Laura Dean Bennett
Stan and Vicky Cook are partners in life – having been married since 2001; partners in business – he’s the artist and she keeps his business running; and they’re currently partners in their second house building project.
The Cooks are building a vacation home here in Marlinton.
And when I say they are building it, I mean they are literally building it themselves.
The couple is from Mason, near Point Pleasant in Mason County.
Stan is an artist who specializes in elegant wood turning and innovative etching into wood, granite and plexiglass.
Stan’s work can be seen at the 4th Avenue Gallery in Marlinton and at the Leatherbark Gallery in Cass.
Stan said it was the trout and the great camping that first drew him to Pocahontas County.
He’s an avid fisherman and has been coming to Williams River to fish for trout for many years.
He was first introduced to fishing in Pocahontas County 30 years ago by a neighbor, Tray Meadows, and he has been coming to fish here ever since.
And now, Stan’s excited to be building what he laughingly calls his “fishing shack,” smack dab in the middle of Marlinton.
For the time being, their full-time home and his studio are still in Mason, so they’ve been vacationing and camping here whenever they can get away.
But since they decided to make Pocahontas County their home away from home, every trip to Marlinton has been more work than play.
“This year, with building the cabin, there’s been more work and way less fishing,” Stan said.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to some serious fishing when the cabin’s finished, and I can come over here to just relax.”
Stan and Vicky share their home with two cats, Tucker and Cami, and a two year old English Springer Spaniel, Riley Grace.
Riley never fails to enthusiastically greet visitors and give them a tour of the construction.
“She considers herself the shop supervisor,” Stan explained as he walked among the footers under the house, which is raised eight feet above ground in case of a flood.
This is the second house that Stan and Vicky have built themselves.
They built their current home in Mason, too.
Doing the kind of work he does, you’d probably guess that Stan is detail-oriented.
And you’d be right.
He majored in engineering at West Virginia Tech, finished his chemistry degree at Marshall University, went on to teach high school math and college chemistry classes.
In 2013, Stan decided to concentrate solely on his art and has been making a living at it ever since.
Vicky is a former law book editor who traveled all over the country for her job.
She’s retired from that now and is running the business side of Stan’s art business.
Even when they’re here in Pocahontas County working on the cabin, Vicky is staying in touch with customers and keeping up with Stan’s website and Facebook page.
“That’s why we chose the lot in Marlinton, Vicky said, “we needed reliable internet and cell service.”
They’re busy, but at least they’re not on the road as much as they used to be.
“We used to travel a lot,” Vicky explained. “Stan did thirty shows a year.”
“Now I just do Watoga’s Art in the Park, the Capitol City Art and Craft Fair in Charleston, the Bob Evans Farm Festival in Rio Grande, Ohio, Columbus Winterfair and Cincinnati Winterfair.
He was juried into Tamarack in 2005.
Stan and Vicky “met” online in 1998.
They were both playing a card game called Euchre and found themselves randomly paired up.
It was seven months before they even heard each other’s voice. Finally, they decided to meet in Charleston. Not long after that, they spent three weeks in Virginia Beach and in 2001 they were married.
Stan made a name for himself as a master wood turner, bringing out the inner beauty of a piece of wood as he transforms it into a piece of art or a functional household item.
He makes beautiful wooden pens out of wood or deer antlers and bullet casings; bottle stoppers, inlaid platters, carved bowls from all kinds of wood.
He even makes trophies and award plaques.
But it is a joint effort.
Vicky takes custom orders, books them into the various art shows, makes travel arrangements, keeps the books, keeps Stan’s business licenses up-to-date and even does some of the painting on some of his pieces.
And then it’s time for the holiday season.
Stan’s wooden ornaments and pens, etched ornaments and portraits are really popular as gifts.
“In the months of November and December, I work 14 to 16 hour days,” he said. “By mid-December, I’m usually working 20 hours a day.”
“There are times in December that I have 60 packages to go to the post office on Mondays,”Vicky added. “Last year we did over two-thousand pieces that needed to be delivered before Christmas.”
Maybe that’s why the couple likes the idea of a second home in a quiet place like Marlinton.
“Besides the great fishing, there’s a lot more going on than people might think,” Stan said.
“Every little town in this county has its own art community. It’s a very artistic place.
“And this lot where we’re building the cabin is in such a nice location; we have some really nice neighbors.
“We have a terrific view from our back porch, and we’re right near Knapps Creek and the river,” he added.
“It’s great here in the summer,” Vicky said. “It’s always at least ten degrees cooler than back home on the Ohio River.
“The mountains are wonderful, and fall is just gorgeous.
“Winters here are a little cold for me. I’m not much for all that snow and ice, but I guess I can get some long underwear,” she laughed.
Stan and Vicky are working hard to complete construction.
But soon they’ll be able to settle down and spend more time just enjoying the slower pace of country life.
“And fishing – there’ll be lots more fishing,” Stan added with a smile.
In addition to the 4th Avenue and Leatherbark galleries, you can find Stan’s work on his Facebook page and his website: Mestari Designs.