Two weeks ago when I went into Old School Records to pick up some CDs I ordered, I noticed something new sitting on the counter: a rack of earrings. This might seem a bit odd for a record store, but they were made out of guitar picks. Since the picks were decorated with Day of the Dead motifs, I was immediately drawn to them. I stopped Peter before he could ring up my purchase and chose a pair – a very difficult decision, might I add.

Peter explained that two sisters, Forest Park residents Christina and Laurie Respass, made the earrings. Christina had helped out at Old School before and Laurie did crafts at the store during the Holiday Walk in December. When they mentioned making guitar pick earrings, it seemed the perfect fit for Old School. “We always like to help out musicians, artists and authors who are music-related whenever possible,” Peter says.

Since I also like to support local artists, I asked Peter for Christina’s email address so I could find out more about the jewelry-making business that she and Laurie named Dancing Strawberry Craft & Curio. Dancing Strawberry was suggested by their mother because it reminded her of a picture taken when 4-year-old Christina was a strawberry in a ballet. Christina was trying to think of “something clever and witchy,” so she didn’t like the idea at first, but Laurie felt her crafts were more whimsical. Once Christina thought to add “Craft & Curio,” they both were pleased with it.

The Respass sisters have different artistic backgrounds. Christina just started crafting last year. She says she’s always been the one with the vision who tries to get other people like her sister or mom to make it happen because she “felt fumbly. I failed scissors skills in second grade.”

Laurie has always done crafty things but says she has “crafter’s A.D.D., meaning I do a lot of things, but have trouble focusing on any one type of craft.” She has made jewelry since high school, though, and she gives Christina credit for coming up with great ideas for her to execute – like the one that got Dancing Strawberry rolling.

Christina had been inspired by Day of the Dead calaveras since a trip to Arizona a few years ago, so when she found the sugar skull guitar picks, she asked Laurie to help her make earrings out of them. Christina adds that when she went to Briolette Beads on Madison Street to learn beadwork, “the real trouble began.”

Dancing Strawberry fills different needs for the Respass sisters because of their job situations. Laurie works full-time as a fundraiser. It can be stressful, so “going home to make some craft or jewelry is very relaxing” and allows her to be creative. Christina, who is an unemployed accountant, says that one of the reasons she started making jewelry was to pull herself out of the depression that unemployment caused. It wasn’t until her friends started complimenting her on her jewelry that she thought about actually being able to sell her wares.

Christina says the accountant in her makes her skeptical about making a living from crafting, but “it’s something we enjoy, and if we can support our habit, that’d be great! If we can bring in a little extra, even better!”

They are looking into local craft fares, putting up a Dancing Strawberry Curio & Crafts store on the website, Etsy, and will continue to come out with different styles of guitar-pick earrings to sell at Old School Records. I’ve gotten lots of compliments on mine, so check them out! a