It’s time to get creative

MARTINS FERRY – Now that the ladies from the M.I.T.C.H. Collective in Martins Ferry have your attention -and hopefully your filled-out survey -they are hoping to benefit from your talents, time and enthusiasm.

In essence, co-founders Siena Baldi and Sylva Johnson are looking for a few good men and women to get involved.

One afternoon while taking in lunch at a restaurant and Center Wheeling, Johnson and Baldi struck up a conversation with their waitress about their pursuits at 501 N. 7th St. in Martins Ferry.

The waitress remarked that in her spare time, she hits up local junk yards, looking for interesting pieces to incorporate into her creations made through welding.

“From just a random conversation at the restaurant, we found someone that sculpts through welding,” Baldi said. “She had this talent and didn’t know anyone that would really appreciate it.

“That’s exactly the kind of people we are trying to reach.”

Baldi explained that while the M.I.T.C.H. Collective will soon be serving as a community for visiting, resident artists who will both work and instruct, the main goal of the facility will be to bring a greater sense of artistic expression and understanding to the community at large.

So it’s not just the professionals that Baldi and Johnson are looking to see come walking through their door.

That was the idea behind the interest survey they put on their Web site at – find out what the people want and supply it.

The local artistic community knows their faces, talents and what they are trying to accomplish. Now it’s time the general populace did as well.

A few people who filled out the survey when it debuted a few months ago were invited to the collective for an evening of pumpkin carving. More than 10 people attended and those who did had an enjoyable time coming up with some truly unique creations.

The duo also took in the Halloween in the Park put on the day prior to Halloween and was able to interact with some of the youth of Martins Ferry.

The co-founders met one of the attendees at the carving while hitting up the local farmer’s market.

“We got to talking and she came out for the pumpkin carving and she was here just this week helping out with the house,” Johnson said.

Budding artists, those with a casual interest and even community groups with an itch to paint, Baldi and Johnson will take all comers.

Need a further reason to take that first step through the door?

Johnson and Baldi have obtained some interesting pieces of equipment that can be made available.

Both graduates of the Washington University of St. Louis, before heading back East, Baldi and Johnson created a fundraising effort on

The idea was to raise money to be able to purchase a printing press that both they and the public could benefit from.

The initial goal was $3,000.

The drive raised nearly $4,000.

This allowed a the Poco Proof Press to be purchased, as well as a Kelsey Printing Press.

“Come in and use the equipment,” Baldi said. “Become a member of our collective and help out.”

The pair recently had a near complete darkroom donated by an old professor of theirs that will be set up in the basement.

There is also ample space on the grounds of 501 N. 7th St.

Baldi had previously mentioned the possibility of a community garden. Multiple projects and plans are in the works, but the garden is still within the realm of possibility.

“If someone wants to do a community garden, we have the space,” Johnson said. “There is plenty of space, we just need their energy.”

Artists and art lovers of Martins Ferry and beyond, here is an opportunity to prove the saying wrong that states ‘there’s is nothing to do in the valley.’

Get a hold of the collective by visiting its Web site or via phone at (740) 278-3011.

To learn more about the founding artists, check out their Web pages at and

Hughes may be reached at mhughes