January 31, 2020 3 min read

“When I started Southern Calliope back in the summer of 2016, Nothing Too Fancy was the first business I reached out to about selling my glass Tennessee suncatcher ornaments.”  Spoiler alert - we said yes! This month’s local artist spotlight lands on South Knox gal April Baer, whose beautiful glass jewelry has become an NTF staple over the last few years.

“I have always been interested in art,” says April. “I grew up taking different art classes like drawing, ceramics, painting, and photography.” In her adulthood, April has really tapped into the opportunities for art education in Knoxville and continued to take classes and try different mediums. “I’ve been able to take a stained-glass class and several jewelry classes at places like Knoxville Arts & Fine Crafts Center and White Fox Bead Studio. It’s these classes along with lots of practice and internet research that inspired me to make jewelry myself at home.” Even more practice and some encouragement from friends and family led April to grow her hobby into a business and Southern Calliope emerged. Now she sells her hand made work in her Etsy shop, at NTF, and local craft fairs.  

“It’s so fun going to the bead store and picking out pretty, sparkly glass and gemstones. I also incorporate wire-wrapping and hand-hammered metal into my jewelry pieces. There are infinite combinations and it’s fun coming up with new designs...I love the freedom and creativity that making jewelry offers. My inspiration changes, and I just go with it.” When she’s not making jewelry or working her full-time job, April spends her time outside, hiking Ijams and the Smoky Mountains and gathering inspiration from our beautiful home state - a girl after our own heart! 

Like many side-hustle artists, April discovered one of her favorite mediums when someone gifted her a box of scraps - scrap glass, of all things. “At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but each piece of glass is so fun and unique, so I knew I had to make something with it. I started by wire wrapping the glass pieces to make suncatchers. When one piece of glass resembled the state of Tennessee, I got the idea to make Tennessee-shaped pieces intentionally.” From there, April began making more and more Tennessee pieces and eventually arrived at making the tiny ones you see in her necklaces and earrings that have become some of her favorites. “I really enjoy the Tennessee items I make. They are my most popular sellers and it’s great to make something that represents the place I love.”

When asked about how her work has changed over time, April said that the phrase “practice makes perfect” comes to her mind. “My wire-wrapping skills are much better now as opposed to when I started.  Also, I plan to continue to take art classes, and as I learn new jewelry techniques, I incorporate them into my pieces.”

April’s advice for aspiring makers? “Go for it! Knoxville is a great place for makers offering opportunities like pop-up shops and markets. You will have all kinds of options for getting your name and product out there.” We couldn't agree more.

SPECIAL THANKS TO April Baer FOR her beautiful and inspiring work, FOR TAKING THE TIME TO BE OUR LOCAL ARTIST SPOTLIGHT, AND FOR SHARING THE PHOTOS YOU SEE IN THIS BLOG POST! YOU CAN FIND April’s Southern Calliope pieces right here:https://nothingtoofancy.com/search?q=southern%20calliope*
On Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/southerncalliope/
On Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/southerncalliope/
Or at her etsy shophttps://www.etsy.com/shop/southerncalliope/