Hey! I'm Kristy Liebetreu and am the artist behind LEE.BA.TROY Studio.
I’ve always loved art. I have been creating my whole life, but my love of metalsmithing did not happen until later. I fell in love with the class the second I registered for it during my first semester at Western Michigan University. Then, the art of smithing met all of my expectations and became my first love. I ended up taking all of the jewelry and metalsmithing classes offered at WMU and continued with Independent Study courses.
I was struggling with life and to find my place in the world due to the loss of my brother. I needed stability and decided a more practical art career was the way. I turned to Art Education classes while continuing with smithing. I was nervous about how to "make it" as an artist. This was before social media could launch artists into success. After getting in a classroom at an elementary school, teaching art became a passion of mine for 15 years. I even shared my passion for teaching in South Korea. I LOVED the teaching part of it.
Overtime, the admin part of teaching took over the actual teaching. I was doing more paperwork than connecting. I LOVED helping students discover art and was finding that I had less and less time for it because there was so much focus on testing and data collection. Even in the art room.
In 2021, when schools returned back after the height of the pandemic, more was put on my already full plate. I quickly realized that I could no longer function in the public school environment. I walked away mid-year and it broke my heart. It took 12 months after quitting my career and selling my adorable little home for me to realize that I needed to return to my first love, metalsmithing. I will never forget the bonds I created with so many of my students. My art room was a safe space to take creative risks. I still have former students reach out to me needing direction with their art and I enjoy every minute of it.
While packing up my life and moving, my partner noticed a sketch I had for a bulletin board that would never come to life. It read, “Welcome to the Art Room. I’m Ms. Liebetreu (Lee•ba•troy).” I kept my name written on the board like that for the last 10 years of my teaching career. He suggested I use the phonetic spelling for my future studio name. Right there, LEE.BA.TROY STUDIO was born. Funny thing, my last name translates to mean true love and now here I am, creating art, the truest love of my life. I hope you can feel the love I put into the pieces I’ve created for you and carry it with you while wearing them because love is always the answer. Notice the love theme :)