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Slatington Library window offers a view of under the sea

  • Geraldine Schafer helps granddaughter, Elena Rosario, turn a cluster of hydrangea flowers into coral for the under the sea scape she plans for the Slatington Library's window.
    Geraldine Schafer helps granddaughter, Elena Rosario, turn a cluster of hydrangea flowers into coral for the under the sea scape she plans for the Slatington Library's window.
Published July 15. 2010 05:00PM

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is a fabulous classic book by Jules Verne. It would make for great summer reading and can be found at the Slatington Library.

Also some of the creatures found under the sea have swum their way to the Slatington Library. Brightly colored fish, mermaids, coral and all kinds of shells are now residing in the windows of the library that looks like a giant aquarium, thanks to Geraldine Schafer of Slatington.

Geraldine loves to create. An avid quilter, seamstress and crafter, she was the owner and designer of her own costume company in Reading for 13 years and helped local theater groups with their costumes and backgrounds.

"I thought the windows at the library were bare and didn't have any displays in them. I wanted to liven things up for Slatington residents and I asked Louise Bechtel, the librarian, if I could decorate the windows for them and she said yes, as did the board of directors."

Also a cake decorator who teaches the art, her first display appeared in November when her homemade gingerbread houses she had entered in competition were featured.

She hopes to offer a gingerbread house making class to the public later this year and then display the houses in the window in this coming November.

In February, Geraldine did a tribute to her aunt, Evalene Pulati, for Valentine's Day.

"Aunt Evalene single-handedly started the National Valentine Collections Association and passed away this year. I also have an extensive collection of Valentines, so many of them were used in the windows."

In May she did a Mother's Day display with an antique ironing board and many antique cloth calendars.

She did an Easter display with a giant Easter basket filled with huge decorated eggs and many of her Victorian hats, decorating a tree branch with butterflies and birds to bring it to life.

For the month of July, Geraldine wants people to think about the seashore.

"This project combines my love of fish and the colors of the ocean."

Geraldine also wanted to involve patrons and neighborhood people in creating the windows for the summer theme of an aquarium.

So she held crafting classes at her home for children and adults.

The sea creatures and scenery they created were made out of recycled paper, coat hangers, sand, fallen tree limbs, tin cans and papier-m'ché.

"I love working with papier-m'ché. I've been doing it since I was 12 years old," says Geraldine.

The first fish project began with her nine grandchildren, ranging in ages from 2-12 and has since grown to include some other children and adults.

The fanciful fish started out by blowing up balloons and then soaking strips of paper in a solution of one part flour and two parts water and layering them over the balloon.

After they dried, they used paper towel and toilet paper cardboard rolls to make the fins and tails. Another day they painted the fish to help bring them alive, some with funny faces.

Wire coat hangers provided the shapes for the other fish and creatures, like seahorses, a turtle and Geraldine made papier-m'ché mermaids.

They made coral out of dried hydrangeas from Geraldine's garden, using spray glue then sprinkled with colored sand and glitter.

There's even a sand castle made out of cardboard tubes.

When the aquarium scene is dismantled for her next creation, the students who made the creatures will be able to take them home.

After the debut of the window on July 12, all those who participated in the project were treated to a pizza party.

"We're thrilled to have Geraldine's involvement. She stepped in and helped us out by not only making the window beautiful but for involving the children. Its all volunteer work and we really appreciate it," says librarian Louise Bechtel.

The final underwater scene is an artful display that delights young and old alike.

But there is a catch. In order to see the wonder of this beautiful display, you have to visit the library during the month of July.

"It's my way of trying to get more people to come to the library," says Geraldine, "and to get Slatington and surrounding area residents interested in our downtown again."

And that visit to the library can also find you that perfect book for a summer reading adventure.

You can do that by visiting Mondays 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesdays 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursdays closed, Fridays 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

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