As a child of the Depression, Alice Heim knew that if she wanted something, she had to make it herself.
"My mother started us all out with sewing and crocheting when we were all very little," said Heim, the youngest of six children. At age 5 she remembers making doll clothes, and by age 12, she made a dress for a friend.
Heim said she still believes in the value of sewing, but these days she prefers to fill her days with crocheting and tatting.
Heim still has an afghan she made when she was 17 during subway rides to and from her first job in New York City. "It's over 50 years old and in perfect condition," Heim said.
Heim, 71, is so enthusiastic about tatting that she taught a flight attendant how to do it on the way to Lake Tahoe.
Although tatting is her favorite craft, Heim is no stranger to others. "I've tried every craft that comes down the pike," said Heim, who has passed her talent on to her two daughters.
Her creations include a porcelain doll and its outfit _ including the shoes. "I had a little bit of leather lying around so I made her some shoes," she said. Heim also is proud of a quilt _ 25 years in the making _ with each square made by a friend.
Heim taught crocheting and tatting in Milwaukee, and her designs have been published in needlework publications. She also has taught classes for Citrus County Parks and Recreation.
Heim is a member of the Society of Craft Designers, International Old Lacers and the Association of Crafts and Creative Industries.
Heim's marriage has the same kind of longevity as her interest in crafts. In October, Heim and her husband, Dallas, will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary. It all got started on a blind date set up by some matchmaking friends.
"It turned out all right," Heim said, smiling.
She offers this advice to young couples: Don't run from the challenge of marriage. "No one is married 50 years without tough times," she said.