Crafternoon is a program for older adults that meets every other week to encourage community and make creative projects in a low-stress setting. Since COVID-19, the program has been conducted over Zoom with curbside pickup of supply kits.
This particular program was painting a canvas bag with fabric paint and shaving cream.
The goal for Crafternoons has been to encourage seniors to create a sense of community and exercise brain cells by trying new art projects. During COVID-19, this has been even more important.
We first calculated how much fabric paint would squeeze into project-sized smaller bottles , with the goal of making 20 kits. We assembled the kits into Ziploc bags (see instructions  for specifics). A librarian made a YouTube instructional video to visually document the process from start to finish.
Crafternoon has a regular cohort, so we emailed them first with details. The event was also posted on the library’s website, in the newsletter and in social media. We usually get a few new people who are interested in the specific craft we’re doing that week.
We prepared for 20 students with two extra kits for instructors. We ordered soft fabric paint; Tulip makes it in a variety of sizes, and it’s available from multiple craft stores. We chose only primary colors. Be sure it’s soft fabric paint, not the puffy or dimensional version.
We ordered tote bags in bulk and got shaving cream and chopsticks from the dollar store. Paper plates and old, decommissioned library cards came from our craft supply stash. We bought a roll of freezer paper, and one staff person cut two Cricut stencils per kit (in case one got damaged or so they could decorate the other side of the same bag).
You can find free stencils here .
We had three staff on the Zoom call, but we could have done it with two. One person led and one was responsible for technical troubleshooting.
Around 12 people attended over Zoom. We began by showing the YouTube video so everyone could see the process start to finish. Then we explored the contents of the kit. The instructions noted that a hot iron would be used to iron the freezer paper stencil onto the tote bag, so ironing came next. There was some laughter around combining shaving cream and fabric paint, and then everyone began decorating their bags.
Participants were pleasantly surprised at how well the bags turned out and continue to tell us that they receive compliments on them. Every bag looked marvelously different: one patron outlined the sunburst shapes with a Sharpie; one made dotted fingerprints around the rest of the bag; one used extra fabric paint to color the tote’s handles.
Next time I would consider using Cricut removable vinyl for the stencils. Some of the freezer paper stencils didn’t adhere to the fabric well, and some paint bled underneath. The vinyl definitely costs more than a roll of freezer paper, though.
Plan for how long it will take to cut and weed a stencil that has 51 pieces to pull out by hand, 40-plus times. I might also pre-plan to make more than one craft with the fabric paint and distribute all the supplies at once. We did a different kit two months later — decorating cloth (coronavirus-prevention) face masks with dotted mandala designs — and we used fabric paint again. In hindsight, a combo kit would have saved us staff time in squeezing tubes of fabric paint into smaller containers for two separate kits.
About This Library
Ypsilanti District Library has three branches and a Bookmobile serving a population of over 60,000. Coronavirus has closed our physical buildings to patrons, but we’ve pivoted to provide curbside delivery of items and kits and YouTube and Zoom-based programs for all ages.