March 29, 2023 at 1:35 p.m.

Crafting connections

By Carol [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Melrose family members continue matriarch’s lead

Larry and Sheila Moore’s Birch Lake garage isn’t filled with vehicles; it’s filled with woodworking machines and tools. Walking around the garage north of Melrose March 23, Larry rattles off the names of machines he is proficient at using. In their living room is a clothes rack where macramé knot planter hangers hang, tied by Sheila. On their kitchen table are colorful mug rugs and plate or pot pads, crocheted by Larry’s sister Millie Durheim.

Crafting is a way of life for the Moores and Mille and husband Norm of Melrose. While March is National Craft Month, they craft all year around.

Up to four times a week – when the weather is good – the Durheims drive eight miles to the woodworking shop to work on crafts – but not after having a cup of coffee and playing a game of cards.

“And I make supper,” Sheila said.

 Millie and Larry received their crafting passion from their mother, Oriel “Pearl” Moore.

“Mom did a lot of crafts, and when we lived in San Antonio, she had a flower shop,” Millie said. “Flowers were mostly real back then, but she also made rice flowers. I helped roll up the rice paper and make it into flowers.”

The Moore matriarch also made corsages.

“All of us kids went door to door selling them,” Larry said.

Larry was around 13 when the family moved to Melrose, where their dad, Don, was the Melrose chief of police. Pearl, who also did oil paintings, continued her plaster craft in the basement of their Second Street home.

Pearl’s love of crafts was encouragement for Sheila to learn macramé knots.

“When we got married, in the ‘70s, macramé was the big thing,” Larry said, adding, “those were the flower child years.”

Sheila, originally from Alabama, describes the macramé glass table she made.

“We’d put Barb (their daughter) in it and swing her back and forth,” said Larry, married to Sheila 46 years.

Norm started crafting when he met Millie.

“I drug him right into it,” Millie said of her husband of 52 years, and at age 83 Norm is the oldest of the four.

Norm was raised on a farm in rural St. James, which kept him busy. After he quit farming, he did a variety of jobs. When he retired from driving a milk truck – for Arnzen Trucking out of Grey Eagle – he started making birdhouses in their garage, which was right up Millie’s alley because “I like the smell of wood,” she said.

Four or five years ago, after the Durheims moved to Rose View Manor in Melrose, these family members started working together on projects, selling their items at craft sales, including at the Melrose home of Larry and Millie’s sister, Dottie Pallansch, and at farmers markets.

They build up their supply of craft items during the winter, storing them in a shed that they can see from the kitchen window on this sunny Thursday morning, along with blue jays flying from tree to tree. Larry talks about what they call a “farmer’s squirrel” that plants anything.

“We used to be able to store our stuff in the back of our truck, and now we have a trailer,” Millie said.

The trailer was made by Larry and their son, Bubba.

Their list of what they make is long and growing – yard ornaments, wind spinners, silhouette soldiers, bears, flags, weather vanes, eagles, pink flamingos, bottle trees, tea cup bushes and metal dragonflies that move in the wind, to name a few.

“They’re (dragonflies) just knives soldered together,” Larry said.

Millie talks about the first green owl she made, that she was pleasantly surprised to see sitting outside in a yard in Melrose, an example to her that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – or purchaser.

“It was funny to see that ugly owl sitting there,” she said laughing.

Now they make a variation of an owl that can be used like a scarecrow in a garden.

Millie will draw an idea on paper, and Norm will build it.

“We try to come up with new things,” Larry said, with Millie adding, “We’re not a factory. We just put things out there to see if people like them.”

When it comes to the woodworking projects, Larry usually cuts the pieces; Norm does the riveting and bandsaw work.

“I do the staining and painting,” Millie said.

Norm recalls the first birdhouse he constructed, without a pattern, and it sold even though it wasn’t perfect.

“I made it with a jigsaw and then he (Larry) got a tablesaw for me and it worked much better,” Norm said.

Sheila is content to stay in the house and work on her macramé.

“Bubba displays most of my work,” Sheila said.

They try to keep their prices reasonable. Using scrap wood allows them to do so, even at a time when wood prices increased.

Millis said how much of their craft work they sell at sales or farmers markets depends on the day and “what catches the eye” of the people wandering through.

“One day we’ll sell 15 birdhouses and the next day no birdhouses but the spinners will go,” she said.

For these family members, crafting gives them something to do, but more importantly, it allows them to work together – following in a family member’s footsteps.

Thanks to Pearl’s lead, their crafting connection will continue.


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