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March 7th, 2023

Feature: Jessica Ren

Recently, I got to talk to my best friend from elementary school, Jessica. In fact, today is her birthday! I've known her for nearly a decade, and she moved from Austin to New York in fifth grade where she now resides. She loves crafts just like me, and I was lucky to be able to interview her about her experience with crafting.

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself.

A: My name's Jessica and I'm part of the class of 2026! I currently live in New York but I went to Laurel Mountain Elementary School when I was younger. I really enjoy drawing, reading and a while ago I also started figure skating!

Q: What do you make, and what do you enjoy making the most?

A: I make a lot of rainbow loom bracelets, usually bracelets with cute beads or charms. My younger brother George does a lot of origami and i often find myself folding things with him as well! Recently, I discovered something cool called ''flashers,'' which are origami spiral patterns that you can stretch by pulling the ends and sort of unraveling the spiral. Here is a picture.

Q: What do you enjoy most about creating things?

A: I enjoy the creativity that you get, as well as discovering how many different patterns you can make with just rubber bands or paper! It's a great stress reliever because it's often very mindless and you can do things such as watch TV or listen to music while crafting. Doing arts & crafts is one of the things that helped me realize that you don’t have to be good at your hobbies to enjoy them, as long as you're having fun! It's been great for my mental health and is so much better than going on social media, even if I'm multitasking while doing it. I also love making things for others, notably my younger cousin. It gives me so much satisfaction and happiness to see others enjoy my work!

Q: When and why did you start crafting? Why did you continue?

A: I've always loved art, but I really got into crafting during COVID. My brother had nothing to do and spent a lot of time on YouTube, where he discovered origami and got ridiculously good at it, so I followed. In April of 2021, my younger cousin was born and I found an old rainbow loom set lying around in my drawer that I wasn't using and decided to make jewelry for her. I decided to keep going because I loved how exciting it is to really precisely weave through layers of bands with my fingers, or delicately fold the paper in ways I've never thought of before, and anxiously anticipate the results of my new creation. It's always so fun to feel accomplished after making something new that I like

Q: Do you have inspiration for your work? Is there anything you'd like to tell someone looking to do what you're doing?

A: I mostly just look for tutorials online, but occasionally I get inspired by objects in my surroundings such as anything in nature, the seasons, or the vibe of a place I like to be. I sometimes use online generators to pick color palettes as well, or take inspiration from the people I love, especially their fashion! In terms of advice, for rainbow loom, if you're weaving on your hands, don't leave the bands there for too long or you'll have swollen sausage fingers like King Charles! More importantly, your work doesn't have to be perfect: it's more important that you enjoy what you're doing and have patience with yourself.

Thank you Jessica!