For the 53rd year in a row, the annual ASUNM Arts and Crafts Fair is in full swing in the SUB Ballrooms, showcasing an impressive collection of artists and craftspeople from around the state.
Hosted by the ASUNM Arts and Crafts Studio, the show invited over 70 local vendors in a holiday shopping extravaganza. The items on sale range from knitting and crocheted clothing, hand-blown glass figures, handmade soaps and body products, pottery, graphic art and jewelry.
Senior English major Amanda Johnson is the assistant director at the Arts and Crafts Studio. Every year the studio has a table at the front of the show, where pottery sold by members of the studio is on display.
“Every fall we give artists and craftsmen the opportunity to show their wares on campus. They come from all over the state, and some of the vendors are even students,” Johnson said.
Lewis Wilson has been a craftsman of hand-blown glass sculptures for 40 years, and has had a booth at the show every year for the last quarter-century.
“There’s an incredible amount of good people doing fine arts here, with pen-and-ink drawings, silverwork and jewelry,” Wilson said. “It’s a really good, varied show.”
The annual show is a great opportunity for craftspeople to sell their products and attract new customers, but it’s also a terrific holiday shopping experience, said customer Tom Mallory.
“Every year I come to this show, and I always find a couple gifts for Christmas,” he said. “The stuff here is always unique and affordable.”
One of those unique vendors is Genevieve Brechtel of Making Medieval Modern. Brechtel makes jewelry and accessories using traditional chain mail techniques she taught herself. Bracelets and earrings are on display next to belts and a purse made of interlinked soda can tabs.
“The atmosphere of college is always very much more open and accepting,” Brechtel said. “My stuff is fairly eclectic, it’s not really traditional. So when a college student who’s also very eclectic and untraditional comes and gushes over my things, it makes me feel pretty excellent.”
Michael Wieclaw, a graphic designer and screenprinter, has had a booth for the last few years, where he sells T-shirts, stickers and posters featuring his hand-drawn designs. Looking for a shirt with a “vampire pizza” or a “scorpion waffle” on it? Wieclaw’s Metal the Brand is the booth for you.
“This particular show is one of the biggest of the holiday season,” Wieclaw said. “The experience itself is very fulfilling. I really appreciate anyone who comes out or looks for people locally to find something desireable, to give to the people they love. Kudos to those people.”
Wieclaw travels with touring musicians and runs their merchandise as his main job. After handling and selling so many posters and stickers with other people’s art, he said he decided to try his hand at making his own logos. He has since collaborated with local businesses like Rebel Donuts and Slice Parlor, inventing whimsical designs for them.
For her day job, Rebecca Jeffers is the accountant for the Arts and Crafts Studio. But her passion is crocheting, and her unique 3-D crocheted animals and figures can be found at her booth Especially Handmade.
Jeffers said she has been crocheting since she was eight, but just started selling her creations seven years ago. Business has been good so far, with her crocheted Pokémon figures selling out on the first day. She still has plenty of Star Wars figures left, however, like BB-8, R2D2 and Yoda.
“I try to pick some of the popular pop culture that the students will be looking for,” Jeffers said. “It’s my hobby; I hate to not be able to work with my hands.”
Johnson said she encourages everyone in the community, including students, faculty and anyone else, to check out the Arts and Crafts Studio on the bottom floor of the SUB.
“It’s really interesting as a community experience, because since we’re open to everybody, you get to see people who have been throwing (pottery) since I’ve been alive, and very different perspectives and creative people from all over the place. It’s very interesting,” she said.
The Arts and Crafts Fair will continue to run in the SUB Ballrooms Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find out more about the Arts and Crafts Studio at craftstudio.unm.edu.
Jonathan Baca is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JonGabrielB.