Etsy Crush: Stonehouse Studio
It’s not every day that a person leaves a corporate job to pursue life as an artist, but that’s precisely what Betsy Baker did after finding her creative passion for making jewelry “later in life.” Now under the name Stonehouse Studio, Baker crafts polymer-based necklaces, earrings, and bracelets out of her Charlestown home and is a regular seller at the SoWa market and other craft shows.
When did your shop open?
I opened up a shop when Etsy first started out. I think it was in its first or second year back in 2006 and at the time they were real groundbreakers in terms being the first marketplace for handmade. So I’ve gone through all the growth and growing pains of everything and it’s just a fabulous place to sell your work.
How did you begin creating jewelry?
I handled the travel department at Hill Holiday for a long time. My sister lives in Mexico and during a visit to Mexico we went to a mineral shop and I just fell in love with all the stones I saw there. But then after doing the typical beaded jewelry for a while I wanted to do more and wanted to make something from scratch. So I went to a local Michael’s, found a block of polymer clay, started to play with it, took a couple of workshops and it just clicked with me.
Where did the name Stonehouse Studio come from?
Stonehouse comes from my sister’s hotel in the Yucatan. At the time I was working with stones so I thought it was very appropriate but now it confuses people a bit because I actually work with polymer and metal.
What materials do you use?
I’m primarily a polymer artist. It’s basically a plastic in clay form and it’s incredibly versatile, you can do a lot of different things with it. It doesn’t require a lot of complicated equipment, basically a home oven and a pasta machine. That’s what we use to condition and mix our colors. It’s a relatively new medium so a lot of the tools are either homemade tools or have been adapted from other things.
What influences your work, especially your black and white collection?
The black and white was inspired by traditional stencil designs on the Japanese Kimonos that date back to the Edo period. I love how abstract and contemporary they are even though they’re hundreds of years old. So when I saw these designs I thought they would be awesome in a line of polymer work. The technique I use on the black and white is called an image transfer where I make a photo copy of the design and I burnish the ink onto the clay and use a medium to dissolve the paper so all you have left is the image, the ink on the clay.
What inspires you?
You’ll see that there’s a definite voice in my work. Right now I’m just fascinated with what I call windows. If you notice in my pendants particularly, there are circles within circles and surfaces within surfaces and the way it’s constructed, your eye is drawn into the piece and there’s a whole other story going on inside the pendant. It’s very dimensional and a lot of other polymer work tends to be one-dimensional because it’s a plastic, but it does lend itself to shapes and forms and you can play around with it.