Whimsical craft ideas turn teachers into authors
Special to The Union
Students at Nevada City School of the Arts have long known the magic that teachers Asia Currie and Lenka Vodicka spread through their classes. The pair has been guiding children through intricate projects that focus on handwork and creativity, resulting in toys, crafts and ornaments that have caught the attention of more than just parents.
After years of being approached about sharing their crafts and projects, Currie and Vodicka wrote a step-by-step, how-to book for creating their precious pieces. The book, titled “Forest Fairy Crafts: Enchanting Fairies and Felt Friends from Simple Supplies,” was released earlier this year and is available in Grass Valley at the Book Seller and Humble Crafts, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.
They chose the title because they loved the idea of the enchanted forest and how children can relate to it, especially the forest and mountains in Nevada County. The inspiration for their projects, as well as the book, has always come primarily from their students.
“We’re inspired by nature and the seasons, colors and kids,” Vodicka said. “They’ll come to us and say they want to make a cat or a unicorn or something and we try to come up with it. Sometimes we’d bring an idea into the class and realize it didn’t work, so we’d take it back and rework it.”
Cultivating creativity is just one of the purposes behind the crafts. Each project is hand-sewn, beaded, knitted or otherwise handcrafted – skills that are simply not offered in most of today’s schools.
“You give a kid a needle and thread and you see a whole different personality,” Vodicka said.
“You can really see the benefit of sewing with kids — they really seem to crave that kind of project,” Currie added.
The author-artists contacted a literary agent with their idea. They sent their ideas on a Friday and heard back the following Monday. They began working with C&T Publishing in the Bay Area soon after. The compilation of the book however, turned out to be an incredibly ambitious project.
Each little step that they worked through with their students had to be photographed. The first draft had 500 images.
“We all embraced the chaos,” Vodicka said. “They took all the data and compiled it into a book with beautiful layout and color.”
Roxy Page, owner of Humble Crafts, learned of the book through Vodicka but was pleasantly surprised to learn her distributor carried it.
“I think it’s very cool for something local to be accessible to the whole world,” Page said. “I think it may be one of the best craft books I’ve ever seen. I like to give it to people who don’t know what they want to do.”
More than 28 projects are covered in the book. Most are suitable for kids ages 5 to 11. Favorite items among the kids include star babies, Christmas fairies and angels, as well as pirates, ninjas and zombies.
“We like the whimsical,” Vodicka said.
The two are continuing to embrace their whimsy and are tentatively brainstorming projects for a holiday edition. For now, though, they’re still spreading the word about their first book.
Forest Fairy Crafts has been utilized by a handful of other teachers at the school, but it’s also proving popular for homeschooling, Girl Scout groups, and birthday parties. A craft kit for the projects is also available at Make Local Habit.
“I think it’s a great thing for parents to do with their kids, especially in this age of technology,” Currie said.
“It’s important for kids to learn this. It builds their confidence and brings out an inspiring and creative spirit in children, and that’s really valuable.”
Freelance writer Katrina Paz lives in Grass Valley.
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