Friday, June 25, 2010

The woman who created Two Pack Rats and Dress Up Pack Rats. Who is she? You're about to find out.

May 24, 8:48 PMArtisans ExaminerBettie St.Ours

MaryBeth Drake, Another Talented Virginia Artisan

Another well kept secret in the state of Virginia, meet MaryBeth Drake~ creator of Two Pack Rats and Dress Up Pack Rats

MaryBeth lives in Rockbridge County near Lexington, Virginia. She grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, went to college and had her children in North Carolina. She came back to Virginia in the early eighties and started as an art major at Greensboro College but changed her major to special education. Her special education career lasted about 30 years! Around 2004, as she was finishing her second master’s degree, she had an opportunity to teach college freshman composition courses at Southern Virginia University because the administration was concerned about their “less perfectly prepared students”.

From there she moved to Virginia Western Community College to teach first year composition. She likes it a lot and enjoys the variety of students who attend her classes. MaryBeth said "It is hard work and sometimes the hour-long commute (both ways) really makes me cranky". She has recently applied for an administrative position at VWCC and really hopes that she gets that position. The interviews should start in about two weeks

Good luck girl, I hope your wish comes true!

What's life like being an 'Etsier'?

I suppose you are saying “That does not sound like the profile of a crafter!” I am at heart an artist and my creativity does play a large part in teaching. Making art and craft items is a relaxing escape from the academic world. All kinds of art are scattered throughout in my home and garden and I do participate in local art events. A while back, I discovered that creating portfolios and setting up art shows gives me panic attacks, so I decided that I would do art only as a hobby, not as a living. It’s more fun that way. Etsy is the perfect opportunity for enjoying the work of others and participating in the art community by selling my creative goods.

How did you choose the names for your shops?

I chose both shop names because my husband and I are pack rats and we think it is a great personality trait! My daughter needed an outlet for her paintings, so we created Two Pack Rats to combine our efforts. I created DressUpPackRats because I thought that clothing might do better in a separate shop. It doesn’t get as much traffic as the original shop but I hope to add items this summer that will attract attention.

I understand that you have a third pack rat, please tell us more.

My husband is beyond retirement age, but still works every day and keeps talking about what he will do when he retires. He makes huge clothespins and has sold them locally for years He is our third packrat and I hope he will create some more projects that we can sell in our Etsy store. He rebuilds old log cabins and I hope to be designing a web site for his business soon to drag him into the 21st century.

That's awesome Mary Beth; I have a special place in my heart for log cabins since I live in a more modern style log home myself.

Tell us, what do you like to do the most?

I like to sew, creating upcycled clothing comes naturally, but I wouldn’t want to do it on a production schedule! I enjoy shopping for used and vintage clothing, fabrics, trims, beads, and lace. Sewing allows me to alter my own wardrobe so it reflects my personality. I started making stuffed critters for my siblings when I was about 11. I made Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls to make money while I was in high school. I used to sew many of my own clothes and I’ve always made curtains and quilts for my homes.

How do you promote your Etsy shops?

I have MOO stickers and mini cards to promote my shops. I like to promote Etsy because it fits with my ideals of recycling, buying handmade and vintage products, and supporting small businesses.

What is one of your favorite ‘customer’ moments?

I like providing my customers with one of a kind items. I was very happy to sell a prom dress to a young woman who wanted a one of a kind funky gown this spring. I felt that I helped her be individual in an acceptable way and perhaps provided a little inspiration. The dress originally was a black taffeta and net Saks Fifth Avenue cocktail dress from the 1960’s. I painted the lace inset on the bodice and added glitter and beads. Just below the bodice, I attached a swirly shredded black taffeta ruffle. To complete the shabby look I cut the netting of the skirt into points so it hung down below the bubble hem.

MaryBeth I want to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share a little of your world with the rest of us. I hope that you have good news coming your way soon from VWCC. I wish you all the best and may your Etsy shops prosper!

Be sure to check out the slideshow below to see some of MaryBeth's lovely creations.

If you liked this article and want to know when I publish more personal interviews with talented artisans be sure to use the subscribe button at the top of the page so that you will automatically be notified via e-mail whenever I publish an article (and while you're at it, add me as one of your 'fav' Examiners).

If you are an artist and want to be interviewed, subscribe (above) leave a comment (below) include your e-mail address and I will send you the interview questionnaire. Or request a more private interview questionnaire by e-mailing me at

Until next time I wish you a good day today and every day!

Remember to always 'Pay IT Forward' one good deed deserves another.


No comments: