By Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Liz Pawlik is a self-described dabbler; it has been this way since she was a kid — T-ball teams, volleyball camp, pottery classes, golf lessons. She’s tried weaving, knitting.
“If I’m knitting a scarf, it takes a really long time,” she said. “I don’t have the attention span for that or the patience.”
Then Pawlik tried making jewelry. She saw progress more quickly — pieces she could be proud of that she was able to finish much faster than, for instance, making a shawl.
The dabbler found her niche: statement earrings and necklaces made from textured and twisted shapes, simple clean-looking rings. Pawlik is the artist behind Fond of That, a collection of handcrafted pieces that can be found at craft shows, in local boutiques and on Etsy.
As her popularity has grown, so has her need for a space that is more efficient and specific to her needs.
Pawlik’s current studio space is temporary — so temporary that the new plans are committed, the permits acquired, the foundation laid. The couple is building a garage adjacent to the 750-square-foot home where she will work. But for now:
For now, Pawlik and her husband, Michael Maruska, share a work area in the basement of the home he bought and updated. A sliding barn-like door opens to a room with a concrete floor and two windows that are smaller than what Pawlik would like. Supplies are kept in baskets and on shelves.
Pawlik and Maruska have separate workstations.
He’s a sewer who makes canvas tents for winter camping, and his industrial sewing machine sits at one end of a wooden table in the middle of the room.
Pawlik counts him as an inspiration.
“He’s very handy and very into hobbies and can produce beautiful pieces of work,” she said.
She has a workbench made from hand-me-down kitchen cabinets, topped with an angular lamp. Her tools are affixed to a peg board on the wall: a saw, a hammer, materials. Her blow torch is travel-sized. There is a mason jar that holds mistakes and a dapping block.
She spends a lot of time in the basement, listening to public radio or binging on television shows while she works, she said. But sometimes, both are working at the same time.
“It’s pretty fun when my husband and I are down here,” Pawlik said. “He’s doing his craft, and I’m doing mine. He makes a lot of noise with his sewing; I make a lot of noise with my pounding.”
A new space is a necessity. Pawlik needs natural light, a proper jewelers’ bench, a full-sized blowtorch.
“I’m ready to start from scratch with a whole new space,” she said. “Spaces are inspirational.”
This all started at Michael’s, the craft supplies store where Pawlik picked up pre-made materials — wire and beads — and created her first pieces of jewelry. It was a start, but that wasn’t right. The pieces she made just weren’t her style.
Pawlik watched YouTube tutorial videos and checked out instructional books from the library. She went to a jewelry-making session in the Twin Cities.
But mostly she experimented with metals and stones and patterns until she found her voice.
“I have to want to wear it myself — that’s a big reason I started,” Pawlik said. “My style is minimalist, but makes a statement.”
Big earrings, common shapes with a twist, vintage patterns. Simplicity, symmetry, mixed metals. Her best seller is probably a set of earrings with a dangling semi-circle, she said.
Candace Lacosse, of Hemlocks Leatherworks, invited Pawlik to her first event — a craft and cocktails night at Vikre Distillery.
“I like her aesthetic and thought she would be a good fit,” said Lacosse, who handcrafts shoes and other leather goods out of a space in Lincoln Park’s craft district. “I like how minimalistic it is. It’s simple and sweet. She nails a style that looks good on everyone.”
Pawlik made her first Etsy sale to fellow local artist Natalie Salminen, who recently opened the gallery Haiku on Woodland Avenue. Salminen had gotten Fond of That earrings as a gift and went online looking for more jewelry, she said.
“I could just tell in that one pair that they had a special creative energy,” she said.
Salminen said she feels a kinship between their aesthetics — and the painter-writer and jewelry-maker are kicking around a collaboration.
“She’s making work that’s reflective of her,” Salminen said.
Fond of That
Locally: Bella Flora, Trailfitters, Adeline, Inc.