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Seniors' handy work displayed at craft fair
Posted March 29, 2006

Andres Rivera
Web Editor

While the Youth Activity Center at Cahuilla Park in Claremont held a gathering of teens with a DJ and barbeque, Taylor Hall housed seniors who displayed their handmade crafts at the city’s first Spring Boutique Senior Arts and Crafts Faire. 

The Boutique, held Friday and Saturday, provided community members a chance to see what seniors can do by buying arts and crafts, and participating in various demonstrations and workshops.

“There is a committee of volunteers that wanted to make this happen. The [senior programs] staff worked with the committee,” said Melissa Vollaro, senior programs supervisor.

In one of the community’s senior centers, there is a display of crafts done by seniors for sale.  The Claremont Committee on Aging, a volunteer group of seniors, wanted to showcase their talents on a larger scale.

“We wanted to make it aware that there are seniors that have talent in the community and show that we’re not dead yet,” said Chris Ulrich, chair of the committee on aging.

The hall had rows of tables where vendors exhibited their items ranging from crochet blankets and potholders to Egyptian treasures. On one side, there was a display of watercolor prints and cards. Next to the watercolor, there was a display of woodwork, treasure from King Tut, custom pens, crochet blankets and framed photography.

In the right corner, H.R. Gil Gilbert and his wife set up their booth with stone jewelry and Kachina dolls from their Broken Branch Collection. Gilbert bought the Kachina dolls from the American Indians, placed decorative stone in the background and framed it. He also sold jewelry made from stones found in Hector Mine, Calif. and elsewhere with a silver setting.

In the far left corner, the Yuan Chinese Brush Painting Association displayed their collection of brush painting work.  Their booth had a variety of items ranging from greeting cards to bookmarks to decorative paper boxes and origami.

“We’ve been having workshops over a period of time,” said Stevie Frankly, brush painting association treasurer.

Near the entrance of the hall, Mary Kitayama, senior programs coordinator, sat selling opportunity tickets – a raffle which would award ticket holders one of the many items donated from each vendor at the Boutique.

The hall was rarely empty as small groups of people browsed through the booths during the early hours of the boutique.

“I think it’s marvelous. It shows how creative people can be,” said Arlene Britt, member of the brush painting association and vendor at the Boutique.

Potential customers were more interested in how the items were made rather than how much they cost at times.

“It inspires people who might not think of trying something,” Frankly said.

Frankly was correct in thinking that the Boutique would inspire some people.

"It’s interesting. There’s a lot of crafts; there could be more,” said Odessa Kelly, Claremont resident. “I may participate next time.”

If the Boutique was as successful as the committee on aging hoped, this event might be held again. The senior program currently organizes the “Celebration of Older Artists: Ageless Expression” every other year, where senior artist are able to showcase their artwork. The Boutique may take its place during the years when the Celebration is not held.

Andres Rivera can be reached at