have informal lessons with each other.”
Another arts program, Color Me Calm, has proven to be such a hit that it is offered at all the branches. It is an activity thatgives adults the opportunity to relive the simple childhood experience of coloring. Color Me Calm is most popular at the CentralBranch in Casselberry, says Kathi Efland, senior librarian for adult services for the county library system.
of coloring. Color Me Calm is most popular at the Central Branch in Casselberry, says Kathi Efland, senior librarian for adultservices for the county library system.
Ashley Payan Hanna, an adult services librarian, runs the program at the Casselberry branch. To set a stress-free, Zen-likemood, Ashley lights scented candles and plays soothing classical music. Attendees can choose from a wide selection ofPrismacolor colored pencils and highly-detailed coloring sheets.
“At the end of the session, we go around the room and share our masterpieces,” Ashley says.
The adult coloring book craze exploded last year and is still going strong. Color Me Calm fans generally fall into two camps,according to Kathi.“Some attendees are really interested in the Zen and
meditative part of it, and others are clearly looking to meet new friends and to socialize,” Kathi says. “So, all the librarians haveworked out a way to let the meditative ones color on one side of the room and the chatty ones color on the other side.”
Another meditative art program – Zentangle – is being offered for adults and teens this summer. The art form is described as away to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns, called tangles. Zentangle practitioners are known as tanglers.
“We had the sessions last summer, and people loved them,” Kathi says. “It’s been so fun to do.”
Teens and adults aren’t the only ones getting crafty, though. Most of the story-time programs for children incorporate craftprojects, as well as puppetry, songs, and science experiments, Kathi says.
Also, the popular Art Blast program is running three times a week through July 22 at the Casselberry branch. Children andtheir families are welcome to drop by to create art in the gallery room, which is stocked with plenty of art supplies to spark theimagination. Children receive a digital timer and are allotted 45 minutes to create artwork, which they can take home or leavebehind to be displayed.
Offering arts and crafts at local libraries helps fill a void for youths who don’t have many opportunities to create art at school.
“We’re not a Crealde School of Art, obviously,” adds Ginny, referring to the well-known arts organization in Winter Park, “butwe are providing something for families.
West Branch arts and crafts programs - 245 North Hunt Club Boulevard in Longwood
Color Me Calm, a Zen coloring time for adults, is from 10:00 a.m. to noon on the first Monday of the month. Supplies areprovided.
The Wekiva Knitters meet from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month. Adults and teens of all skill levels arewelcome. Bring your own projects and trade tips.
A Zentangle workshop for adults and teens, taught by a Certified Zentangle Teacher, will be offered from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. onSaturday, July 23. Zentangle is a way of creating beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Supplies will be provided.
Longwood branch hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The branch is closed on Friday.
Central Branch arts and crafts programs
Color Me Calm, a Zen coloring time for adults, is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month. Supplies areprovided.
Sit & Stitch meets from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. The group is open to fiber artists who like to quilt,knit, crochet, or do other needlework. Bring your own projects or help make a library quilt.
Art Blast for school-age children and their families is offered three times a week through July 22. Hours are from 10:00 a.m. tonoon on Tuesdays, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 10:00 a.m. to noon on Thursdays. Each child is given 45 minutes tocreate a mini-masterpiece using the supplies provided.
Casselberry branch hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The branch is closed on Friday.
Programs are free, but some – including the Zentangle workshop – require registration. For details, call 407-665-1620 or visitSeminoleLibrary.org.
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