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Easton Artist Transforms Kids' Artwork into Jewelry

An Easton jewelry maker constructs unique pendants and charms based on your children's drawings.

An Easton mother has found a way to make sure the artwork kids create during their youth is preserved forever.

Lee Skalkos, who’s lived in town her whole life, is the brains and metalsmithing talent behind Totally Out of Hand, the name she gave to her jewelry-making business where people send her pictures their children drew and she converts them into pendants, charms and pins.

“It’s just a really good way of preserving your child’s artwork,” Skalkos told Patch. “It’s just a good permanent record of their artwork and how it progresses through the years.”

In 2002, Skalkos’ ex-husband’s stepfather died. His death prompted Skalkos’ five-year-old daughter to draw a picture of her grandfather and herself, wherein she held a balloon.

“I decided to get my jewelry tools out—I had put them away for five years,” she said. “I made a pin from that drawing and gave it to my mother-in-law to wear. Everyone at work was stopping her, so I started asking friends to give me drawings.”

Then came national media attention, with Skalkos appearing in Yankee Magazine, Rosie Magazine, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, among other nationally known publications. She was even voted Entrepreneur of the Year by Victoria Magazine.

“The word kept spreading,” Skalkos said. “I got my big break when I was on HGTV, The Carol Duvall Show. That was great. I had work for years from that.”

Skalkos said generally people contact her through her website, sending pictures of drawings in to give her the idea for what to fashion. She said she’s made jewelry for people all over the world.

“If your kid drew a cow, and you sent me a drawing of that cow, I recreate it using metal,” she said. “I would make that piece unique for you. Sometimes, people order 12. I have to cut every single shape with the saw. Sometimes pieces have 20 or 30 different parts that need to be welded together. All pieces are individual and custom per each order.”

Skalkos also teaches jewelry and metalsmithing classes at Joel Barlow High School. She’s been teaching semester-long courses since 2005, and said her students have won numerous medals and awards for their work during that time.

“It’s great because the kids come in and they have no idea how to use sandpaper, no idea how to hold a hammer,” she said. “They learn how to use saws, torches, how to polish something by hand. They learn a lot.”

Skalkos’ jewelry—fashioned with sterling silver, brass, copper, or a mixture of the metals—starts at $145. Prices depend on “the complexity and how large” the piece is. The jewelry has the child’s name and age engraved on the back of it.

While most of the metalsmithing work she does is jewelry, Skalkos says its not confined to just that.

“I’ve made bookmarks, I’ve made wall-hangings,” she said. “Whenever someone has a cool, unique idea, we figure it out.”

Skalkos also offers private lessons. Those interested in getting in touch with her should visit www.totallyoutofhand.com or call 203.445.1953,

Jaimie Cura January 29, 2013 at 08:25 PM
What a creative idea, Lee! I'm definitely going to let folks know about this! What are some of your favorite pieces you've recreated in metal?
Lee skalkos January 30, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Thanks Jaimie! That is a super hard question, I have made so many! I would have to say it would be a little school bus with little faces inside. I did it in brass so it would look like yellow and I used sterling for the faces. My other favorite was Santa in his sled with presents and all of his reindeer. It was adorable. The silly drawings make the best pieces.
Jaimie Cura January 30, 2013 at 03:24 AM
That's so neat, Lee! Do you have pics of those pieces? You can add them to the article by clicking the "Upload photos" button. I'd love to see them!
James Redway January 30, 2013 at 05:08 AM
I feel compelled to contribute my two cents regarding the work of Lee Skalkos. I have known Lee for over 25 years. She is a New England treasure. The daughter of a highly-skilled welder, Lee has made her mark crafting beautiful jewelry for years, long before she launch "Totally Out Of Hand." From simple pieces to "Married-Metal," Lee's skill in creating beautiful and highly affordable pieces of sterling silver jewelry has earned her national attention on numerous occasions. Your child's artwork is but a snapshot in time, a simple moment in which innocence collides with beauty for just one moment. Proudly displayed on the refrigerator door for a finite amount of time, your child's art is destined to be lost in the shuffle of 21st century life. Lee can transform that child's fragile drawing into a permanent family heirloom, carefully crafted in sterling silver, and certain to be passed from generation to generation. This article is yet again a snapshot in time, that will disappear in just a few days. Bookmark this webpage, print it out and paste it on your refrigerator next to your child's artwork, because this may be your only chance to seize the day and preserve that innocent beauty, conceived through the creative mind of your son or daughter. Preserve a family heirloom and give Lee Skalkos a call.

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