On Saturday, Dec. 7, Marti Brown, of Shelbyville, will demonstrate her stitched handbags and totes from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Brown earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Cincinnati Art Academy and her Master of Arts degree in art education from the University of Cincinnati. She moved to Kentucky to teach in Bardstown, then settled into marriage and raising her three children. When her husband went into the ministry, Brown began teaching again at a Christian school.
Brown is currently the children’s minister at Shelbyville’s Living Waters Church and also works as the children’s minister of an urban church for children. She looks at her creative work in fiber in a similar way that she does her ministry.
“I feel like I am trying to help children pick up the pieces of their lives and put them back together again into something good and whole,” she said. “It is pretty much what I am doing with my fabrics. I am picking up beautiful scraps of material – like the scraps of life – and I am putting them back together to create something that is beautiful and functional.”
Brown searches for unusual fabrics of high quality and is always looking for color, pattern and texture in the fabrics. She has no pre-conceived ideas when buying fabrics – but when the right ones are on hand and come together visually, she begins stitching. While she has general types and styles of bags, there are no two alike.
“That’s the fun in making these, because with no set design, each piece becomes something new. Brown explains, “A lot of the time the design of the purse gets dictated by the fabrics themselves.”
While the fabrics often direct her, Brown rarely creates a design without a bit of tweaking. Her bags are made of high-end quality fabrics, and all the seams that are weight-bearing have been stitched twice for durability. The grommet bags with knotted handles are great for toting lots of “stuff,” and the weight of the bag pulls against the knot, causing it to become tighter and stronger.
Brown’s work is regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea, Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.