What do crazy-quilt fabrics, roller skates, tiaras, fuel cans, croquet mallets and funky jewelry have in common? They set fiber sculptor Kent Epler’s mental “Rolodex of ideas” spinning. “Inspiration can come from anywhere,” he says. “The most unlikely finds can be the basis for a wild new character!” Theater, energy and outside-the-box exuberance are Epler’s…
“My influences have always been personal,” says ceramic artist Laurie Pollpeter Eskenazi. “Since I was young, women’s traditional handcrafted work has intrigued me. My grandmother’s house was filled with doilies, needlework and hand tatted lace, and each piece came with a memory attached. In her era, women made ‘crazy’ quilts from small scraps of fabric…
After almost 20 years in the rat race, Jim Cohen had enough. As a corporate attorney who worked 50-plus hours a week, he was feeling stunted and unhappy. It wasn’t until he discovered a love for working with his hands, creating beautiful and functional pieces to honor his heritage, that he found his way.
For Patti Dowse, founder of Erda Leather, happiness can be found in a piece of American deerskin or recycled fabric. And for the past 40 years, this exuberance has come through in every one of her funky, distinctive handbags.
Originally a science illustrator, Dowse bought her first piece of leather during a lunch break while working in New York City. Inspired to make herself a handbag, the self-taught artist was immediately hooked. “When another woman asked me to make one for her, I couldn’t wait to get started,” she remembers. She opened Erda Leather in 1971.
Metalsmith Andrea Williams says her work as an artist has been “a bit of a journey.” She was a teenager when she fell in love with metalworking. “I love how I can take this solid thing and make it move,” she explains.
Metalworker, stoneworker, environmental technician, glassworker, diver, collector of crystals and fossils—artist Jeremy Sinkus has followed many paths, but he has never strayed far from the sea.
“The world is an incredible source of design,” says metal artist Steven Cooper. “All you have to do is look outside your door to see the shapes of flowers and trees, how water flows over rocks… that imagery is what I try to include in all my work.”
Just under 10 feet high and crafted from tens of thousands of hand-cut glass pieces, Raquel Stanek’s captivating giraffe is but one of her intricately designed and assembled mosaic works. Bubbling with enthusiasm, Stanek loves talking about her imaginative animal art, which ranges from this towering commissioned sculpture to a larger-than-life zebra bust, a 7-foot-long pig and a menagerie of chickens, ducks, geese, deer and other critters with expressive personalities.