January 31, 2011

Kitschy Crafts . . .

Today we begin a monthly post series.  Each month about this time, I will share a book with you that I found particularly interesting and educational.  I have an extended library of art,craft, decorating and cookbooks.  And that's only part of it. I have thousands of crafting magazines.  I treasure each and every page of theses books/magazine's and I think I have reread each of them a dozen times.  As most of you know already my favorite craft magazine of all time is "Where Women Create" a magazine published by Stampington and Co. So on that note my first book review will be on a book called "Kitschy Crafts" written by no other than Jo Packham ( Editor of Where Woman Create and my 'Rockstar", of the crafting world) and Matt Shay. I found this book in southern Georgia at a wholesale bookstore and was so excited when i saw that one of the authors was JO !

"Kitschy Crafts" is a celebration of overlooked 20th century crafts from the past.  You'll find inspiration on every page!  You'll see crafts you had forgotten about.  The book is loaded with quality crafts that will dazzle your hubby, delight the kids and amaze your friends.
So you ask, What is kitsch?  Kitsch was once a derogatory term used to describe art that was low quality, thrown together, repetitive, cheesy, inferior and tasteless.  But  don't let the name fool you, this book is a wonderful collection of craft fads from the 50's, 60's and 70's.  Paging through it you can't help but fall into the past.

Who can forget the classic  "Wine Bottle Candle Holders" from the 70's.  The hours of endless conversation that took place while candle after candle was burned creating colorful layers of wax.

And what about the sophisticated and stunning craft of paper collage.  Crafters of all ages and abilities can create in blending papers to create beautiful works of art.  Today we call it "mixed media art" but I still prefer the word "collage".

My all time favorite dates back from the 1950's. But became most popular in the 1960's and 70's. No room was complete without a "Resin Grape Cluster".  Your coffee table just wasn't presentable without a gleaming bunch of resin grapes resting on it!

The individual articiles and instructions are fairly short, so there are a whole lot of them. There are five chapters, each relating to a certain craft.  And every page loaded with beautiful vintage photographs.

I could go on and on about this book!  I highly recomend you go out and purchase a copy for yourself.  I know most of you can't travel to southern Georgia but you can buy the book through http://www.amazon.com/

Well that does it for the book review for the month of January.  If anyone has a book that they would like to be reviewed here at http://www.creativechickscafe.com/ please drop me an e mail at kate@creativechickscafe.com or just post a comment below.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this review.
As always,  "Keep Creating"!


January 27, 2011

A Valentine gift idea- Handmade Colorful Cotton Washcloths

100% made with FUN
Pamper yourself ladies while taking a bubble bath with a soft, colorful washcloth. Ahhh, a fragrant candle burning, a glass of wine perhaps and your favorite soothing music playing.  Now that you have a visual, why not make a easy gift to share this Valentine's Day with friends, family and co-workers. How was my sales pitch?
They are fun and easy to make while you are watching t.v. and make a great handmade gift. Of course they can brighten up your kitchen as well for dish washing. 
We welcome your ideas for a Valentine project for our "Chicks". Please post your ideas on our Facebook page or comment on this article. My Grandma always said; "Busy hands are happy hands". Happy Crafting!

January 24, 2011

Revisiting "MECCA MANZ"- a Minnesota based artist, now "Teacher"!

One of the best parts about this "job" is that I get to talk to creative people. I spend a great deal of time researching and interviewing them. And, sometimes I even get to visit their studios! Remember Mecca Manz, a Minnesota based artist with a heart of gold. Mecca and her husband, George have an incredible home and studio overlooking the Mississippi River. It is a magical, creative, awesome place! At the time of the interview, Mecca expressed her desire to open her studio to teach art workshops. Much of my "Artist's Journey" has been about sharing the creative process and teaching art, I couldn’t help but enthusiastically encourage her to begin! Recently I received an email from her. And guess what, she did just that . . .
Hi Kate,
Hope you are having somewhat warm temps in FL. We are enjoying lots of snow back here in MN. Looking at your blog, it seems you are forever busy! Thanks to you for inspiring us to offer creative workshops in our hobby room . . . On Friday, we will be having our 2nd creative workshop with 7 of us gals. Will be making wind chimes. Wish you were here to participate.
Take Care,
Mecca http://www.electicartz.com/

A few days later I received an email from an artist, gallery owner and dear friend Sheila Wayne. Sheila attended the workshop and couldn’t wait to share the day with us. . .

Sheila is in the center with the blue sweater
 Here are some pictures from our chime making workshop at the Home Port Studio this past Friday at Mecca & George's place. We all had loads of fun and everyone made a wonderful chime. Each one very unique and different.
-Sheila http://www.arttosea.com/

Thank you Mecca and Sheila for sharing this inspiring workshop with us!  We are always interested in hearing from you.  If you have a unique story, project, or technique that you would like to share please send me an email    :  kate@creativechickscafe.com  

Also, if you like what we are doing here at Creative Chicks Cafe and/or have an idea for this blog, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!


January 20, 2011

Diva Dolls by Phyllis - Meet Phyllis Chism Doll Artist & Owner

Phyllis Chism Doll Artist & Owner
Now that the holidays have past, we are settling in for a long cold January in Minnesota called “Cabin Fever”.  My girlfriend called me last weekend and said “Let’s go shopping”, of course I did not hesitate and out the door I went.  One of our stops was at Har Mar Mall in Roseville MN. and to my surprise they had an Antique Show going on.  Did I mention I love anything to do with Antiques? I was in heaven!   One booth stood out, it was bright and filled with handmade “Diva Dolls”. Each doll was “Sassy” with colorful fabric, funky hair, cute poses, wonderful facial expressions and even painted finger and toe nails.  I thought to myself, “This person is thinking outside of the box, it is a Antique Show and what a creative idea to differentiate yourself  from the expected”.  I would like to introduce to you Phyllis Chism, Doll Artist and Owner  of  “Diva Dolls by Phyllis”. 

Pin Doll
Phyllis resides in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and enjoys gardening, reading and of course making Diva dolls.  She is actively involved in her community doing volunteer work for her Church and Project Home, which is a shelter for homeless families.  In addition, she belongs to several non-profit organizations which support service projects in the community for those less fortunate.  Since Phyllis works a full time job, she spends her evenings and weekends creating her unique and stylish dolls.
Phyllis first discovered her artistic talent four years ago when she attended a program with “The Doll Dreamers of St. Paul. “I came armed with a classroom book, chose a pattern and went home and made my first doll”.  She enjoyed it so much that she created another one, than her dolls began to multiply.
Phyllis learned to sew at the age of 13, “I had the biggest hurdle mastered”.  She is “self taught” in her doll creations, mixed media and cloth.  “I have taken a couple of online doll classes in doll pattern designing and I read every doll book I could get my hands on”.

She draws her inspiration from her books and doll making buddies.  Phyllis says; “Doll making is addictive. I can get an idea by looking at a piece of fabric, a prop, a commercial on TV, a magazine, everyday things in life will spark and idea for me”.
Phyllis has her website to show her work and currently does four craft shows a year, and will be at the Women’s Art Festival in December.  In addition, she is selling her Diva Dolls at The Textile Center and Elinor’s in St. Paul.  If you were at the State Fair this summer, she had a doll on exhibit at the Art Center as well.  If you have “Cabin Fever” you can meet Phyllis at the doll show at the Mermaid  Center in Mounds View MN. on February 20th.
Patty:  What words of advice can you give to help people getting started?
Phyllis: “Don’t be afraid to try different venues until you find what works with your art/craft, not all will work at first and keep trying. I have a wonderful support group of friends and family that help me stay positive, which is the key. I surround myself with positive people. Most importantly, continue to be creative!
Patty: If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Phyllis:  That’s easy…..I would first donate money to some of my non-profit groups I work with.  Last but not least, I would open a studio where I could create, teach and sell 24/7.
Please visit Phyllis at www.divadollsbyphyllis.com

January 18, 2011

My head is still spinning with the interesting artist’s I was lucky enough to meet at the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts almost two weeks ago. I thought I would share a couple more of them with you here at Creative Chicks Cafe.

Constance Guerra, an amazing, charming, witty artist. I was drawn to her because she truly creates “Girlfriend Art”. Her creations are expressions of a women’s journey along life’s path. Cute drawings with Sassy Sayings and Inspirational Thoughts are created using a blend of watercolors, acrylics, pen and ink, pencils and markers. These awesome lighthearted and fun pieces all relay life as a woman sees it. Next time you are at an art festival and you see Constance Guerra, stop in and say hi. I can guarantee you will leave with a piece of her work and a smile on your face. If you would like to see more of her work or find where she will be showing next you can email her at constanceguerra@hotmail.com

I loved Tara Funk Grims paintings. Tara is an amazing lady with “really cool glasses”. I did not get a lot of time to speak with her but I was so inspired by her work. Tara grew up in Alantic City and began her art career painting seasonal themes on boardwalk store windows. She received a B.A. from Chestnut Hill College and a teacher certification from Kutztown University. She blends her love of travel and teaching by conducting workshops to France, Italy, Ireland, England and Switzerland. She also teaches in her studio in Bethany Beach, DE.

This is Tara’s life as an artist as she explains in her own words,

My life as a passionate artist is an adventure.

The adventure has already taken me to many places.

I am not alone because of the support of my patrons.

Patrons have taken the time to recognize the final images from my brush, and my unquenchable spirit of exploration.

I take courage from the recognition: I take more journeys and I have more dreams.

An artist, who has the courage to step into a small boat when the water is rough, fears being capsized.

An artist who enters the woods despite the dark forest, fears losing the light.

So far I have not capsized and I have found the light over and over and over.

Think of me as a map maker, an explorer who goes on journeys and comes back and fills out the portions of the map that have never before been detailed.

I am a modern day visionary who completes the map and records the moments of “ah ha”. If sometimes you look at my artwork and are challenged you are feeling much of what I also feel. The truth is that while I paint I also hear a very fast paced music that only plays inside my soul. Sometimes the music marginalizes me that I cannot complete the image. When the spirit of the image absorbs the music then I can complete the painting.

I love to paint in plein air.

My paintings feel like they take forever.

- Tara Funk Grim

You can see more of Tara's work on Jan 15-16 in Delray Beach, Fl or Jan. 22-23 at the Boca Raton Outdoor Show and of course on -line at

I hope you enjoyed learning about two more amazing women artists that I was lucky enough to have met at the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts in downtown Cape Coral.  If you have any comments or questions just leave us a note below under the "comment section" below.

January 13, 2011

"Quilted in Clay" Meet Jenny Patterson, Crafter, Artist, Owner

Jenny Patterson, Owner of Quilted In Clay
 Jenny's Story: Quilted in Clay is a small family business that grew from my lifetime interest in the world of art. Over many years, I had explored a number of mediums. But in 1991 as a stay-at-home mom, I began sewing soft sculpture dolls and painted wood crafts and selling them at a local craft shows. Two years later, I discovered polymer clay and was so enthralled with it that I immediately became a member of the National Polymer Clay Guild. I started out sculpting character figures, gnomes and fairies. Then I learned a new technique called "Millifiori" to make canes in patterns so I could make clothes for my "Little People". By adding the use of a clay gun, I could also put together designs for their clothing and use the remnants to make jewelry.
Recognizable Quilt Blocks
As it turned out, my designs resembled quilt blocks and customers began asking for specific jewelry  designs such as the Ohio Star, Log Cabin and more. It was a challenge replicating quilt block designs, but I also watched the business escalate as a result of my efforts. In 1996, I decided to expand from craft shows to quilt shows and the rest is history! Often times, we are literally selling our creations "Hot out of the oven".
Pink Ribbon
Amish Star
Seven Sisters
When my daughter was younger, both she and my husband helped run the business as we kept getting busier and busier. I miss her help as she is all grown up,but my husband remains active in our business. We now travel to shows in our RV, it is so much better then staying in hotels and I can't believe we did not do it sooner.
Jenny's booth
In 2010, we did 18 shows all over the country in California, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.
I specialize in jewelry based on traditional, recognizable quilt blocks. After all of these years, I'm never at a loss for patterns, projects, methods, color combinations or inspiration when working with polymer clay.

Any words of advice you can give our viewers getting started?
  1. Treat your business as a business. Set business hours, get dressed for work and keep track of all your expenses. Find a price point that works so you get paid a wage and your materials are covered.
  2. "Listen" to your customers. Someone once told me 'If your customers ask for something once, listen twice, pay attention three times, and do it".
  3. Get your name out there, write articles, join a guild, start a blog etc.
  4. Take pictures of your creations, and LEARN how to take good pictures.
  5. Keep a journal of new ideas, keep your work fresh and keep up with new trends, fads and colors.
  6. If you are at a show, act professional, don't sit and read, always greet your customers with a smile. Dress appropriately, hey you are an artist and people expect you to look and talk like one.
  7. Bruce Baker has a set of CD's on the subjects of Booth Construction, Marketing, Sales and Slide Presentations, Customer Service, Visual Merchandising and Trends that affect the Craft/Gift business display. His website is http://www.bbakerinc.com/  I HIGHLY recommend you purchase, listen to, and implement. "It was the best investment I ever made". 
To see more of Jenny's beautiful jewelry creations check out her site at http://www.quiltedinclay.com/
Thank you Jenny.

January 10, 2011

Cape Coral hosts its 26th Annual Art Festival

What a beautiful weekend for the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts in downtown Cape Coral Florida. There were more than 300 participating artists and food booths lining both sides of the Parkway. The event was put on by the Rotary Club of Cape Coral.  A variety of artists displayed everything from  paintings, pottery, metal art, stained glass, jewelry, sculptures, photography and fine crafts.  Many of the exhibitors agreed " This was one of the best shows ever!"

James Rasmussen
Jim and I
  I spent the better part of the two days walking up and down the rows of booths, meeting and visiting the artists.  One artist in particular I ran into is James Rasmussen, from Mount Prospect IL. He is a nationally recognized photographer and  future highlighted artist here at the Creative Chicks, scheduled in 2011.  So you can imagine my surprise... and his, when I walked into his booth and introduced myself! Jim specializes in unique images of popular American landscapes, cities and sporting teams, His awesome upbeat personality shows in everyone of his photographs.  I cant wait for you to get to know him. If you would like to see more of his work and can't wait for the interview you can visit him at http://www.razphoto.com/

Another artist I was very impressed with was jewelry artist Ann Finley, from Decatur, Georgia .  She is creator of"Barking Cat" Pet Pendants. "Barking Cat" jewelry are pet inspired designs for humans to wear.  These adorable designs with whimsical sayings are sure to win the heart of the pet lover in all of us.  She has another passion her "Art to Wear Jewelry"  This jewelry is created in sterling silver, gemstones and enamel and is absolutely stunning.  You can see more of her work on her website http://www.annfinley.com/.

There were many local artists also.  I immediately recognized Josanne McAfee,s work.  The Enchanted Fairy is an incredible collection of one-of-a-kind hand sculpted figures in polymer clay without the use of molds. Trust me... her pieces are incredible! If you missed her at the event you can enter into the enchanted world of fairies, mermaids, dragons, fairy houses complete with fairy twig furniture at http://www.josannemcafee.com/  Also, look for her at upcoming art shows and Renaissance Festivals. 

As I was leaving and everything was shutting down I ran into a well known local Fort Myers artist, Beth Collette.  She is famous for her best selling line "Bonefish Jewelry". I am proud to say I own one of her pieces and so do a great many friends of mine.  Each of her pieces are individually hand cut and assembled by her.  That means no two pieces are alike, which makes them very special.  She works from her waterfront studio in Fort Myers. You can purchase her pieces at  shops and galleries throughout the United States and England or on her website www.bethcollette.com

I hope you enjoyed a quick view into the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts.  There were so many talented, unique and interesting artists there and I would like you to meet them too, so I will compile stories on as many as I can and let you into their world here at www.creativechickscafe.com in the future.

 If you were at the event and have any suggestions please leave a comment at the end of this blog or send me an email at kate@creativechickscafe.com

Also, for more information and tons of pictures of the event you can go to http://www.capecoral.com/  to see more!


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