Sally Charnley

Rockford artist celebrates milestone anniversary

May 19, 2011 // 0 Comments

Sally Charnley has seen many businesses come and go, and business owners along with them, in her 35 years working in downtown Rockford. She never intended to start a store of her own back then and, ironically, having two was part of her key to success. Charnley has given up The Candle Shop and Burlap-N-Rags to her daughter and her husband, Meg and Charlie Frantz, but she still keeps a hand in her craft, holding a monthly rug-hooking hook-in. Divas-by-the-Dam meets the third Monday of the month in the upstairs room at Arnie’s, and a good dozen people talk about technique and style as they work at projects with rich roots in American history. Rug hooking is a craft at which Charnley is gifted, and she certainly can claim a wealth of experience. This May, Charnley celebrated her 35th year as a Rockford professional, a feat few can claim. “I had no intention of starting a business,” Charnley said. She came to town to get a piece of red glass from Gayle’s Stained Glass, back in the day when Rockford was a “mecca for arts and crafts.” She found a small shop for rent in The Grainery building, now long gone, but would not have had the courage to open a store alone. She decided to give it a go because Betty Szyszko, who worked with Charnley for the Grand Rapids Recreation Dept., and her husband, Gerry, a teacher, potter and macrame artist, agreed to share the tiny store. That gave her encouragement. Surrounded by other artists—those working in glass, pottery, weaving, leather, quilting and watercolors—Charnley grew her rug-hooking business. In 1980 she bought a building that had been The Village Munchies, an ice cream shop, and moved in at 52 Courtland Street. Soon after, The Candle Shop, started by Dorothy Anglin in 1973, moved in to share the building. Dorothy made candles, taught candlemaking, and stayed with the Charnleys until 1985, when she retired and sold her business to Sally and Pete. Charnley remembers the day a woman popped her head in the door and asked, “Don’t you have a basket shop in town?” It was Paula (then Mikulak) who opened Baskets in the Belfry, literally in a belfry. She took up most of the […]