With children home from school, many parents and grandparents are scrambling for ideas about how to keep them entertained.

Here’s one that’s fun and full of potassium.

Prior to its temporary closure, Upper St. Clair Township Library launched a well-attended program called “Making” Friends, during which folks gathered to work on various projects, individually or collaboratively.

One activity during an early March session inspired a bunch of creativity: banana oxidation art.

About all you need are thumbtacks or something similar, a template or two and the aforementioned fruit. Use the tacks to puncture the banana skin in strategic places, and voila!

“Those holes oxidize in just a few moments and leave a browned area on our peels,” said Walker Evans, programs and outreach services librarian, as the makers went to work on their fruit. “We have different pictures that you can tape to your banana and then make the outline with your push pins. You can also just kind of follow your muse and poke wherever you’d like.”

“Making” Friends started in January with two-hour sessions Monday afternoons, with library artist-in-residence Judé Ernest of Mt. Lebanon serving as facilitator.

“We’ve been able to draw on her expertise to really offer a lot of different kinds of programs,” such as fiber arts and basketry, Evans said.

Participants also are encouraged to take a creative lead.

“One of our main goals with this program is to empower the attendees to teach each other things that they are familiar with, too,” Evans said.

Peters Township resident Susan Donnan brought card-making supplies for the group to work on leading up to Valentine’s Day. “And that’s really what we’re trying to cultivate here, a space where people can share what they know how to do.”

Donnan, who has worked with cancer patients on similar projects, provided various shades of card stock and a die cutter.

“We had all kinds of shapes and we had stamp art, with ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ and things like that,” she said.

She also has been creating “crazy quilting,” piecing together scraps from other projects for distinctive designs.

“What you do is piece it together, and then you add trim or embroidery,” she said, and she particularly enjoys the “Making” Friends opportunity to pursue the latter. “There are a lot of knitting groups and crocheting groups, but I haven’t really found an embroidery group. It is not needlepoint, and it’s not cross-stitch. It’s three-dimensional, so it’s a little different.”

Regarding the collaborative aspect, at least when social distancing no longer is the norm:

“People tend to enjoy working on crafts with other people more. You share ideas,” she said.

For her part, Ernest has plenty of ideas for “Making” Friends that can be implemented once the library reopens and the program is back in place.

“We want to keep people stimulated. You’re not going to do the same thing every week. What we offer is going to be constantly rolling, constantly changing,” she said. “Our goal is to really make this a program that potentially is a model of community, creativity and collaboration.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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