Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 11, 2023

Spring Fair artists bring handcrafted goods to JHU

By NATALIE BERKMAN | May 23, 2008

Every year Spring Fair transforms Hopkins into a cultural hub for three days. Restaurants come from far and wide to set up booths on the Freshman Quad. Over the weekend, many varieties of food ranging from Thai to Greek to funnel cakes and fried Oreos were available.

If the sheer quantities of junk food didn't induce nausea, there were also rides by the Mattin Center that weren't just for the kids.

The Keyser Quad became a place for artists and craftsmen to sell their works to students and Baltimoreans. Like the food, these stands had something for everyone.

There were toys for the kids, and candles, clothes, bags, jewelry and more for everyone else. It was easy to tell from the variety of goods at Spring Fair that it is a well-publicized event that draws many different kinds of people.

"We've been coming here for seven years," said vendor Joseph Bound, who sells amber jewelry at the Fair with his brother. "Another vendor told us about [Spring Fair]."

For them, it's a family business, and they have found that Spring Fair patrons are very interested in their unique products.

"University towns are very responsive. We find that there's a correlation between education and the appreciation of amber." They were just one of the many artists manning jewelry stands in front of Gilman.

For the Bounds, the selling of amber is a family business, but for others, these fairs are for fun and for making a little extra cash.

Sophomore Krista Rieckert is pre-med and majoring in history of science and technology, but making jewelry is a hobby for her.

"I haven't done any work at my desk this semester because it's just covered with beads!" she said. This was her first year selling her wares at Spring Fair, but she is definitely interested in coming again next year. "It's pretty awesome," Rieckert said. "My friends have been helping me sell stuff. All the other craftspeople are really nice, too."

Many of the vendors were quite impressed by the Homewood campus. "This is my first time here," said Victoria Lynn, who sells her homemade Bling Bags, which are made out of clothes. "The campus is beautiful. It's very impressive. I started with the purses and kept improving on them. It keeps evolving. I'll just think one day that I can make backpacks out of baby overalls!"

For Lynn, however, Hopkins hasn't been a great place for business. "[The students] have been looking, but I don't think they have any money. They've been nice, though." At her stand, Lynn also sold some jewelry for a friend and fellow artist. "She's at another show. She makes the jewelry, and we help each other."

Another vendor, Johnsy Gonsoles, echoed Lynn's sentiments about setting up shop at Hopkins. "This place is very nice," he said. "The show is fun, too."

Gonsoles is originally from Ecuador, but he moved to the United States 10 years ago. He owns a shop that sells homemade toys and instruments.

"I play everything I make," he said. "I make the music with my brother."

He's good at what he does too, as any passerby at the Fair last weekend could tell. Throughout the Fair, Gonsoles played one of his homemade flutes to accompany the music of CDs, and the music was very relaxing. The CDs he and his brother make were also up for sale, as were their hand-crafted and hand-painted flutes, which were truly beautiful.

Other vendors offered painted products as well. "We actually do all the hand paintings, and my mother got the idea from a friend of hers who she met at another craft show," said vendor Shane Hostetter, who was manning the booth for Pat's Crystal Nail Files. He and his mother found out about Spring Fair through a craft show book, and he seemed to be happy with his experience at Hopkins.

"I think I've had a lot of inquiries. One girl was here three times and bought all three times!" Hostetter said.

In addition to jewelry, bags and toys, there were myriad other homemade goods for sale. One artist sold paintings, another man sold roasted nuts (and gave out free samples!), and there were people selling incense and candles, too.

One of them was Oliver Wilson, whose candles were certainly interesting. They come in a variety of scents and are made in beer bottles.

"It was my friend's idea," Wilson said. "I just help him make them. We've worked at bars for a while, so there's got to be something to do with it." Wilson also said that Hopkins students really liked the candles.

Students and community members were lucky with Spring Fair this year. Apparently, it usually rains.

"At least one day every year, we were closed," Bound said. "Except this year." The vendors generally agreed that their success here is weather-dependent and that this year, they were lucky.

So, if you bought them, put your jewelry, instruments, nail files and beer candles to good use, and if not, there's always next year!

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