Craft Making Meets Science At Artisan Guild Market
What does craft making and science have in common? Quite a bit if made by members of the UCSF community.
After four years on hiatus, Artisan Guild by the Bay held its first winter handmade market on Dec. 6 at Mission Bay Genentech Hall Atrium. An assortment of jewelry, ceramics, art prints, handcrafted journals, stickers, knitted gifts, and more were up for sale, all of which were handmade by current UCSF students, staff and alumnus.
Asa Kalish, a graduate student in the Biophysics program, participated in the market to showcase a solid portfolio of ceramic vases, bowls and ornaments.
Kalish said this hobby that they “randomly” picked up came in handy later in their academic career.
“When graduate school happened, I started doing it more because I was so stressed. And it really helps!” they said.
To Kalish, who comes from a physical science background, pottery is not only a creative outlet, but also a curiosity-driven endeavor to understand what matter is and how to work with it.
“A lot of thermodynamics was inspired by pottery and engineering, and [pottery] itself is combustion,” they said. “For example, this glaze expanded less quickly than the clay, so it cracked. The patterning comes from chemistry.
“I can see this bowl and touch it, but I also know that the features I am seeing are determined by microscopic details and events. So, it’s like mystery, but also engineering, I think the combination is just really fun.”
Kalish added they were thrilled that tabling — which could cost up to $200 at other fairs — was free at the Winter Handmade Market.
The Artisan Guild by the Bay was founded in 2008 by Kathryn Jackson, retired academic program manager at the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Cindy Cheng, Communication & Events Manager, Radiology, SOM.
Brandee Wolseslagle Blank, academic program manager at the department of Social and Behavioral Science, has been an event organizer with the guild since 2011. The group began by holding biannual events at Laurel Heights, where Wolseslagle Blank worked for about 14 years.
The reason Kalish and others can get a display table for free is that the event is subsidized.
“We get a small grant from Campus Life Services, which hopefully covers facilities for twice a year,” Wolseslagle Blank said.
When the Laurel Heights building was decommissioned in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic soon followed, the guild went on hiatus.
When Madison Seto, a third-year graduate student in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology program, heard that the Winter Handmade Market was returning, she emailed Wolseslagle Blank and managed to get a table.
Seto’s booth was filled with hand-drawn designed stickers, postcards, washi tape and post-its, many of them healthcare and science-themed.
It is not Seto’s first time selling her crafts.
“My business turned five this year, actually,” she said, referring to her online shop, which features handmade stationery items.
Seto began craft making as an undergraduate student involved in summer research.
“Because I went to a small school, and even less people stayed during the summer to do research, I was kind of bored in my off time and needed a hobby,” she said.
Seto said there are parallels between science and craft making when it comes to working with her hands — and occasionally artisan work can be more satisfying than lab work.
“Sometimes in science I can’t control if things work or don’t work, but at least here, I can doodle something, and I’ll have something at the end of that session, so it’s kind of nice when lab work gets stuck,” she said.
Wolseslagle Blank’s own table was a potpourri of different crafts, including earrings, necklaces, notebooks and paperweights.
“I have ‘crafting ADD’ – I jump around a lot. Right now, I’m kind of into paper-crafting, so I’ve got some junk journals here, I’ve done a little bit of watercolor, and I’ve been working many years on polymer clay,” she said.
As for Jackson, she uses beads, silver and copper findings to make jewelry and beaded pens.
“I also made the shadow boxes and ornaments as well. So that’s a new thing in retirement because I have more time,” she chuckled.
Wolseslagle Blank hopes to bring back the Artisan Guild by the Bay’s Handmade Markets twice-a-year pace. She encourages any interested UCSF affiliate to check out their website for more information about the guild or join as a member.
“As long as you’re part of the UCSF community – it could be past or present, student, faculty, staff, alum – you’re welcome to join the guild,” she said.
The next Handmade Market will likely be held on May 8, and more information will be posted on the site.