HAZARD—Rolling out polymer clay and molding creepy faces onto it in the July heat was probably the last thing Debra Kersey thought she’d be doing when she thought about her future seven years ago. Now, it’s something she said she feels grateful to be given the chance to do.
Kersey is the founder and creator of Klopp Studio, where her “Klopp Kids” were born, and was one of the featured artists at the most recent “Thursdays on the Triangle” art fair in downtown Hazard last week.
The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) received a grant earlier this year from the Rural Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC) to put on the events in downtown Hazard in order “to promote local art and culture,” the Herald reported in May. The festivals are being held in conjunction with MACED, InVision Hazard, the Hazard-Perry County Tourism Board, the Hazard-Perry County Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, and other local organizations.
“It’s about helping out community see artists as a business and as something that may be a potential option for them, as well as helping our artists see the value in participating in out downtown economy—helping them see that there are opportunities for them to be here and in business,” Les Roll, who works with MACED, spoke with the Herald before the first event last month.
Kersey, a nurse by day, said she never thought what started as a hobby for her could have turned into what she now hopes to make her primary business and income someday. She added that events like “Thursdays on the Triangle” help her reach out to an audience that she doesn’t always get to as easily with her online Etsy shop and website.
“I think they’re (the events) very enlightening, and it helps people get to talk to their customers and they get to see like what’s going on right now and what people are looking for,” the Knott County native said. “It’s just different from sitting behind a computer.”
“I talk to people all over the world, but I’ve not talked to anybody locally because, for whatever reason, they’re not finding us online But it’s a great way for us to get our names out to people and to see what they’ve got going on out in the community,” she added.
Kersey said she feels like she puts her heart and part of herself into her dolls—literally giving her maiden name to the Klopp collection.
“They’re like my little kids. I spend all my time with them and I give them names and I feel bad when I have to ship them to somebody,” Kersey laughed, adding that she does sometimes do custom orders, however, admitted that they aren’t as fun as when she can create on her own.
Kersey is also featured at the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman, and travels to other craft and art fairs. Her wares can be found at www.KloppKids.com.
The next, and fifth of six, “Thursdays on the Triangle” is set for Thursday, Aug. 6, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and will feature new artists.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.