FORT DRUM, NY -- For those whose artistic interests have been pushed to the wayside to make room for adulthood, parenthood or a 9-to-5 job, there is a way to renew the creativity.
Whether their inspiration is Family, a fallen comrade or a friend, people can create a one-of-a-kind gift or a masterpiece for their homes. Employees at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Arts and Crafts Center teach classes, workshops and provide personal assistance to aspiring artists.
The facility provides workstations for pottery, ceramics, sewing, crocheting and knitting, woodworking, framing, and stained glass and glass fusion.
"It's a wonderful place to come to learn a skill or trade," said Terry Buckley, business manager.
The Fort Drum "Going to Pieces" Quilt Guild also meets at the center once a month. In addition to their individual projects, members create unique gifts for different programs such as Operation Comfort Quilts, local veterans' hospitals and Fort Drum's Baby Bundles Program, Buckley said.
Patrons also can choose ceramic creations to paint and decorate with acrylic or glaze paint. Children ages 5 and older can participate with a parent or guardian present.
"You pay a one-time fee, whether it takes you 10 days or 10 minutes to finish the item," Buckley said. "You can come back as often as you want, because all the fees are paid up front. It's very (reasonably priced)."
All supplies needed for classes offered at the center are available for purchase at the store.
Because solid wood furniture is expensive, Soldiers and Family Members often build jewelry boxes, beds, gun cabinets and dressers, according to Shane Quiring, woodshop supervisor.
Learning to build wood creations is a rewarding experience and is often cheaper than buying pre-made items, Quiring added.
"It's the thrill of accomplishment and the ability to accomplish something you may not have ever done before," he said.
The price of the items all depends on the species of wood customers select, Quiring said. Wood is sold by the "board foot" -- boards that are one-inch thick, one-foot wide and one-foot long -- and can range in price from less than a dollar for pine, up to thousands of dollars for more exotic wood. Local tree species include maple, black walnut, elm, aspen, ash and butternut.
"We carry brochures for a lot of sawmills around Fort Drum for customers to go purchase their wood," he said. "They can also go to local home improvement stores to purchase wood."
Quiring teaches several classes, including basic woodworking, wood turning and the mandatory woodshop safety course. The safety course costs $10 and is offered at 10:15 a.m. every other Saturday.
For those who don't want to build their own creations, the Arts and Crafts Center offers items for purchase.
Units, organizations and individuals also can purchase personalized awards, plaques, coin hold-
ers and gifts at the Arts and Crafts Center. Joe Dvorak, recreation assistant, operates the facility's laser engravers and etching machine.
Dvorak can place graphics like patriotic symbols, military vehicles and unit crests, on a variety of items made of wood, brass, glass and aluminum.
"We cater to the military," he said. "I feel I take a lot of pride in it because it's for Soldiers and their Families."
Buckley said she and her team always strive to provide top-notch assistance to Soldiers and Families. The dedication to the community comes from personal service and experiences of several of the employees.
Buckley volunteered to deploy to Iraq from October 2008 to June 2009 as a civilian with Morale, Welfare and Recreation to book entertainment for troops stationed overseas.
"I didn't know what I'd be doing until I hit the ground (in Iraq)," she said. "I got to meet a lot of people and (traveled) all over Iraq. It was a unique experience."
The main reason Buckley volunteered to deploy to Iraq was because she wanted to see firsthand what Soldiers go through when they're stationed overseas.
"I wanted to see … why they're so stressed out when they're coming back," she said. "I got a lot of insight, and hopefully I put it to good use. I would definitely do it again. It was that rewarding."
One thing she's learned is that Soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries can benefit from finding an artistic outlet like small art projects or painting ceramics.
Quiring and Dvorak personally know what it's like to serve in combat and retired from the Army after serving 20 and 25 years, respectively. Quiring retired from 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment in 2008, and Dvorak retired from 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment in 2006.
Dvorak recently worked on a plaque for 3-6 FA Soldiers killed in action. Because he knew them personally, combined with his military service allows him to provide a more "personal touch" to Arts and Crafts Center customers -- Soldiers and Families.
The Arts and Crafts Center is open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information about the Arts and Crafts Center or to reserve a spot in upcoming classes, call 772-5606.