Meet Mary Beth Larsen at Handwork

Meet Mary Beth Larsen at Handwork

It’s no secret, or, at least it shouldn’t be, Ithaca is home to many highly talented artisans.

In fact, you can find dozens of these extremely skilled craftspeople at Handwork, Ithaca’s Artisan Cooperative.

This cooperative, owned and operated by its members, started in 1976 by 12 local artisans. It has since grown to 45 member craftspeople. These individuals have a range of skills, such as pottery making, painting, woodworking, photography, jewelry making, and leather crafting.

Handcrafted pottery is just one of many types of locally handmade crafts you can find at Handwork.

When people visit Handwork, they’ll quickly discover that the majority of the items sold in the shop are made by local artists. Artist bios, including information about where they reside, are available in the store near their display. Plus, you may even find artists working at the shop that day, and they are more than willing to share information about theirs and other artists’ items in the shop.

Handwork also carries a selection of items designed by craftspeople from across the country. Plus, it continues to strengthen the focus on crafts that are made in the Northeastern region. Handwork members meet monthly to share information, participate in decision making and jury new member applicants.

Mary Beth Larsen, a fabrication and design teacher and an award-winning quilter, is among a group of longtime cooperative members. She’s been an owner-member at the co-op for last seven years and active in fiber arts for the last 20 years. She began honing her sewing skills at the age of 4 and is now a master in many forms of fabric art.

“I just love finding different fabrics in a variety of places and creating something amazing with them,” says Mary Beth.

Some of her latest handcrafted creations include decorative fiber flowers and bowls.

Mary Beth says she grateful to have found and joined the co-op. A Geneva, NY native, MaryBeth moved to the Ithaca area after becoming part of the cooperative.

“Becoming an artist member at Handwork has opened up a whole new world for me. Now that I’m living in Ithaca, my life is complete and I feel at home. I am proud to be an Ithacan and co-op member at Handwork. I love that the Commons draws people from all over the world, and we get to meet them and help them choose gifts for themselves and loved ones,” says Mary Beth.

When Mary Beth isn’t busy working at the co-op or crafting new items, she volunteers for S.T.A.P and participates in Ride for Life.

You can learn more about Mary Beth Larsen and the other Handwork artisans by visiting the co-op at 102 W. State Street or online at

The Faces of Downtown Ithaca

Some say the best referrals come from trusted family and friends. In Downtown Ithaca, quality recommendations often come from speaking directly to our hospitable downtown business owners and managers. Afterall, who knows their business best than the business owner themselves.

Welcome to Faces of Downtown Ithaca where we’ll give you an insider’s look at downtown’s shops, let you meet your shopkeepers, and restaurateurs who provide this area with some of the finest shopping, dining, and attractions that the Finger Lakes Region has to offer.

Not only do these folks work here, but they also dine, shop, and play here. Many of them also live here, too! This is their Downtown Ithaca and now, they are sharing some of their histories with you.