How have you stayed busy during the coronavirus crisis? Many local folks embraced new hobbies during quarantine, and these are a few of their stories:
Natalie Galed - Winter Springs
Art has always been a therapeutic activity for me, but my medium tends to change. Before I got pregnant, I actually used materials that were toxic and required specific timing, like heated resin for large beachscapes. While pregnant, my safest bet was drawing on my iPad.
Then, I had my baby at the beginning of the pandemic. As the world started shutting down, I knew I needed something that would not only be safe but also flexible with the time I had to work on it. That brought me to polymer clay and the idea of wearing art instead of just making it. For me, the brainstorming process is energizing, and the creation process is calming. Becoming a parent during a pandemic (and a thousand miles away from the nearest family member) brings a whole different kind of isolation. To create something beautiful during the little breaks in my day is what keeps me feeling like myself, which is so much more difficult – and so much more important – given the circumstances. In the evening, I can take a few minutes (or even an hour) just for me.
Cleaning the counters can wait if it means I’m content at the end of the day. My husband, a photographer, supports all of my artistic endeavors 100 percent. We thrive off sharing projects with each other. I honestly didn’t think clay was versatile enough to pique my interest. I was definitely wrong!
Rona Weiss - Winter Park
After six months of quarantine, and once my three kids finally got settled back in school (two in college and one local), I recently started hand knitting chunky blankets. Both my family and a friend of mine had been telling me I really needed to do something for myself (and I always have loved arts and crafting), so I Googled art workshops and found a workshop that taught me how to make a chunky blanket. I really enjoyed it and decided to continue on my own.
Art is my joy, my therapy, and my escape, but I really haven’t delved back into it since having kids. I love creating things and find it very zen and grounding. If I can create something to give as a gift or brighten someone else’s day, especially now, it makes me even happier. The blankets are a perfect way to send a big hug to someone who I haven’t been able to see for a while because of quarantine, so I sent one to my daughter in Boston and my parents in New York.
My kids love the blankets and have each requested their own... and my pets especially love my new hobby as you can tell from the photos. I plan on sending them out as surprise gifts to my family in the mail as a thank you, especially for my cousins up in New York who have been helping to take care of my parents during this period of time.
Angelique Micallef Courts - Altamonte Springs
I bought my first set of acrylic prints and canvases and brushes from the dollar store in March so I would stop crying and drinking over the fact that the Canadian border was closed (it still is), and I would not be able to see my son or parents. It instantly became gratifying, and little did I know I had this skill. It has been such a sanity check in the last year. I paint at least three times a week. I paint thinking of friends and families and memories that bring joy to my life. I share them to the people who inspire me and have gotten quite a positive response from the people I share my paintings with. It has allowed me to interact in a positive way when the world has been so disheartening over the last year. I never expected to spend any time creating art and always thought I never had any artistic bones in my body. Yet, every week and mostly every day, I am thinking of painting and finding inspiration from a positive memory, place, or person.
Peggy Wolfe Longwood
My granddaughter Faith and I started paint pouring in May and continued through summer. Paint pouring on canvas is a technique in which you use acrylic paint to create art but do not use brushes. Paints are poured on a surface, and you can move the paint around by tilting the canvas back and forth. We layer paint colors in a cup and pour it onto the canvas. We love to explore different color combinations. This is very relaxing yet exciting at the same time as you never know how your art will turn out.
Our friends and family have requested paintings. We have framed several pieces and plan to have an online Facebook sale in November to raise money for an animal shelter. We studied online videos to learn techniques and how to prepare our paint. Faith loves crafts, so it is only appropriate that we found paint pouring so much fun. It gets a bit addictive. If someone wants to learn about paint pouring, there are lots of tutorials online. Our quarantine hobby has brought us closer together and has been a joy to share with others.
Erik Schoneck and son Conner Schoneck - Sanford
We’ve been coin enthusiasts off and on for a few years, but COVID-19 not only rekindled Conner’s interest in coin collecting, but it also gave us the time and an opportunity to help our community and Conner’s grandmother, Sylvia Schoneck. When Conner learned that there was a national coin shortage, he sprang into action. He knew his late grandfather (Dan Schoneck) had made it a habit since he was a young man – from the mid-’50s until he passed away – to pull out his pocket change, if he had any, every day and put it in a jar or a can.
These jars and cans were sitting in Sylvia’s house doing nothing. Conner offered to sort them (looking for rare coins), count them, and help take them to a local bank. The special coins would be his reward for all the sorting and organizing. Together, Conner and I sorted through more than 8,000 coins. We found a 1946 silver dime, several bicentennial quarters, and wheat pennies. Conner’s grandmother was happy to help her grandson and offset the national coin shortage. The local bank was thrilled to get already sorted coins to boost their coin inventory. Conner said, ‘It’s cool going back in time by sorting through old change. I think many people overlook the fact that these coins have seen a lot and have a history of their own.’
Courtney Gavares Lake Mary
Several years ago, I purchased my first and only sewing machine so that I could teach myself how to sew. At the time, I had a goal of trying to create something that could be used for absorption and assist my son with a feeding tube. To say I was unsuccessful would be an understatement. I gave up, as I could not get that perfect creation I had hoped for as a final product. It was not until the pandemic hit – and the need for masks skyrocketed – that I decided to dust off the brand-new machine and sew again after more than six years.
I have since created more than 400 masks on my own and found something in myself I never knew I had. Sewing masks has brought me peace and comfort in knowing that I am helping to protect my family and friends as well as others who are searching for washable, quality masks during these unprecedented times of COVID. Family and friends have been SO supportive of all of my creations, spreading the word, and providing positive feedback. I truly never dreamed that I would be spending my free time doing this hobby. My advice to others is to push past the learning curves and feeling of failure we are met with sometimes in our journey of life or in pursuit of our hobbies and dreams. There is something in all of us waiting to be found and pulled to the surface.
Dana Palmieri - Lake Mary
Like so many moms, I began homeschooling during quarantine, and I started a new art program for my kids to do. For each weekly lesson, I would draw an example for them to follow as a guide to help them with their work. One of our early lessons was using chalk pastels and learning how to blend the colors to show detail. What happened next was unexpected, to say the least. I knew I liked art, but I never thought I was good at it. I made a chalk pastel sea turtle, and everyone kept telling me how good it was. I really liked using the medium itself, and it was so different from the oil pastels I used as a kid in school. I found this to be extremely relaxing and began experimenting with the chalk pastels at least once a week. My family has been super supportive. I don’t generally take compliments well, so it was difficult for me to realize it at first, but I’ve been so grateful to have their love and support. I posted my drawing on Facebook and I had friends tell me that it was really good! I really couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would be making time to do art.
If you have a desire for something you’ve been wanting to do, DO IT!! You won’t regret it. It is easy to lose sight of who you are and get stuck in the routine of daily life. Do something just for you. Go hiking, take up a craft, start a YouTube channel or a blog. Whatever it is, make it yours and own it. You will be happier, and so will your family.
Jessica Holmgren - Longwood
We started raising butterflies during quarantine to give the kids something to do and as a way to connect with my mom, who was quarantining in Pennsylvania. My mother raises butterflies in Harrisburg, and she introduced us to the hobby. We really fell in love with it after she sent us caterpillars at the beginning of the pandemic. We decided to make a butterfly garden, planting both host plants for the caterpillars and nectar plants for the butterflies. It turned out better than we could ever have imagined. We have seen so many different species of butterflies and have managed to raise monarchs, zebra longwings, Gulf fritillaries, and black swallowtails.
Watching nature at its best has been very fulfilling. It is fascinating to watch a caterpillar transform into a butterfly. The kids and I get so excited when a butterfly ecloses (comes out of its chrysalis). We share butterfly releases with the neighborhood kids, too. All my kids take turns letting them go. My husband even shares our progress with his coworkers. I have always had a brown thumb with plants and was worried about growing food for the butterflies. Turns out, I’m not as bad at it as I thought. I found a great Facebook group, Florida Butterflies, that was an incredibly great resource. I had so many questions, and they were so kind and helpful to answer all of them.
Our butterfly project took on a whole new meaning when my mother-in-law was in hospice in September. We brought some caterpillars and chrysalises to the hospice so she could enjoy them. The hospice coincidentally had a butterfly garden. When she passed, all the staff came out with our family and released the last of the butterflies into the garden. It was very moving for everyone and meant a lot to my family.
Karen Welch - Sanford
I started painting small peg dolls for the children in my preschool classes years ago, and they loved them. Some of my co-teachers from time-to-time would stop by my classroom and ask me if I could make some for them, which I happily did. When my school went on lockdown in March, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I thought I would take advantage of my time at home by painting some new peg dolls so that, when school eventually reopened, I could surprise the children with new bigger peg dolls to play with. I ordered larger peg dolls and brushes and started to create new designs.
As time went by and the weeks dragged on, I soon realized I had painted an army of peg dolls, but more importantly, I came to understand that this was a way for me to relieve my stress and anxiety during the pandemic. I would get lost each day painting and creating new peg dolls for hours. It gave me a sense of purpose while reigniting my creativity, something I was missing from not being in the classroom. At one point, I had more than 200 peg dolls painted. My husband suggested opening an Etsy shop. So, with the help of my son and daughter-in-law, I opened up my online shop: SweetPegOfMine.Etsy.com.
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