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Crafting clay creations brings content for retirement village residents

Michelle and Des Presnell with windmill_crop.jpg

Residents at Bolton Clarke’s Inverpine retirement village at Murrumba Downs have been keeping busy and taking the lead from their grandchildren to produce some extraordinary clay modelling artworks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The arty idea was the brainchild of village resident Michelle Presnell, who is president of the village’s social club.

“We all needed something we could do at home to keep our minds and bodies active,” she said.

“We wanted something that wasn’t too complicated and suitable for everyone here, including those who might have trouble with their hands or arthritis in their fingers. And we wanted it to be fun and creative.

“My kids used to love playdough and I thought – ‘why can’t we do that?’

“First, we purchased the modelling clay, and over time we added paddle pop sticks and Styrofoam balls. These are the things my kids used. We’ve come full circle!

“It’s therapeutic and relaxing and it’s brought out the inner child and playfulness!”

Among some of the sculptural pieces created are a very impressive looking peacock and a windmill, created by fellow resident Rita Moller, and Michelle’s husband Des Presnell, respectively.

“I was ‘ordered’ to give it a go,” shares Des, laughing.

“I modelled the windmill I made off the ‘Don Quixote windmills’ in Spain.”

Des likes to keep active, not just with his mind and hands but with exercise too.

“If you don’t move it you lose it!” he says.

Michelle certainly gets her share of exercise from the venture too.

“I’m not the crafty one – I’m the ideas person!” she says. “I’m round and round the village all day providing supplies. I like to be out and about talking to people.”

“We’ve had terrific feedback from our fellow residents including a beautiful letter on behalf of the family of one resident for helping keep their mother going.

“We’re all getting enjoyment out of it. There’s more people walking around the village than ever before and we’re all getting our exercise!”

Rita has likewise enjoyed the challenge and creativity and has been able to share the fun with her grandkids.

“I’ve made three peacocks now,” she says.

“My nine-year-old grandson took one home. He really liked it. He’s been helping me with little things like gardening.

“I also construct things with seed pods, which gets me outside in the fresh air and the sunshine too – and I thought the clay and paddle pop sticks would be a new challenge.

“I just love trying to use my imagination. It’s the work itself that I love – and getting the kids away from their devices!”

Rita says the activities have been great fun, and a bit outside-the-box.

“I’ve always wanted to do different things than knitting or cross-stitch,” she said. “It was a wonderful idea from the social club.”

Michelle sums up the experience and feelings of many during what has been a challenging time.

“I hope we all come out the other side a bit more compassionate and caring toward one another.”

As for what’s next on the cards – the group has also been playing ‘letterbox bingo’ while they aren’t using their community hall for the regular kind.

“The first game lasted six weeks!” said Michelle. “But we’ve had a few more goes since then.

“Three numbers get delivered to our players letterboxes each day and we go until someone gets bingo!”