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Fresh Shop: XA Charles

Apr 12, 2012

by xacharles handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a mere handful of months or are awaiting their first sale introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

Hello everyone! My name is Krista Charles, and my shop is xacharles.

I first developed a love of making art while living in Alaska as a small child, when I was four and drawing pictures to send to my grandparents. During the long winter months, my mother, sister, and I stayed busy doing every conceivable craft, from macramé to hooked rugs. Traveling, reading, and shopping at thrift stores and garage sales are also passions of mine.

Krista Charles

Krista at her workspace.

With the series “Matchbook Landscapes,” I have combined my love of art, travel, and secondhand shopping through people’s collections of matchbooks. For each matchbook, I find the location of the business in Google Maps. On the inside cover of the matchbook, I make a pencil sketch of whatever is there now (keeping my fingers crossed that Google Maps has really taken me to the correct location).  On average, each drawing takes about two hours to complete, so I typically spend more time at these digital locations than I might if I traveled there in person.  While travel in Google Maps is virtual, the experience still leaves a memory of the “visit.”

The first matchbooks I used for these sketches were saved from my grandfather-in-law Pete’s junk drawer.  When Pete moved from his house of 60 years, he left a small bag of old matchbooks up for grabs, collected from places he and his wife had patronized in their home town and during their R.V. travels around the U.S.  Neither Pete nor his wife smoked, but these matchbooks, freely given by many businesses as a form of advertising, were souvenirs and mementos, not to mention handy to have when the power went out.

Sometimes the places advertised on the matchbooks are still in business even though decades have passed. Some businesses have changed names or are under new ownership. Sometimes buildings are empty or have been torn down, replaced by new buildings, parking lots, highways, or even empty fields. Time moves on, people and places change, and memories are lost.

No matter how relentless change may seem,  the excitement of discovering something as simple as a matchbook tucked away in a junk drawer can give us a glimpse of the past and make us wonder about the person who once owned it. Even though the places recorded by Google Maps are here today, eventually they will become only memories, archived for a time online and perhaps preserved a little longer in the practical beauty of a matchbook.

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