Jess Crotta: Spanish-English Immersion School Administrator, Maker

Spotted in: Jack London Square, Oakland

Occupation: Spanish-English Immersion School Administrator, Maker

What are you up to today?

I have a soccer game later, but I came to the Patchwork Show 'cause I'm a maker myself, and just love to see other artwork and discover new artists.

And what's your occupation?

I work at an international school in Emeryville and Oakland. It's an international Spanish-English immersion school called Escuela Bilingüe Internacional.

How did you get involved in that?

I moved here recently from Argentina and speak Spanish. I started working with a Spanish-speaking organization—it's been great!

What drew you to Argentina?

It seems like every two or three years of my life I just get kind of pulled back to South America. I studied in Chile, and then lived in Argentina and Peru. That's where these shoes are from, actually.

What were you studying? Were you originally studying languages?

Yeah, I studied Spanish and International Studies, and then sort of went down there to perfect my Spanish and "discover myself"—you know, all that jazz! [laughs]

What do you love most about South America?

Gosh, just the people. You know, everywhere you travel it's always about the people. Obviously I love the language, and it's a great feeling to master a language and know that you can actually get to know people in another language. In South America every place is so different, it all has something different that attracts you.

What is it about the people that strikes you?

It's so much more communal than here. And that's not to say that one way of life is better than the other, but it's cool to be immersed in a culture like that, where people are really about taking care of each other and the sort of all-for-oneness. I don't love one lifestyle than the other because it's also nice to come back here where individuality is a priority. It's nice to mix it up. Thus the jumping back and forth, you know.

And what do you love about being here. Are you local to the East Bay?

I'm not. I'm from New Mexico originally, but I moved to Oakland in February. Oakland's so cool 'cause things like the Patchwork Show go on, where there's a lot of artwork and artists and people are just friendly! They're good people, as we say. It's great to be surrounded by people that are interested in getting to know you, and also the art scene is great for me.

You said you were a maker yourself, what do you do?

Yeah. I make, well, all types of things. Sewing, I do a lot of clothing and bags, also beadwork earrings. I dip my toes in a lot of different things.

Who inspired you to be a maker?

Absolutely nobody! Nobody in my family ever made anything! I was the first sort of artist born in my family. I don't know! I just see things and love to create. I was at the East Bay Depo recently. Have you ever been there? That's my favorite store in the history of mankind. I walk in there and things jump out at me like, oh yeah I could make this, and I could create that! I don't know, it's always something that's been in me. To just make.

Did you come across any good finds while you were at the East Bay Depot?

Well I found a tripod for my camera—I'm trying to take up photography as well. You know, you can't turn down a $3 tripod. And baskets! I've always been just addicted to baskets. I also found—I think it belongs to a doll house—a tiny sewing machine. It's so detailed that it actually has a rotating thing on the bottom—I'm going to make it into a Christmas ornament for my grandmother. You never know what you're going to find at that store either. Things jump out at you and all of a sudden you're down a path you never thought you'd be on.

So tell me about your outfit! Where did this scarf come from?

Sure, so my family's from Sweden and I spent this past summer there and saw this. I was actually in a thrift store, bought some things I probably shouldn't have purchased, walked out and saw on the mannequin—this big scarf. And I was like, [gasp], I need that!

It looks so cozy!

I know, it's so cozy and it's so fun. I've never had a huge scarf like this but I get comments on it everywhere 'cause people are like, you look so comfortable and cozy! It's the size of a blanket too.

Where did you get your earrings?

I got the earrings I think in Chile at some market. I've always kind of loved these prints. It was a big hoop day, you know? It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes I'm like, you know what? I need big hoops today. That was what I was feeling, that was the vibe.

And your ring, is that from Chile as well?

This ring was purchased at the Ashby Bart Flea Market! Which is quite a find—I get compliments on this ring, people telling me it's beautiful. I'm like, this was a flea market buy for a very cheap amount of money, but I love it. I always wanted some turquoise because I'm from New Mexico.

That's right, you sound like you come from a family of travelers!

We're all over the place, my grandmother splits her time between Stockholm and Marin. That was another reason why I moved out here—to be near her.

And those shoes are awesome.

These shoes are from Aguas Calientes, which is the town where the base camp for Machu Picchu is. These shoes were all over in Peru and I saw them and was like oh my gosh I have to have them! And I actually worked in Peru and went to Machu Picchu many times because I was leading a service learning program there. So I kind of scoped these out, then I said, you know what, this is a big purchase—a big purchase in Peru of course, it wasn't really that expensive. But I went back many times before I actually bought them because I was like, are these the ones that I want? There's so many different patterns and colors, so I had to decide on that.


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