About the Artist
© Phyllis Shanks
Rugged limestone becomes a canvas for images created
by artist Phyllis Shanks.
The stone lends a dimension and uniqueness to each piece
in a way only nature can provide. Phyllis is a self taught artist. Although interested in art as a hobby throughout her lifetime she decided to seriously pursue her interest in 1996 and began the
Images On Stone" series in 1999.
The Country Register TM
Kansas * February / March 2006
By Cathy Cordova
Our Cover artist, Phyllis Shanks, knows very well that you are never to old to learn something new. Phyllis and her husband, Bob, ran a family-owned business in Concordia, Kansas from 1961-1998 which originally began as a furniture and antique auction business and eventually evolved into a new furniture business. As a time-challenged business owner, Phyllis never found enough hours in the day to pursue her real passion: art. All of that changed in 1996 when she informed her husband that she was cutting back her hours at the store to learn a new trade. Phyllis learned to paint and as the saying goes, "The rest is history."
Phyllis began by painting wood plaques those first few years. After Bob retired from the furniture business in 1998, he started to market and sell her items wholesale to shops. Bob even made some of his own rustic wood trunks and other items to wholesale. This truly was the beginning of their second careers.
As Phyllis tells the story, one day Bob came to her with a rock and said, "put an eagle on this." Phyllis reminded Bob that he just finished telling her that they had too much to do as it was at the time, but complying with his wishes, she proceeded to paint an eagle on the rock. Much to their surprise, her painting turned out very well!
She continued to experiment with different images until she had about 35 rocks completed. Once again, Bob headed out to sell Phyllis' items and at the first stop sold all but two of the rocks. Bob returned to Phyllis and said, "I guess we're in the rock business."
Besides being vendors at a few arts and crafts shows, Bob and Phyllis, along with their daughter, Cindy Eustice, primarily sell wholesale. "Images on Stone," the name of the business, is currently sold statewide in Kansas as well as 11 other states. They work out of their home, but have a full display next door at "Picture This" in Concordia. Located at 1261 West 11th Street, "Picture This" is owned and operated by Phyllis' sister, Fran Trost. Fran's frame shop serviced Phyllis and other artists by providing printing.
"Images on Stone" creates over 200 different images printed on limestone rocks. Categories for people to choose from include nostalgia, wildlife, birds, animals, farm, ranch, rodeo, Native American, southwest, and a line of stones with scriptures. They have also expanded their business to include refrigerator magnets on hardboard. Over 250 images are available on magnets, including 66 dogs, 12 cats, 39 with scriptures, and several Christmas images among many more. "Images on Stone" will customize name drops such as city, state or other as requested.
Phyllis continues to attempt new crafts and is currently dabbling in making jewelry with polymer clay. She also continues to paint and may create some larger original paintings in the future Phyllis hasn't offered any of these items for sale as of yet, but if the opportunity presents itself, she may consider the possibility. As for now, you can visit her website: www.imagesonstone.com and email her at email@example.com and she will be happy to let you know where to find her "Images on Stone."Following are the advertisers in The Country Register who sell "Images on Stone": Cinnamon Bear - Lakin, Country Nook Crafters' Mall - Wichita, Donna's Designs - Winfield, Elsie Grace's - Frankfort, Fancy T's - Waterville, Homemade Happiness - Salina, Impressions Everlasting - Hays, Picture This - Concordia, Prairie Harvest - Newton, Quilters' Paradise - Baldwin City.
The Kansas Senior Times
Lincoln, Kansas * Volume 10, Issue 6 * June 2003
By Lori Birdsell
"Images on Stone", a Cloud County based family business, takes a simple idea to new heights under the direction of Phyllis Shanks, artist and owner. With five generations of her family working in her business, Shanks enjoys something few get to experience in this day and age by keeping the family together in the working world.
Her artwork has become a mid-west sensation with themes based on patriotic and prairie images. The stones are now being sold in 20 states, and orders have been sent to every continent on the earth.
Rock dust, decoupage glue, damp rags and copies of original art painted by Phyllis Shanks are the things that meet you at the door of "Images on Stone", located in Cloud County.
Shanks began her artistic career doing hobby work for herself, and branched out into making copies of her originals and putting them on plaques and bookmarks.
"I mainly stuck to that stuff because my husband, Bob, wasn't retired yet. It turned into a different deal when he retired completely."
Bob, her husband, does sales and marketing came out of retirement to do sales and farketing for the family business.
Bob had taken a few of the stones out on the road as he was selling her bookmarks and plaques. He phoned home that night to tell Phyllis "I guess we are in the rock business" because he had sold out the first time out.
Currently there are five generations of Shanks working at Images on Stone. "As the workload increased, we just kept adding family members to the staff," said Shanks. Phyllis does all of the art. Every image they sell came from her talented hands. Each picture is painted by her in acrylics and then photo copied. Stones are then cut to fit the size of the high quality copy.
Son Gail helps dad out with sales and marketing while his wife Kathy works in the stone shed chipping away slabs of limestone. She makes the stones to fit the print copy being adhered to the stone.
Daughter Cindy also works in the stone shed, Chipping stone slabs to fit the art. Along side is her son Jason.
Jason handles the larger stones, sawing them with a special special stone saw to smooth slices of Kansas limestone.
Phyllis is not alone in the artwork room, because her granddaughter-in-law handles the steps of sticking the pictures to the rock, trimming, and prepping them for the final steps.
In charge of the final sealer, Phyllis' mother Edith Sallman applies the final safe guard against time, the varnish.
Last but not least is the straw boss, six year old Cameron, who makes sure everyone has a smile on their face.
Images on Stone has been working with Kansas limestone for approximately four years.
"We try to find art that will appeal to every age group. Every picture I paint comes from some inspiration around me."
With her success on the Plains, Shanks keeps her themes based on a "Plains" or "Prairie" topic.
"For years I did birds, wild-life, florals, nostalgia and Native Americans, but new to the line this year will be a series about rodeo," Shanks said.
"Each stone will work on its own or as a set because the details of the backgrounds in the pictures are all the same."
Her choice of subject matter has been highly successful in catching the customers attention. "I think the experience I had running a traditional business before we retired gave me a good feel for knowing what the customers would want," says Shanks.
All the stone used in their business is old cured stone. They do not purchase any newly quarried stone rather they keep their eyes and ears open waiting to hear of a cache of limestone that has been around awhile.
"We lucked out recently and in a neighboring town the were tearing down a couple of old buildings. We purchased the limestone, had it hauled here to our place, and Jason cuts it up for us."
They not only utilize old buildings, they have used the foundations of razed barns as well as anywhere else they can find old limestone blocks.
There isn't much custom work don at "Images on Stone", but Shanks says she probably gets one or two requests a week for something specific.
"Sometimes I get inspired form a request, and if that happens, I retain all the copyrights to the artwork. It is fun for the customer to know they helped with the idea when they go to purchase their stone in the store."
Production goals are high as is the movement of inventory. Shanks likes to see 100 stones a day finished from her business.
Currently selling in 20 states at regular outlets, they also supply stones to people who sell them at craft shows all over the nation. She has produced special editions for state historical societies as well as larger businesses in the region.
Specifically she made a version of "Sue" for Sternberg Museum in Hays, and Native American images for Pawnee Indian Village in Republic County. The world market is not unaccustomed to her work. They have sold stones to every continent on earth.The Shanks have proved beyond a doubt there is a great idea around every corner. The simplicity of limestone, decoupage, paintings, quality copies, and varnish is providing a higher standard of living to this plains family.
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