Blind craftsmen create gifts

Fair raises dollars for supplies
By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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The push for blind craftsmen to finish Christmas tree decorations and other hand-made gift items in time for their annual Craft Fair Fundraiser moves into the final production stages in the next two weeks. The craft fair will enable Dolores Quintero of Rocklin and other legally blind classmates to have art supplies to make crafts for next year’s fair. Quintero started losing her sight 12 years ago due to retinopathy and diabetes, she said. On Tuesday, she was busy stringing some bright green clay frogs on nylon fishing line as one of just 43 wind chimes she’s made this year. Colorful wind chimes cover a wide variety of subjects. There are butterflies, chili peppers, humming birds, chickens, dolphins, fish and apples to name just a few. Other crafts include jewelry, ceramics, baskets, woodcrafts, knitted items, toys and sewn gifts. “I used to paint but can’t any more with my sight going bad,” Quintero said. “I roll out the clay and cut out my pattern. I don’t have vision at all in my left eye and some low vision in my right eye.” She is unable to read, but Quintero can see some bright colors out of her right eye. A Roseville High School graduate, Quintero was raised in Loomis. Before retiring she worked at about every job under the sun. “You name it. I did it,” Quintero said. “I worked in the fields and I packed fruit.” She also handled child care duties. Her last position was as grill chef at the Marriott Courtyard in Roseville. Everything from woven baskets to wind chimes can be purchased at reasonable prices at the fair on Nov. 13 at the Placer Visual Service Center on F Avenue near Bell Road. Eileen Boyce has been teaching crafts classes at the center for two years now. The former English, health and physical education teacher with 30 years of experience in the Elk Grove School District does not miss teaching high school students. “It’s definitely a pleasure working with adults,” Boyce said. “I don’t miss the high school kids at all.” Members of her class must be 18 and over and legally blind to be part of the Placer School for Adults of the Placer Union High School District. Boyce gets help from assistant teacher Jeanne Crum and two volunteers, Kathy Blank and Pauline Conrad. The most rewarding part of the class for Boyce has been learning about the varied pasts of her students. “I’ve enjoyed hearing their life stories and all they’ve overcome to be here today,” Boyce said. Another retired crafts maker, Lew Richards, used to work for animal control in Placer County. In 1979, Richards’ eyesight became so bad he had to give up driving. “I do have some peripheral vision, so I’m not completely blind,” Richards said. “My eyesight got worse due to macular degeneration.” Richards usually makes baskets, he said. There were some very fine examples of his work on display ranging in price from just $3 to $7. Basket weaving can be done more by feel than sight, Boyce said. But Richards was decorating some specially shaped, brick garden angels on Tuesday. “You can set them anywhere out in your yard,” Richards said. Tracy Wood of Auburn, who is legally blind, was a caregiver at private residences all her life before retiring. She enjoys visiting the Placer Visual Service Center twice a week. “It gives me something to do,” Wood said. “I love it here. I can’t watch TV any more, so I just listen.” Wood was painting some wind chimes Tuesday and the chimes do require more than one coat of paint. “And do I miss spots?” Wood said. “Probably.” The newest member of the class, Wood just started in June. Richards pointed out that all the money raised from the Nov. 13 sale goes to purchase crafts supplies for next year. Area residents have the chance to purchase gifts that give twice – once for the visually impaired and again for the gift recipient. _________________________________ Craft Fair Fundraiser Where: Placer Visual Service Center, 11569 F Ave., Auburn When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Nov. 13 Crafts: Jewelry, ceramics, baskets, knit items, baked goods, Christmas gifts and more Raffle: For quilt Benefits: Proceeds go to purchase supplies for Placer School for Adults _______________________