Steve Gardner of Crosswinds Wesleyan Church offers a class on making snowflakes

CANANDAIGUA — Growing up in West African countries such as Guinea (where he was born), Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, snow wasn’t a part of Steve Gardner’s childhood.

Ever since he saw his first paper snowflake 16 or so years ago, Gardner, who is the son of missionaries and now is campus management director at Crosswinds Wesleyan Church, has been intrigued, particularly by six-pointed snowflakes and how they’re made.

The more he snipped away at sheets of paper, searching for the perfect snowflake design, the more he delved deeper into the meaning behind his hobby.

“For me, it was just an engineering question to begin with,” Gardner said. “Once I figured out the folds, it actually became very intriguing.”

Since then, he’s made virtual blizzards of white paper snowflakes, some for himself, some as art projects and still more for others. He created 70 to 100 unique snowflakes — with a bit of lamination for each so they don’t flop around — as a project in Clarence, Erie County.

And he teaches others how to make them as well, in classes — including one Saturday at Wood Library and another scheduled for Jan. 11, 2017, at First United Methodist Church in Canandaigua — and with his 24-page “Hand-cutting Snowflakes” booklet, first completed in 2012 and updated this year.

The booklet, which will be available for $2 at the class on Saturday, includes design templates, tips for creating snowflakes and ways to display and store the finished works of paper art.

“They’re so easy to do,” Gardner said. “The hard thing I’m finding is coming up with new designs.”

Also included is a bit of the symbolism behind the six-pointed flakes. The number 6 is significant in Christianity because the number is assigned to man, as he was created on the sixth day, Gardner said.

And each snowflake is unique, in the way that no two humans are completely identical.

And what really came to light, he said, is how a beautiful snowflake emerges from cutting, or shedding, excess paper — same as in life. He dedicated a poem of the symbolism of the snowflakes to his mother, who experienced many trials in her life, he said.

“There is a beauty that often comes through suffering,” Gardner said. “My mom was a living testimony of that beautiful spirit.”

Deep stuff, but also fun stuff, especially for school-aged children. And perfect for the holiday season and certainly a warmer alternative than heading outside and for the real thing.

“It’s the symbolism, I think, that is the pertinent part of the season,” Gardner said. “I think it resonates with people.”

Gardner and his wife have three adult children. They met at Nyack College in South Nyack, Rockland County. They came to Canandaigua in 2003.

And he is searching, at least for the perfect snowflake.

On paper, someone should be able to come up with a unique snowflake every time scissors cut through paper. Oftentimes, though, the differences are subtle.

Sure, it’s fun, but the challenge for him is coming up with different designs, especially after 16 years and hundreds of snowflakes.

“It’s the thrill of the chase,” Gardner said.

If you go

WHAT Hand-cutting snowflake class

WHEN 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

WHERE Wood Library's Mary Parmele Hamlin Meeting Room, Side B, 134 N. Main St., Canandaigua

INFO Instructor Steve Gardner, who is campus management director for Crosswinds Wesleyan Church on Middle Cheshire Road, urges participants to bring a creative spirit, a pair of sharp scissors and $2 to cover the cost of a booklet and folding template

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