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Darien Seniors get crafty for a Holiday Boutique

Published 3:51 pm, Monday, December 10, 2012

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  • Grandma's Attic at the Darien Senior Center transformed into a holiday boutique for the month of December. Photo: Megan Davis
    Grandma's Attic at the Darien Senior Center transformed into a holiday boutique for the month of December. Photo: Megan Davis

 

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Grandma's Attic at the Darien Senior Center has been transformed into a holiday boutique for the month of December.

Every day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. people are welcome to browse through jewelry and knitted, crocheted and quilted items, all handmade by the seniors at the center.

"It's our big fundraiser," Marcell Rand, senior center program specialist, said. Usually the fundraiser takes place on one Saturday before Christmas, but this year the center decided it to open it the week after Thanksgiving and have it run through Dec. 21.

"This is the first year doing it as a boutique," Rand said. "We've had some really good traffic."

All proceeds from the event go to programs at the senior center, such as entertainment, health and well-being activities, and craft supplies, according to Rand.

Holly Arato, whose handmade sterling silver and semiprecious stone jewelry is for sale, said she's been making jewelry for years.

"Art has always been there," Arato said. "I was always in the art wing (in high school)."

After doing an independent study in pottery her senior year at Darien High School, Arato attended Penland School of Crafts in 1977.

"I did a semester's worth of jewelry making there," Arato said. "And then I lost it."

Despite having applied to several different art schools, Arato decided she didn't want to be a "starving artist," and instead became a doctor. She was a physician for many years before she stopped practicing due to orthopedic disabilities.

Jewelry making, Arato said, "has been a hobby since then, but since I moved down here, it's turned into more than that. I really enjoy it."

Jewelry making isn't her only hobby, either. Arato also teaches knitting and crocheting at the center. Her grandmother taught her to knit when she was 7 and she has been knitting since.

"While I was in school, I would sit and knit in lecture halls because it helped me listen better," Arato said. In fact, Arato loved knitting so much she opened her own shop in Maine with a friend.

"We did really, really well, and I really enjoyed it," Arato said, adding that when the store closed down, she brought a lot of the yarns with her to Darien.

When asked what kinds of items she's made over the years, Arato simply laughed, saying, "I have made every article of clothing you can think of, including a string bikini for one of my daughters."

Not everyone involved in the boutique is as experienced as Arato.

Luxembourg native Yvette Hirabayashi, 67, who came to the United States in 1965, started making jewelry and knitting last year.

"I like it very much so," Hirabayashi said. She's always wanted to learn how to knit because her mother worked on similar crafts when she was younger.

"When Holly said she'd lead the class, I thought, `Oh, this would be a good opportunity for me to learn,' " she said.

Hirabayashi has several necklaces for sale in the boutique, all made of semiprecious stones.

"It's quite interesting," she said.

Phyllis Ryan, a craft teacher at the center, has some ornaments for sale in the boutique, too.

"Sometimes we put old jewelry together and make a new piece out of it," Ryan said. "Sometimes we make old jewelry into pins. In the summer, we do a lot of things with sea shells."

The holiday boutique is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at the senior center at 30 Edgerton Road.

mdavis@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4407; twitter.com/megdariennews