For the birds

Senior Arts class creates homemade birdseed wreaths

Jeff Heidtman, left, a floral designer from Skandia, helps Pat Lakenen, of Harvey, class make birdseed wreaths. in Tuesday's senior arts class. The class took place at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, located in the lower level of the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — Art classes don’t always have to involve painting a watercolor of a vase of daisies or making a beaded bracelet, not that these aren’t noble pursuits.

Sometimes art comes in the form of mixing and molding — and waiting.

Floral designer Jeff Heidtman, of Skandia, led Tuesday’s Senior Arts class at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center during which bowls and bundt cake pans were scattered throughout the room.

Past topics have covered more traditional art forms, while the most recent class was less focused on the aesthetic than the practical: birdseed wreaths.

Heidtman prepares floral designs for events like weddings and funerals, but Tuesday he spent his time teaching others the fine art of making these special homemade feeders.

This mixture is on its way to becoming part of a birdseed wreath. A Senior Arts class made these wreaths Tuesday at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

However, the class participants, in a way, weren’t the main beneficiaries of their new creations.

“It’s something for the birds,” Heidtman said.

A few months ago, Heidtman taught terrarium-making, so wreath-making wasn’t too far removed from that activity. However, the latest class involved a little after-the-fact patience.

“Everybody had to bring a bundt pan or something to press their wreath into, and then it has to dry for 48 hours,” Heidtman said.

When dry, the wreaths were theirs to keep.

This mixture is on its way to becoming part of a birdseed wreath. A Senior Arts class made these wreaths Tuesday at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center. (Journal photos by Christie Bleck)

Pat Lakenen, of Harvey, knows a little bit about art. Her son, Tom, is the creator of Lakenenland Sculpture Park, also in Harvey, which is filled with unique and whimsical metal creations located throughout the natural setting.

“He didn’t get his talent from me,” she joked.

She has been taking Senior Arts classes for two years.

“I love it,” Lakenen said. “Such a variety, unbelievable the variety. It’s just not painting.”

In fact, Heidtman told the participants as they were preparing their wreath mixtures: “It’s a little bit of a cooking class.”

Ingredients for their feeders included water, gelatin, corn syrup, flour and, of course, birdseed. The participants mixed these items in a bowl, sprayed in the insides of their bundt pans and then packed the mixture into it, sprinkling in a few artificial flowers for decoration.

After being given ribbons in the colors of their choice to hang up their wreaths later, they took them home to let them sit and dry for two days.

Even mixing was a bit of a challenge.

“A few minutes ago, it looked like the lumpiest gravy you ever saw,” said Sue Johnson, of Harvey.

Johnson enjoys the Senior Arts program.

“It’s every other Tuesday, so you can sign up or not,” Johnson said.

The classes also give her something to take home and use with her grandchildren.

Senior Arts classes are open to individuals ages 60 and over who have a wide variety of skill levels. Participation is free to city of Marquette residents, although non-residents are welcome to attend for a donation of $5 per class to help cover the cost of supplies and instruction.

Classes are offered on the first and third Tuesday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the MACC. All supplies are included, but interested parties must pre-register by contacting the Marquette Senior Center at 906-228-0456.

The participants’ finished artwork doesn’t have to be ready for hanging in the Louvre. In Pat Lakenen’s case, her home would be embellished in a special way.

“My birds are going to be spoiled,” she said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is