Sometimes, it’s the hard things in life that makes you stronger, but at the Nanini Branch Library, people in the Northwest are using rocks to find peace and strength.

In the library’s small art class, which takes place about once a month, a dozen or so people pack into a small conference room down a side hallway. The table is covered with stencils, markers, glue and words clipped out of magazines.

A book cart carries two baskets of rocks. In one, the rocks are decorated; the others are for the attendees to decorate.

This month’s art project is to decorate the rocks with meaningful, healing symbols and words.

“We like to showcase the media that we have here at the library as well as have the community gathering,” said class leader Micheline Johnoff said as she pointed to books, magazines, CDs and DVDs about rocks, crystals and geological formations.

Depending on the project, Johnoff will gather books on related topics from the library, so if someone wants to obtain further information on the subject, they can easily find it.

In the past, they have constructed crowns for Mother’s Day (so they can be a queen for a day), masks for Mardi Gras, and ornaments for Christmas.

Northwest resident Sue Maeda has been coming to these art get-togethers since Johnoff introduced them about a year and a half ago.

“It’s just a fun thing to do,” Maeda said. “We all come together and do things, and it’s just an interesting way to do arts. If you are not very talented to begin with, do it in a group,” she joked.

Johnoff started last week’s gathering by showing examples of her work to give people ideas. The artwork offered samples of rocks painted with markers or covered with artwork found in a magazine.

“You can always finish your art project,” Maeda said. “It’s fun and it’s kind of a social event, too. There is a core group who comes, and there are always new people who come, too.”

Some Northwest residents attended this class because of its connection to rocks. For John Gaston, the workshop marked the second time he has attended an art class at the library.

“My wife is really into energy healing,” Gaston said. “We do some rock work and have a friend who does rock therapy.”

Herminia Valenzuela, a member of the Yoeme/Yaqui tribe of Mexico, shared her beliefs with the group.

“We believe that everything has a spirit in it – including rocks,” Valenzuela said as she held up the palm-sized rock she was decorating. “If you take something from nature, like a rock, you are supposed to leave something in return. If you don’t have something to leave, like a flower or something, you are supposed to say a prayer.”

Due to a limited class size, only about a dozen people can attend each art project. For the next get-together, look for fliers posted around the Nanini Branch Library.

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