There is something supremely satisfying about using one’s own hands to craft a fashion statement.
Linda Rendina, long-time Massapequa resident, said that she’s always been a “crafty” person; she’s taught an ongoing crafts class at the Massapequa Public Library for many years now. To her, sharing her abilities with new generations is a work of art in and of itself.
“I was an art minor in college, I took classes in high school, and I always do crafts with my kids,” she said. “I just like working with kids, and their ability to home in on their individuality by creating something different…I give them a pattern, and there’s always kids who do something outside the box or show you something you haven’t seen before. I always encourage that.”
At that day’s class, attendees were constructing ankle bracelets out of vibrant milifore beads and glass beads, Rendina said. In the past she has walked students through making wrist bracelets, pendants, bags, and other wonderful hand-crafted items. Coming up at her next class on July 30 will the construction of copper earrings, which she said is shaping up to be an especially interesting experience for all those involved.
“It sounds very quick and easy, but it’s not going to be. It will be fun, however…the girls are going to have to hammer the copper pieces into shape by hand and put the earrings together, piece by piece,” she said. “I always show the kids what each project will be ahead of time…I have Peter make up a flyer showing what will be happening at the next class, so they kids will know what they will be making. If they don’t like it, they don’t need to come, but I usually book up to 12 students. Occasionally I’ll over-book to 18, because it’s hard to say no, however.”
Rendina noted the lack of conflict among students in her classes; she said that she fosters an environment of creativity and fun at each and every session, giving kids a viable alternative to the usual videogame and smartphone shenanigans that tend to dominate their home lives.
“If you get them wrapped up with their work, it’s just positive…they form connections and help each other,” she said. “It’s just a great outlet for them, and something for them to do besides schoolwork and the computer finger things. Whatever those games are called.”
Rendina said that she first got involved in teaching arts and crafts at the Massapequa through Young Adult Services librarian Peter Cirona, who contacted her years ago when her own children were involved in the library’s Teen Advisory Board, a group who assists with their teen and tween programs.
“Peter and I just started talking, and I was telling him about all the crafts that I do, such as re-using old denim jeans to make bags and little purses instead of throwing them away, and the jewelry, and he suggested I start teaching classes at the library,” she said. “I’ve been teaching classes ever since then, and I always make a point of using high-quality items in our crafts. I buy nice gemstones, crystals, glass beads, pearls…however, you have to watch your budget, because you don’t want to charge too much for your materials or it’ll effect your turn-out of clientele.”
As for the frequency of her classes, Rendina said that she typically does four to five a year, but due to possible library budget cuts she said this unfortunately may be whittled down to three or four for 2014.
Jessica, age 11, has been attending Rendina’s classes since last August; she said that it’s always a popular event for she and her friends to attend together.
“We make all this cool jewelry at Linda’s classes and then we get to show it off to all our friends at school on the Monday after,” she said. “I would really recommend other people come and try out her classes…they’re a lot of fun.”
Nadia, 13, was actually a first-timer at Rendina’s class, but if the fun she was having making ankle bracelets was any indication, it certainly wouldn’t be her last time attending.
“It sounded like it would be a lot of fun, and I really like making jewelry, so I thought I’d come and give it a try,” she said. “I’m an artsy-crafty person…I like to draw and do paintings, and sometimes I make my own jewelry, and this class is teaching me a lot of great ideas that I can use on my own.”
Bridget, 11, was yet another newcomer to Rendina’s class; already an artist, she decided to attend to further improve her craft.
“I like to create things…I really like to do art whenever I get a chance, draw and paint and all that,” she said. “I heard about this class because my family and I come to the library a lot and we saw the flyer and I thought it sounded really cool, like a chance to get better at art, and it’s been a big help.”
Rendina said that watching the kids in her classes over the years grow into confident young artists has been a magical experience; no more so, however, than helping to usher in yet another generation to the joys of creativity as she’s doing now.
“I love it…I love it,” she said. “I’ve seen the kids that are mature now, who really couldn’t do the projects when they were younger, and they’re excelling at it now. And there some kids now that are taking a little more time to do it, and that’s okay too, because everyone is treated the same here, and if they need more help, that’s what I’m here for.”
If you’re interested in attending one of Rendina’s classes, visit the event calendar at the Massapequa Public Library’s website at www.massapequalibrary.org.