Arts & Crafts: Creative projects await Airmen at base arts and crafts center

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Though you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at the rather plain, warehouse-style building, McChord's Arts and Crafts Center is a place where people can get in touch with their creative side.

The program, which recently garnered the 2007 Best in Air Mobility Command award for arts and crafts, offers a wide variety of projects for everyone.

When customers set foot in the building, they enter the program's engraving shop, which is decorated with customized wooden plaques, engraved with pictures of Mount Rainier, the C-17 Globemaster III and Team McChord insignia.

The program's engraving machine can create intricate works of art on wood, glass or the matte inside picture frames.

"We can pretty much customize anything you need," said program administrative assistant Bonnie Scannell, 62nd Services Squadron.

The shop even keeps a book containing all the different engraving military patterns it has done in the past.

The book gives customers a wealth of ideas and saves a lot of time and energy for staff members who do the engraving, Ms. Scannell said.

Adjacent to the engraving section is the embroidery shop.

Using a software-guided embroidery machine, the staff members can digitize different images and embroider anything from flight bags and baby blankets to shirts and hats.

No projects are sent out to other shops -- everything is done in house, Ms. Scannell said, so there is a big customer-service focus on each job.

The staff will also take the time to walk each customer through the design process, said embroidery and engraving design specialist Lesley Hill, 62nd SVS.

"We can go over the design with them and make any changes in color before we complete the finished product," Ms. Hill said.

That same customer service-oriented mentality is in place at the program's frame shop. In addition to offering classes to teach Airmen how to frame, the shop's staff have the tools to custom cut each matte and encase it in one of the many frame choices the shop offers.

They also have a specialized computer program that can take scanned images and different matte colors to create a virtual finished product that the customer can use for comparison purposes.

For those who desire to get actively involved in a woodworking project, SVS also offers a woodshop.

After going through a safety briefing, Airmen can use the shop's table saw, lathe, jointer and planer for $5 an hour.

There is also an option to buy a $100 monthly card, which gives Airmen with a clear deadline in mind more time to accomplish their projects, said Herb LeBeau, 62nd SVS woodshop specialist.

Examples of finished products are all over the shop, from a picture board containing snapshots that proud Airmen took of their final masterpieces, to a picture of the Seattle Storm basketball team in the framing section.

The staff said the pictures are a good way to generate ideas for customers and show them some of the things they can do.

The trick for the staff is opening the door to the world of creative possibilities to everyone on base, Ms. Scannell said.

"Just the other day we had an Airman come in that had been stationed here for nearly 22 years and he said he never knew all that we had to offer," Ms. Scannell said. "He said he was disappointed because he missed out on so much."