Artist Statement

He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

St. Francis Of Assisi

ARTIST STATEMENT

We are pleased to introduce you to Sisters Mercantile! Barbara Clements, a native of Fitchburg MA, has been a professional artisan her entire adult life. In 1975, originally trained in leather craftsmanship, Barbara began selling her hand tooled and dyed leather products in San Francisco as one of the first licensed street artisans at Fisherman’s Wharf. Barbara soon began designing buckles, combining silver, gold, and pewter to accessorize her hand made belts. During the next 30 years, Barbara’s reputation as a quality leather craftsperson took her to juried craft shows throughout the country. Barbara’s commitment to the continued success of her business, motivated her to attain a business degree and in her early 40’s, while still operating her leather business, she began college, graduating 5 years later with honors and the B.A. she had coveted for so many years.

Barbara’s partner Sharon Balko, a retired math teacher, joined Barbara in the business in 2001, bringing a whole new energy to Sisters’ Mercantile. In 2003, looking for a change from leatherwork, Barbara redirected her belt buckle design skills to the exciting world of jewelry crafting. She and Sharon then embarked on restructuring the business from leather to jewelry. Sisters’ Mercantile jewelry incorporates hand made paper beads, semi-precious stones, crystals, silver, gold, and magnetic hematite beads with a unique magnetic closure. The secure and easy to use magnetic closure has brought jewelry wearing back to those unable to deal with the difficulty of securing standard clasps.

Customers immediately embraced their new line of jewelry and Sisters Mercantile began branching out to additional high quality juried shows. Barbara and Sharon take pride in their efforts to keep their jewelry affordable without compromising their superior quality. Throughout her 35 years as an artisan, Barbara has always prided herself on customer satisfaction, happily designing and creating a custom order on the spot if time allows! A line of men’s jewelry is also offered.

Sisters Mercantile is a family business. Barbara and Sharon, along with Barbara’s Mom (Alice) and sister (Jackie), painstakingly create each piece of jewelry. Quality of materials and craftsmanship is closely monitored to assure every piece meets their high standard of workmanship.

For three seasons each year, when not at a craft show, Barbara and Sharon are nestled in a 100 year old farmhouse, which they restored together, on 30 acres of woodland in up state New York. Sharing their home and hearts are their two cherished shelter puppies and two spoiled cats (who actually wandered in and “adopted” Barb and Sharron)! Winters are spent in Florida (with their four pets) and while Barbara schedules their next season of craft shows, Sharon lives her dream of working part time for Disney. Barbara and Sharon never miss an opportunity to lend a helping hand and are pleased to have found a way of “giving back” by donating a portion of the proceeds from their new line of cancer awareness jewelry to the American Cancer Society.

Thank you for your time; we appreciate your interest in Sisters Mercantile! Please visit sistersmercantile.com and see for yourself. Questions and/or comments are always most welcome!