With nearly a century of life experience under her belt, a Fulton woman is using her hobby to raise funds to repair a building she loves.
"Right now, my motivation is making money to redo our church," said Bernadine Clingman, who is a Mokane native. "It needs a new roof and some remodeling. When I moved away, I asked my daughter if we could go there for church. I was baptized there, made my first communion there and was married there."
Clingman, who considers herself a crafting enthusiast, is crocheting throw rugs to sell at the St. Jude Thaddeus Craft Fair and Farmers Market in Mokane on Saturday. The rugs are completely handmade from strips of fabric she cuts herself and were born out of necessity during the Great Depression.
"In the Great Depression, you didn't have money to buy throw rugs," she added. "We used the old bed sheets and other material and started making these."
At 99-years-old, Clingman visits local thrift stores to purchase bed sheets to use for her custom rugs. Although she spends most of her time making rugs, she has been crafting since a young age.
"I began crafting when I was eight or nine years old," she said. "My mother and our neighbor taught me. Embroidery was my first craft. Nowadays, I mainly crochet throw rugs. In my younger years I quilted, but now that I'm 99, my fingers don't work as well as they used to."
In her youth, crafting wasn't just a past-time, but a necessity in life, Clingman said.
"We bought yarn goods to make our own clothing," she said. "When school would start, we would get new clothes made."
Clingman said she remembers when Mokane was a bustling railroad hub. However, when the railroad closed, the town changed dramatically, she said.
"After the railroad closed, it became a lot smaller of a town," she added. "It was a lot bigger of a town before. It had many stores, two doctors and a hotel."
Besides crocheting rugs for the church craft sale, Clingman makes rugs for her children, grandchildren great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
"I make most of my crafts for the kids and grand kids," she said. "One reason I make them is because the grand kids like them. It's important to leave crafts as a legacy."
Clingman's great-granddaughter, Heather Murphy of Mokane, said her great-grandma is active and full of energy.
"My husband is convinced she's going to outlive all of us," she said. "She's pretty incredible and a lot of fun to have around."
Murphy said Clingman encourages her family to put her crafts to use.
"She does a lot of quilting and throw rugs," she said. "Those are things we all hang onto and keep. However, we do use them. It's important to her that we use them and don't just throw them in a box for safekeeping."
Murphy and her extended family's love for crafting started from watching and learning from Clingman.
"It's something we just learned as children," she said. "We can all remember; she would quilt and we would come in and help. As soon as we could tie knots we learned how to tie quilts. It's something she taught us through the years."
Murphy, who is helping put on the craft show Saturday, said her great-grandma was one of the first people to register and sell items for the fair.
"As soon as we decided as a church to have a craft show, she was the first to pay for registration," she said. "She's the oldest member of the church, and we are the only family that routinely has five generations at mass each Sunday."
The lessons she learned from her great-grandma included crafting and many important life lessons, said Murphy.
"She's taught all of us so much about everything from life to gardening to jelly making," she added. "You name it, and she taught us how to do it."
Clingman's rugs will be available for purchase at the St. Jude Thaddeus Craft Fair on Saturday at 401 Adams St. in Mokane. It will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Crafts, local produce and food will be available for purchase. Balloon animals, face painting and carnival games will also be available for the event.