I am currently an activity aide at a Long Term Care Home (the 'LTCH' in the labels or tags for this post). I want to do creative work with my residents but many suffer forms of dementia and other challenges. I do not want to put sharp or heavy tools in their hands; not merely because they might use them on each other but, well, I have a big scar on the back of my own hand and my residents often have shakes or palsies of their own.
Another consideration here is my own limited ability - remember that scar on my hand? I can cut wood but not always in a straight line.
So I thought for a long time on how wood working projects we could do. At my mother's home, I saw a big carved fish - very simply done, mostly a slab of 10" by 2" that, well, looks better than the ones below but clearly similar.
I was able to find some soft wood, cut out some big chunks and do most of the rest with a knife.
There was a discussion online about asking people to draw a bike from memory. Many people had trouble with the shapes and how they connected. Because I love cycling, I got all but the fine details right - and as not before about my ability, those fine details would be sloppy anyway. In this case, I think I conflated many different fish and how their lower fins fit and worked.
This one from Government Fisheries, has four forward fins, almost like four arms on terrestrial verts.
Some of my fish has two forward and two hind fins while others, to look less like legs, had two forward and one hind fin.
I am not too concerned as I wanted these shapes to be quickly made. This wasn't supposed to be my project but one for the residents that I assisted with.
Here is how the project progressed:
I work in a locked home area with the most confused residents. Most were happy to chat while I, a volunteer and one resident did the sanding. The sanding took an hour or a little more and we were all amazed at how soft the fish felt after the sanding. We could have left the project there and simply used the fish for tactile purposes!
Instead we painted a few of them. I am not much of a painter but a coworker is both a skilled painter and an excellent instructor in the painting process. Where I painted the yellow fish carefully doing both colours at one sitting, she would have done the whole fish one colour, let it dry and then done the second, darker colour. Sounds simple but I didn't think to do it the first time.
These fish were simple and fun but took more time on my part in the basic shaping than I wanted. I need to get faster, get more of a production line approach going, or I will be wasting my time in prep.
Dec: Or ask residents - offer a choice of what they want to make.