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Jeweler Draws Inspiration From Kids

For Lee Skalkos of Easton, the expression "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" couldn't be truer. For the past dozen years, the 45-year-old self-taught silversmith has been turning children's artwork into handcrafted Child Artwork Jewelry.

"I love what I do," she says. "It's a lot of fun because I receive really great drawings that are special to people, and I get to re-create them into lasting memories."

Skalkos has been making and selling jewelry since she was 18. She launched Child Artwork Jewelry about 12 years ago following a death in the family. "My daughter [then 5] drew a picture of a boy and girl holding a balloon to cheer my mother-in-law up, and I decided to make the drawing into a pin for her to wear," Skalkos said.

Her mother-in-law wore the pin to work, and the attention it received inspired Skalkos to start creating jewelry.

She advertised Child Artwork Jewelry and soon received media attention from outlets such as USA Today and Home and Garden Television.

While the attention is fulfilling, Skalkos said the favorite part of making jewelry is interacting with customers.

"The reactions I receive from people after they get their piece is great," she said. "It's very gratifying. I know it means a lot to them."

Skalkos also works full-time teaching art at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, a job she's held for five years. She hopes to launch a new jewelry line by the end of summer, but has not plans to discontinue Child Artwork Jewelry.

"Child Artwork Jewelry is so important to some people, I don't think I'll ever stop making them," she said.

To learn more, visit www.totallyoutofhand.com .

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