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Artisanal craft program coming to St. Albans

By Naeisha Rose

A Better Jamaica, a southeast Queens arts organization in its 10th year, will be hosting its first-ever Saint Albans Craft Walk at St. Albans Park Saturday.

The event takes place during Black Spectrum Theatre’s St. Albans Jazz Festival from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The park is located at 115th Avenue and Sayers Avenue on Merrick Blvd.

Kool Bubba Ice is hosting the event.

Musicians at the festival include Alyson Williams, Leon and the Peoples, Lola and Freddie Dugard & the Hit Squad, according to a representative of Black Spectrum Theatre.

Greg Mays, the founder of ABJ, created the showcase for local artisans in southeast Queens to keep them from leaving the region and to introduce artisans from outside the borough to residents in the area.

“Our goal is to bring artisans and patrons together — locally,” Mays said. “For too long, our artisans have gone to other neighborhoods and boroughs to present their wares. It’s important that we provide opportunities for local artisans and patrons to connect. It is also important that we present the work of non-local artists to our local patrons.”

The event will feature quilts, paintings, jewelry and handmade skincare products by artisans from Queens, Brooklyn and Harlem, according to Mays.

One of the artisans participating at the event is jewelry maker Donna Emanuel from South Jamaica, who lives in Harlem. Her business name is Shimoda and her jewelry line is Shimoda Accessories, which can be found online.

Her jewelry is crafted with beads, freshwater pearls, and semi-precious stones like onyx and jasper.

Before moving to Harlem in the late ’80s, Shimoda was working at Barnes & Noble while pursuing jazz, but had an epiphany one day that she really wanted to work with her hands.

She later sought counsel with a friend who is a jewelry maker herself, Monifa Edwards, and learned everything that she could from her, including metal work and beading.

Shimoda did not take to the metal work, but loved beading.

“I love combining the different shapes and colors,” Shimoda said.

Shimoda’s work garnered attention in 1991 when super-model Naomi Campbell wore her jewelry on the cover of Essence magazine.

Presenting her work at St. Albans Park is like going full circle for her.

“When I was a kid, I used to hang out at St. Albans Park,” Shimoda said.

Katrina Barr of St. Albans is another participant. Barr is happy that St. Albans has a place that celebrates artisans. When she was raising her three daughters, she would have to travel to Harlem to enjoy a craft event like this.

“I’m excited,” Barr said. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this here.”

Her skincare line, Artisanal by M.E., will feature products such as body scrubs, a beard serum, a face serum and a hair soufflé made from fine oils and sea salt.

Barr has been creating artisanal products for a year and half and was inspired to do so by her grandmother Mae Etheridge, who died at 91 in 2010. Hence the initials M.E. at the end of her skincare line’s name.

“It’s in honor of my grandmother’s memory because she always loved to do things with her hands,” Barr said. “I enjoy making the scrubs, the serums and the soufflés.”

Shimoda’s and Barr’s handiwork will be on display along with crafts from many other artisans outdoor at St. Albans Park .

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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