Couple finds passion for different art mediums
Story BY Alexa Matthews
Photos ED KELLER
Between Marianna’s jewelry-making and Eric’s wood-working, the DeLuca family doesn’t shy away from sharing their love and talent for art – and luckily for the newly married pair, collaborations between the two come easy.
“It just so happened she also had a passion for art, and we work well together, it’s great,” Eric said. “It wasn’t even planned like that.”
Having gotten her start with fixing her mom and grandma’s jewelry in her teens, Marianna bought her first computer and self-taught herself HTML to do work with the web in 2001. After investing in a torch, kiln and the necessary tools, her first glass beads were made in 2002. While at first her attempts cost her scars on her hands and burns through her clothing, it didn’t take her long to get caught up in the rush of working with the glass.
While her husband Eric had always loved to paint, draw and do renovations, he didn’t get hooked on wood-burning, also known as pyrography, until around three years ago. When Marianna suggested he give it a go, Eric bought some cheap product and learned how to transfer the images onto the wood through tracing carbon paper. He uses a wood-burning machine with different pens and tips to give each piece of wood the desired burn look, usually after around four hours of work.
“It just started as gifts for people’s birthdays,” Eric said. “Now everybody wants something.”
The couple enjoys the uniqueness of their products. “I always like things different, I don’t want the same thing as the neighbor or someone else,” Eric said.
Their personal touches shine through the beads and wood-work alike. “I like taking apart old vintage pieces of jewelry and remaking them or using the pieces in something new,” Marianna said.
Typically, a single bead takes Marianna around 40 minutes to complete, depending on the detail and size, and now retails for between $4 and $25 per bead. For finished pieces, like her necklaces and earrings, Marianna receives anywhere from $18 to $90. Eric prices his designs after the amount of time and design gone into the work – usually varying between $12 and $300.
The couple have multiple workspaces throughout their home, complete with all the equipment involved in the processes, which was found online. Their children have also found interests in the art field, ranging from drawing to photography, and both Eric and Marianna are more than happy to encourage them. Marianna even helped her son learn how to work her torch when he was just eight years old. “Nothing against the school systems, but they’re not gonna learn certain stuff or certain ways to express themselves through art in school,” Eric said.
Between Marianna’s 12-year-old Noah and 7-year-old Lucas, and Eric’s 18-year-old Bella and 14-year-old Anthony, the whole family is packed with talent; and the couple is more than happy to encourage all four of them to pursue the arts.
The couple’s biggest struggle is the lack of time they’re able to devote to their passion with their busy schedules.
“It’s our work away from work,” said Eric, who works full-time unloading steel coils with an overhead crane. “We love doing this stuff, but unfortunately there’s not enough time.”
Marianna, a real estate agent, agrees. “We have four kids between the ages of 7-18,” she said. “So we get kind of this crazed look in our eyes, and we’re like okay, let’s go drink coffee, turn on loud music and start making stuff.”
“Whenever I’m making something, she’s always part of it, it seems,” Eric said. “I’ll do the wood and she’ll paint; we’ve just always meshed well. I don’t know how, but together we always make something really cool.”
Sometimes Marianna will turn to Eric for teamwork on her jewelry making, such as her one-of-a-kind pendants. “I’ll go to him saying I need something for a necklace, but I don’t know what,” she said. “But I need this shape of a wood piece for a pendant; he’ll always have an idea to add.”
Having just celebrated their one-year anniversary Oct. 15, the DeLucas always have something in the works. Friends and customers have suggested Eric try his hand at working a booth at Monroe County’s annual jazz fest, and Marianna has been published through BeadStyle Magazine, BlogHer and other well-known publications, she also has customers from local areas all the way to Australia and Jerusalem. Both continue to post their work online, and receive many requests from friends, family and others for new projects. Although both are currently unable to launch their artwork into a full-time career, it remains a dream, and the DeLucas praise those who have found their niche and passion and have the ability to make a full-time living with it.
“My 18-year-old daughter, who is at the University of Toledo, is confused about what to do for her future,” Eric said. “I told her, do something you love; do me a favor, don’t chase the money, because dad’s been doing that for a long time. I take care of my family, pay the bills, whatever. But my passion is not there, so if you can find something and make a living doing it, my God, do it. If it’s taking photographs, so be it. If it’s anything to express yourself, do it. If you can find something that you just love doing, do it, don’t worry about how much money you’re gonna make, because money comes and goes. But don’t be broke either, because you’re not living here forever.”
To find their work visit http://www.stargirljewelry.com. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @stargirljewelry and @elouis78. Check out their items on Etsy at stargirljoolz.