Crafting natural presents |

Crafting natural presents

Joyce River (above) displays some winter crafts that kids of all ages can learn to make Saturday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

When an event is advertised for “children of all ages” you know they can’t kick you out.

That’s one good thing about a winter crafts open house that’s going to be held Saturday at the Placer Nature Center.

Instead of battling crowds of Christmas present-shopping consumers in the claustrophobic atmosphere of some mall, you can take your kids (of all ages) Saturday to the nature center, a cute, little cluster of environmental education buildings tucked away in the woods near Auburn.

There, you’ll learn how to craft natural presents including birdfeeders made from pine cones and little snowmen made with of oak galls – bulbous growths which hang off oak tree branches.

Showing kids how to craft gifts from stuff found in the woods “gets their creative juices flowing. When they look at nature, I think they see the beauty of it,” said Joyce Rivera, the volunteer who’ll teach Saturday’s craft class.

The nature center holds four craft days each summer at which kids paint faces on rocks and make such things as origami (paper) lizards.

The nature center also puts on “bat night” once a year where families come to see a presentation of live bats. Then they make a “bat mobile” – a hanging sculpture of origami bats.

Rivera is a kind teacher.

As I struggled to make a “door hanger” a sort of wreath to put on the front door, she looked at my handiwork and reassuringly said, “Whatever works for you is great!”

Along with crafts, the Nature Center will have its exhibit hall open Saturday. It includes interesting information about area history, ranging from the days of the dinosaurs to a fascinating account of iron mining near Auburn during Gold Rush days. Chinese workers cut down all the oaks for miles around to fuel the blast furnace which smelted the iron ore.

Also, there are hiking trails around the nature center which make for nicer hiking than you’ll find in any mall.

To get to the Placer Nature Center from Grass Valley, take Highway 49 south to Dry Creek Road, which is at the corner of the Taco Tree restaurant (if only tacos grew on trees). Hang a left and go to the first stop, which is Christian Valley Road. Hang a left on it and drive about four miles until the road ends. Follow the signs to the nature center parking lot. For more information, call the Placer Nature Center at 878-6053.

Tim Omarzu writes for The Union. Contact him at 464 Sutton Way, Grass

Valley, 95945; 477-4237; or


WHAT: Gift-making open house

WHEN: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14

WHERE: Placer Nature Center

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