Mathers plays host to after-hours crafting event


John Boshears and Charlotte Boshears make pop-up holiday cards during "Craftapalzza" on Thursday evening at the Mathers Museum. Yulin Yu and Yulin Yu

During this semester, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures began a series of after-hours events geared toward welcoming students to the museum after closing time.

On Thursday evening, “Craftapalooza,” a craft night for an intimate group of students and staff, took place at the museum. They were able to make their own hand warmers from fleece, pop-up cards and a few other small crafts.

Michael Rice, junior practicum student at Mathers this semester, worked his way around the tables throughout the night. He said events like these help him consider where he may want to go with a career in museums in the future.

“It’s really helped me understand what I want to do further in museum work,” Rice said. “I’m still kind of stuck between if I more enjoy on the collections side or the education side of museum work. Doing all these events is really helping me understand it.”

Rice, who is in his first semester as a practicum student, said he is currently working on cataloguing and will continue on next semester with collections management, though both jobs have overlapped this semester.

Rice studies anthropology and folklore at IU and said he thinks these events help spread the word about the museum.

“It helps bring an audience to the museum and get attention with public outreach,” Rice said.

Jenett Tillotson, one of the founding members of Bloominglabs, a maker space in town, brought a combination of simple and more complex pop-up cards for attendees to 

Bloominglabs began in 2010 and has grown to a collective of about 45-50 members, Tillotson said. The goals are an emphasis on making, which Tillotson said also foster a greater understanding of relics of the past and present.

“For me, making is a way to get in touch with the artifacts in our lives,” Tillotson said. “The more I know about the things around me and how they work, the more I can fix them or, the more when I need one, I can find local ways — it’s a sustainability thing.”

Tillotson worked on various cards and a few candle holders covered in brightly colored Epsom salt throughout the night.

“People should learn how to make so there are more resources,” Tillotson said. “Instead of just consuming, people just buying stuff then, when something is wrong with it, just chucking it and buying a new one, I think, might as well modify it, or come to our maker space and we’ll modify it.”

Sarah Hatcher, head of programs and education at the museum, said it’s hard to believe the year has come to an end.

The events the museum has had throughout the year have both associated with and grown from the exhibitions at the museum, though this event in particular stems largely from the maker movement Tillotson is a part of.

“We try and focus on culturally relevant crafts, when they connect to exhibits that’s even better,” Hatcher said. “We have such a wonderful collection that it’s really easy to draw inspiration from things in the building. We also enjoy taking inspiration from the maker movement and kind of doing things with very basic materials.”

Crafting opens the mind to the possibility of relaxation and creative thought as they allow the brain to operate in a slightly different manner, Hatcher said.

The last event at Mathers this semester will be the Winterfest family craft event 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. From there, Hatcher said the museum staff will work through the break on exhibitions and programming for the upcoming semester.

“It’s really important to be able to get in there and know how things are made,” Hatcher said. “There’s something to be said about doing things with your hands that allows your brain to work in different ways. Sometimes, even very simple repetitive things, distract you enough from the everyday that it allows some creative juices to get flowing.”

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