Health & Medicine

Everything's coming up duct tape

Anna Kate McFarland, 17, stood in the middle of a group of women old enough to be her mother, or possibly her grandmother, teaching us how to fold a 2-inch piece of duct tape into a pentagon shape that would, with our patience and her nurturing, become a petal on a rose.

And, by the end of the class, she had succeeded. We each had created a duct tape rose.

No, they weren't all silver, ­ the only color of duct tape available when our fathers used to secure whatever couldn't be glued. The tape now comes in a variety of colors. And, yes, they really did look like roses.

Making duct tape roses is definitely an activity that will keep idle crafters' fingers busy — whether those crafters are senior citizens or 4-H alumni.

See, Anna Kate, daughter of Martha McFarland, director of the Bell House Senior Citizens Center in downtown Lexington, said she learned the craft at a 4-H Teen Council Camp and began making some for her mother.

Martha McFarland gathered ­stemless flower heads in a bowl on her desk, and the display soon earned the admiration of those who saw them.

Somewhere along the line from its invention during World War II until now, duct tape has evolved into not only the first resort of the non-handyman, but also a crafting tool much like a stamp, stencil or paintbrush.

Contests exist for the best prom dress and tuxedo creations, with the winners earning college scholarships. There are also how-to's on the Internet for making wallets, purses, vests, belts, visors and bracelets.

Those of us who sat around the tables in the Bell House were not advanced enough for those projects. However, Martha McFarland said Anna Kate had made an eyeglass holder while she waited for our class to start. Apparently, Anna Kate also covers take-out boxes for Chinese food with fabric and covers the handle with beads to make a small purse.

I point out her skill level to shield her from any blame for the rose I created.

Anna Kate showed us how to fold over one corner of the 2-inch piece of tape, so that an L-shaped outer edge of stickiness remained exposed. Then we were to roll the piece so that a point, or the middle of the rose, was formed.

The next piece was folded the same way, but the ­opposite side was folded down, leaving only a bottom line of stickiness exposed. The upper portion looked like a tent top.

That piece was added to the center petal.

From then on, each petal was folded the same way, with each row of petals formed from a smaller and smaller piece of tape.

”Make sure your points are all at the same height,“ Anna Kate warned, well after I had gone wrong and buried the center deep within the outer additions.

Fortunately, pulling apart my yellow rose and starting again was no problem.

Once the flower head is complete, the same method is used to make the leaves, in green tape, which embrace the rose. A longer piece of tightly rolled tape is then attached for the stem.

Or, copy Mary Lou Campbell, who hosts ­crafting classes once a month at the Bell House and at the Senior Citizens Center, 1530 ­Nicholasville Road. She ­attached her rose to the top of a store-bought wire stem.

I need to be able to do something with whatever I create, so I asked how a duct tape rose can be used.

Suggestions included adorning a wreath, as a grave-site spray, or as a gift to a hospital patient for whom live flowers are ­forbidden.

That gave me more reason to concentrate.

Campbell watched Anna Kate carefully so she can teach the technique again at a later class.

She teaches seniors how to make Christmas ­decorations out of ­cinnamon- and applesauce-flavored dough that is rolled into balls and strung.

Louise Arnold, whose rose needed little nurturing, is a veteran of several of ­Campbell's classes, including the ornaments. ”They smell so good,“ she said.

Campbell has helped e_SDHpclasses make book rests, baskets made of covered cording, pumpkin ­decorations from painted dryer vents, necklaces made from cloth and marbles, a pin made from aluminum cans, and glass blocks that contain a colorful string of tiny lights.

August classes, which meet at 12:30 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at the Senior Center and at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday at the Bell House, will feature fabric-covered accent boxes.

There is a nominal fee for supplies, but costs are held as close to $5 as possible.

The classes are aimed at those 50 and older.

Call the Bell House, (859) 233-0986, or the Senior Center, (859) 278-6072, for more information.

Judy Owens, who was attending her first craft class, said she came because she had nothing else to do.

So, if you find yourself with some free time this ­summer, give them a call.

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