GTPulse: Interlochen Artist Creates Pieces Made With Wood and String

We’ve all responded to the stress of the pandemic in different ways. While some took solace in culinary projects, others focused on reorganizing their homes. Some found a renewed sense of joy through time in nature, and others found joy in a new Netflix series. Interlochen local Josh Shelton tapped into his talent for creating art, a gift he didn’t know he had.

Special Creations by Josh is a three-person, family-run business that resulted from all of the time spent indoors last year. Josh’s sister Jill Robinson and her daughter Mykayla helped him get it off the ground, and now work as the team behind him making sure everything runs smoothly.

“When COVID hit, I started making masks,” Jill said. “Josh is high function, special needs. So with the pandemic, it added to some of his anxiety and it can be hard to express what’s bothering him. So when my daughter and I would go to the craft stores to get more material for masks, we would look for craft things for Josh.”

Mykayla stumbled across a string art project and thought that Josh would enjoy it. She nailed a board for him, not thinking too much about it.

“He really took it upon himself, because none of us knew anything about string art. He did a wonderful job and so he started making Christmas gifts for the whole family that turned out really beautiful. My daughter said, ‘We should make a page for him,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah we should.’”

Colorful threads wound around strategically placed nails creates artwork that is both colorful and textured. Bumblebees, college logos, and my personal favorite, a fish, are all examples of what Josh can do. If you can dream it, Josh can do it. Both Jill and Mykalyla made a Facebook page to display his art. They had hoped it would be a fun way to keep track of Josh’s artwork and maybe sell a few pieces here and there. They didn’t anticipate it would get popular so quickly.

“The next thing we know it was getting like after like, order after order. We were just so excited.”

Last year Josh had been working at Interlochen Arts Academy before the pandemic. His string art has become not only a creative outlet for him but also, his new job. He takes the artwork seriously, and customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to him.

“He loves to safely deliver his art in person if he can. When he can’t, he likes to be the one that takes them to the post office.”

Not only is he a budding artist, but also, entrepreneur, too. Josh has philanthropic aspirations that he’s already following through with. He raised $500 through selling his art to donate to the Special Olympics. In his latest effort, he raised $500 for the Benzie Police Department.

Though it started as a pandemic project, Josh won’t be stopping anytime soon. With the help of his sister and cousin, Special Creations by Josh has taken off in people’s hearts and homes. 

“He always says, ‘I’m so blessed that God gave me this gift.’ Every day he is just so happy to work and make art. He loves making other people smile.”

Josh’s art has gone all over the states so far, with the furthest place being Alaska. Mykayla handles the social media aspect of the business, Jill works on shipping, and Josh makes the art work. They’ve been so inundated with orders that they’re still a little backed up, a happy problem to have.

“We’ve had custom order requests, we’ve had businesses order. We keep in contact with everyone. It might be a month or two before your order ships, but we keep everyone updated on how many orders are ahead of theirs.”

If you’d like a Special Creation of your own, the best way to get in contact with Josh, Jillian, and Mykayla is through the Facebook page, Special Creations by Josh. Send them a message and they’ll be ready to help you start an order. Not only will you be adding decorative flair to your home, but you’ll also be supporting young, local talent.

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Categories: GTPulse