Bring the Family

Crafting a vocation

Hayley Kaufman/Globe staff

Who: Features editor Hayley Kaufman, her husband, Chris, and their kids Rachel, 6, and Nate, 9

What: Seeing what artisans make

Where: The Craft Boston Holiday Fair in the South End


Whenever we take the kids on an urban adventure, we talk about how grown-ups have all kinds of jobs, and that it takes lots of people to make a city — and a culture — function.

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Lately, Rachel has been saying that she wants to be an editor and a singer, two occupations that strike me as precarious at best. I’ve tried to make daddy’s job sound tempting (“Hey, what about working with computers? Wouldn’t that be fun?”), but my daughter, a kindergartner obsessed with “Brave” and Harry Potter, won’t hear of it.

So the dialogue continues, at movies, museums, and doctors’ offices, where I explain what cinematographers do, why curators are important, or how someone becomes a pediatrician.

We recently swung by the Cyclorama for one of the season’s many craft fairs, and it was a gold mine for the look-at-what-people-do-for-a-living talk. (Fairs are also great correctives in an era where kids have no idea how things get made.)

At one booth, we watched a man fashion a pair of shoes, sewing soft leather uppers to a thick sole. “Mom, look at that,” Nate gasped, astounded.


Across the aisle, we chatted with Ann Brauer, a Shelburne Falls fabric artist whose magnificent quilts were unlike any we’d ever seen. And we marveled at Paula Garbarino’s custom furniture, with its intricate marquetry landscapes.

But the kids were most interested in the jewelry makers. Nate wanted to keep talking about Andrea Williams’s pieces. She carves beach stones, then inlays strands of gold and silver and turns them into necklaces and earrings. And Rachel couldn’t take her eyes off Biba Schutz’s jewelry, which is at once alien and organic and altogether mesmerizing.

Later, tired from our trek, we headed over to South End Buttery, where line cooks and baristas and cashiers took care of customers. But for once we didn’t talk about that. We had hot chocolate to finish.

Hayley Kaufman can be reached at hkaufman@