Barb Solem

Grateful HeARTS, a free jewelry making workshop for local veterans, takes place Sunday, Jan. 31 with family-owned business Vivi Magoo at the Hilton Tucson East (7600 E. Broadway Blvd.). Barb Solem, planner, told the Weekly that all the tools, materials, and classroom space required for the free event have been donated. For more information about Grateful HeARTS, visit https://desert.vivimagoo.com/2016/01/grateful-hearts/.

Do you have a story from the class last year that sticks out in your mind?

We had a student last year who was in one of our metal classes and he was relating his story to me, how he had come back from overseas. When he got back from wherever he was, he hit rock bottom. He had a wife and he had kids, but he also had a lot of post-traumatic stress. He became an alcoholic. and almost lost everything, almost lost his wife, almost lost his kids. He happened to take a class from a metalsmith somewhere along the line. He said it changed his life. The things they did in it and the way he was supported by the other students and the instructor gave him new purpose. He laughingly told me that hammering and just torching and doing all of these things kind of helped release whatever demons were his.

What do you hope this class will accomplish?

I am hoping that what we do that Sunday will at least touch someone, if not more than one person, in that same way. You know, we aren’t going to turn any of these veterans into jewelry smiths, but yet I hope that it will give them an opportunity to maybe network with other people that might be beneficial to them. It might be an opportunity for them to explore a creative side in themselves that they didn’t realize they had. I’d like it to be a safe place for them to come and realize that. at least part of our country, the area called Tucson, really thanks them and is grateful for what they have done.

Tell me about the specifics of the class.

So we’ve got six instructors working for us. The sales director for the hotel is arranging for the students, the veterans, to come and her goal is to reach out to 40 students. We’ll have two-hour classes from 10 a.m. until noon and then an afternoon session from 1 until 3 p.m. All of the students will participate in both sessions but they will get the chance to see a variety of instructors throughout the day. They will all be jewelry related. There will be a variety of materials and techniques that they will learn. We do have a metalsmith who will be torching and hammering and making jewelry. It’s less important what they are doing, it’s more important that something they hear or do or experience in one of the classes will be meaningful to them.

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