Our beloved Lowcountry has a reputation of being an artistic city, brimming with poets, painters, writers, actors and other gifted individuals who are not only able to create a thing of beauty but spread the word and share the love with other artists. Here in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding islands, we’ve been bitten by the muse as well. I had the luxury of talking to just a few of East Cooper’s talented elite – mark my word, there are hundreds – and, while each person has a slightly different story or craft, they all share a sincere drive to make the world more beautiful.
Casia Correll: Leather
For Casia Correll, a New Year’s resolution presented the perfect opportunity to reinvent her creative self – and that’s just what she did back in 2014. When she couldn’t locate a bracelet she liked, Correll decided that leather work would become her new passion. Now, just over a year later, she’s undoubtedly found a new niche.
“It’s all still in the early stages,” she commented. “I have a lot to learn, and I’m enjoying it.”
A graduate of Full Sail University with a degree in graphic design, Correll claimed that she’s “most creative at night” and doesn’t mind staying up late or waking up early to create her pieces. The inspiration behind the leather designs – which include kitschy items such as a Legend of Zelda wallet – are typically her own forms with a twist.
“I get some unusual requests,” she admitted. “The most important part is to customize for your customers.”
Correll currently fashions wallets, handbags, key chains and other small goods out of leather. She gets most of her leather online and sells the goods primarily at her Etsy shop and at events downtown. Although she’s keeping busy – she also works full-time editing photos for Valerie and Co. Photographers of Charleston – Correll’s next goal is to make her own shoes.
“Then I can boot all of my family,” she said with a chuckle. “I would love to shadow a local cobbler and have some questions answered.”
Check her out on Instagram: https://instagram.com/casbot/
Malcolm Knight: Glass
When local glass blower Malcolm Knight was just 7 years old, he witnessed something unforgettable on a family trip to Dollywood: a furnace making glass. Today, Knight crafts exquisite glass pieces through a technique known as lamp work.
“Lamp work, as opposed to furnace work, is a more intimate form of the craft since you can do it alone in a smaller space,” he explained.
Knight pursued his education in glass making through a class at Blue Heron in West Ashley and then the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. He credited Sally Pratch as well as Matt Eskuche as two of his mentors during his time at Penland. After obtaining what he referred to as “a solid foundation” in glass blowing, Knight returned home to the Lowcountry and is now completing a degree in studio art at the College of Charleston.
“I decided to finish my degree in case I want to teach,” he commented. “I enjoy teaching; I teach surf classes during the summer.”
Knight purchases his materials for glass pieces through Mountain Glass Art in Asheville. It arrives in two solid tubes, about 5 feet long, which have to be broken down with heat. That’s where the torch comes in.
“You shape the glass tubes with the torch,” he said, “and one of the coolest things about flame work is manipulating the colors of the glass. Colors are usually made of metals, oxides and other pigments.”
According to Knight, he chose glass as his artistic medium because he finds it “fascinating.” And though he said making art out of glass is not inherently complicated, he admitted that it does take a long time to learn.
Check Malcolm out on Instagram: https://instagram.com/longtoemalcolm/
Tony Nesbitt: Multimedia
When he was a kid, artist Tony Nesbitt spent a portion of Sunday church services doodling cartoon characters. Today, he is one of Mount Pleasant’s most active visual artists, working in various mediums such as paint, pen and ink, pastels and even wood. A Lowcountry native from the Mount Pleasant/Huger area, he described himself as “a self-taught artist” and said that ever since those Sunday mornings, his drawing and painting abilities have blossomed.
Nesbitt prefers to work from a studio in his home.
“I have to be in ‘the zone’ in order to create something,” he mused, “a place far away from the everyday world.”
In addition to his artistic pieces, Nesbitt creates his own frames. He mostly purchases his materials locally, and he does his best to support other local artists and creative events.
“I credit my wife, Charmayne, for researching events,” he commented. “We value local opportunities such as the Sweetgrass Festival, Blessing of the Fleet and Art on the Beach. And we are also looking for more ways to get the word out.”
Nesbitt said his inspiration is mostly spiritual as well as related to family.
“My inspiration for this gift comes from almighty God,” he said.
Check out Nesbitt’s art at http://mkt.com/nezz-art-llc, where you can also view original sweetgrass items by his wife and business partner, Charmayne.
Kait Waggoner: Chalk and Wood
After Kait Waggoner got married approximately two-and-a-half years ago, she decided to sell the homemade decorations from her wedding and, thus, her business Salt and Light Designs was born.
“I created all of the décor for our wedding,” she said. “I started with chalk boards and wooden signs that I painted on, and then I started taking custom orders.”
Now Salt and Light Designs is thriving, and Kait’s husband, Chris, helps with much of the demand though he also works as a Realtor.
Why did Kait initially choose to start making signs out of wood? It was purely happenstance – after discovering an old piece of wood and painting on it, she got rave reviews. Today, the inspiration for the words she paints comes from different sources: numerous Bible verses as well as custom words her clients ask her to paint. As for the wood pieces, untreated lumber for current projects is typically scored from local sources.
“We’ve used local wood yards, including Guy C. Lee in Mount Pleasant, and we hope to keep doing so,” remarked Kait.
Right now, Salt and Light Designs boasts a thriving Etsy page and works with local events such as the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market. Future plans include hiring someone to help Kait do the painting and marketing the items to more local shops.
Check out Salt and Light Designs at SaltandLightDesigns.etsy.com.
Kim West: Wood, Scraps and Paint
Kim West said she’s been an artist for more than 20 years – including obtaining a degree in studio art and owning her own homemade stationery company – but the form she truly loves didn’t manifest until a bit later.
“One time, I had a dent in the side of my car, and I thought I could fix it myself, so I bought a can of Bondo – it’s polyester resin with talc,” she said. “I realized I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen!”
Now a prominent local artist, West uses another form of that same polyester resin to create pictures on reclaimed wood. The result, she said, is a “crazy cool” texture.
“Within a matter of time, you can capture the essence of something – even if that essence is abstract,” she commented.
West’s materials for her current works of art consist of reclaimed wood, the polyester paint and a bevy of odd objects, from hardware to buttons and even pieces of bicycles.
“I’m inspired by just the simplest things around us,” she said. “They’re so beautiful.”
West sells most of her pieces at Karen’s Korner, a gallery and frame shop located in Mount Pleasant. She said she hopes to expand outside of the region in the future and keep making art “because she enjoys it.”
Check out Kim West online at Facebook.com/KimWestOriginals.
Article By Denise K. James.
Photos provided by the artists.