Tamarack jeweler turns lifelong passion for rocks into beautiful pieces of art
Marty Schaerer is a rock star – just not in the musical sense. She has turned a lifelong curiosity and passion for something most of us trample underfoot into a successful business and career.
“Rocks have opened up my world,” Marty said.
Marty makes beautiful and unique jewelry, including necklaces, pendants, rings, tie clips, tuxedo studs, and more. She sells her one-of-a-kind creations in several shops throughout West Virginia, including TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia in Beckley, W.Va. and the Artist Colony at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Her love of rocks dates back to her childhood when she would accompany her grandmother in Michigan to look for stones. Their favorite find was Petoskey fossilized coral. Marty became enamored with fossilized coral and continued to look for it when she moved to Florida. Years later, she moved to West Virginia, where she discovered the state gemstone was something called Lithostrotionella. What is that? Fossilized coral!
“My world is all about coral,” Marty said. “I am totally inspired by whatever the earth can provide me. I’ve travelled all over the world looking for rocks. Every rock I pick up isn’t usable material. I have to go by trial and error to see if it will work.”
Marty’s trial and error involves a 12-step process to create her pieces. She hunts the rocks herself and tests them to see if they are a strong, usable material. She then slices the material, grinds it, sands and polishes it. The result is something beautiful to share with others.
Originally from Michigan, Marty spent her childhood in Florida. She earned a teaching degree and taught art in a high school before she received the opportunity to go into business with some fellow artists. She has been supporting herself with her art ever since. While living in Virginia, she met an artist who worked out of the Artist Colony at the Greenbrier. The two would swap pieces and sell each other’s work. Eventually, Marty moved into the Artist Colony herself and moved her home to White Sulphur Springs.
While Marty gave up her teaching career, she continues to teach others by taking on apprentices. She has mentored nearly two dozen apprentices throughout her career. Tamarack has coordinated some of these partnerships through its mentorship program.
“It’s been a pleasure for me to be a mentor for jewelers who are learning and to teach them what I love. We have a nice reciprocal community at Tamarack,” Marty said.
Marty has been selling her jewelry at Tamarack since 1997, the year after Tamarack opened. Besides providing the mentorship program, Tamarack has proved invaluable to her work.
“Tamarack has been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I’ve enjoyed being part of the Tamarack family. It has given me a wider range of people to talk to and the opportunity to educate the public on rocks and on our state gemstone. It broadens my audience,” Marty said.
To learn more about Marty’s work, visit www.wvgems.com.
TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia, the nation’s first statewide collection of handmade crafts, art and cuisine, in an imaginative shopping and dining experience. Open Daily – 364 days a year. Tamarack is located off I-77/I-64 in Beckley, W.Va. To learn more, visit www.tamarackwv.com or call 1-88-TAMARACK.