WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Arts Council hosted its annual Holiday Boutique on Dec. 15 and 16, bringing handmade gifts to Valley Road for residents to browse. Eleven crafters from in and around West Orange, including WOAC members, presented their knitted hats and scarves, artwork and photography at the West Orange Arts Center.
Prior to the boutique, the WOAC had put out a call to crafters in the area, asking for handmade items. WOAC Chairwoman Patricia Mitrano said that some crafters had to be turned away because their work didn’t fit the criteria.
“It’s a fundraiser that goes back to the Arts Council,” she said in an interview with the West Orange Chronicle at the event on Dec. 15. “The New Jersey State Council on the Arts is following us now, so that definitely helped get the word out.”
Carol Black-Lemon, WOAC marketing chairwoman and organizer of the event, said the council has found that handmade gifts are popular.
“I think people appreciate that it’s handmade,” she said in an interview with the Chronicle at the event on Dec. 15. “And the artist is here. A lot of people are from West Orange as well.”
Josie Dakers, of Maplewood, makes quilts, bags and blankets out of fiber fabric.
“Usually I get a ring of wool and work from the fiber,” Dakers said in an interview with the Chronicle at the event on Dec. 15. “I’ll run it under soap and water to soften it. Some of them take a couple of hours and others take about a day and a half to make. The majority of it is made of felt and wool.”
Monick David, who lives in Montclair, embroiders textiles. She often finds a way to use material that has come from something else.
“Some came from a sweater that was unraveling,” she said in an interview with the Chronicle at the event on Dec. 15. “I look for things that can be repurposed or recycled. It’s another way to support the ecosystem.”
Laura Kamala crochets, and she said in an interview with the Chronicle on Dec. 15 that she learned the craft from her mother and grandmother. She had about a year’s worth of hats, gloves, scarves and blankets available at the WOAC.
“It’s time consuming, but I’m addicted to it so I don’t mind,” Kamala joked.
Another WOAC board member, Jan Carden, also had a table of handmade items at the boutique. She designs decorations with flowers, shells and craft supplies. Some are vintage items, like an English school spelling book, that she turns into art pieces.
“It depends on what it is, but usually it takes about a couple of hours to a day,” Carden said in an interview with the Chronicle at the event on Dec. 15.
Other artists at the boutique included Ann Vollum, Jolanta Michalska, West Orange High School student Aaliyah Kamalei, Charlotte Wescott and WOAC board member Amelia Panico.
Photos by Amanda Valentovic