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A Crafty Community

The annual College Craft Faire brings together crafters from the 5Cs to sell their handmade wares.

Just in time for the holiday season, students, staff, alumni and faculty from across the Claremont Colleges will gather together on Friday, December 5, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., to showcase and sell their handmade work to anyone interested in creative and unique gifts. The annual College Craft Faire, organized by Pomona staffer Elaine Baker, will be held on Stover Walk or, if it rains, the Edmunds Ballroom in the Smith Campus Center.

As a passionate crafter herself, Baker first came up with the idea of a craft fair in 1999 with another colleague. “I thought the colleges needed a craft fair,” says Baker, who is a secretary in the Admissions Office. “It just seemed natural, especially because the college community is so full of creative students, staff and faculty. Not everyone knows what people do in their spare time, and it’s a fun and casual way for people to discover what other talents their work associates may have.”

Held in the Smith Campus Ballroom, the first fair was so successful that Baker was encouraged to continue the event for several more years. When things got busy, however, she had to put it aside for two years until Associate Librarian Ruth Schooley from Honnold Library offered to take over.

Under Schooley, the College Craft Faire shifted locations from Pomona to the libraries, and continued to expand in reputation and participants for the next few years. When Schooley passed away this past summer, Baker decided to carry on with the Faire.

“Elaine is excellent to do something like this, just because she is so detail-oriented, and so organized,” says Manager of Alumni Records Carol Gonzalez, who has sold her handmade Christmas ornaments since the fair’s beginnings.

This year, more than 30 tables will be set up, more than twice as many than during the fair’s first year. From Nicaraguan pottery and silk-screened T-shirts to homemade napkins and coaster sets, the crafts will reflect a remarkably diverse group of crafters in the 5Cs. “The crafts are as varied as the people in the craft fair,” Baker says.

Elaine BakerThe participating crafters have a broad spectrum of hobbies and interests, and include a “folk-roots-blues” musician, a professional photographer, and several avid jewelers. Baker, who will sell her decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies, feels this variety of crafts reflects a diversity rarely seen on a day-to-day basis.

“I think it encompasses [everyone’s diversity] on a more personal level,” she says. “The things that people bring to the craft fair are the things that they love to do, and I don’t think that’s what people normally see on a regular working day.”

For science librarian Jezmynne Wescott, a crafter who has participated in past years, the crocheted items she sells at the fair reflects both her past and present. She still vividly remembers the day when her grandmother first taught her how to crochet at age five. Today, crocheting continues to be a passion she incorporates into her daily life.

“If I’m not working or driving or playing a game, then I’m crocheting,” Wescott says. “It’s not uncommon that I’ll sit with my family in the evenings watching a movie or television, and work on an afghan or a purse.”

The fair gives Wescott a chance to show off the products of her lifelong hobby, especially to those who may not be acquainted with the art of crocheting. “It’s always the case that people who recognize what I’m doing are from an older generation, but the newer generation has many more questions about what I’m doing,” Wescott says. “It’s really nice to be able to [show] the things I’ve created so that people can get [interested in the handiwork.] Being able to actually have the ability to create and pass that on is becoming a lost art.”

Although most students may not crochet, there are many who devote themselves to other hobbies. Almost half of the fair’s tables will have students behind them, adding new faces and a new creative energy alongside those who have participated year after year.

“I think people say the word ‘craft’ and you picture a little gray-haired lady in a rocking chair knitting,” Gonzalez says. “So it’s nice to see a younger group of people with their talent represented.”

Ultimately, however, the Faire is meant for everyone, whether they are young or old and regardless if they are selling, buying or simply looking.

“I hope that the community comes and participates, if only to come say hi and see what we’re up to,” Gonzalez says. “It’s just a good way to get everyone together for a little bit.” --Janet Ma '11