A Play Date at Perennial
We spent Saturday morning doing something new…with old stuff. We drove south, waaay down Broadway to the cutest little workshop, featuring piles of “junk” ready to be made new. Bins and boxes of bits and pieces, a stack of chair and table parts standing six feet high, books and magazines filling shelves, yet everything in surprisingly neat order and waiting to become…something.
We were of course at Perennial, a non-profit organization that offers a outreach programs, a community workshop, and educational programming in creative reuse, AKA projects using things you a) plan to throw away or b) found abandoned in an alley. I’ve taken classes, been involved, and acted as a cheerleader for this organization since we moved back in 2013, so when founder Jenny Murphy told me about the youth classes, we were totally on board.
This months project: Weaving with old books, nails, and t-shirts.
Our instructor, Theresa, started by explaining the found materials we were working with and told us why there are always stacks of hard cover books in thrift stores—because the covers can’t be recycled. Did you know that? I certainly didn’t. Tear off your covers before trying to recycle hardbacks people.
Or grab a few nails and make a loom like we did.
And who doesn’t have a few old t-shirts laying around? Theresa showed us how to turn them into a ball of “yarn” with some tricky scissor skills. Ethan took command of the scissors and did a downright awesome job of following directions (and avoided from snipping off any of my fingers).
This part also involved pulling the cut strips REALLY hard to make them curl onto themselves, also known as Ethan’s favorite part. I loved how we experienced all pieces of the project, but also appreciated that Theresa had some stuff already started to make the morning go quickly to keep the kiddos interested.
We took our looms and t-shirt yarn and moved to the table for weaving. Did I mention our needles were handmade too? Theresa had carved them ahead of time, but we sanded and waxed them before threading them. Mine was made from walnut (I think), and it was beautiful.
There was gorgeous work blossoming down the table. I loved working with jersey material, it’s soft and stretchy and a really great medium for kids. Some participants planned to use their finished weavings as a coin purse or pot holder, I think Ethan settled on making his a blanket for Grimlock (for those of you not versed in all things Decepticon, Grimlock is a Transformer). I had so much fun it got me thinking maybe I need to do this on a grander scale, like hitting up the rag-rug crocheting class some day soon.
During our weaving time, Theresa peppered in little lessons about changing colors and ending our projects, walking around the table to help each of us, one-on-one. All participants worked diligently until it was time to pack up, Ethan made it about half way through his loom before pooping out, deciding he would finish his weaving on another day. As the youngest member of the group, I was fairly shocked he lasted that long!
We left the workshop with a bag full stuff—looms, needles, and several balls of t-shirt yarn. I think Ethan could have been happy just wandering around the place, picking through every coffee can of tiny parts, building his machines and ships. We both learned some new skills and I love how just being in the Perennial space gets creative gears turning in my head, thinking about how every day things can be used in different ways. The ladies who run this place are SO talented, I swear there is nothing they can’t think up.
We picked up lunch and were home around noon, totally satisfied with our productive morning. While I think five might be teetering on the edge, any kids ages 6-12 will love these classes. And there are already two more planned in the coming months! For $25/pair you get personalized instruction plus all the materials. Visit their website for more details and register for the next Play Date, and be sure to check out all the other adult classes offered by Perennial like up-cycled bird house building, wine bottle reuse, making tote bags, book binding, furniture restoration…I’m betting your mind will be blown with the possibilities. I can also highly recommend the monthly ReMake events held at various fun locations all over St. Louis, a few drinks and some craft time? It’s a blast.
In the meantime, Stu better hide all those ratty old fraternity t-shirts he’s refused to throw away for the past 12 years, I’ve got some ideas.