Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 10 June 2011 00:00
The School of Domestic Arts held a grand opening on Thursday, June 2, to introduce potential students to their teachers by founder Jacqueline Blocklyn. The school is located at the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Earle Wightman House at 20 Summit Street. It is a perfect fit for the historical society since The School for Domestic Arts is dedicated to teaching skills and creative methods usually associated with the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, and giving them a 21st-century twist.
In Ms. Blocklyn’s words, “This is a place for us to share what we are learning with one another. Our goal is to give a sense of joy, entitlement and confidence to those who want to use their hands to create, nourish and foster the preservation of the domestic arts as a means of artistic self-expression, a commitment to the household, entertainment and pastime.”
Headmistress Jacqueline Blocklyn is trying to get the word out about her new endeavor. The Earle Wightman House was decorated with the work of the teachers, Ms. Blocklyn’s knitting was on display in the living room; quilter Michelle Miroff had her works up on the walls in the exhibit room; book artist Diana Kovacs had a table filled with demonstrations of her book art; and in the kitchen, Mia Levin was at work putting mosaic chips onto a ceramic flower pot to transform it into a work of art. Prospective student Jane Byrd McCurdy watched and tried out the process herself.
Each teacher is a professional in her field, said Ms. Blocklyn. “I’m just eager to get things going and the faster I can get people signed up the better.”
Ms. Blocklyn said, “I grew up on a farm and learned how to do all this by necessity and love to share it with other people. I’m not formally trained as the rest of my instructors are. I trained myself.
“I taught myself through reading books. I can take a manual and sit and read the instructions and do it. I want to do everything.
“I quilt and knit and paint, crochet, I garden, I do book arts, I do it all,” she said.
Dream of a School
Part of the reason for the new School of Domestic Arts comes from her working career. She said, “I worked in publishing school year books for 33 years and retired last December. Part of this time, I worked with high school age girls and most of them hadn’t a clue about domestic arts. So I decided I wanted to encourage people to learn these arts.”
It all came together, she said, while having dinner with Oyster Bay Historical Society Curator Yvonne Cifarelli and her husband John, and OBHS Executive Director Philip Blocklyn, her husband. “John asked what I was going to do in retirement and I said, ‘start a school’ and Yvonne and Philip said ‘why not start it at the OBHS’ and here I am,” she said.
The OBHS has recently moved into their Angela P. Koenig Research and Collections Center and had their original headquarters building available for new offerings – and the school of domestic arts – historic skills women over time have known and profited from – were a perfect fit.
She said, “We are excited about getting the school started and looking for ways to get the news out.”
You Say Missoura and
I say Missouri…
Ms. Blocklyn says she grew up in “Missoura” not Missour-E, the local pronunciation of the word. “It’s in the dictionary pronounced as Missoura,” she said. “I grew up in north central Missouri on a 1,200 acre farm. We had cattle and hogs and soy beans and corn and wheat and we had tornados. I was in the second grade before we had indoor plumbing.”
The Blocklyns have two children, “a daughter married to a NYC policeman, and who is the fashion industry in NYC. My son and his wife are educators in Texas and he has given us two grandchildren. Sam is an assistant principal for a middle school in Fort Worth; and his wife Sara is a first grade teacher. Ty is in the first grade and Claireann is 2 years old - and benefiting by me knowing how to knit.”
While she knits, she confided, “I love to crochet and can make anything, but I don’t teach it. I want someone else to do that.”
[Crochet is a difficult art to teach since the action takes place in the crocheter’s hands that are held in front of their body – almost hiding the work - and it takes a lot of skill to learn to manipulate the yarn with a crochet hook when it is hard to visualize the process in action.]
So “I always say I’m a jack of all trades and master of none.” That is perfect for her, since she is known to her friends as Jackie.
Meet the Teachers
Classes are held Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in morning, afternoon and evening classes. Materials are included for all courses. This is a real benefit since when taking classes that have a supply list it takes time, effort and money and can result in buying the wrong items. The instructors are:
Michele Miroff -
Michele has taught workshops for the three Long Island quilt guilds and has done quilting retreats in Pennsylvania and Maryland. She also teaches quilting at the Sentimental Stitches in Cold Spring Harbor. Patchwork Quilting is four three-hour Friday afternoon sessions for $125.
Jacqueline Blocklyn - Knitting
Born and raised on a farm in Missouri, Jacqueline learned needlework, sewing, cooking, gardening and other crafts that were not only done for pleasure, but also for necessity. Feeling the need to pass these crafts on to others who desire to create with their own hands, she founded The School for Domestic Arts at the Oyster Bay Historical Society. Her basic knitting classes are held every Tuesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and are $60 for two sessions on an ongoing basis.
Mia Karlberg-Levin - Mosaics
Mia has over 20 years ceramics experience as an artist and teacher. She is active in the Long Island Craft Guild and the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts (NCECA). She is also a founding member of “Bowls of Plenty,” a fund-raising event for the LI Craft Guild. Mia teaches at her Clay Arts Studio in Oyster Bay. In four sessions Tuesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. or Thursdays from 7 to 9:30 p.m. you can learn mosaics for $125 a series.
Diana Kovacs – Book Arts
Diana is a designer of artist rubber stamps. Her work as an altered artist and object maker has been shown in galleries, and published in craft magazines and The New York Times. Ms. Kovacs teaches classes in paper arts, altered arts and book binding. Classes at $45 a session are, held every Saturday starting June 18 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. to create exciting paper objects including an Envelop Mini Book filled with pockets for tags and photos. Enjoy this collage medium to explore creativity.
For more information on taking classes please call 922-5032 or look on the Internet at schoolfordomesticarts.com