Anteaters Get Crafty: DIY Club

TIGER SOUVANNAKOUMANE/New University Intern

On a Tuesday night in Social Ecology II room 1306, there are nimble fingers moving. These fingers are not busy calculating math problems, nor are they busy writing essays – they are in the midst of knitting. Huddled in a large circle, the murmurs of the students can be heard, but all stay focused on creating a delicate rectangular piece. This room has become the home of members of the DIY Craft and Art Club, and knitting is just one of the projects brought to campus by the organization. The DIY Craft and Art Club, which was started in the summer of 2009, promotes self-expression and has grown over the last year.

DIY was started by Tiger Souvannakoumane, a third-year studio art major, Melissa Maldonado, a third-year computer science major and Hannah Hirsekorn, a former UCI student. As they entered their second year of college, the three couldn’t find a club that fit their interest in craft making. There was no club focused on the promotion of art, so the three decided to meet over the summer to discuss the possibility of creating an organization focused on arts and crafts.

In September of 2009, DIY had their first meeting; Souvannakoumane and Hirsekorn led the organization as co-presidents and Maldonado became secretary.
One of the first projects the club organized was the making of fabric dolls, otherwise known as “ugly dolls.” The dolls, a mix of colorful fabric and a variety of beads and buttons, are sewn with whatever materials are available.

“We wanted to provide a space for students to relax and make crafts,” said Souvannakounmane, who continues to serve as president this year. “Our goal is to help people appreciate handmade items. People tend to appreciate things more when they’re handmade.”

Since its first year, the organization has expanded its craft repertoire and multiplied in the number of members. The growth of interest in DIY has led to an increase in the number of projects, many of which have a green living-focus such as laptop cases made from recycled sweater material and lanterns made from recycled containers. The projects, done on a biweekly basis, are planned by the board and led by Alex Burdert, a second-year art history major who serves as the organization’s Ideas Coordinator.

Burdert, whose first project with DIY was friendship bracelets, gets his inspiration from websites like Tumblr and Etsy. A lover of arts and crafts who used to build toy homes out of cardboard boxes as a child, Burdert is the brains behind many of the crafts made from recycled materials. He wants to pursue projects like lamps made from reusable items, and has already incorporated projects such as origami and holiday card making. For Burdert, DIY is a place to go to relax and let everything go.

“I love that DIY is big, but it’s nice that we still have our regular members who come every week,” Burdert said. “I would love it to continue expanding but to keep the space for creation and expression.”

In order to continue the intimate atmosphere of DIY, the organization created a mentorship program within the club. The program, known as Partners in Crime has allowed DIY members to team up and interact with one another outside of craft nights. Members are paired up based on shared interest and they are given missions to complete. Santosh Gupta, a masters student in mechanical engineering, joined the club when it first started and has since become one of the mentors involved in Partners in Crime.

“DIY is awesome, I love the people and the club,” Gupta said. “I love the activities they do. We even made our own pasta one time with a chef from LA who brought in ingredients to show us how to make dough.”

Apart from providing a space for students to create art and to further develop their interests, the DIY club also participates in outside events such as Wayzgoose and Urban Arts Fest where they sell the items that are created. DIY meets even week Tuesdays at 6 p.m.