It was Friday at 2 p.m., and the SCC was packed with students. Why, you might ask? Did Einstein’s decide to give out free bagels? Was the bookstore giving 50 percent off all text books? As amazing as all of that would be, something much more exciting filled the normally empty atrium of our beloved green building: a students’ arts and crafts fair. I was immediately drawn to the eight or so tables lined with gleeful students. What could possibly be so special about arts and crafts? As I made my way to front of the line, I realized what all the commotion was about.
There were jewelry, photographs, hats, clothes, bookmarks and even soap. Each table had something very different to offer, and behind each table, I found familiar faces. Fellow students were now selling things that I wanted, things that many people wanted, and the best part? All of these items were made by the students themselves. The talent of these “vendors” inspired me; never would I have imagined that the people I went to school with were creating such beautiful art pieces, let alone selling them.
The first table was lined with dazzling photos framed in white borders. Francesca Diorio ’16 was the photographer, and judging from the smile on her face, she was happy to see people enjoying her hard work. At the next table, Marissa Lazar ’14 was in full vendor mode as she sold two of her hand crafted bracelets, giving the buyer a deal for purchasing two. Marissa is the creator of what she calls ML Designs, where you can find earrings, bracelets and necklaces. The jewelry looked professional, and the name of her company sounded so elite that I had to ask her what this fair was all about. “Everything you see here is made by the students,” she replied, full of passion and pride.
The third table offered something else entirely: clothes and hats, designed by Gustavo Aragon ’15. The brand name called NLIGHTN. He handed me the logo of his brand in sticker form, a sticker I had seen across campus. I had always wondered what the light bulb with an exclamation point in the middle and two lightning bolts bursting from each side stood for—now I knew. A fellow peer’s creative genius. Gustavo, a film major who designs these clothes on the side, works with silk screening. He designs the art that appears on the shirts and creates the clothes, flying completely solo.
“NLIGHTN is apparel that celebrates the power of creativity. We are rooted in all creative lifestyles and forms of art,” he said. If I wasn’t impressed before reaching this third table, I definitely was now. It was difficult for me to leave Gustavo’s table because I wanted to shop. But more jewelry caught my eye as I moved to the fourth table.
This jewelry, however, was like none I’d ever seen. It was crochet jewelry by Aviva Paiste ’14, and it was lovely. My favorite creations of Aviva’s were her crocheted rings in the shape of flowers, in all different colors. I fawned over these for awhile until a fresh, delicious smell reminding me of flower-filled meadows captured my senses and I was lured to the final table where I spoke with Yilih Cai, Xinyi Du ’17 and Kangno Zhang ’17. The tantalizing aroma was from handmade soap. One could choose between a green or white soap in the shape of a daisy or a rose. The smell was too good to pass up, so I bought one of each kind. My purchase came with a complimentary book mark, also handmade, with a beautiful water color design.
“The soaps are made with base and oil and you can even add sand. We make it in the lab. It’s actually pretty simple,” Cai said.
If all the wonderful art work by fellow Brandeisians, so talented and driven, wasn’t enough to captivate your senses, the very last table held hand-sized chocolate chip cookies and a dispenser of lemonade. If you weren’t at the SCC last Friday afternoon, you weren’t in the right place. But don’t worry, we haven’t seen the last of these fabulous designers—at least I hope not.