COLUMBIA — The humming of sewing machines and quiet conversations filled the air Wednesday at Satin Stitches.
Gail Marcy, owner of Satin Stitches at 704 Vandiver Drive, has devoted three of the store's electronic sewing machines during the coming weeks to make snowflakes to decorate the new building that Sandy Hook Elementary School students will be returning to after the holidays.
Marcy, a former teacher in Ashland, decided to contribute to the National Parent Teacher Association's request to turn the children's new school into a "winter wonderland" after hearing from a customer.
Satin Stitches opened its doors to volunteers at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and within an hour three people had manned the machines.
Lola Bolton, a day care director, was there first.
"It's such a heinous thing, if I can give someone a little bit of happiness out of all this. ...," Bolton said as she wiped tears from her eyes. "It's awful. Still makes me cry."
Marcy has set up the electronic machines to work on up to eight snowflakes at once in a hoop. The machines sew the outlines of flakes on a water-soluble material stretched across a hoop. The hoop is then soaked in water, leaving just the flakes behind.
A layout of eight, various-sized flakes, ranging from 2 to 5 inches, has more than 144,000 stitches and takes longer than four hours to complete. Volunteers change spools and make sure the operation runs smoothly.
Joy McBee, who takes classes with Marcy at Satin Stiches and operated the third sewing machine on Wednesday, was thinking of her grandson. "It scares me as a grandparent to know he's at school and might not be safe there," she said. "I pray they are."
Marcy will have machines available from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The store will be closed Sunday through Wednesday next week.
Satin Stitches is also accepting snowflakes made at home. The store said patterns can be found at this website, emblibrary.com/EL/Free.aspx.
Marcy plans on sending the snowflakes to the Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association on Jan. 3.