Meet Our Makers: A Profile of Seamstress Rebecca Joy

Meet Rebecca Joy. She grew up on a dairy farm in Connecticut and moved to Fredonia five years ago after marrying village native Andy Joy. The couple met at college and both work for J.M. Joy Farms, which produces brown eggs, chicken, pork, goat meat and live goats for 4-H projects. They also farm grapes, field corn, grains, and vegetables. She has an associate degree in dairy cattle production and management and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business.

Joy works as a program facilitator for the Girl Scouts of Western New York and a grape inspector for Welch’s. Her days and nights are pretty busy: she is also a certified kids’ yoga instructor and an active volunteer and board member of the nonprofit Fredonia Farmers’ Market.

Rebecca Joy’s vibrant, one-of-a-kind handmade flag pennants will be displayed prominently throughout the Williams Center and the Science Center during the Fredonia Mini Maker Faire on the campus of The State University of New York at Fredonia on Saturday, Oct. 22, to help you find your way around the free circus of creativity.

As a child, Joy was very active in her local 4-H and that is where she honed her skills as a seamstress and Maker. She first picked up a needle and thread at 7 years old.

“My first project was an elastic-waist skirt,” she recalls. “It had seashells on it.”

The 4-H projects got more challenging every year.

“I have to thank my mom, both grandmothers and a few 4-H leaders who helped me better my skills,” she says.

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Joy, pictured with her daughter, Myra Rose, is also on the board of the nonprofit Fredonia Farmers’ Market and occasionally hosts kids’ yoga sessions there on a volunteer basis.

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Drake often accompanies his mother and sister to the Fredonia Farmers’ Market.

Her children – Drake and Myra Rose – are her main source of inspiration, followed by the fabrics and supplies she has on hand.

“If I see something online or in a magazine that I like, I usually modify the item into something that I love,” she says. “I rarely use a pattern, but if I do I make the pattern myself 95% of the time. If someone tells me what they are thinking of for the final product, I usually can visualize it and make it happen.”

Joy does some custom-order projects and tailoring by request on the side.

“I’m constantly hemming pants, fixing zippers on jackets and completing orders,” she says. “I’ve patched holes in shirts and I have even fixed a patio umbrella.”

She dabbles in many crafty areas – knitting, crocheting and repurposing among them. Right now she is attempting to quilt two blankets but is finding that quilting isn’t her favorite genre.

The path to learning a new skill and starting challenging products isn’t always easy, and Joy’s advice for burgeoning makers is to keep trying.

“It can be hard,” says Joy. “I cried sometimes when I was younger working on my 4-H projects, but in the end I loved what I had made. I still have times where I want to give up on an order. Instead I put it down for a couple days and then return to it. Sometimes you just need to walk a way to get a fresh perspective. I return to the project after a couple days and – voila – it’s a cinch to finish.”

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One of Joy’s most popular sewn items are her one-of-a-kind patchwork-style skirts. She occasionally vends at the Fredonia Farmers’ Market and takes custom orders.

As her talents and interests have evolved, Joy has found that her creative habits and thriftiness have served to enhance her family and professional life.

“I have become more resourceful,” says Joy. “Right now I am reusing scraps of fabric that I didn’t know what to do with to turn into a rug.”

Joy just attended the Pittsburgh Maker Faire held the weekend of Oct. 15 and says it was a “great experience.”

“I feel that some of the Makers’ crafts are a dying art,” she says. “So educating others and possibly getting them to spark an interest in a new craft is awesome and beneficial to so many.”

Joy is pleased her pennants will be featured throughout the faire although she is unable to participate as a featured Maker due to work commitments – it is grape harvesting season, after all. But she is hoping to stop by to check it out depending on her schedule.

“Duty calls,” laughs Joy. “Grape season is my busiest time but at the very least I’ll be at the Maker Faire in spirit.”

Admirers of Joy’s work are welcome to direct custom design and tailoring inquiries to bizzybee138@hotmail.com.

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Joy and Myra Rose at a recent meeting of the board of directors of the Fredonia Farmers’ Market.

 

MEET OUR MAKERS: A profile of screen-printer Carrie Rinehart of Rusterior Design

Meet Carrie Rinehart. The Forestville resident is the director of fund development and communication for CASA of Chautauqua, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children in foster care. But Rinehart is also the proprietor of Rusterior Design, a successful screen-printing apparel and décor shop. She grew up in a family of Makers and was always surrounded by creativity.

“I was always singing and dancing and doodling as a child,” recalls Rinehart. “But I never considered myself an artist because I couldn’t draw or paint.”

She never had any sort of official, professional training but she dabbled in a lot of creative pursuits in her youth – sewing, photography and printing. But it wasn’t until she was an adult that she considered herself an artist.

“I started sewing scarves and accessories as gifts,” says Rinehart, and her friends and family “went nuts.” So she listed some for sale on Etsy.com and sales were promising.

“Then one day I sewed a silhouette of a buffalo on a tank top and began vending at farmers’ markets and my business really took off from there,” she says of one of Rusterior Designs’ most popular products. Other hot Rusterior Design items include T-shirts and onesies for kids that say “Wild Roamer” in the outline of a buffalo, and a sweater that says “Stay Cool Buffalo.” Besides adult and children’s apparel, the company also offers shopping totes, coasters and décor.

The resurgence of pride in and love for Buffalo was on Rinehart’s side as Western New York is seeing an uptick in homebuyers and population. People are prouder than ever of their Buffalo connections and are eager to don apparel proclaiming their hometown affection.

So Rinehart, who has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from The State University of New York at Fredonia, began focusing on building her brand.

“So I took a very down-and-dirty screen-printing basics class in Buffalo and I fell in love with screen-printing,” says Rinehart, who has been screen-printing for about three years and is more enamored with it every day. “I love how simple-yet-complex it is and how you have the ability to create something so detailed and unique since every print will always have a slight variation.”

Rinehart built her simple screen-printing set-up out of an old door.

“I didn’t want to invest a whole lot of money and I still use that same press today,” she says. “Sure, now I can afford a fancy press, but I love my rustic press.”

Rinehart’s creativity extends to all aspects of her life. Less than a year ago she and her wife founded a small hobby farm at their residence called Off the Rine. She purchased and is in the process of renovating a 1973 Air Stream Ambassador named “Carole” to become a mobile retail/farm store which they plan to open in Spring 2017.

Rinehart is happily married to the love of her life. “Amber is my anchor every day,” says Rinehart. “I really couldn’t do what I do without her.”

Amber teaches film and communications at Erie County Community College. She has a master’s degree in documentary film-making. The couple also recently adopted three children from foster care and couldn’t be happier.

“Our kids are my inspiration to be better every single day,” Rinehart says. “I hope they will look back and see me as a hardworking role model and hopefully one of them takes over the family business.”

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Carrie Rinehart, far right, with her wife Amber Rinehart, left, and their three adorable children live at Off the Rine, a farm in Forestville.

Rinehart is excited to be a featured Maker at the first Fredonia Mini Maker Faire and hopes it becomes an annual event. Attendees can meet Rinehart at the Fredonia Mini Maker Faire on Oct. 22, admire her screen-printing process and even try their hand at it. She made a special #makersgonnamake print especially for the faire. Those interested are encouraged to bring a T-shirt, tote or other item they’d like to screen-print.

“I have high hopes for the Maker Movement in Chautauqua,” says Rinehart. “The encouragement to be creative, to get your hands dirty and produce something yourself is so important in this day and age. Imagination is a beautiful thing and it’s great to make something yourself, hold it in your hands, show it off and say ‘I made it.’ ”

You can see more of her designs at her Etsy shop, like her Facebook page and learn more at the Rusterior Design website.

Get a glimpse of where our Mini Maker Faire is happening on Fredonia campus

Our small team of organizers and producers is working feverishly to prepare for the first Fredonia Mini Maker Faire on the campus of The State University of New York at Fredonia on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.

We want to take a moment to share with you some images of the buildings on campus where the bulk of Maker Faire activities, displays and demonstrations will take place.

The event is happening in two spaces – the new, state-of-the-art, award-winning Science Center as well as the Williams Center – with a bevy of food trucks parked in between the two buildings. Additionally, we will have Makers, displays, demonstrations and performers scattered between the buildings and on the lawns and common areas around the heart of the beautiful campus.

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The new Science Center is as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. The TeaRex Cafe is a popular spot to pause for a bubble tea and other refreshments.

 

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The Williams Center will host a variety of Makers and make-and-take activities as well. There is a Tim  Hortons in the building where attendees can purchase food and drinks.

 

In addition to the food trucks onsite, there is also a newly refurbished Starbucks at Cranston Hall.

There is ample free parking on campus on Ring Road and in various lots scattered across campus.

 

 

MEET OUR MAKERS: A Profile of Woodworker Doug Mellors

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“As a kid, there was no skill that my brother and I wanted to learn that was off limits,” says Westfield resident Doug Mellors.

Editor’s Note: For the past few months, the organizers of the upcoming Fredonia Mini Maker Faire have been gathering with Makers from across the greater Chautauqua County region to plan the inaugural event slated Oct. 22 on the campus of The State University of New York at Fredonia. Makers are of all ages and represent a diverse range of talents that they want to share in the circus of creativity that drives the Maker Movement.

 

WESTFIELD – Meet Doug Mellors. He is a woodworker from Westfield who makes and sells home décor items fashioned out of reclaimed lumber. He also shares videos of his process on You Tube and Instagram and hails from a long line of Makers. He makes his own soap, grinds his own wheat and occasionally helps out on the family farm in Ripley, where his uncle still works and tends to grape fields and an acre of cold-tolerant loofah. That’s right – the ubiquitous bath item grown overwhelmingly in hot climates. By day, or by night, actually, as the schedule determines, Mellors works in community-based psychiatric assistance in Chautauqua County.

“It’s third shift and lets me do what I love,” he said, noting that traumatic brain injury is his specialty. “It was my passion.”

For several years, the 1996 graduate of Westfield Academy and Central School worked in Maryland, before a cancer diagnosis compelled him to return to Western New York in 2006. Before long, he was re-immersed in woodworking, a hobby he and his brother long enjoyed thanks to their father’s influence.

“Every healthcare worker can only work so many hours,” said Mellors. “When the power tools are on it kind of drowns out all the background noise. There’s not much else going on in my brain and it lets you zone out. It’s just you, a piece of wood and a tool. The other day I had six hours of serenity and sanding. It’s just that peaceful Zen time.”

About a year ago, Mellors advanced to a CNC machine, otherwise known as a Computer Numeric Control machine. It’s an automated device that can incorporate several different tools to manufacture a design.

“If you can dream it up and get it on your computer screen,” said Mellors, “It’s just a matter of carving it after that.” His CNC machine is a Shapeoko 3, which comes in a kit. Mellors assembled it himself, in the process gaining a new understanding of how it functions and the confidence to fix any problems that arise.

“Coming from the medical field, I’ve never worked on motors or engines or had that opportunity to know that intimately how that machine works,” he said. “I now have a whole new confidence in transferring those building skills to other things.”

Mellors uses rough-cut Amish and reclaimed lumber for his projects, which range from ring holders to plaques to wine racks and beyond. He and his dog, Jamie, work as a team, with his four-legged friend appearing in several online videos. (When asked what kind of dog, Mellors wryly replied “a white, furry one.”) His top seller on Etsy is something he calls the Garden Harvest Basket. They are made of all reclaimed materials.

“I did about 50 of those the first year and I sold them all. It was just a real simple project,” he said. “We had torn down a fence and had all these old wooden white picket slats leftover.”

Mellors started selling on Etsy because he ran out of people to give his creations to, because no one would take them anymore.

“My parents would lock the door if they saw me walking up their driveway with wood,” he said.

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Mellors shows off the contents in the trunk of his car. He always has slabs of wood and some tools on hand.

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A FAMILY OF MAKERS

As children, Mellors and his brother were encouraged to work with hand tools, power tools – whatever they wanted.

“As a kid, there was no skill that my brother and I wanted to learn that was off limits,” said Mellors. “My mom is an amazing crafter, knitter. She makes her own dyes out of plants. And my dad just makes stuff he needs. He is an old-school, true Maker who grew up on a farm. He makes what he needs and he’s happy with it.”

In the Mellors household, there was no such thing as a “boy skill or girl skill.”

“I was so lucky that my dad taught me farming skills,” said Mellors. “But my mom was a graphic artist so I just thought everybody knew how to do graphic artwork. She was so old-school that she had the first Mac II and the first green-screen Macs in her office. She worked at Belknap, once upon a time a huge printing company in Westfield. She went from using an Exacto knife up to the modern-day printing.”

The CNC machine makes most of Mellors’ designs and he has been making stamps – or block printing pieces – for her on it.

“I grew up with all these great, amazing skills,” said Mellors. “From just weird, random stuff that I’ve had the experience to work with.”

 

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Some of Mellors’ creations include decorative plaques, ring holders and his signature Garden Market Basket, which has proved a big seller on his Etsy site.

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You can watch Mellors make this piece on his You Tube channel.

 

THE LOCAL MAKER MOVEMENT

Mellors found out about the Fredonia Mini Maker Faire and the larger Maker Movement emerging in the Chautauqua County region the old-fashioned way.

“My mom told me,” laughed Mellors. “She said ‘Oh my gosh, have you seen this? You should go to this!’ She told me months ago and I thought ‘I’ll watch and see what happens.’ I’ve been following the worldwide Maker Movement for years and wanted to see if there was actually any steam to this local thing. She kept sending me links and eventually I thought ‘OK, I’ll go to a meeting.’ ”

Now his only regret is that it took him a couple months to finally attend a Maker Meetup and eagerly awaits future Maker events. Mellors says he loved that initial exposure to the Maker community so much that he attended a second Meetup. He has especially enjoyed striking up conversations with fellow Makers.

“I met a guy there – a teacher – and he said he invites people who’ve never touched a power tool before and he lets them do things for the first time and gets those tools in their hands,” said Mellors. “I’ve met some really cool people and you talk to Makers from different areas. I’d like to get all the Makers together and pick a project and spearhead it.”

INSPIRING YOUNG MAKERS

Mellors occasionally works with students and homeschooling families on a casual, unofficial basis. He also has a learning disability and can relate when children struggle academically.

“I’m dyslexic, so reading is painful,” said Mellors. “A lot of the parents want to show their kids that math matters. They wonder ‘Why am I ever gonna have to know algebra? How do I measure a 90-degree triangle?’ And I say ‘Well, let’s build a cabinet or a memory box for you.’ Then I show them how to apply these math skills to simple, everyday stuff and woodworking.”

Safety is of the utmost importance to Mellors.

“As a healthcare worker I’ve worked with people with all these brain injuries,” said Mellors. “Whenever I teach kids to use tools I tell them ‘at the end of the day I can give you another piece of wood, but I can’t sew your finger on.’ We’ll back up a step and take it again and I tell them ‘if there’s tools you don’t want to use, you don’t have to use them.’ ”

He also isn’t embarrassed when a project doesn’t work out as planned. In fact, he flaunts his success as well as his failures on his You Tube channel.

“I’m very proud of my fail videos,” said Mellors. “I put up blown-up projects on Instagram all the time. It happens – don’t get discouraged. You have to expect the saw to kick back or the wood to crack right down the middle in the middle of a project.”

He recently helped a local family build raised-bed gardens, teaching them how to use what tools they have at their house to accomplish the task. The skills will help with problem-solving and encourage them to transfer skills from one project to another.

Mellors focuses on imparting simple skills – learning the grains of the woods and how the density affects the speed of the process – before putting a piece of wood in the lathe.

“Those are just things you learn from doing every project I’ve ever done,” said Mellors “I’ve only had the CNC for nine months and I’ve done a lot of learning and some cool projects. But if I hadn’t been doing woodworking for so long my learning curve would be so much more painful. There’s a lot I wouldn’t know, like if you don’t have a perfectly dead flat surface your piece looks weird.”

Does making things come naturally to Mellors?

“I just think it’s easier for some people – everyone learns differently,” he said. “I learn by seeing and doing.”

You can meet Mellors, check out his work, learn some more about woodworking and perhaps discover a new creative outlet at the inaugural Fredonia Mini Maker Faire in October. You can also find Mellors on Instagram, Etsy  and watch him on You Tube.

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Mellors discusses his work at a Maker Meetup in July at the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES LoGuidice Educational Center. He made some new friends, too. 

 

MAKING IT HAPPEN

The inaugural Fredonia Mini Maker Faire, which is free and open to the public, is slated Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Fredonia campus.

The event is a collaboration of Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, MAKE magazine and Fredonia along with the generous support of the Chautauqua County Region Community Foundation, the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Library System, Lumsden McCormick LLC, Kensington tech supply, Dell and the Phyllis and Lawrence Patrie Endowment for the Sciences.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for this exciting event. Direct inquiries to Public Information Officer/Grants Administrator Jen Osborne-Coy at 672-4371, ext. 2135 or josborne-coy@e2ccb.org.