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Regional Biological Sciences Conference Blends Art, Discovery

Cytoskeletons serve as the internal frame for individual cells, providing the structural support that allows a wide variety of essential cellular functions to happen.

Under the right light and magnification, cytoskeletons also can be incredibly beautiful.

UToledo student Savanna Hudson created this work; the faces of the people are made of images of cells from humans and other organisms, emphasizing the correlation of everything alive in nature being made of the same basic unit.

On Friday, Sept. 27, The University of Toledo will host the third annual CellulART, a regional scientific meeting that blends cutting-edge cytoskeleton research and art.

“In the cytoskeletal field, you’re constantly trying to think about what’s the best or most aesthetically pleasing way you can present your research,” said Maura Graves, a doctoral student in the UToledo Department of Biological Sciences. “In a way, you have to think like an artist. What’s the most beautiful way you can take this image from microscopy and engage with your audience?”

Graves is the lead organizer for this year’s event, working alongside fellow biological sciences doctoral students Sushil Khanal and Debatrayee Sinha.

The event will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. in the Center for the Visual Arts on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

Like most scientific meetings, CellulART features a series of lectures and poster presentations. Unique to this event is the addition of artwork created by both cytoskeletal researchers and UToledo art students who have reinterpreted scientific data and images.

Fifteen regional universities are participating, including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Loyola and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This year’s keynote speaker at 1 p.m. is Dr. Bruce Goode, professor of biology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., who is widely recognized as one of the country’s preeminent cytoskeletal researchers.

“Dr. Goode is at the forefront of his field. He’s pushing the limits in a lot of different ways, not only in the nature of his discoveries, but also in the technology he’s using. He’s one of the world leaders of the new generation of cytoskeleton researchers,” said Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, UToledo associate professor of biological sciences and one of the event creators.

The event also will feature a presentation and artwork by Dr. Ahna Skop, a professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Event sponsors include the American Society for Cell Biology, the Journal of Cell Science, Thermo Fisher Scientific, New England Biolabs, Ibidi and Cytokeleton Inc.

For more information, visit the CellulART website.

International Conference at UToledo Targeting Human Trafficking Grows to Record Level

In the wake of high-profile sex trafficking charges against financier Jeffrey Epstein and singer R. Kelly, this dark world of modern-day slavery is under an intense spotlight and garnering global attention.

Survivors, researchers and advocates around the world are coming together this week for the 16th Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference at The University of Toledo.

This year marks the largest event since the conference began at UToledo in 2004 and for the first time features an art exhibit in collaboration with the UToledo Department of Art to raise critical consciousness for social justice.

“We are proud so many people want to learn about human trafficking,” said Dr. Celia Williamson, Distinguished University Professor and director of the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. “Our conference brings sex and labor trafficking out of the shadows and helps end abuse. More than ever before, we have the opportunity to educate, collaborate and save lives.”

The conference, which — to date — has welcomed presenters from 42 states and 30 countries, is Thursday and Friday, Sept. 19 and 20, in the Thompson Student Union on Main Campus.

UToledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute and the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition host the conference.

Williamson recently published a new book titled “A Seat at the Table: The Courage to Care About Trafficking Victims,” which tells her life story and transition from at-risk for trafficking to a world-renown social worker and researcher, working directly with victims and revolutionizing global anti-trafficking efforts.

At this year’s conference, Williamson will unveil her new, free human trafficking risk assessment tool (HTRISK) that she developed with support from the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, as well as release the findings from her study of 400 Ohio youth. That presentation will be Friday, Sept. 20, at 9 a.m. in the Thompson Student Union Ingman Room. Watch the livestream on the UToledo Alumni Association website.

“With limited time, money and resources, advocates need to know which youth are at the highest risk for sex trafficking and then do their best to prevent it,” Williamson said.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 9 to 10 a.m., 475 high school students from the area will gather in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium for Human Trafficking 101, where they also will learn about dating violence and participate in a poetry slam.

For a full schedule of presentations, visit the conference website.

New this year, the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute and the College of Arts and Letters partnered together for an art exhibit titled “Faces of Trafficking,” which features people from the greater Toledo community who are leading the fight to end trafficking.

“It is an opportunity to bring to life the people impacted by human trafficking and to provide a path for the community to join the fight,” Barbara Miner, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Art, said.

The tall black-and-white photography installation called “The Pillars” features people on the front lines in the war against trafficking.

“These are warriors holding up the ceiling of hope,” Miner said. “Using an arresting, striking style, we’re showcasing people like Celia Williamson as well as medical and law enforcement professionals among others who work under the radar and often go unnoticed, but who are working tirelessly to protect people suffering through contemporary slavery.”

Artwork created by current and former art students in response to trafficking stories and the global issue also will be on display.

The free, public exhibit can be see from Thursday, Sept. 19, through Friday, Dec. 6, at the UToledo Center for the Visual Arts on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The UToledo Center for the Visual Arts also is featuring a special project, “A Thousand Hands, A Million Stars,” a collaboration uniting visual art, poetry, music and dance produced by former UToledo faculty member Denise Ritter Bernardini.

Doodle Revolution Leader to Speak at Museum as Part of Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series

The University of Toledo is teaming up with the Toledo Museum of Art to bring author and visual literacy expert Sunni Brown to the Glass City as part of the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.

Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution,” will give an interactive lecture Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.

Brown

Brown is known for her large-scale, live content visualizations, and she is also the leader of the Doodle Revolution — a growing effort to debunk the myth that doodling is a distraction. Using common sense, experience and neuroscience, she is proving that to doodle is to ignite your whole mind.

“This will be a fun, interactive event as Sunni engages with the audience,” said Mike Deetsch, director of education and engagement at the Toledo Museum of Art. “Her work has an element of gamification and play that elevates her visual dialogue and will appeal to a wide audience.”

The interactive lecture is geared to teachers, students and business professionals who work in teams.

“The Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series brings innovative thinkers and doers to campus for all of the Toledo area to enjoy. Sunni Brown is an amazing speaker who will change the way you think about teamwork and brainstorming,” said Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College.

“Her talk is part of the exciting collaboration between The University of Toledo and the Toledo Museum of Art to enhance the skills of visual literacy,” Appel said. “Visual thinking fuels creativity and innovation, and knowing how to use, make and interpret visual images makes all of our students more successful.”

After the free, public lecture, Brown will sign her books, which will be available for sale.

To register for the free, public event, go to the Distinguished Lecture Series website.

Poet/Activist to Return to Alma Mater to Launch ‘Legacy of Black People in America’

Sierra Leone, president and artistic director of Oral Funk Poetry Productions, will visit The University of Toledo to kick off 1619-2019: The Legacy of Black People in America Series.

“Voices of the People” is the title of the first program in the series.

Leone

Leone, a writer and leader of an urban poetry movement in Dayton, Ohio, will speak Thursday, Aug. 29, at the event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Thompson Student Union Steps on Centennial Mall. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the program will be moved inside the Thompson Student Union.

“This series of events over this next year is to commemorate the totality of the horrific and majestic experience of black people in America from 1619 to 2019,” Ben Davis, professor of law and co-chair of the 1619 Committee, said. “We are also planning other events — Health and the People, Art and the People, Slavery and the People, Faith and the People, Law and the People — and a writing contest are in the works to hopefully have a series of learning moments for our University community over the course of the school year.”

“The purpose of this first program is to have members of the community honor and commemorate the lives and experiences of African Americans — living, dead, famous, infamous, from any field of endeavor — through spoken word, quotes, sayings, poems and readings,” said Angela Siner, director of the Africana Studies Program and co-chair of the 1619 Committee.

“We want these programs to inspire and engage through the words and stories that spotlight African Americans’ contributions to U.S. culture during the past 400 years,” Davis said.

Both agree Leone is the perfect person to open the series.

Leone received the 2018 Ohio Governor’s Award in the community development and participation category. The honor was presented by the Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation and recognized the educator and entrepreneur for creating and strengthening interactive arts participation among diverse community members while increasing awareness about the arts.

More than a decade ago, Leone and her husband, Robert Owens Sr., founded Oral Funk Poetry Productions; the creative urban arts initiative has brought together communities across racial, cultural, ideological and economic divides.

She told the Dayton Daily News she was influenced by growing up in a large family with a grandmother who believed life is better when shared: “In community, we can be more creative, more impactful, reach more people in diverse audiences.”

Her project, The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show, presents a fusion of urban poetry, music, dance and visual arts from local, regional and international talent. The quarterly show expanded to include a competition, The Last Poet Standing.

Through Signature Educational Solutions in Dayton, Leone works with schools, youth art organizations and community groups. A big focus is on girls’ and women’s empowerment.

The wordsmith has written and performed commissioned works for many organizations, and she was the featured artist at the 2017 National Breaking Silences Conference, where she shared a poem about her journey with dyslexia.

Leone was known as Lucy Armstrong when she received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 2000 from The University of Toledo. The native of the Glass City is working on a book of poems and short stories.

1619-2019: The Legacy of Black People in America Series is free and sponsored by the College of Law, the College of Arts and Letters, the Africana Studies Program, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

UToledo Theatre Assistant Professor’s Work Plays in Chicago

An adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre, will receive its professional premiere in Chicago Friday, Aug. 16.

It will open the season of Red Tape Theatre and is a co-production between Red Tape, the Greenhouse Theatre Center, and The University of Toledo, and run through Saturday, Sept. 14.

The production represents a unique collaboration between a public university and professional theatre, allowing a showcasing of work incubated in Toledo to be shared with a larger audience.

Along with Chicago-based professional actors and designers, Stephen Sakowski, UToledo assistant professor, is serving as the production’s lighting designer, and recent UToledo graduates Austin Rambo and Bianca Caniglia round out the acting ensemble.

The story is centered on the experiences of 2nd Company on the German Front lines during the last year of World War I as they navigate the vicious cycle of tedium, boredom behind the lines, and constant terror when installed in the trenches at the font. The adaptation closely follows the events of the novel, as the central storyteller, Paul, speaks to the loss of friends, the deepening of human connections, and the growing realization of what is true and what is not in the face of war.

“It speaks to the cycles of history from which we are charged to learn, and our approach to the play seeks to gather the threads of this cycle — from the time of Remarque’s writing and to our immediate present,” Foss said.

The play was created with permission and in association with the Remarque estate and was initially produced at The University of Toledo on the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI last November. It featured a set design by student Kevin Upham, sound by student Ryan Peters-Hieber, and costumes by Lecturer Kelly McBane.

Red Tape Theatre is a free venue committed to the creation of new and experimental work through collaborations with ensembles, playwrights, musicians, dancers and visual artists.
All tickets are free to every performance and can be reserved through the Red Tape Theatre website.

Foss is no stranger to the Chicago theatre scene. His work as a director and adaptor there has received critical praise, and his own production of his adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking exposé novel about the working conditions in the meat-packing industry, “The Jungle,” received multiple Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for best production, best director and received the city’s top theatre prize for best new adaptation.

“The Jungle” will open UToledo’s Theatre season in November.

Choral Students, Faculty Sing in Scotland

Five University of Toledo choir students and several UToledo faculty traveled through Scotland in June as a part of a tour with Perform International.

The tour, led by Dr. Brad Pierson, UToledo assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, included time in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow, along with an afternoon in Ayr and Alloway.

UToledo students posed for a photo during a trip with Perform International to Scotland last month. Making the trip were, from left, Caris Croy, Madeline Repka, Cheyenne Kastura, Sterling Wisniewski and Karina Gibson, who are shown with Dr. Brad Pierson, who led the tour.

The students performed as a part of the American Burns Choir, an ad hoc choir of amateur singers from all around the United States. The choir performed music with lyrics by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, as well as a collection of traditional drinking songs.

Performances were held at the Robert Burns Museum in Alloway, and the Blair Athol and Glen Ord whisky distilleries, plus the Scotia Bar in Glasgow, and the Dalriada Bar on the beach in Edinburgh. The performances at the two pubs were part of “Trad Nights” — or evenings of traditional music — and the choir was joined by local musicians in their performance of Scots music.

UToledo choral students on the tour were Sterling Wisniewski, a music education major; Caris Croy, who is majoring in theatre and music; Cheyenne Kastura, a media communications major; Karina Gibson, a paralegal studies student; and Madeline Repka, a psychology major. Amanda Rasey, artistic director for the UToledo Children’s Choir, also went.

In addition, several UToledo faculty members from the Department of Pharmacy Practice joined the tour as a part of the choir: Dr. Michelle Seegert, associate professor; Dr. Megan Kaun, associate professor; and Dr. Sarah Petite, assistant professor.

Alumna Designs Mural for Inner-City Beautification Project

Artist Caroline Jardine, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Toledo in 2017, recently designed and completed a mural project intended to beautify abandoned homes on North Huron Street in the historic Vistula district, the Glass City’s first neighborhood.

The houses have good bones and may yet be rehabilitated. The project is intended to protect the homes from vandalism in hopes that a buyer may one day remodel them.

These photos show the house at 1105 N. Huron St. in Toledo before and after the mural project.

Jardine’s mural consists of panels that cover the windows and doors of the structures. Each panel has a unique design that connects in color scheme and concept to the other panels.

The project was initiated by Reginald Temple, director and vice president of community development for First Federal Bank of the Midwest. Temple, a UToledo College of Arts and Letters alumnus who received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2003, often partners with the Lucas County Land Bank on various projects.

Jardine

Temple said this mural is similar to other board-up projects the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission have done, like the one for the former residence of Art Tatum, Toledo’s legendary jazz pianist.

The Huron Street project was organized through the collaborative efforts of First Federal Bank of the Midwest, the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. First Federal Bank provided volunteers, plus lunches and restrooms for the volunteers. The Lucas County Land Bank provided the properties, and the Arts Commission commissioned an artist and provided the paint and boards.

Ryan Bunch, communications and outreach coordinator for the Arts Commission, asked Jardine to design 16 murals for the North Huron Street properties.

“I designed the panels so that they would function as individual pieces and as a whole,” Jardine said. “Lindsay Akens [creative place-making facilitator with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo] and Ryan Bunch showed the Vistula community members the designs and received their approval to move forward with the project.”

Volunteers painted the panels for the houses on N. Huron Street.

Jardine added that her design was inspired by her own work and the houses themselves.

“I chose to include abstracted, minimalist figures that look out to the viewer,” she said. “The vacant houses are given character and life through these figures. The house at 1109 N. Huron was partially blue to begin with, so I brought in blue as one of the colors in this mural.”

Temple arranged for nearly 60 volunteers from his company to carry out the painting.

Jardine said she was impressed with the volunteers because they did so much more than paint: “The houses that the murals were installed on needed a lot of work. Volunteers cleared brush, mowed the lawns, picked up trash, pulled weeds, and cleaned the porches.”

Volunteers did some brushwork, too. Some of the large panels were four feet by eight feet.

“Once we finished priming each of the 16 panels, I outlined the designs and color-coded them so that the volunteers could begin painting them,” Jardine said. “We had two to three days of painting, one and a half days of touch-ups and detail work, and one and a half days of installation. Finally, we clear-coated the panels and installed them on the first floors of the houses.”

Three young girls from the neighborhood came by daily and watched as the project unfolded. Lindsay Akens and Liam Johnson of the Arts Commission suggested the scope of the project be increased so the girls could participate.

Jardine designed several additional panels to cover the basement windows for the girls to paint. Temple noted that the girls were thrilled to be included. “The excitement on their faces was phenomenal,” he said.

The houses are adjacent to each other at 1105 N. Huron and 1109 N. Huron St.

UToledo to Present Art Day Camps for Kids Aug. 5-9

The University of Toledo Department of Art will host two weeklong art day camps for kids ages 7 to 11.

There will be a morning camp and an afternoon camp Monday through Friday, Aug. 5 to 9. Children can be registered for one or both sessions.

These children participated in a UToledo art camp in June.

The morning session is called Wizard Camp. Projects will include wand making, dark forest terrariums, flying dragons, dragon eggs and more.

Afternoon campers will explore Art Around the World as they make projects celebrating the artwork of several global regions, including Mexico (Día de Muertos masks/piñatas), Andes Mountains (collage painting), France — Notre Dame (stained-glass window suncatchers), Egypt (painted rocks and scarab paintings) and China (dragon puppets and paper lanterns).

There will be a supervised lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions. Those staying all day are encouraged to bring a lunch and beverage; lunch is not provided.

The camps will be held in the Center for the Visual Arts on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

The cost of the workshops is $60 for either morning or afternoon camps or $105 for both camps and includes all materials and supplies needed for the projects. Workshop fees are due prior to the first day of the workshops.

To register, go to the UToledo Department of Art website.

UToledo Biodesign Teams Compete at International Biodesign Challenge in New York

Two teams from The University of Toledo Biodesign Challenge competed in June at the international Biodesign Challenge Summit in New York.

“In only our second year of competition, UToledo once again was on the international map and competed brilliantly against strong competition in New York City for the Biodesign Challenge Summit,” said Barbara Miner, chair and professor of art.

Students on the PlastiGrow team are, from left, McKenzie Dunwald, Michael Socha, Colin Chalmers and Ysabelle Yrad.

The UToledo team btilix was one of only nine global finalists for the overall award out of 34 institutions that made it to the international competition, and PlastiGrow was runner-up in the Stella McCartney Prize for Sustainable Fashion. McCartney is the daughter of Paul McCartney and a well-known fashion designer.

According to the Biodesign Challenge website, the McCartney prize is awarded to the Biodesign Challenge team that “explores and/or develops proofs of concept for fashion alternatives that are biological, sustainable, ethical and free of animal products. We ask the teams to explore lifecycles, production processes, disposal and potential for recycling.”

PlastiGrow developed a biodegradable material that can be used for many products in place of conventional plastic; this greatly reduces the cost and energy spent on waste and recycling efforts. Team members are McKenzie Dunwald, art; Michael Socha, bioengineering; Colin Chalmers, art; and Ysabelle Yrad, environmental science.

Btilix team members are, from left, Tyler Saner, Sarah Mattei, Courtney Kinzel, Timothy Wolf and Sherin Aburidi.

The UToledo team btilix developed a disinfectant spray for combating antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The students on the btilix team are Tyler Saner, art; Sarah Mattei, environmental science; Courtney Kinzel, environmental science; Timothy Wolf, bioengineering; and Sherin Aburidi, bioengineering.

“We hit it out of the ballpark through sheer hard-working collaboration on the part of our cross-disciplinary teams of students, as well as the outstanding effort, creative foresight and sheer dedication of Assistant Professors Eric Zeigler and Brian Carpenter,” Miner said. “Their work, advancing the sophisticated presentations, modeling integrative thinking, and employing best pedagogical practices, as well as pulling together faculty members and researchers from many disciplines to help each of the teams, is really meritorious.”

Both teams will showcase their work at the Momentum arts festival Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 19-21, at the Mini Maker Faire in Promenade Park in Toledo.

Sew Cool: Alumna Creates Funky Cats for Art on the Mall

Carrie Hawkins will bring more than 500 fun, fuzzy felines to her booth for Art on the Mall.

Dubbed Ragamuffins, the recycled kitty dolls come in three sizes and sport tags that say “saving ugly sweaters from landfills since 2018.”

Carrie Hawkins showed off a large Ragamuffin she made from a mohair sweater.

“I make all the cats from recycled sweaters. I go to rummage sales and thrift stores, so it’s kind of neat: It helps charity, and then I turn around and make it into something else,” she said. “I use everything — the collars and the cuffs of the sweaters will become the collars of the cats. I use mismatched earrings for charms.

“Any way I can reduce waste — that’s my big thing: I love to recycle.”

She sews the cute creatures in her home studio in Temperance, Mich. Jars of antique buttons line a shelf above bolts of fabrics. Two sewing machines and a box of jewelry and trinkets sit atop a table. Bins of ribbon and fabric scraps are stacked in the corner. And, oh yes, there is a Siamese cat: Ellie is sleeping on a chair.

“Ellie likes to get up on my lap and help me,” Hawkins said and laughed. “Sometimes I sew and she’s hitting the bobbin on the machine constantly like it’s a toy.”

Two other muses roam about the house — Saki, a black cat, and Lilith, a tiger tabby.

The 2001 UToledo alumna found her creative groove by fusing her passion for the past with her fondness for felines.

“I wanted my art to represent me and what I stand for,” Hawkins said. “So I designed the pattern for the cats and decided to make them as earth-friendly as possible and recycle.

“Creating is just something I have to do,” she added.

That love of art began early. The Toledo native recalled having her own art studio at age 6.

“I took a toy box in the closet and that was my art table. And I made little refrigerator pictures, but I didn’t give them to my mom, I sold them to her,” Hawkins said. “I had a little portfolio, and pictures were a nickel if they were a little more detailed. There were a couple penny ones if she just needed something quick to throw on the fridge.”

Carrie Hawkins sewed eyes on an owl doll.

Since receiving a bachelor of arts degree in graphic design and painting, and taking graduate courses in art education at UToledo, she has been selling her award-winning creations for more than 20 years. Hawkins and her company, Scaredy Cat Primitives, have been featured in Prims and Your Cat magazines.

“Once my family moved to Temperance, my parents and I would go to a lot of antique shows and estate sales, and I was always fascinated with rescuing all the things. You’d go to estate sales and it’d be kind of sad because you’d see photos and letters that got left behind that nobody wanted,” she said.

That desire to save is strong.

“We moved to a rural dead-end street, which was a dumping ground for unwanted cats. I was very well-known for bringing home strays,” Hawkins said. “At one time, I had eight rescues. I learned how very different their personalities were and the little quirks they had that made them different.”

She repurposes found objects, bits and pieces to give her Ragamuffins distinct personalities.

“I love how something can tell a story by its wrinkles, dents, chips and stains. That inspires my art. I love paying tribute to the past by recycling. People give me all kinds of things for my work. I’ll make use of it instead of throwing it away. If I didn’t have an outlet for it, I’d end up being a hoarder,” she joked.

Small Ragamuffins sit in Carrie Hawkins’ studio; the cat dolls will be finished for Art on the Mall.

Some owls will fly in with Hawkins and her cats for Art on the Mall Sunday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University.

“I make owls out of tweed and wool skirts and blazers,” the deconstructionist artist said. “Some I make out of a linen fabric and put a little bit of coffee dye on them. I dye them really lightly, let them dry, and then I do embroidery.”

Coming to Centennial Mall on Main Campus for the juried art show is a highlight of summer.

“This is probably my seventh year at Art on the Mall. I love it,” Hawkins said. “The atmosphere is nice, and it’s a great, laid-back crowd.”

When she’s not in her studio with her cats, Hawkins is a member service associate at the Francis Family YMCA in Temperance, where she also teaches art classes.

“I love creating unique things. I hope people appreciate these are one-of-a-kind pieces of art, something they can’t find at a big-box store,” she said. “Like the tag on the back says, these [cats and owls] are handmade with love.”