Art For The Hands - tactile mats for special needs ...

if you would like an 'art for the hands' mat, or have any questions, please contact Cat Owen

I began making mats December 2009, starting with this one -
"My Mum took the 'Art for the Hands' mat that Cat made for my Nan, Patricia Hardy, in to her yesterday, and she absolutely loves it! She spent the whole visit stroking the material, twiddling the ribbons and buttons, and trying to wrap the ribbon round the buttons. She spotted the cat material on it and commented on that too. At one point it started to slip off her lap and my Mum leant forward to pick it back up for her but my Nan grabbed it away from her - clearly she thought that Mum was going to take it away from her and she wasn't going to have any of that! She wasn't smiling or showing obvious pleasure in the way we would expect (she doesn't), but she was really fascinated by it and you could tell she was happy to have something to fiddle with other than her clothing and lips, which is what she usually does. Whether or not it was coincidental we don't know, but she was far chattier than usual on this visit too.

"The care home staff were very interested in it too, they've never seen anything like it before but agreed that keeping them occupied is beneficial. One of the websites I was reading said that there is research that proves that having something like this to occupy their minds makes them less likely to need so many meds too.

"So it was a hit, Cat! Thank you so much :o)"

And a later update -
"And yes, my nan is still playing with her mat :o) My brother bought her a kids toy with bits and pieces on it that she likes too, she likes the mirror on it quite a lot. But she still plays with the mat you made, and personally I think it's far nicer for her to play with than something made for children - she keeps her dignity with it, you know?
The cat muff I ordered from the US arrived today. It's nice, but you know, it doesn't have anywhere as near as much on it as you mat does. There are a few ribbons, a squeezy ball inside, a small pocket and a satiny bag with a few marbles sewn in to it. All the 'toys' attach by button and you remove them for washing the muff. But really, I prefer the mat you made! There are far more textures for her to feel on it, your mat is just far superior!
Mum has been in to see Nan again since she gave her the mat, and again found her far more with it and chatty. So I really think it's making a difference having something to keep her occupied! They should be compulsory in all the dementia homes!"

thank you for letting me share this news June, its very exciting that something i could make might have real, practical use ...

Art for the Hands, Copyright Catherine Owen 2009

I created the first 'Art for the Hands' mat one evening, for a friend to pass onto her Nan. She loved it, and she was much brighter and talkative when she could fiddle with it ... like many with dementia or alzheimers, Nan had very active hands, and would otherwise toy with her clothing, hair and lips.

These mats are created to be enjoyable, comforting and dignified, plus i have crammed as many textures into each one as i can, everyone is different! Any one who is shown one of these has a quick stroke, and fiddle!

Each is handmade in the UK, using fabric off cuts and collected buttons, some donated by kind friends and family (i am also happy to trade work for buttons and fabrics).

see all my 'art for the hands' mats in this Flickr set

see a video of a cat-themed mat on YouTube

Email Cat for more information about Art For The Hands ...

TO WASH you Art for the Hands mat ...
fold in half, slip into a pillow case to reduce wear, and wash at 30'c with a liquid wash ... to be honest, most items of mixed fibres are 'surface wash only', but as a mum i often wash things with those instructions at 30'c, in a pillow case!

(c)Copyright Catherine L Owen 2009