Arts and crafts are not a lost art

Published 11:25 am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

In today’s modernized world, some people say that homemade arts and crafts are a lost art. Helen Dean is not one of those people.

It all started when she was a child. She always loved school projects and wanted to have the biggest and best one each time. According to sources close to her — she always did.

Dean says she continued her love for school projects as a mother when her daughter would solicit her help. Dean said she had to discipline herself to keep from doing the projects versus helping with them.

Helen Dean with one of her wreaths made for a recent baby shower. (Contributed)

“Arts and crafts are fun and affordable. It is a hobby that anyone can do if they get the proper instructions,” Dean said. “It’s good therapy, too.”

Gifts made by people are much more personable and shows you that the person thought enough of you and your special occasion to take the time to make something specifically for you.

It’s true that one-of-a-kind items made with love are meaningful. Years ago people made more gifts because it was economical. Today it is much easier and more convenient to purchase something already made. To many people, time is more important than money, so making gifts is out of the question. In some ways it has become a lost art.

Helen Dean, however, keeps the art alive by making children’s clothing, ribbon wreaths for babies’ rooms and Alabama/Auburn wreaths for football fans. Whatever the occasion, she has a gift idea, and they are each made with love. Many of those gift ideas have been seen and sold at Christmas Village and Cottontails each year at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

Dean also sews and loves to make blankets for the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital. Her favorite arts and crafts medium is crocheting, which she learned to do when her mother had cancer. She would have to sit at the hospital for hours and crocheting helped her pass the time away. She would make booties and baby dresses and give them to the nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital to give to the sick babies there.

With a full-time job and two children at home, Dean doesn’t have as much time as she once did for arts and crafts, but she does just enough to keep it from being anything but a lost art.

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at