Hardly a minute goes by at work that Karen Bell, president of A P Bell Fish Co., isn’t intently listening to an employee, client or friend sitting across from her in the big white AP Bell building on the water in the fishing village of Cortez.
After growing up in her family’s business and years and years of conversations with all kinds of people from all over the world, Bell now realizes she has many stories to tell and really wants to tell them.
“I’ve always liked to write and I actually kind of have an outline for a book,” said Bell, who added that she never seems to find the time to start writing.
But Bell’s writing career got a kick-start Wednesday morning.
Bell was one of about 10 students with pen and paper at the ready in the historic, first ever class of The Folk School at Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez.
The school is dedicated to preserving traditional folk skills and heritage crafts that are in danger of being lost, said Florida Maritime Museum supervisor Kristin Sweeting.
Bell and her classmates were in “Memoir Writing,” a $20 class taught by David Rice. Other classes set for the next 90 days include “Preserving Family Photos,” “Sailors’ Valentines,” “Net Mending,” “Painting with a Fish” and “Canning 101.” The classes generally range from $20 to $35.
It turned out Rice may have motivated Bell to find the time to start writing.
“I thought it was quite interesting,” Bell said. “He didn’t do what I thought he would do, which is tell you how to do it. He rather talked about things in your life that you might not think are memoir worthy but that they are because, depending on the audience, people can feel it is important to read.”
Making valentines out of seashells
Legend has it that a sailor in the 1800s used his shell collection to create a mosaic to share with his love after his return from a long sea voyage.
“Now we are bringing this skill to the present,” said Sweeting, referring to the Sailors’ Valentine class at the Folk School at Florida Maritime Museum, which is Feb. 7.
I thought it was quite interesting. He didn’t do what I thought he would do, which is tell you how to do it. He rather talked about things in your life that you might not think are memoir worthy but that they are because, depending on the audience, people can feel it is important to read.
Karen Bell, speaking of David Rice’s “Memoir Writing” class
Students are encouraged to bring a brooch or large shell to use as a centerpiece for their design, Sweeting added.
During the “Net Mending” class, Nathan Meschelle, a local Cortez fisherman, will teach the traditional skill of net mending.
“The class will provide all the tools necessary to learn how to mend nets as well as a brief history of the net mending tradition,” Sweeting said.
“Painting with a Fish,” set for March 7, will put a modern spin on an artform called Gyotaku, a traditional Japanese method of printing fish, dating back to the mid-1800s, Sweeting added.
The class includes instructions, supplies and a finished fish print made by each student, Sweeting said.
Preserving Family Photos will teach basic and inexpensive techniques to safely remove photographs from self-sticking albums and detaching photos from one another, Sweeting added.
The Folk School at Florida Maritime Museum
Classes: Preserving Family Photos, 10-11 a.m., Jan. 25; Memoir Writing, 10-11:30 a.m., Feb. 1; Sailors’ Valentines, 10-11 a.m. Feb. 7; Memoir Writing, 10-11:30 a.m. Feb. 15; Net Mending, 8:30-11:30 a.m. Feb. 25; Painting with a Fish, 10 a.m. to noon, March 7 and Canning 101, 10 a.m. to noon, March 18.
Cost: Preserving Family Photos, by donation; register by Jan. 18; Memoir Writing, $20 per class or $50 for all three classes, fees due by Jan. 18 for first class and Feb. 8 for second class; Sailors’ Valentines, $30, includes supplies, fees due by Jan. 31; Net Mending, $25 plus $15 supply fee, fees due by Feb, 18; Painting with a Fish, $35, fees due by Feb, 28; Canning 101, $30, fees due by March 11.
Location: The Folk School at Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez
Information: 941-708-6120 or visit the Florida Maritime Museum 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.