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,