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A Week of Baker Nights with Jules Marino
Marti and Stewie crafts friendship and fun

Feb. 15, 2006
By Julia Marino

Marti and Stewie
Thursdays, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
1954 Lounge, Baker University Center

"And you said there is nothing to do," I think this to myself as I stare down the roster of Baker Nights festivities at Baker University Center - a list of daily nighttime activities ranging from arts and crafts and poker to open stage with Bruce Dalzell. So for all of you who say there's nothing to do, it's more likely that you just haven't been looking. If you're for something new and different, Baker Nights hosts a number of diverse programs for different subcultures of students.

Photos by Elizabeth Russell"We have several goals with Baker Nights," Tim Hogan, Baker University Center associate director, said. "We especially want to reach out to students who aren't interested in going uptown." The wide variety of programming has the potential to reach between 750 and 1,000 students a night. "Out of 20,000 people, that's significant," said Hogan, whose office provides financial support and student staffers for Baker University Center.

"The majority of our ideas come from students," Hogan said. "The most successful programs happen where there is student buy-in." Events that are managed by student organizations include the College Bowl tournament, which is put on by the Game Show Appreciation Society, as well as the Poetry Slam. Other activities, such as the arts and crafts operation Marti and Stewie, are managed by Residence Life.

"We provide the place and give people the opportunity to utilize the space creatively," said Jennifer Headrick, interim assistant director at Baker University Center. "The goal is to create a welcoming space for all students."

With new ideas continuously popping up, Baker Nights facilitates a mélange of events to tickle any student's fancy. My job for this year will be to introduce you to the recipe of Baker Night activities one ingredient at a time. So follow me through this installment of "A Week of Baker Nights," as I take you inside Marti and Stewie, the arts and crafts function featured every Thursday night from 9 p.m. to midnight.

I found the devotees of the arts and crafts phenomenon, Marti and Stewie, carefully crafting hemp necklaces and friendship bracelets in the friendly 1954 Lounge on Thursday, Feb. 3. The tables were spotted with multicolored beads and string as students and friends snacked on popcorn and Pepsi. My mind immediately traveled back to sixth-grade recess where my friends and I would weave rainbow-colored bracelets and exchange them as a token of our undying grade-school bond. But these women, and a few men, were significantly more sophisticated when it came to their crafts. Although not one student was an art major, they certainly could create cunning designs out of legal cannabis while reviewing notes from molecular biology and psychology classes.

I sat at a table of friends and speculated about what brought them to Marti and Stewie. Naturally, I first asked if they were fans of Martha Stewart, the function's namesake. Regina Gray, a senior psychology major from Westchester, shyly admitted that she is a fan. The ice was suddenly broken as the table of girls informed me of Marti and Stewie's origins. Marti and Stewie came about, not because of the recent Martha Stewart scandal, but rather as homage to the professional homemaker's legacy. The operation was birthed six years ago by two crafty Martha Stewart fans, alumnae Sara Bouhard '01 and Suzanne Balbo '01, also known as "Marti and Stewie."

Recently engaged Lindsey Norman, a senior sociology major from Troy, expressed not only how the real Martha Stewart, but Marti and Stewie, have provided her with ideas and inspiration throughout her engagement.

Photos by Elizabeth Russell"I've made him picture frames, boxes and cards," Norman said. "Every time he comes home from abroad, I have a new craft for him."

With last Thursday's craft being Valentine's Day cards, I quickly learned that Marti and Stewie not only creates an atmosphere for healthy friendships, but long-distance love as well.

"It's something to do that wasn't partying - something different," said Gray. "We've met a lot of interesting people here. It's the highlight of my week. It's more relaxing than thought processing."

April Prior, a freshman broadcast news major from Mentor, couldn't help but agree.

"I needed something to do, something where I could be in my own element," Prior said. "It is my form of relaxation - my own yoga."

Prior was hired by Ohio University last fall to help with Marti and Stewie and it has since become a crucial part of her regular routine. So routine in fact, that even if she had an exam the next day, she "would have to attend Marti and Stewie for at least an hour."

"It's amazing to see how it has grown," said Bouhard, who also said that the activity started as a $1,500 per year operation, but the budget has grown to about $8,000 per year. Marti and Stewie even had to move from a small upstairs room in Baker Center to the 1954 Lounge last fall as more students like Prior engraved the activity into their schedule books.

I encourage you also to start penciling it in.

Marti herself (Bouhard), made an appearance at Marti and Stewie on Feb. 23 to help students design Ohio University scrapbooks.

"I'm so excited to come back to the university and teach," Bouhard said, who is now a speech and language pathologist and professional scrapbooker from Dayton. "I think it's a great way to give back to the students. I hope to make it a tradition."

Julia Marino is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.  Student writer Cara McCoy also contributed to the story.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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