By Zirconia Alleyne
Like many artists, Maeby Irving likes to work alone. In her room, next to a window, work space disheveled but everything within reach is just the way she likes it. It’s organized chaos, but it helps her be creative.
Lately, her artwork has landed in the spotlight. In January, Maeby was artist of the month at the Hopkinsville Art Guild, where, at just 7 years old, she is the guild’s youngest member. She displayed a homemade collection of embossed cards called “Flowers” in the front window of the gallery and now sells them for $2 at Griffin’s Art Studio a few doors down.
“Since they’re so cheap, a lot of people keep buying them,” she said. “And, I make money.”
Last year, Maeby’s fascination with nature helped her capture a photo of the sun rising in the morning sky on her mom’s camera phone. The photo won first place in an art contest and now hangs inside the USO RP/6 Center in Clarksville. The center was the first of five RP/6 centers to open last fall near military bases to help soldiers transition out of the military.
Maeby said she submitted the photo because it was “beautiful and relaxing.”
“It feels great to have a photo there,” she said.
Maeby’s dad, Steven, is deputy division G3 in the Army. Maeby and her older brother, Bobby, 9, are homeschooled by their mom, Kate. The family has lived at three duty stations, Fort Rucker, Fort Campbell and Marine Corps Base Quantico. Their last move from Virginia to Hopkinsville, where Kate is from, was the hardest for Maeby and Bobby.
“It was the first time they had good friends that they were leaving,” Kate said.
Maeby kept in touch with her best friend by mailing embossed cards and pictures — but “now we just FaceTime,” the youngster said.
Maeby took up embossing two years ago when she met a lady at a museum in Virginia who offered to teach her. Embossing is the process of creating a raised design on another surface, like card stock.
The process is simple. Maeby picks out a rubber stamp, smears it with clear pigment ink, stamps it onto a card then picks a shimmer powder to dust on top. After pouring the excess powder back into the container, she seals her design with a heat gun, which works like a hair dryer but hotter.
Kate admits she was hesitant to let Maeby heat emboss at first.
“A 5-year-old and a heat gun — I’m like that’s a terrible, terrible idea,” Kate said. “But, she finally wore us down, and we decided if she had parental supervision, then we could just see what happens.”
Maeby’s work desk inside her room holds a large wicker basket of stamps, a box of colored glitter powders, blank cards and a small heat gun she uses with a clothespin to protect her fingers.
Maeby has mastered embossing to the point that she’s been asked to show others how it’s done. Her first demonstration was at a Girl Scout event in Washington, D.C., when she was just a Daisy scout.
“She was the youngest presenter there,” Kate said.
“I was the popularist (sic) presenter there,” Maeby quipped. “They just kept gathering and gathering, so it kind of got a bit out of hand for us.”
Each girl got to pick her own stamp and powders, but Maeby handled the heat gun, “for liability purposes,” her mom said.
Kate said homeschooling has given her children freedom to
explore their interests. Bobby is into sports, specifically baseball, and Maeby has always been drawn to art.
This summer, the budding artist wants to take painting lessons.
“She was one of the rare kids that you can take to the national gallery and she will stop and look at paintings and try to figure them out,” Kate said. “She’s good with classical art … she’s always been into color and she loves to feel
“She was that kid that took a Sharpie to the walls, literally, in one of our rental homes — I could have killed her,” Kate laughed. “But it wasn’t just scribbling … It didn’t look like anything to me, but she had a plan.”
Discovering her kids’ passions, Kate said, is as simple as listening to them and noticing what they like.
“The kids have their own interests and they follow them, and it’s my job to help them with that,” she said. “I’m not creative at all — my husband Steve is definitely the more creative of us two — but it’s great that she’s into this.”
Maeby also enjoys archery and looks forward to joining a local Girl Scout troop as a Brownie. One day, she wants to go to art school and become famous “and live in a huge mansion in New York because there’s more people there to be my fans,” she said.
By Zirconia Alleyne