a storefront for artists

Running a home business can be lonely.

For years, said Sequim artist Renne Brock-Richmond, she met local women who had their own art-related business from home but didn't know who to turn to for support and advice.

"I wanted a chance to introduce these people to each other," Brock-Richmond said. "These people need to know each other and support each other."

Brock-Richmond created Burning Down the House, a support group for independent artists trying to sell their wares. According to Brock-Richmond, the group meets once a month and a member teaches a mini-lesson on anything from branding and marketing to blogging.

This year, the 10 or so members of the group decided to hold their own show, "a storefront for people who don't have actual storefronts," as member Mary Beth Beuke put it.

Brock-Richmond found that several of the group members also were a part of a Olympic Peninsula team for the Web site, where anyone around the globe can buy and sell their handmade goods online.

On Sept. 13, 15 artists from either the support group or the

group - or both - will hold the Opulent Art Show at The Cutting Garden.

Garden owner Catherine Mix said she was thrilled when the group contacted her about the show. "I'm a professional artist myself," Mix said. "I'd love to see my place used for art."

The best part about the group and the show, said the artists, is that it is not devoted to just one genre. The women create everything from jewelry to photography to handbags to fused glasswork to handspun yarn. Each artist has the chance to learn about another form of artwork, perhaps something she can use in her own pieces.

"We've gone from being business owners to being friends," Brock-Richmond said.

Like most of the women, member Lisa Kendrick said she's been artistic since she was young but didn't think to make it a business until recently.

"I've been sewing since I was about 8 years old," Kendrick said.

Three years ago, Kendrick decided to make a handbag for herself and then for friends - a year after creating her first bag, she quit her job working for an investment firm and decided to pursue her bags and accessories full time.

About the same time Kendrick relocated to Sequim, fellow member Marliese Bankert quit her job of 20 years as a card dealer at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and moved with her husband and young daughter to the peninsula. In a quest to start fresh, Bankert put the skills she had learned in a Las Vegas photo framing class to good use and began photographing and framing in her Blyn home. She sells her photographs at the Open Aire Market and offers framing services for people who have their own photos.

"I'm pretty much a nature lover and I love taking pictures," Bankert said of her change of pace. "It's really satisfying."

Amelia Garripoli is one of the few group members who has a business partner - her 8-year-old daughter Natalie Carlson. Together the duo, who named their business By Our Hands, have collected a pile of winning ribbons from the Clallam County Fair for their handspun and often hand-dyed yarn.

"When I bought a house in Sequim it came with two llamas," Garripoli recalled of her foray into spinning.

The wool, some of which is local alpaca and some of which is commercial, is spun on Garripoli's spinning wheel.

Unlike many in the group, Susan Kroll said she does not strive to make a living from her work.

"I just love to weave," Kroll said, adding that she started her hobby to beat empty nest syndrome after her youngest child left for college. "I like to produce what I like to produce, but I can't wear everything I make so I sell what's left."

The group's unofficial head, Brock-Richmond, dabbles in nearly every medium of art but said for the show she is displaying and selling her apparel. Her feature piece, she said, is her cotton shopping bag, an idea she had several years ago but is more relevant now because of everyone's quest to be earth-friendly.

"It's also Sequim-friendly," Brock-Richmond said, pointing out the front of the bag.

"Relax and smile, it's Sequim," it reads.

Who: Peninsula artists who have home businesses and need a "storefront"

What: "Opulent Art Show"

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13

Where: The Cutting Garden,

303 Dahlia Llama Lane off Woodcock Road

More information: Live music will be provided by Dan Lieberman, refreshments will be served by Damiana's Best Cellars and

Bell Street Bakery


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