Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. February 2017
At age 77, and 9 hours of labor, I smiled and bent down to his little whiskers…a few inches from my face. I had just given birth to my foot-tall, orange, smiling kitty cat standing on the white table.
“Oh, hi, sweetie!! You’re so-o-o precious! So cute. So cuddly. You’re ado-ra-ble. Yes..I see you smiling back at me. You’re just perfect! I can’t wait to take you home.” My cupped palms gave that baby face a gentle squeeze. I didn’t want to mash him out of shape. “Chris won’t believe I made you.”
I carried on and on with gushing expletives. I had just needled the last tiny corner of the large-curved, thin line of his ear-to-ear smile under his big, puffy, brown nose. It perched between two, scalloped, closed eyelids.
Laugher brought me back to reality from the other eight residents in the room.
I caught myself. “Hope they didn’t hear me. Hope I’m not blushing.” I said nothing.
But they did, “Mary Jo, when you talk with your project with such tenderness and hug it with emotion, you know it has come alive and you’re done.” Teacher Gerda, with Alice and Sharon (her last year’s two helper-students), put down their projects.
I nodded, “Yes, that’s how I feel right now.”
“You’re on your way.”
We only had 45 minutes remaining in 18 hours divided between the past three consecutive days of needle-felting sculpture class.
My wrist tapped constantly on my 5-inch ladybug as I learned to use different felting needles on felting wools of various textures and colors. Despite repeated warnings to keep our eyes on our needles, someone would “ow!” as her finger jerked like a small fish on a hook. Gerda handed over a Charlie Brown and Snoopy bandage.
We graduated to sculpting a face and entire head…wrinkles and all…since it involves many techniques used in felting.
When Gerda demonstrated the options for curled hair, I shook my head. “I’m behind and need to catch up. I’ll make hubby Chris. He’s 84 with a bald head, and has just a few hairs between his ears on the back of his head!”
Gradually I felt my felting, and progressed much faster.
“I love that pixie Mary Ann’s forming. I’m going to make one for each of my grand-girls.”
I appreciated Gerda’s teaching and offering us to do our own thing while she guided with the techniques. Her helpers worked on their own masterpieces: Sharon’s 12-inch Mickey Mouse on a wire stand, and Alice’s full size, life-like owl. Being a crafter, when I see an unusual, exciting technique, perhaps I won’t pursue it, but I must experience how it is done.
A great discussion emerged when Sharon lit up, “Aren’t we blessed here at Panorama? Look at this state-of-the-art-room and the many resources we have.”
“The professional residents who teach us, and the selection of water color pencils, paints, papers, and tutorial books,” someone added.
“And that new TV on the wall with DVDs to teach more art while we work.”
“We have discovered hidden talents and many win art competitions with professional works.”
I never dreamed I would carry the heavy load of exciting opportunities at a retirement place like Panorama. I thank God daily.