This is part 3 of a 3-part ongoing series where we asked PRA staff: What have you been working on?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has left us all with an abundance of free time to cultivate hobbies outside of work to rest, recuperate, and recharge. This is the last blog in the series, so be sure to visit part 1 and part 2 to see what our multi-talented coworkers have been making!

Elianne Paley

In my free time, I like to draw, knit, crochet, and at one point, when I had the access, weave. I’ve fiddled with pencils and yarn for as long as I can remember; my parents handed me these tools to keep me occupied as a child. Throughout the pandemic, I have cherished these hobbies even more as my portal to a calming respite without screens or the news.

Inside and socially distanced, I find myself studying every detail of my surroundings and searching for beauty emanating from the dishes in my sink, the trees outside my house, and the woodpeckers drumming on the trees outside. These otherwise ordinary things that I might not have stopped to notice were it not for the pandemic bring me comfort in their existence and consistent reliability. So, I stop to document them for days, sometimes weeks, at a time, fussing over details imagined or otherwise, as a love letter to the dignified beauty in their humble mundanity. I use reference photos I’ve taken, my imagination, and sometimes copy artists who inspire me (my woodpecker drawing is a copy of a naturalist illustration by John James Audubon).

When I don’t feel like drawing, I knit. I like the way that counting and plucking strings help pass the time. In many ways, it feels like a magic trick performed by counting the seconds in a minute or an hour to end up with fabric. At one point, when I had access to a loom in a public studio, I would spend my free time there weaving fabric. Now, working from home, I’ve taken on knitting. Once in the pre-pandemic past, it seemed far too hard and time-consuming to learn. However, with a lack of a commute providing a strange abundance of free time I did not have before, I find myself casting spells turning time into as many cozy fabrics and garments to wrap myself in as I can.

Elianne's fiber art

Elianne’s fiber art projects


Jasher Blocker

I’ve always loved accessories. Having a cute pair of unique earrings and a few boho-styled bracelets hanging from my wrist has always been my look. Also, I’ve always been a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) type of person. I like remaking food recipes, fixing things, and making small replica projects that I see in stores or online.

As we maneuvered and still are maneuvering through the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself shopping heavily! Shopping for what, you might ask. A lot of earrings and jewelry! Enough to have a factory supply if you ask my husband. The thought came about to make my own earrings as I watched my spending budget dwindle. I first started making tassel earrings out of thread and yarn. I then moved on to making cute little button earrings with all types of fabric. Now, I’ve added leather and faux leather into my earring-making mix.

I’ve found that making earrings allows me just to let go of the day-to-day worries and focus on creating something neat, different, and stylish. It’s a very therapeutic way for me to transition into the evening.

Jasher's hand-made earrings

Jasher’s hand-made earrings


Qwynn Galloway-Salazar

This summer, my daughter introduced my husband and me to the world of diamond art painting. As a young child, I had a creative bone for art and coloring. However, like so many who become adults, we often fill child-like hobbies or creativity with other “adult-ish” activities. I would say diamond art painting is cross-stitching and paint by numbers combined. So, what are the materials needed, and how do you do it? The artist will need their numbered canvas, resin diamonds, the tray to hold the resin diamonds, applicator pen, wax, and tweezers. The rest is simple. The artist places hundreds of resin diamonds, one by one on a sticky, color-coded canvas.

My first painting took me three months to complete. It was of a colorful cat that had a resemblance to our family cat. Since then, we have created numerous diamond art pieces as a family and have them hung all over our home. Our family motto is “our house, our art.” As someone who lives with anxiety, diamond art has indeed been a gift, and I have found such peace and happiness while being creative!

Qwynn's Diamond Painting

Qwynn’s diamond painting