Their art is all different, but they all agree one one thing: What they do, they do out of love. And an online marketplace, Etsy.com, allows them to market their art to the world.
Klaire Martin is a silk artist working in Warren, under the name MysticSilks. While taking art classes at the local college, where she happened to see something that caught her attention - a class on silk-art. "I stopped to observe for awhile, and the process of creating silk art intrigued me," Martin said. "I signed up for the next class."
The process isn't simple. First, the silk is prepared by washing it in a special soap, which removes any remnants of silk worm from the fabric. After that, the silk is rinsed, ironed, then stretched on a frame and allowed to dry. Meticulously painting French dyes inside of dried gutta lines of her own design, which sometimes takes a month or more to create itself, she then allows the painting to dry for as much as two days. From there, the new silk painting is rolled into a soft cotton sheet, wrapped around a wire cylinder and steamed for two to three hours to set the dyes deep into the fabric. The process makes the colors vivid and the patterns explode.
Shelly Krok lampworking in her studio in Niles.
This process can also coax mysterious patterns from the silk. One such painting of hers is named Bluebird Garden. As Martin explained, "There appears to be the images of a man and woman between the stump, and red rose bush. That is the reason for the name: MysticSilks."
A retired registered nurse, Martin sells her work on Etsy and is also an administrator on the recently launched Web site Design Style Guide which debuted in 2008.
For Teri Gear, who primarily works out of the Austintown area, Etsy allows her to share her works with a broad audience; from rings, to glass button marble refrigerator magnets to Valentine's cards. "I love creating; taking one thing and turning it into something else," said Gear. "This has long been a hobby of mine - painting, sewing, jewelry making, cross stitching, knitting ... the list goes on."
Etsy: How does it work?
Etsy.com is a site that focuses strictly on hand-made, vintage items and related art supplies.
Listing on Etsy is simple; there's no Web working or site building required. According to Shelly Krok of Niles, this simplicity is a selling point: "If you don't have a Web site, it gives you a Web site." It isn't free to list an item on Etsy, but the price is minuscule: 20 cents per item being listed. When an item sells, Etsy receives a sales commission of 3.5 percent, much like eBay and other large sites that broker goods.
Once an item is bought, the seller ships it out. Similar to other sites, feedback is also encouraged by buyers - buyers can rate the sellers by percentage, and other users of the site can check the seller's ratings.
For those who love working with crafts, Etsy offers an outlet to sell goods without having to open a storefront or travel to various shows, though many artists do anyway. Another bonus is that users can search by location and find artists and crafters in their own area who can sometimes provide just what they're looking for.
Klaire Martin of Warren sells her silk-art there, under the name MysticSilks. "I've had many sales of my hand-designed silk scarves, pillows and the sale of one of my silk paintings to a buyer in Canada," Martin said.
Under the name CorinneCrafts, Teri Gear's work from the Austintown area can also be found on Etsy. She's hoping to pick up more sales as time goes on. "I've only had a few sales, but I hope to increase that in the near future - maybe when I'm not chasing my daughter around so much."
Shelly Krok maintains her Etsy shop as well as her own personal Web site. As for her sales on Etsy, she's made only two, but the site has allowed many people to find her locally and join a class or see her art in person.
See this story on www.tribtoday.com, the Tribune Chronicle's Web site, for links to these artists' work.
- Stephanie Watson
Gear and her husband had decided that she could quit work to be a stay-at-home mom. Then a friend had told her about Etsy, and since she was going to create anyway, Teri decided to sell some of her creations on the side while raising the new baby. "Although some people make a living on Etsy, I use it as a way to showcase my work and do something with the many things that I would be crafting anyways," Gear said. "I started back into my crafting in winter so I haven't done any craft shows, but I may try some this spring and summer."
For Rochelle "Shelly" Krok of Niles, Etsy is only one place of many where her art is shown to the world.
Krok started off in pottery and spent eight years working with clay. Then, five years ago, she observed a lampworking class.
Lampworking, or flameworking, is the process of creating glass beads - melting hot glass around mandrels and shaping it to create something one-of-a-kind. It is a seemingly simple process, but in practice, one that takes a good deal of diligence to master.
She took the six-week course, then came home every night and practiced.
Starting with Canfield on the Green, then moving on to the Trumbull Art Gallery, Christmas in the Woods, the Butler Art Festival and the YSU Summer Arts Festival where she took Best in Show, Krok's beads have toured, and her passion for making them keeps growing. She has even travelled to Corning, N.Y., to study under Loren Stump, a glass artist and lampworker who is known world-wide.
Now a member of three different artists groups, Krok gives classes out of her Niles studio. She continues to work - 27 years now at Trumbull Memorial Hospital - but there can be no doubt that her lampworking takes a large portion of her heart.
"This is the love of my life," she said, looking around her studio after demonstrating her art.
Krok's beads will be featured tonight at the B&O Station's Artists of the Rust Belt show, which is free to the public.