Local crafter continues creating what has turned into a 50 year tradition
Ever active and involved, Lutz is one lady that knows how to keep herself busy. When not involved preparing for a marathon or proofreading for the Central Oregonian, Lutz can be found in at her sewing machine constructing her favorite craft item popularly known as Bojo, or at any one of the holiday craft fairs currently underway.
Skillfully stitching the final additions to clown No. 1565 Lutz explains that Bojo was originally brought to life in 1948. He is an uncomplicated creation, harkening back to the days when a wife's ability to create and sell crafts had significant effects on the family budget.
As the story unfolds it soon becomes clear that Bojo hasn't changed much in his 50-plus years of existence. Standing less than a foot tall, his body is made of a hard-to-find white cotton sock, originally stuffed with nylon stockings, and now with polyester fill.
A dozen or so Bojos peek out of a big brown basket revealing that the traditional clown outfits come in a variation of ageless bold designs. Each one bears a special tag describing the Bojo story and each one is signed by the crafter, and numbered.
But, perhaps the little clown's greatest attribute is the distinctly simple thin red smile which Lutz says, has been known to have dramatic affects on autistic children and has brought comfort to at least one elderly lady suffering from Alzheimer's. "I was so pleased that at least twice this little doll has had a positive effect on someone," she said.
Lutz explains that the clown's basic design was borrowed from a similar one made by her landlady back in 1947.
"She was a very devoted lady that made crafts for the Catholic Church guild as part of her donation to the church," she said. "After seeing the clowns she was making I asked her if she would share the pattern with me so that I could make one for the baby I was expecting." The landlady declined to give the specifics, choosing instead to keep it a secret, making it a challenge for Lutz to re-create the little guy on her own.
However rebuked by the seamstress, Lutz became even more determined to crack the mystery of the design and she soon began to experiment.
Using a process of trial and error and going through several sets of socks, a pattern gradually emerged. A pattern which would remain constant for the next half-century.
The first Bojo, created as a child's toy, was born in 1948, the original in a long line of more than 1,500 individually signed and numbered clown dolls.
Over the years Bojo has been sold special order as well as at craft fairs, bazaars and shops wherever Lutz was living. At one time he even enjoyed a certain popularity when offered at Meyer and Frank in Portland.
An international guy, Bojo has found homes in eight foreign countries as well as 34 different states and will soon be available to an even wider market.
Lutz indicated that the ever-enduring Bojo is taking on the new millennium about to embark on an adventure of online celebrity, creating a whole new market for his creator.
"My grandson is in the process of creating a website for Bojo which will be called Bojo.com. If everything works out as planned, people from all over the world will be able to see him online and place orders over the Internet," she said.
Lutz says she doesn't anticipate spending all of her time making Bojos special order, but looks forward to the new possibilities offered by being a dot.com entrepreneur. To learn more about Bojo call 416-9592.