Arts and Crafts

As told by Larry Hedrick to Gary Malchoff 

          It’s an educational program that is separate from the school. The main objective of the program is kind of toward vocational education. It amounts to an activity that keeps the kids busy.

          When we first started we had money sometimes, but we had no equipment. The first thing I guess we made was checkerboards. We made some Chinese checkerboards and played games until I finally was able to get up to Anchorage. When I was able to spend about $2500.00 dollars and bought supplies. At the time, I made a contract with the village council to rent the space we’re using now, so that we can have a place for the crafts shop. It’s not nearly large enough for the amount of children we have, or the amount of the arts and crafts that we deal with.

          Consequently it’s going to create a problem under the new FY80 program, because we only have a couple of hours a day, 8 hours belong to the library. North Pacific Rim supplies the money, through a contract with Bureau of Indian Affairs. The B.I.A. gets the money from the federal government, just like the school does, to operate the school. All the native schools use the extra money out of that funding for these vocational type programs, because in the Village there’s nothing for the youth to do whatsoever. It’s not like living in the city, where you can go to the ball court, or someplace like that, and that’s the reason for the program.

          The reason I’m working at it is because when I came out of the hospital I had nothing to do. I was wandering around and kept seeing the sign, “Activities Coordinator Wanted,” for almost a year and a half I saw that struck on the board. Finally I asked Chris Tanape what in the world’s an Activities Coordinator? He told me, and when I found out that there was money for the youth program, it made me sick to think that nobody in the village wanted to take the job. So I took it. I just picked up on it whether I knew I could handle it or not. How long am I going to work at it? I don’t know. If somebody comes along and wants to take the job, they can certainly have it. I have very little time to teach them. I will be going away awhile, to school myself. As far as I know, nobody else in the village wants the job.  Nobody even wants to attempt it.

          Okay what do we do in the crafts shop? There are leather crafts to start with, there’s liquid glass where you can cast and make an item, a saving item like a keepsake. You can cast crabs or whatever you want it, even fish if there’re partially dried on the outside. You can make a toilet bowl seat and you can make frame pictures with the liquid glass. Book ends, you can make pen holders. There is plaster of Paris, we have some plaster paris that we can do different things with, like building figures. There’s candle crafts you can even make your own. There’s a lot of books at the shop that a lot of kids have not even looked at. There’s the candle crafts, we can make our own tanner hides if we wanted to. If someone brought in a hide, we can order a tanning kit. There’s what they call pyro-lace, and there’s macramé. The macramé plant hangers, curtains, its not just restricted to plant hangers like we’ve been doing. But you can extend it further than that. There’s a lot of books at the shop that can give you ideas on what to make. There’s the wood shop. In that wood shop there’s enough tools to do just about anything you want. You can carve, you can router, we’ve got a router bits. If you took a picture and traced it on a board, thick piece of board, and you could do carving right into that board with those router bits, and carve the picture out of it. Nobody’s done this yet. We have the lathe you can make little legs for little tables or shelves.     If you wanna build little tiny fancy shelves or if you made a little box, you wanna build fancy legs for it.  A jewelry box would work out.  If  you wanted to build fancy legs, you could build fancy legs, with the lathe.  There’s shrinkart and there is insta-mold. We can make our own mold.  We can copy just about anything.  At this point I still don’t have the stuff to copy a persons face, which is called moldtex or molage, we’re getting that in.  We will be able to copy a person’s face.  Once we cast a person’s face we copy it with this moldtex and then we’ll cast it in liquid glass. Then if we want to we can take the plaster of paris put it over the mold of the face and then you make masks, which would be kinda cultural cause you can make masks for the masquerade during Russian Christmas out of the person’s face that you cast. The original cast would look like the person.


There’s jewelry making which is a combination of using polished rocks and we’ve got a lot of jewelry with different ways of making it.  You can use macramé to make jewelry. We’ve got beads, we’ve got everything we need to make jewelry.

Pyro-lace, it’s something like macramé but we use plastic lacing. You can make wrist bands and it’s a jewelry type thing too, you can make earrings, with tin cans. We got slap sticks, little plant boxes, little houses, or little bird houses. You can paint if you want to. We got lots of paints, finger string art. Oh, and string art. We’ve go some string, we didn’t get all the string we want. But you have to bring your own board and paint it, with the type of background you want. We didn’t get the fold out book for patterns. But you can do you won, actually, just from a picture in the book. I don’t know if we’re going to have enough money to buy much more equipment. In the first place we don’t have that much more room. I still have over two thousand dollars worth of items on the order, that have not arrived and where I’m going to put them, I’m not sure. We’ve got a lot more leather coming in, but the leather may have to stop, because of the cost of it. The price of leather here in America has gone up 80 %, it’s very difficult to obtain.


Now let’s go back to some objectives in the craft whop. For one thing, the children have opened their own bank account. If they want to take and make an item and sell it, then turn it into a business, the older children, those who are doing a better job, they can take the money that they make and the material cost goes back into the craft shop. This saves us money and with the government cutting our budget, it’s better if the older kids take and make an item and it be sold. The extra money that they made goes into their pockets and then really it’s just like giving you the piece that you made. You made money, you put the money in your pocket, and you can do with that money what you want.


The Homer Rexall and Proctors, wants to take candles and Sporter Arms will take some of the leather work, as far as belt pouches, for ammunition pouches. They will also take liquid glass with seashells and crabs that have been cast into the liquid glass. For the tourists this summer. The Alaska Berry Farm at Homer said around the last of November that they would take all the products that we could send them. So far I haven’t gotten anybody to come up there and start making some of these products.


Well you guys got about three hundred and forth-eight dollars in the bank. Most of that money comes from the auction or the library fines. Also you got some money coming from Bob Grueber (Cook Inlet(. Who by the way, I sent the $44.50 worth of items and he sent in a hundred dollar check back, cause he lost it. Well I was only supposed to get $44.50 and the kids would have got half of that and the other half would have gone into the bank.  As it is there’s a whole lot of money there that’s going into the bank for more materials. Incidentally the money in the bank can be used.  You guys have your own President, Vice President, Secretary and three Board of Directors. You can decide any time you want to, to utilize that money. For parties, for activities that you set awards, cash awards or buy something such as a game and give it as a prize. You can set up competitive sports if you want to. Say you have a tournament, with games such as checkers and you would like to give out a five dollar cash award, you can write out a check, but , but it would have to be approved by the Board of Directors and the President. I cannot cash one of those checks unless it’s approved by the Treasurer. Bingo can be another good way to earn money.


I have been giving a lot of thought to having formal classes, although the kids might not like that. There are a lot of things that can be made with natural items. We are supposed to lean more and more toward natural materials in our arts and crafts, and not lean so heavily on the funding by the federal government. So with tools we’ve go not, for an example, you can go out and find beach wood and do carving with the wood work shop.  But again you can only get one person to work in the wood shop so that limits that. We can make a lot of money by making projects out of natural materials, if we work harder at it.





Copyright 1981,  Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.  All rights reserved

Volume 1