Weekly Featured Artists 10.04.2020

by Ash O'Connor

We have myriad amazing creators on our site and it's incredibly hard to choose who to feature on a weekly basis. There are so many things we could consider! How long people have been a member of Made Cleveland, what they are creating, how are they fabricating everything, the list goes on! So... we've decided to throw all of those things out the window with the exception of one: How do we create the most even playing field for ALL of our creative partners? 

One of the things you will probably hear us mention frequently are the ever-changing algorithms of social media and internet searches in general. With this in mind we've decided to keep it super random and draw five names out of a hat - so that's exactly what we did! 

Without further ado I present to you our inaugural and eclectic group of featured creators that are doing incredibly cool and unique things here in Cleveland! 

Coleoptera Craftworks

Tery + Landon are a husband and wife team that focus on creating an amazing array of home goods and jewelry by combining wood and leather in fun ways. They share that a few years back, they decided to forgo purchasing any more poorly made furniture, with the hopes they would be able to produce most of their own future furniture needs.

When I connected with Tery at the beginning of the Made Cleveland journey, I learned it was also the beginning of Coleoptera's! They had just started exploring entering the maker space a few weeks before we announced the beginning of our project, and it's been such a treat watching this amazing duo truly come into their own. 

When asked about how they've become better creators during this period they said "Having started our small business at the beginning of COVID-19, there may be an occasional doubt to lower standards, not staying true to what we initially intended to create. In addition to bespoke woodworking, we desire to create high-end bags, with intricate attention to detail, quality materials, and functional designs. At times, one of us may feel the need to rush the process. However, the other always reminds the one that doing so would go against the basic principles we outlined for ourselves. This mindset has also proved helpful when it relates to our branding. We are learning to be more cohesive across all platforms as we remember our purpose for starting Coleoptera Craftworks."

Their Insta feed is abundant with their journey into the wonderful world of creative entrepreneurship, how to care for your wood and leather, and more! (Link in profile!)

Check out some of coleoptera's works

Venus in Aquarius Apothica

If you've been to an in-person market in Cleveland, chances are you've seen Samantha Phillips stationed at a tent well-stocked with astrological aromatherapy, herbal body care products, and a variety of celestial inspired alchemy for mind, body, and spirit. She has been the one-woman owner of Venus in Aquarius Apothica and creating her offerings with intention since 2015. Samantha touts her offerings as being made with sustainability and gaia in mind. 

I was able to virtually meet Samantha right at the beginning of the summer when she would traditionally be getting ready to gear up for a busy season of markets galore. In our conversations I learned a lot about her. Beyond the fact that we're both Capricorns, we shared a lot about our feelings on the pandemic and its effects on creative entrepreneurs. Recently Samantha told me "When lockdown started, immediately I started going into fear mode. I was worried about mine and many others livelihoods. I would say one of the biggest hurdles for me was to just completely surrender. Not just as a business owner; but as a human being. It has really inspired me to become more adaptable and to adapt better to this new way of life. Finding new and creative ways to better cater to my loyal customer base and new ones too."

If you don't already follow her on her social channels you definitely should! Samantha's story telling of how she sources her ingredients is fierce and intentional! She also shares her knowledge gained from obtaining a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from Kent State University. Things like what helps to detox and increase positive functions! (You can find the links in her bio)

Check out some of venus in aquarius apothica's offerings

Fiber and Gloss

Meet the Gloss Boss - Katie Ford, the driving force and creator behind Fiber and Gloss. She is next level creative and witty! Born and raised in NEO Katie calls Cleveland home and loves the growing maker and entrepreneurial community here. She has a BA in Art Education from Kent State University, and is currently a full time high school art teacher in addition to running her business.

Katie is another one of those faces you'll see around town at markets and creative events. She's been designing cool maps, stickers, greeting cards, magnets, that incorporate vibrant colors, textures, and puns seemingly forever! When the pandemic hit, her life changed a lot. Like most artists she was affected by the cancellation of in-person markets.

"Well this whole pandemic thing certainly hasn't been easy, especially running a small business and losing out on so many of the opportunities to sell at shows and far fewer sales in my many handmade consignment shops. Before this year, I hadn't always been very careful or thoughtful about the amount of inventory I purchased, kept on hand, invested in, etc. The pandemic has forced me to completely change that and really focus on spending every penny wisely, and I'm extra grateful to have had the push! This has undoubtedly made me a better creator and business person, which I can (hopefully) apply to next year when things are *crossing fingers* a little more normal!" 

Fiber and Gloss's social channels are just as vibrant as their offerings and creator! Katie is incredibly real and shows her kind, quirky personality in a super cute way. (You can find the links in her profile)

Check out more from Fiber and Gloss

Soul Perchers

Cheryl Kuhn is an anthropomorphic taxidermy artist that makes whimsical creations that breathe life into objects which, unfortunately, had their lives cut short. If you're unsure of what an anthropomorphic taxidermy artist is: It means to take parts of taxidermy animals, the head, hands, tails...etc and use them to create assemblage art where the animals take on human characteristics. (Also fun fact: If you stumbled over trying to say anthropomorphic, I promise you I stumbled over typing it!)

Cheryl's creations can wear dresses, hats, etc. The most important fact is that all animals are ethically sourced, which means they have perished from natural causes and were not killed just to create art with. Most were, unfortunately, roadkill. Cheryl also works with farmers that have animals that perish from illness or natural causes. She tries to use discarded items or repurpose used items in her creations as well. One of my favorite things about Cheryl and her creations, beyond the sustainability factor, is the amazing attention to detail that goes into each one. 

When I was able to connect with Cheryl a few weeks ago she divulged that one of her "biggest hurdles was getting supplies. Since most of my items I use to create with are found flea marketing or at thrift stores, it was difficult for me to create without finding bits and pieces I needed to create with. I had plenty of taxidermy to work with but nothing to bring them to life. This forced me to become more creative with the supplies I did have on hand and expanded my creativity and expanded my ability to create something from very little."

To be kept up to date with everything Cheryl is creating you can obviously keep checking into Made Cleveland but you can also follow her social channels too! (Link in her profile)

Check out more of Soul Percher's creations

Ryu No Sakebi

Last, but certainly NEVER least is Ryu No Sakebi, the works of Matthew Richards. Matthew focuses on Japanese and fusion styled handmade artistic and functional pottery and metalworking. His pottery features incredible detail and one of my personal favorite pieces is the Fire Breathing Dragon, an incense holder that makes it appear the Dragon has come to life! You can watch it come to action on Ryu No Sakebi's YouTube Channel!

Ryu no Sakebi is a part of the collective over at The Screw Factory which is such an amazing hub of creativity! Matthew is frequently coming up with new cool ideas and has an active social channel where he frequently has live videos of kiln openings! (Link in profile)

Recently, I was able to connect with Matthew for him to share some of the challenges he's faced head on since the pandemic. He shares "Shifting from Art Show based sales to more direct studio sales and online sales and seeing a change in the type of work people are interested in. Since there has been a change in the type of my work people are interested in required me to become more proficient in creating certain artwork. Also, since many of the direct studio sales involve creating custom requested artwork this has let me be more creative than normal."

Check out more from Ryu No sakebi