Patty Kesselring is an artist who lives in Westminster. In her professional life, Kesselring is a special education teacher at a high school in Howard County. For the past six years she has worked solely with special needs children. She has been teaching for fifteen years and has an M.S. degree in secondary education. She is starting to work on her Ph.D. in special education.
Since 1979 in her artistic career, Kesselring has been a seamstress/costumer. She started sewing when she first got married and moved to North Carolina with her husband who was in the army. At that time, her husband needed patches sewn on his uniforms so she started sewing. Since she wanted to do more sewing but had no experience, her mother told her to start out with a simple A-line skirt and follow the directions. It was a success.
Then, Kesselring's husband was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky. While there she met a French woman who had come there with her husband, a member of the French army who had come to study at the Armor Advanced Course there. The French women taught Kesselring to match plaids. That was an important skill to her and Kesselring was able to make clothing from plaids, including a coat dress.
"I enjoy sewing because I can take a blank piece of fabric and turn it into something," She explained.
In the mid-1990s, she got involved with Star Trek clubs, forming a club of her own in Watertown, NY and later in Springfield, Va. Kesselring made Star Trek uniforms and competed at various conventions in their masquerade costume contests. She even made Star Trek clothing for her children, who had fun dressing up and attending the conventions with her.
Then, Kesselring began participating in Klingon reenacting when she joined a group. Klingons are an alien warrior race from the Star Trek television series. Kesselring created Klingon clothing out of vinyl for their uniforms.
In 2003, she had the idea with some friends to do a Klingon version of Lady Marmalade (Ladies of the Evening). Her costume won "Best in Workmanship" at the "Shore Leave" (shore-leave.com), a fan run science fiction convention. Kesselring's costume was made partly out of her wedding dress from her first marriage. Kesselring dyed the dress black, took off the bodice and layered the skirts. In the front, she added beading from a Victorian lamp that one of her cats had broken. According to the website, their masquerade event "... is a little like a beauty pageant, a little like a fashion show."
For their 35th anniversary this year, Shore Leave featured "the folks from the Space Telescope Science Institute, Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers, the University of Wyoming, and the Center for Astronomy and Physics Education Research." The convention also featured many science fiction stars such as William Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame; a film festival, charities, an art show, vendors, writing workshops, authors and more for the weekend.
You can see it on her Facebook page under Mary Harris, Westminster. She stopped doing Star Trek when her children stopped being interested.
Kesselring has always done crafts such as needlepoint and makes baby quilts for her friend's children.
Today, Kesselring is a crafter-jeweler. She started making jewelry for herself and loves to make unique pieces that match her wardrobe. Co-workers admired her work and encouraged her to make jewelry to sell, so she did.
She uses cracked glass or glass pearls in her jewelry. All her pieces are hand strung. She also makes multi-strand beaded necklaces. Everything has matching earrings. Most of the necklaces have some sort of large pendants such as cameos, glass or something with bling. Her work is for those who like jewelry that makes a big statement.
"I always make sure to use large clasps," she said, "because I have had four hand surgeries over the last few years. I make what I like for myself and other people like it, too. The large clasps are also easier for women to use that have long nails."
When she makes jewelry, Kesselring can match her outfits exactly. "It has been great to know that other people enjoy my jewelry." It is all one-of-a-kind and no one will have one quite like it. Her work can be seen on Facebook at CrazyGranny's Bling.