“I’m just a girl from Africa who loves to make things,” said Katie ’23, who was raised in Mozambique by missionary parents from the U.S. and Sweden.
The engineering technologies and applied design (ETAD) major and studio art minor grew up watching street vendors make craft goods out of wood, stone, beads, metal and even things like potato chip bags and candy wrappers.
“They would make beautiful things, so I grew to appreciate the value in everything—that there’s always something that can be done with [the material],” Katie said.
Her mother also made things. In Mozambique, there was no Walmart or next-day delivery service, so household items had to be created from local materials.
“If we needed couch cushions, she would just make them,” Katie said. “She would buy fabrics and stuff them herself.”
It was only natural, when Katie came to Berea, she was assigned to Woodcraft for her labor position, where she could make things. Like all first-year students in the department, she began by sanding the wood used to make Berea College Student Craft products. Over time, Katie worked her way up to student manager. Now she’s in charge of making dustpans.
“I didn’t really expect to stay [in Student Craft] all four years, but I really, really enjoyed it,” she said.
The dustpans are made from cherry wood. They begin as 8- to 10-foot boards that are cut down into sections. They are then sawed down to about three-eighths of an inch thick and then sanded down. Once they are cut, the back portion of the dustpans are then boiled in a copper pot so they can be bent into shape. When the dustpan is formed, it is paired with a broom from Broomcraft. In all, it takes two or three days to make one dustpan, and each is unique because it is handmade.
“The best part to me is getting to make things with your hands,” Katie admits. “It’s a great break from the academic day of using your brain and thinking all day, to be able to come in and have this set task that you do in a set way. And then at the end of the day, you have a product, and you can say, ‘Well, I made something today.’”
Katie works 15 hours a week in addition to her academic requirements and has an incredible vision for her future.
“My dream is that I would like to have my own studio with machinery and set up for all kinds of different goods, like woodshop tools, weaving materials, sewing things,” she said. “I would like to be able to have a place to make all the things that I need. Because of Berea, I am going to graduate college and be able to follow my dream of becoming a craftsperson.”