Lost and found with Mary and BuddyInside La Terra, what...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

January 08, 1995|By Stephanie Shapiro

Lost and found with Mary and Buddy

Inside La Terra, what was once lost is found: An old truck inner tube has been recycled into a swing resembling a horse. Wax that dripped from one candle is now part of another. And old suit vests form the top of whimsical jumpers with flouncy skirts, pieced together, of course, from hand-me-down fabrics.

In late October, Mary DeMarco, 35, and husband Buddy Wolfe, 37, opened La Terra on the site of their Hampden costume-jewelry design business. At first, they worried, "What if nobody comes in here?"

But a steady flow of customers has kept the couple and two employees on their toes.

The shop nestles in a storefront on Falls Road, close to Baltimore's "mill corridor," where a string of mills have been recycled by artisans, musicians and cottage-industry entrepreneurs into a dynamic artistic community.

With its abundance of found objects and discards from area industries, La Terra's interior is a wonder of born-again design. A display table found in an alley is topped by a pretty mosaic of chipped freebies from a local tile business. And the coated floor mat is made from old newspapers, including The Sun.

La Terra's inventory includes natural skin-care products, aroma-therapy products, organically grown cotton underwear and tote bags made of hemp. There are products that support the rain forest and hats made by the Garbage Collection label.

As a local, environmentally conscientious business, La Terra, says Ms. DeMarco, sets an ethical example for her three young children. "People have to make choices about what they're going to buy and who they're going to support," she says. Alan Sherman is doing his part to raise awareness of chess in Catonsville: As faculty adviser for the chess club at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the computer science professor is creating a chess player's kind of campus.

Two weeks ago, the UMBC chess team tied for fifth place -- with Harvard -- in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Tournament Providence. Last year, it placed third in the annual event, which attracts roughly 30 of the best college teams in the Western Hemisphere. Dr. Sherman, 37, placed first in the faculty category for the second year in a row.

A professor in cryptology and computer algorithms at UMBC since 1989, Dr. Sherman grew up in Williamsburg, Va., graduated from Brown and received his doctorate in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began playing in chess tournaments in high school.

Since becoming faculty adviser to the chess club, Dr. Sherman has begun to recruit top-drawer chess-player scholars for the university.

"People who get involved with chess tend to do better in school because it develops the ability to plan, to think logically and to experience the consequences of one's decisions," Dr. Sherman says.

He is working on a project funded by the Abell Foundation and the college to teach chess to disadvantaged youth. And he is organizing a human vs. machine chess game.

Linell Smith

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