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NEWS | June 25, 2013

Arts and Crafts Center provides creative outlet for JBLE

By Senior Airman Kayla Newman 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the sharp, steel blade sliced through a piece of glass, rugged hands skillfully pulled it apart along the scoring line. The man then re-measured the wood frame he had made hours before, envisioning a photo he would later place in it.

It's a Thursday evening at the Langley Air Force Base, Va., Arts and Crafts Center. Ernie Sanchez, the framing and matting instructor, finishes working on frames as he prepares for his students to arrive.

For many Service members and families, finding ways to unwind from daily routines isn't always easy. Luckily, the Arts and Crafts center offers a variety of outlets for members of the JBLE community to capitalize on their creativity.

"We find it important to be able to come here for relaxing purposes," explained the director, Emili Perez. "People can come here and take a night away from everything and just enjoy the classes that we offer."

The classes and resources that are provided by the Arts and Crafts Center are an affordable and creative way for Service members to build confidence.

"At first, the students are a little hesitant to use the glass cutter," explained Sanchez. "But, the sense of accomplishment that they feel once they get over the initial fear is great."

Just a few feet away, Marie Freeman, a sewing instructor at the Arts and Crafts Center for seven years, prepares for her sewing class to arrive. Freeman knows firsthand how important it is to have a creative outlet.

Freeman's dad worked at a shipyard for nearly his entire life. When he was roughly in his late-40s, Freeman's mom signed her dad up for a furniture making class.

Freeman said her father had never thought furniture making would be something that he wanted to do, but his wife insisted the creative outlet would be good for him.

"He took the basics of woodworking at Hampton High School here in Virginia," explained Freeman. "By the time he retired, he was making furniture for me, my mom and my sister."

By starting with just a basic class, Freeman's father was able to take a simple skill and evolve it into something that he greatly enjoyed. Freeman says seeing that evolution in people is what she enjoys about being an instructor.

"Anytime you can learn how to do something, it gives you a better feeling about yourself because you accomplished something," said Freeman.

While Fort Eustis does not provide classes at their Frame Shop or Engraving Shop, members of the Fort Eustis community are also able to take advantage of the classes offered at Langley.

The Langley Arts and Crafts Center not only offers the framing, matting and sewing but classes also provide opportunities for the JBLE community to learn jewelry making, quilting and basic wheel pottery.  The center holds all of these classes from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Thursdays.

"Arts and crafts can get you out of the work mode," explained Freeman. "It can give you an escape from whatever it is that may be stressful in your life."

To sign up for classes at Langley, call the Arts and Crafts Center at (757) 764-4647.