Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spotlight on Cherry Lipped Roses


As a child, Kathryn Ottolini remembers the walks in the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains she took with her grandmother, who would point out to her each and every wildflower. The result of that early introduction is that today, Kathryn is a master watercolorist living near and painting the wild flora of those mountains. But painting is just one of her many interests…

By day, she is an ophthalmological technician.  In the morning, at night and on weekends she is “a huntress.”
If you visit her etsy shop, you will see that she is an avid collector of vintage and antique jewelry and other precious collectibles. Her obsession is not only with the items themselves, but with their history as well.

“If I can gain anything from research I am on it like a duck on a Junebug. I take history and use it as the drawstring around the piece, and often hold the piece in my hand and wonder what person it had been with, what facet of history was that individual living through when they first saw it.”

                                                     English embroidered leather card case

She explains that her mother, who grew up poor along the bottomlands of the Mississippi, developed an interest in antiques and over time acquired a keen knowledge of them, and Kathryn soaked it all up through osmosis.
When you peruse Kathryn’s shop, you’ll notice that she seems to have an affinity for certain items… “I found myself becoming increasingly attracted to opera glasses.”

                                                              flirty little opera glasses 

Now this is where she hops into her 6 speed VW GLI and does some time traveling… “Whose eyes watched the actors in the theater?...who else did they gaze on? Were there lusty flirtations that raced back and forth or was the smirking gleeful dowager behind them collecting all the dirt for the next day's tea?” She appreciates the fact that  “these pieces of history are beautiful and can still be used...if for nothing else than sitting on the mantle to be picked up on passing to watch birds...”

                                                            Taxco Mexican Silver

Kathryn’s idea of fun is sleuthing for and researching her precious finds. But she also manages to pack gardening, photography, writing, beading, reading, and of course, painting into her days. Oops, I almost forgot, she’s working on renovating a 100-year-old bungalow…
She has a son, who is one of the youngest jet engine repairmen in this country, a daughter, with her own etsy shop, and two grandsons. 

                                                 British engraved sterling cigarette case- 1926

Kathryn’s passion for antiques didn’t really become a business until, as she put it,  “I flicked the ‘ON’ button for the first time on a computer 4 years ago. Now THAT was an interesting moment. Then I stumbled across ETSY, called my daughter in North Carolina, and told her we were going to be business partners.”

                                                     vintage charm bracelet 1950's-70's

I asked her how she markets herself and she explained that she uses business cards. She wears a “magnificent Taxco silver clamper bracelet” daily, which elicits lots of comments. At that point a conversation usually develops and Katheryn has a new potential customer off to check out her site! She talks Etsy everywhere. She loves making treasuries, and has connected with many new friends there. She also uses Facebook, and her online selling has expanded to include a shop on She spends a lot of time on her business, and it’s easy to tell she loves it. Her motto: “hands to work, hearts to God. Just DO it”. That she does.

                                 (You can find out how she came up with her shop name here…)


  1. i'm exhausted just reading this hahaha...way to go on such a diverse life!

  2. I want to thank Betsy Bensen for making me feel like Lady Gaga for a day...I am absolutely stunned and delighted with her and she worked her buns off to make ME look good! Thank you so MUCH! Kathryn

  3. Such a full life and you are so full of life, Kathryn !!
    Great feature once again, Betsy, Bravo !

  4. Kathryn, I am also obsessed by the history of the vintage items. I believe this is real History!

  5. Kathryn, you are a lady after my own heart! I loved reading this and getting to know you! Betsy, great interview!

  6. how great to meet Katheryn! and with such a passion for the items past!

  7. Wonderful are awesome Kathryn!

  8. Great interview Kathryn... a few things that I did not know. I feel your passion. ����

  9. Great interview Kathryn... a few things that I did not know. I feel your passion. ����