Crafts series to start at Vermilionville

Guiding hands

Acadiana residents have held tight to Acadian, Creole and Native American traditions, and Vermilionville wants to tap into this knowledge with a new series this year.

Called “Les Mains Guidées,” or “the guided hands,” the series will highlight crafts unique to south Louisiana and taught by artisans at Lafayette’s living history museum.

Classes are planned for the second Tuesday of the month, with the next session set for Tuesday: an exploration of open-hearth cooking.

The inaugural class Jan. 14 featured Brenda Lalonde, who routinely explains spinning thread from unginned cotton in Vermilionville’s circa-1840 Beau Bassin house.

Lalonde showed January’s class participants the mechanics of a weaving loom, and each student took home an example of this Cajun and Creole tradition.

Les Mains Guidées replaced Vermilionville’s long-running “In Your Own Backyard” series, hosted by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Center for Louisiana Studies. That series also focused on traditional south Louisiana customs, including zydeco music, Cajun country Mardi Gras and Louisiana in film.

The center is working on new programming to be announced later.

The public was used to a monthly cultural series, so Vermilionville decided to put a similar program in its place, although Les Main Guidées will highlight artisans and crafts.

“Since we already had a strong second Tuesday night crowd, we decided to keep the momentum going,” said Erin Stickney, of Vermilionville. “It’s the same place, same time.”

Upcoming Les Main Guidées classes will deal with woodworking, textiles, music and foodways, among other topics, Stickney said.

In Tuesday’s upcoming class at 6 p.m., Vermilionville artisan Em LeMieux will offer the hands-on class in one of Vermilionville’s traditional detached kitchens, and the class will cook up a rabbit stew.

March’s class will be on using natural dyes.

The cost is usually $25 a person to cover materials. The classes are appropriate for ages 12 and older, Stickney said.

So far, the public response has been positive.

“They sold out the first time, and February’s event is already filling up,” Stickney said. “We should have a sell-out for this one, too.”

To reserve a spot for the classes, contact Jolie Johnson at vville@bayouvermiliondistrict.org or (337) 233-4077, or stop by the Vermilionville gift shop to register.