Posts Tagged ‘dabblers’

Imagine my surprise, driving along, flipping channels, to hear the unique voice of John and Suzanne’s high school history teacher, long retired. And he was on Only a Game. I know the show’s host is eclectic, but I couldn’t see how Bill Littlefield was going to work into his sports show Eliot Lilien’s expertise in World War I or Russian history.

Well, what do you know! It turns out Only a Game was focusing on the high school’s 50 years of a sport that Mr. Lilien started there: fencing.

Littlefield writes that 50 years ago, to get the program started, Mr. Lilien “found a few opponents at other secondary schools in the Northeast, and some at colleges, and some at clubs. …

“ ‘When you first began the program 50 years ago,’ I asked, ‘did you ever imagine that it would still be going strong in 50 years?’

“ ‘I didn’t think about,’ he said. ‘But I’m very grateful that it has been, and that this high school has been willing to support it.’

“Some of Lilien’s first recruits showed up hoping to bring Dungeons & Dragons to life with swords. He had to teach them that the sport required not fantasy but discipline, balance, tactics, psychology, and brains — most of the time.

“ ‘Of course, if you’re faster than anyone else, and stronger, it becomes less important,’ Lilien said.

“ ‘The mental part of it?’ I asked.

“ ‘If you can launch a gigantic attack, it doesn’t make any difference how smart the other person is. He’s gonna get hit,’ Lilien answered.”

Listen to the interview at Only a Game.

I wonder if the 50-year mark at the high school as anything to do with the local resurgence of interest in fencing. The space across from my hairdresser, where the wonderful craft shop Dabblers used to be, has morphed into a fencing studio. Fun to watch when you’re getting your hair cut.

Photo: Jesse Costa/Only a Game

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The fall color is the same pretty much every year, and yet it’s always amazing.

I walked around Concord and Cambridge, parked near a West Concord brook to go to the street fair (where a woman at Dabblers reminded me how to cast off in knitting), and hung out with an entertaining two-year-old.

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The hobby shop Dabblers has a lot going on all the time — many kinds of craft classes, birthday parties, a mini restaurant with great coffee, and now something that sounds like a throwback to an earlier age. It’s an etiquette workshop for children ages 8 to 11!

I’m very curious to know how many kids (or their parents) sign up. The workshop in March is to be led by “a noted Etiquette Expert in the Boston area and will cover: introductions, dining skills, how to be a considerate friend, family member and classmate.”

(How does one get to be a noted Etiquette Expert, capitalized?)

I remember when John, and later Suzanne, went to ballroom class in middle school. The kids learned some etiquette there, but I don’t know how many details stuck. I listened in and learned you are supposed to say, “Mrs. Streitweiser, may I present Dr. Turnipseed?” but I have never been good at practicing it. I did think such classes were extinct. Good luck, Dabblers!

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My friend and former colleague Mary Ann acquires, edits, and designs lovely craft books for Quarry. Today on Facebook, she linked to this article by one of her authors, Los Angeles Times writer Jeannine Stein.

Jeannine has published two craft books on making your own books: Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials and, this year, Adventures in Bookbinding: Handcrafting Mixed-Media Books. This quote from Stein’s LA Times article gives you an idea of how she thinks about these projects.

“As I learned more complicated traditional bindings, I also gravitated toward unorthodox materials such as 19th century photographs, old quilts, cereal boxes and vintage record albums. My fascination with these materials was really born from books. Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books made me crazy for worn, faded quilts, calico fabric and rough, unbleached cotton and linen that to this day inform my work. I cannot go to a flea market or thrift store without pawing through every basket of vintage linens, and I have a vast collection of 19th century tin types, carte de visite photographs and cabinet cards that inevitably become book covers or embellishments.”

By chance, my friend Kristina, who is an artist and teaches after-school art classes in her studio, is deep into planning student projects for the coming school year, with a focus on the art of books and bookmaking. I like making connections in general, and in particular, I have been passing leads to Kristina from Mary Ann. And while I was at it, I also promoted Quarry Books to the owner of Dabblers, a craft shop in Concord.

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I met my friend Mary Ann at the famous management journal where I met Asakiyume. Like Asakiyume, Mary Ann has too big a spirit for business management articles and has for the last 10 years been in a more artistic field. From soup to nuts, she edits craft books for Quarry — that is, she finds the authors and designs and edits the books all the way through page proofs. She has been instrumental in moving the field from how-to manuals for specific projects to a broader and more intriguing perspective. Her approach can be summarized as “here are some ideas about how to do a creative project; take the ball and run with it.”
        Mary Ann was in the area last week to check in at Quarry headquarters. We arranged to meet yesterday in a suitable venue — an independent book store, with a nice coffee bar and extras like muffins and Vietnamese salad rolls.
        It sure is fun to talk to artistic friends. Mary Ann gave me some great leads on websites that I have already shared with friends. Here is a fun one belonging to Massachusetts-based artist agent Lilla Rogers. Another one, Urban Sketchers, contains wonderful sketches from all over the world. (Perhaps you would like to add your own.)
        Mary Ann’s latest craft book is Playing with Books, by Jason Thompson, and it looks wonderful. Check out the book on Jason’s website, Rag and Bone.
        Mary Ann and I were happy to see that the book store we chose to meet in had some Quarry books. But later in the day I checked out a craft store in Concord (MA) and was disappointed that their books were mostly from another company.
        In spite of my disappointment about the books they carry, I love this craft store. It has a great new concept. You can work on crafts there and just dabble, just try things out, while having a nice sandwich or George Howells coffee. Because the idea is to try out the equipment and materials and find out if you want to go deeper after some dabbling, the store is called Dabblers.
        This blog is a project of birthstone jewelry company Luna & Stella. I will post comments of readers who contact me at suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com.

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