Ditté Petitti uses her old jewelry and shops Internet sites and resale shops to find the perfect trinket to add to her artistic creations.
The Wonder Lake artist always is on the hunt for obscure materials to recycle and use in her pieces.
“I love repurposing things,” she says simply.
Petitti’s favorite trinkets to use in her creations are mirrors, beads and large globe crystals.
“When the light shines on them, they just dance around the room,” she says. “The prisms make beautiful rainbows around the whole room.”
She fashions these items into what she amusingly calls Dusteliers, “because they’re like chandeliers that collect dust,” she says. “I make pretty things that hang and collect household dust.”
“Pretty, sparkly things that hang are kind of mystical to me,” she adds.
Petitti, 59, creates Dusteliers by stringing strands of beads and intertwining twisted wire and hanging the strands from a circular wood frame.
Some of her other creations include “earring keeps,” which are comprised of a beaded wire suspended from a stand in a pendulum-like style for hanging earrings; “auto mobiles,” which are strings of glass beads designed to add bling to a rearview mirror; and wind chimes made with small bells.
About six months ago, Petitti was ready to learn a new craft, so she visited an online site to learn Kumihimo, a Japanese braiding technique which incorporates the use of silk thread. She uses this technique to create ornamental mobiles interwoven with feathers, beads, bells, natural stone and crystals.
Petitti also uses other techniques in her artwork. She was exposed to photography at age 10 by friends of her family who were professional photographers. She has been taking photos ever since and has more than 1,000 photos that she incorporates into her work.
She uses either decoupage or papier-mâché techniques to adhere her photos, mostly pictures of flowers, to her pieces. She wraps the photos around dowel rods used in wind chimes and also to the circular wood frame used as the base to hang beads in Dusteliers.
She also uses floral photos to decorate the bottom of wooden serving trays and uses scenic shots to cover electric outlet switch plates.
A New Career
Twelve years ago, Petitti experienced a dramatic change in her life that helped her creativity.
“Through medication, I finally got rid of a lifetime of migraines, and everything opened up for me,” she says. “I was able to concentrate.”
She decided to take her crafting a step further than just making gifts for family and friends and started selling her work at craft fairs.
“It took me seven years before I was ready to do a show,” Petitti says, noting she knew she had to decide on what kind of product to offer.
“Everybody and their sister makes jewelry, and I wanted to do something different. I realized I needed different mediums. That’s when I started using papier-mâché.”
Most recently, in 2010, Petitti opened a business named Symmetric Tendencies Art and started a website called Unique Art Gifts.
“It’s a passion because creating for me has always been a necessity, and I like making something pretty for people to enjoy,” Petitti says. “Everything I have done in my life has led me to this point. I start making something, and then it takes on a life of its own. That’s the part that I like the most — seeing where my little hands take it.”
Her one-of-a-kind pieces can take her anywhere from two hours to six months to complete, and they range in price from $12 to $80.
“I’m fortunate enough to be able to have the time that I do now,” says Petitti, who became an empty nester just three months ago.
While her son, Joe, a 30-year-old electronics test engineer, is the “brainsy one” in the family, Petitti’s 22-year-old daughter Mia shares much of mother’s talent for art and has accompanied her mom to many craft fairs.
“I am extremely proud of her for taking all of her ideas that she’s had and putting herself out there,” says Mia Petitti, a personal trainer in Huntley. “It’s interesting to see her in this new environment.”
Petitti’s husband, Richard, also attends craft fairs, offering his brawn to carry his wife’s many boxes loaded with crafts to sell.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do this because of the support he gives me,” Petitti says.
Petitti’s work can be seen at the upcoming 28th annual McHenry County College Craft Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, at 8900 U.S. Highway Route 14, in Crystal Lake. Her work also is available for purchase from her website at www.uniqueartgifts.com.
For more information on Symmetric Tendencies Art, call 815-728-1244.