Butterflies for Self-confidence and Joy

Butterfly CloseupRecently I attended my first meetup of the Makers of San Diego Central Library to learn to use the Silhouette Cameo cutting machine that they have available at the library’s Maker Lab. Subsequently I used it on my own to cut butterflies out of card stock and cellophane. However, this project was not for me but for a much more important cause.

I conduct a weekly art class with physically and/or mentally challenged elderly adults in a memory-care assisted-living home. They are very limited in what they can do and most can not even cut a straight line. The majority have Alzheimer’s or dementia and won’t remember what we did even five minutes after we finish.

The objective of this project was for them to enjoy the process of making and end up with something beautiful and/or functional that I could point to later and remind them that they “made” it to renew their joy and reinforce self-confidence.

Butterfly WandSo I look for projects that are inspirational and beautiful that I adapt for the participants to be successful. In this case, they glued the cut butterflies together to make 3D, 3-layered butterflies, decorated them, attached one to the end of a wand, and finished them off with ribbons. The above picture is of a Lakeside Manor resident holding the wand she just made.

Butterfly Wand GiftsThe best two wands were given as birthday gifts to seven year-old twins who are often around the home. Above are pictured the twins and the two residents who made the gift wands. Also pictured are the upcycled old appliance boxes we used to construct the gift boxes which held the wands. The Silhouette was also used to cut out the twins’ names for a stencil to use on the box tops.

Many thanks to San Diego Central Library!

Story Submitted by Lani Calvert

Editor: This wonderful story demonstrates the power of modern making, allowing elderly adults with dementia to experience the joy of making. The Silhouette Cameos is a wonderful computer-driven cutter of thin materials and is an example of the tools and training available at the Central Library. 

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