Let’s meet Marelle, a professional artist for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Hopscotch Hands on Exhibit for the Blind. Her name in French means hopscotch thus the name of her shop, Hopscotch Couture. Let’s get business out of the way and talk about your Couture Etsy Shop first.
> I started making the couture bags about seven years ago, and it just sort of took off. Some have been sold to women as far away as Spain, Brazil, France, England and Australia. Now they are my favorite item to design. I also design jewelry, hair pieces, hats, custom clothing and I paint murals, modern art, and portraits. When I say Couture, I really mean that. There isn’t one item I have made that even I can recreate. All the jewelry, fabrics, trims, and accessories are true vintage items of the highest quality. Each purse is named and comes with a numbered certificate. I keep a running list of those names and numbers to make certain a duplicate doesn’t occur. And proceeds from Hopscotch Couture help to fund the Hopscotch Hands on Exhibit for the Blind.
I heard about an eco-friendly aspect to your shop?
> Every box we ship out is recycled from a local art supply store. My helpers cover any logos or text on the boxes with pretty pieces of paper. Their boxes are really quite beautiful. We all really like the fact that a good 95% off all materials used at Hopscotch Couture are previously loved vintage items. Being green was and always will be one of our goals.
Now onto your passion. Art for the blind?
> Absolutely! I have learned that the blind do appreciate art, if given the chance to view it in their way. As an artist, putting an image into the mind of a blind person is a huge accomplishment.
>It started like this…I spent 3 years after massive open heart surgery, just painting. After that, I got a collection of my art together and wanted to exhibit, but I found it very hard to get my art shown. I was very down about it. One day I was running my hand over one of my 3d pieces and it just came to me, ‘I bet the blind would like to touch this.’ At first, this was just an idea and I sent e-mails to blind councils to see if it was even possible, or wanted. I was invited to bring my art to the PBA convention in Harrisburg. The exhibit was very well received. When the president of the PBA touched a three-dimensional portrait I did, he said, “I have not had sight since I was five, but, when I touch this painting, I get an image in my mind.” That said it all! I felt like I had accomplished the impossible. I put an image into the mind of a man who could not see it. The blind understand faces, and I am told that is why my exhibit works. My exhibit has visited several blind conventions and centers. I have been asked to do other celebrities, such as, Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” Paul McCartney and Lucille Ball. Right now I am working on Betty White. This exhibit gives me great joy and satisfaction.
Are you currently exhibiting? Where?
Right now I am working on getting a dozen or so portraits done for the yearly blind convention in October. After that, it is my hope to raise enough money to attend the National blind convention in Las Vegas. I also plan on having the exhibit in several galleries in the North East in between conventions.
Looking ahead, what do you see for the Hopscotch Hands on Exhibit for the Blind?
I would like to see other artist get involved and having this exhibit travel nationwide. I would be willing to make duplicates of each portrait to have it available for more venues. You have to bring the art to the blind, travel is a big issue for them. It would help to have people in other states to put on the exhibits. I am also toying with the idea of having a purse drive. People can donate purses, I would turn them into works of art and sell to raise money. The only stipulation in donating is the inside must be perfect. I can cover exterior damage, no problem.
With all you are involved in, how do you ‘take a load off’?
For the last 6 years, I was very ill and bed ridden. Now that I am feeling better, the last thing I want is down time. I am sure that will change in the future, but, for now, all I want to do is create. With my heart condition I was only suppose to live for 7 days. I have no intention of wasting even one day, I have made it to 46 years old and am as happy as I can be about that.
Marelle, in her wonderful spirit of giving, is offering the opportunity to win one of her couture bracelets.
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This giveaway ends on May 11th, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. Open to EVERYONE.
Winner will be chosen via random.org and contacted by email. Please respond within 48 hours or your prize will be forfeited and another winner chosen. Good luck!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. Thanks.