Fawn man creates 'Monsterz' sensation
Monsters aren't often associated with bringing smiles to people's faces, but Chad Parker's do.
In fact, that's the reason he makes them.
The Fawn man started creating what he calls Monsterz marbles about a year ago. Since then, the smiles haven't stopped.
By day, the 35-year-old runs his family's business, Parker Metals in Fawn. But much of his free time is spent making colorful glass creations.
He and his “Monsterz” — marbles and pendants of varying sizes with wacky, grinning faces inside — have caught the attention of many.
More than 2,500 people follow Parker and his creations on Facebook.
His pieces are all over the world, having been purchased by customers not only throughout the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, China and Japan.
“I've always kept track of where every marble has gone,” he said. “I have every address of where every marble has gone.”
The attention his work receives amazes Parker.
“I've always been interested in art,” he said. “(But) I've always been more of an admirer. I never would have thought I'd have people all over the world wanting what I was making. Never.”
In addition to the Monsterz, he creates other glass items, such as oil lamps, and sculpts metal.
The Monsterz are clearly his focus at the moment — and for good reason.
They aren't only the most popular of his creations. They also are directly tied to his desire to help others.
Parker began by giving away marbles to those who followed him on Facebook.
Not long after, he decided to auction off his Monsterz marbles to raise money for charities.
“I was making one every night and giving it away the next day,” he said, adding that doing so quickly garnered him the large Facebook following.
When the home of someone he knew through Hilliards Glass Blowing Center burned down, Parker decided to auction off a marble as a way to raise money for the family.
“I tried to make my nicest marble and just auctioned it off on my Facebook page,” he said. “It sold for $225, which just blew me away.”
According to Parker, he and his Monsterz have raised several thousand dollars to support efforts to fight cancer, to help homeless pets and feed children in need.
He has teamed up several times with friend Seth Liebowitz. The local artist, who runs the Art Form tattoo shop and art gallery in Lower Burrell, credits Parker with providing inspiration for his own art and his efforts to help others.
While most people are concerned with whether they have a smile on their own face, Parker is interested in whether he can put a smile on someone else's, Liebowitz said.
“I'm honored that I'm friends with him,” Liebowitz said. “I'm honored that I've been able to create work with him. I'm honored that I've been able to do these charitable events with him.”
The two have collaborated on fundraisers for Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley a number of times. Parker raised money by auctioning off his items and also made and donated pendants with paw prints on them for the New Kensington-based animal shelter to sell.
This summer, Parker came up with an idea to auction off one of his marbles and a painting of it by Leibowitz to raise money for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's Kids Summer Hunger program.
With the help of PNC Bank, which matched the money that the two artists raised, the effort provided 1,400 lunches for kids.
Like Parker, the marble monsters keep on giving.
A new effort is in the works, Leibowitz said, that will put Parker's marbles in the hands of nurses at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
That way, a child who has to receive a shot can hold the marble, focusing on the smiling Monsterz face.
From his friend's point of view, it's not only the Monsterz that carry that message of goodwill.
“Chad Parker definitely puts a little bit of his good human self in each marble, and you can see that on the expression on the monster's face,” Leibowitz said. “You carry it around with you to keep that going.”
Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer.