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Local coffeehouse welcomes local arts and crafts vendors

Hidden Grounds welcomed students and locals alike last night to show off New Brunswick talent at their first arts and crafts fair. 

The coffee house, nestled underneath a building on the corner of Easton Avenue and Mine Street, was packed with interested buyers looking at crafts ranging from art prints to coffee-inspired watches. 

Mary Kate Riechs, a barista at the café, said she asked the owner for permission to hold the fair with a variety of artists she knows and other vendors. She owns Rad Cat Shop, an online clothing store that offers vintage clothing and handmade accessories. 

“This is the first time we’re selling these clothes in person,” said Riechs, who graduated last May. 

Hidden Grounds is known for featuring creative events, like concerts, film screenings and workshops, she said. 

“People feel secure and welcome here, it brings in talkative, friendly, nice people ... and fosters a creative environment,” she said. 

One of her friends at the fair was Alyssa Rorke, a Rutgers alumna, who distributes “zines” — small, often handmade magazines produced by individuals or small groups. She said she was inspired to get into the business after touring with a friend’s band and attending a zine fest. 

She produces a zine called Letters from Bummer Camp, but the other zines at the table varied in topic, from creative writing and self-help to musicians sharing the latest information about their work. 

Zines have an interesting intersection with blogs in the online era, she said. 

“I feel like zines and blogs go hand in hand,” she said. “There’s a distinct difference between them. You would use blogs for some things and zines for others.”

Bree Guell, owner of Bree Luvs Munny, was another artist who was captured by her craft. On impulse, she bought a Do It Yourself Munny, a small figurine made from vinyl, and began to make miniature copies of pop culture icons. 

She became engrossed in the project, and now makes them both from her own inspiration and on commission from others. The figurines on her table ranged from Albert Einstein to Doctor Who. 

“As I practiced and honed my craft, I realized I could actually say I’m sculpting now,” she said. 

She frequently recycles small objects to use in her projects. In her sculpture of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, she used her grandmother’s old pendent as a lobster. Some of the hair on her figurines comes from her old dolls. 

“I save everything,” she said. “I have thousands of drawers of tiny things.”

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