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HILLSVILLE — 84-year-old Dorothy Lewis has done her part to support Joy Ranch with a year’s worth of her collecting-and-crafting hobby.
It takes a little bit of explaining, but her little diorama landscapes, wall hangings and baby baskets all come from Lewis picking up mementos, doodads and inexpensive items at stores to make a some kind of decorative arrangement.
Born and raised in Raleigh, Lewis followed her son’s family to Carroll County as they pursued their life at the home for children.
“My son and his wife and family work at Joy Ranch — they’re house parents — and I wanted to be near them,” she explained. “So I just wanted to be here and see the girls.”
With a full day of events at Joy Fest coming up on Saturday, Lewis recently offered all the crafts that cover the tables in her kitchen and living room to Joy Ranch’s Brent Carrick.
She attended Joy Fest last year and then spent a lot of time since working on donations for the children’s home.
Her crafting aesthetic arose from what she learned about interior design and decorating in home economics as a student.
One of the little dioramas — you could perhaps use it as a table centerpiece — came together from many elements collected from anywhere and everywhere and a bit of imagination from Lewis.
“I say it’s starting with nothing and making something beautiful,” Lewis said.
She painted little birdhouses by hand and glued them down on a tray, which she embellished with pearls, a tiny plastic fence, a few rocks from Mount Rushmore, an empty thread spool with a piece of paper to make a birdbath, glitter for the water and manufactured flowers to make a little neighborhood.
Lewis called the finished piece “Happy Bird Village.”
“I think it’s fun,” she explained. “It’s like a child playing. You just come up with it and you keep going [adding stuff].
“You might as well smile. No use to be cranky.”
Lewis knew exactly what she was doing when she bought a cookie tin lid decorated with a leafy tree and a farm fence, along with a round tray from a thrift store — even if the store manager couldn’t.
To turn it into a craft piece, Lewis simply glued the two together and added some gold-painted acorns to the edge of the tray. That turned the tray into a frame for the scene on the tin lid.
Other creative crafts she makes includes the “cook book display” with a bit of a floral arrangement. It’s kind of a decoration to put down on top of a book, so it can be left out all the time and still look attractive.
“I collect wherever I can, if it’s a rock or a pine cone…”
Or a dried flower, a plastic flower, a plastic cup, a bunch of plastic grapes, a child’s toy, a fake butterfly and various stuff from dollar stores or craft stores.
Beyond the collecting stage, Lewis will set out the many pieces and tries to find those that compliment each other. What doesn’t work goes back in the 25 boxes tucked away in closets.
“I might have 100 items out on the table,” she said. “You pick from them and just by chance they go together.”
Lewis also sewed by hand several baby blankets and then paired them with toys for girls and boys into baskets.
She’s worked on all these crafts for a year to help support the mission of Joy Ranch, which she finds inspiring.
“Well, to me it’s one of the most outstanding things I ever heard of,” she said. “Oh, mercy, if you can help children… Whoo!”
• Joy Fest is Aug. 25, with the quilt auction at 11 a.m., children’s circle from 1 to 4 p.m. and balloon rides in the evening hours.