First Friday Art Walk Tonight

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A long-time teacher and coach has managed to turn a hobby into a thriving business.

As retirement approached, Mitch Santos knew he’d need some way to supplement his income. So he got to work building a business.

Mitch Santos, a woodworker, is the featured artist for the month of January at The Gallery on Main, located within The Paperhouse in St. Maries. He will be available to the public at a reception in his honor from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2 at the gallery. His work will be featured in a special display through the month.

Mitch Santos, a woodworker, is the featured artist for the month of January at The Gallery on Main, located within The Paperhouse in St. Maries. He will be available to the public at a reception in his honor from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2 at the gallery. His work will be featured in a special display through the month.

The business he chose just so happened to involve woodworking, a craft that he found that he not only had talent for, but also enjoyed.

Mr. Santos moved to St. Maries in 1977 to teach. For 34 years he taught high school science courses in the same room.

Though he always enjoyed carving and wood burning, Mr. Santos didn’t start making larger items with wood until after he started building his house.

“Everything started when I began building my house,” he said. “It needed things to outfit it and so I started making tables, chairs and beds. I had wood burned and carved before then, and even sold a few pieces, but I mostly did it for fun because I enjoyed it.”

When retirement neared he decided to turn that enjoyment into a supplemental income.

“I knew after I retired I’d need some income to take care of medical and insurance premiums so I decided to develop my hobby into a business,” he said. “I learned how to use the log turning tools in the high school shop and after I got the hang of it I ordered my own equipment and started building chairs and log beds.”

Those started to sell and after a while the business grew. He officially launched his business in 2004 and started marketing hand-made furniture. Since then it has evolved into a variety of items.

“I am doing less and less log furniture, but more timber frame and antler lighting products,” he said. “If it’s made out of wood I will take a stab at trying to build it.”

It has just been in the last few years that Mr. Santos has become interested in showing his work as art.

“When I was teaching and getting the business established I just didn’t have the time, but now that I am just running the business I have a more flexible schedule,” he said. “Just this year I have been able to get involved in an art gallery and the art council.”

His favorite pieces to work on are the flat wood burnings and the cribbage boards that he has on display at the gallery.

Mr. Santos has been a driving force behind reestablishing an art gallery in St. Maries.

“I felt there was a need to get the gallery revived and it takes a group of people who have a goal to make that happen,” he said. “I really feel there is a handful of people really interested in having the arts available here. I wanted to get involved to make sure we do have a place to display art.”

He continues to work toward growing participation at the gallery and on the council.

“I’d like to see the number of artists grow so we can offer a little more variety at the gallery and make it more financially feasible for the council to support,” Mr. Santos said. “Even if you don’t make anything, $17 per month to have a place to display your work and support the arts is a deal. You can’t even store your stuff for that much.”

Mr. Santos will be available to the public from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2 at The Gallery on Main (located within The Paperhouse). The gallery will be open late and refreshments will be served during the reception. His work will also be featured in a special display that may be viewed that evening at the gallery or at any other time during the month of January.

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