By Dana Dunn
Cathie Streator has been crafty most of her life.
Certainly not “crafty” defined as “marked by skill in deception.” We’re talking talented in endeavors that require particular skills and patience that result in distinctive and often unique products.
Streator’s reputation for craftiness led her to creating Patchwork People Pins, wearable art pins made from brightly colored acrylic material that she cuts by hand and pieces together with heat.
“I started the business in 2000 to help pay for my daughter’s college expenses,” she recalled. “A friend gave me some of the material and told me that she didn’t know what to do with it, but she knew I was crafty. I worked with preschool and child care centers and decided to make little people.”
Streator made “people” in her spare time until earlier this year when she retired from 4C for Children, a child care resource and referral agency, where she worked as the Clinton and Warren County coordinator for 21 years.
Now, her part-time passion has become her regular vocation.
“I called them Patchwork People, comparing the variety of experiences that make up our lives and the wonderful diversity of people in the world to a brightly colored patchwork quilt that beautifully combines the colors into a fabulous work of art,” Streator said.
Oh, yes, Streator has also quilted, made beaded jewelry and stuffed snowmen. She has also tried pottery, stained glass and photography, and also plans to dabble in water colors.
A native of Middletown who now lives in Clarksville, Streator came to the area to attend Wilmington College. She later worked at both the college library and the Wilmington Public Library, where she did children’s programming. She received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Forsythe College in North Carolina where she lived for two years.
Streator was influenced at an early age by her father, who was a draftsman and photographer by trade who oil painted on the side.
“I would sit in his studio while he painted and he would set up photos for me to do my own painting,” Streator said of her father, who passed away when she was 12.
She started out creating only little people, but started making animals and abstract creations as she got more and more custom requests. She has framed her finished products, made them into pendants and earrings, and as decor for ID badges.
“The hardest part is designing and I work from my drawings and photos,” she said. “I have to use special scissors to cut the hard material and some I have to try a few times to get it right. But I have also had some happy accidents that have turned into unique, usable pieces.”
She has sold many of her pins at area book stores and craft shops, but now that she has more time for creating, she sells most of them at high-end art and craft shows and through Etsy, a website where people from around the world connect to sell and buy unique goods.
“I have shipped pins across the world. My people have gone places I will never see,” Streator said. “I once shipped a bluebird pin overnight to a customer in Australia who willingly paid an incredible amount for postage to get it in time to give to Alicia Keyes for Christmas.”
The pins typically sell for around $13 each, but she also supports many nonprofits with product discounts and donations that assist them with fundraising efforts.