Artist’s children seek crocheted nativity scenesPublished 10:22pm Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Jan Baines was a talented and prolific crocheter who dressed Suffolk babies and Salvation Army teddy bears for years, in addition to passing on her talents through classes at the Birdsong Recreation Center.
She died suddenly at the beginning of the Christmas season 21 years ago, and the “most wonderful time of the year” hasn’t been quite the same since for her children, in whom she instilled a love of the holiday. Nevertheless, they have tried to honor her by celebrating rather than mourning.
There’s only one thing that could make Christmas better and help her children remember their mother during her favorite time of year — the crocheted nativity sets she used to sell at craft fairs at the National Guard Armory.
“She took blue ribbons at the state fair every year,” said her daughter, Terri Baines. “She was so busy with orders year-around. She’d sell out over the (craft fair) weekend and then take orders.”
One of Baines’ two sisters has one of the nativity sets, but the other three children never got one, since they were so highly in demand from paying customers.
“She was working on mine (when she died),” Baines said. “She was halfway through one wise man.”
Baines is reaching out in the hopes that somebody in Suffolk — or perhaps several somebodies — will be willing to part with theirs in order for the artists’ children to have one.
The sets featured a minuscule Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, an angel, a shepherd, three wise men and animals. The tallest figure is about four to five inches, Baines said. The figures are able to stand because they have a cardboard base and are filled with fiber. Some sets were sold with a stable made of stained Popsicle sticks.
“Every one she did was slightly different,” Baines said. “She would tweak some little bitty things so they weren’t all exactly alike.”
The elder Baines, who would be 75 now, didn’t stick exclusively to nativity sets, and her children do have some of her other work, including a group of carolers.
“She was very meticulous, and she took great pride in it,” Baines said. “Her hands were never still. I never saw the woman without a crochet hook in her hand.”
Baines said her mother often crocheted baby clothes, as well as dresses and booties for teddy bears the Salvation Army used to hand out at Christmas.
She’s willing to pay for the set, she added.
“I’m not looking for a gift,” she said. “It would just be so important to me to own one. If I found one, it would be not just the best Christmas gift but best overall gift ever.”
To contact Baines about selling your nativity set to her and her siblings, email email@example.com.