Service of Busy Hands

November 11th, 2010

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Busy Hands, Hope


My father spent months at an Army hospital in Colorado after World War II. He told me that for bedridden patients who were able to knit, one of the therapies was to teach them how. Every day a man who might otherwise feel useless and hopeless would see progress even if he could only manage a few rows, while at the same time, he’d feel productive, by making someone a handsome, warm scarf.

The NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital turns to handwork in a different way. There’s an arts and crafts program called Charna’s Kids, for siblings of sick children. For hospitalized children who undergo a series of procedures, there’s Beads of Courage. With each hurdle, a child gets a wonderful colored bead to string and wear with pride.

americanartmktecardMy clients, Joanna and Richard Rothbard of American Art Marketing, understand the importance of arts and crafts to artisans who have perfected their skills and to those starting out in life who might be helped by them. This is the first year they are producing the American Craft Show NYC at the Javits Center the weekend of November 19th-Friday through Sunday. For every ticket sold at the craft fair and its sister show, the Contemporary Art Fair NYC, the Rothbards are donating $1 to the The NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

They’ve supported artisans for over 30 years through the craft fairs they produce and through An American Craftsman Galleries, boutiques in Mass. and Ga. with four in Manhattan. Richard, a juggler of multiple projects, is a craftsman himself. He designs puzzle boxes of wood.

I’m mostly a buyer of arts and crafts, though my sister taught me to knit when I was about five. I used to knit and would like to soon again. Just thinking about it calms me. My great aunt hooked rugs and also taught me how and my aunt does needlepoint. Do you know anyone who is great at an art or a craft or who turns to either as therapy?


13 Responses to “Service of Busy Hands”

  1. KF Said:

    We have a good friend who is a true Renaissance woman. She is so artistic, very unassuming, has a lovely voice and volunteers her time and services to many groups. One of her talents is making prize-winning quilts of every kind and theme. Each year she designs an original quilt that will fit a queen-sized bed and gives it to one of her charities, which, in turn, raffles it off at their major fundraiser. She has entered her quilts in juried exhibits and won prizes. We love her because she’s a wonderful woman who shares her talents to help others.

  2. KF Said:


    I adore quilts, always have. And I always buy raffle tickets when a quilt is the prize.

    You reminded me of a woman who made quilts for her twins out of their childhood dresses. This was a woman with a thousand deadlines and always high profile jobs. How she got it all done…It’s the old “ask a busy person” at work again with, no doubt, a dollop of therapeutic value of handwork.

  3. joyce Said:

    I learned from a friend to quilt in the early 1990’s and have become obsessed with it. I have probably made over 700 quilts, lots for gifts, donated to charities, and hopefully to sell. I always made my quilts with themes, stock market, women and coffee, cats on the beach, and was lucky enough to have my phantom of the opera quilt in a show last year. I love fabric and cutting out the pieces to make the quilts, I do not love the sewing part of the craft, but the designing of it and matching fabrics. It is a wonderful escape from every day life and bad news, it is a wonderful hobby which is enjoyed by many. To date, it has made a comeback in America. I hope other people feel the way I do.

  4. Jeremiah Said:

    Some of you youngsters may not remember, but those two great leaders of the free world during the Second World War, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, often found constructive escape from their terrible responsibilities, by devoting their minds and hands to tasks having nothing to do with the war. Churchill designed and built brick walls, and he was also an accomplished amateur painter. Roosevelt was a great philatelist and enjoyed sorting and mounting his collection into his many albums.

  5. Anonymous Said:

    Singing is therapy for me.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wish I knew how to sew as it would be fun to collaborate with you, but I’ve seen your work and you don’t need help and I can’t sew a hem! Your quilts are imaginative and well designed and your enthusiasm in creating them is a delight.

    Joyce, Jeremiah and Anonymous illustrate the importance of perfecting skills that distract and alleviate stress, to clear the mental palette to be able to do wonderful work at their day jobs.

    I can’t sing, sew, paint or make stone walls, but I love taking photos and gardening.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Bravo for Churchill and FDR and for every person who seeks his own way out of a bad situation. That’s the way it should be. But let’s not be too hard on stress. It is not only a necessary happening in life, but a healthy one as well. It’s what leads to winning in competition, general creativity and to making life interesting. Painting and crafts fairs? No thanks!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You know what they say about horse racing…Football games, crossword puzzles and card games adored by multi-millions–including many people very close to me–give me the heebie geebies.

    I’ve loved art shows and craft fairs for as long as I can remember and I can’t wait for the ones next weekend! I’m in awe of people who apply imagination, taste and skill to create a wonderful craft and artists and sculptors amaze me.

  9. Melissa Said:

    I have been an avid craftsperson since I was a teenager. It is indeed sooooo relaxing and therapeutic, and I try to do knitting, needlepoint or embroidery every day. It’s a great de-stressor during my job search!

  10. Charles Said:

    As a stress reliever and as a form of family group activity I’ve recently started making pot holders on a loom with the old fashioned cotton loops. You can make one in an hour and there are endless variations especially with the new colors of loops available through places like Harrisville Designs. My friends thought I was crazy, but I bought a couple of extra looms and everyone joins in and LOVES the process.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I admire your talents. People on your gift list must be thrilled!


    I would love to see a photo of one of the potholders and wonder if they are hard to do, if the loom is expensive, and how old a child might be able to master this craft for those looking for creative gifts this season. Woven potholders in great colors sound like something I would love to make and looms have always fascinated me. Is the loom difficult to set up?

  12. Charles Said:

    The looms come in kits with enough loops to make about 10 pot holders. Everything you need to complete the potholder is in the kit and you can buy additional bags of loops in multi or single colors. The kits cost around $20 and children as young as 6 or 60 can easily make them!

  13. Peter Willems Said:

    Good that you pay attention to the intense, creative work of Joyce Malin.
    Her quilts are designed with energetic imagination and fascinating beautiful.
    Peter Willems, The Netherlands

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