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Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet Margo Willoughby of Choose Moose

Margo Willoughby of Choose Moose
Meet Margo Willoughby, artist and creator of “Choose Moose” from Laurel, Delaware.  Sewing with fabric is definitely her first passion and loves to create bowl fillers and ornies.  Margo also enjoys graphic arts, creating primitive hand tags, embroidery and just started assembling bottle caps for necklaces, magnets and hair bows which is a great diversion for her.
How does Margo describe her artist style? “I like the old and vintage look, antique art is my style. I guess that is why I began making primitive ornies and bowl fillers. Making something from new material and then getting them to look old.”
Margo was born and raised in Sussex County, DE and a graduate of Woodbridge High School in Bridgeville, Delaware Class of 1979.  She says her favorite high school memory is “Friday night football games, loved watching the boys you know at that age!”
She discovered the artist in herself in 6th grade. “I loved art class and there was a contest to paint the glass doors in the front of my school to celebrate Christmas.”  She had to submit their ideas to the teacher and Margo was chosen to paint a scene of The Three Wise Men.  Margo says: “I still can’t believe the art teacher chose me and from that moment I found the creative edge to my being.”
Margo has never had any formal training, no classes, nothing! She learned to sew basically from reading tips on the internet. “I have “Googled” most everything I have learned. Yes, the internet and I have only been sewing for 5 years.” Are you kidding me Margo? Your creations are wonderful.
I have a few questions for Margo to help us learn more about our Delaware artist.
Q:  What is the most significant decision you ever made?
A:  I decided to retire from my job at the age of 44. I had worked in a public school field since graduating at the age of 17. The time arose in my life that I knew it was the right thing and I never looked back. It allowed me to truly explore the creative side that I knew I had and the time in my life to explore it.
Q:  Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A:  Definitely from my grandparents. They made items and they recycled/repurposed items. They hardly threw anything away. My grandparents instilled in me that old things can be good things. I think that is why I have such a passion about antique and vintage items.
Q:  How often do you work?
A:  I try to sew every day. Even when I sneak away to watch the soaps in the afternoon, I tote my sewing with me and hand stuff or hand sew while I’m watching TV. I’m still working!!
Q:  What skills have you found essential in your work?
A:  Organization is such a huge factor. My studio can get very messy and cluttered; I clean it several times a week.  It’s imperative to have a neat and organized work space. I have a lot of bins and storage cabinets to house my fabric, notions and miscellaneous supplies.
Q:  Where do you come up with your ideas for your work?
A:  I create what I like and not the hot item that is currently “In.”  Sure, I will do a special order for customers on occasion, but I make things I enjoy seeing. I love looking through “Create and Decorate” magazine and I am constantly searching the world wide web for inspiration. I work around the seasons... that is, I am currently offering fall items and will soon begin the Christmas season with trees, snowmen, Santa’s, snowflakes and such.
Q:  Where are you currently showing your art pieces?
A:  Ebay and Etsy are the 2 sites I use for selling my wares. I also have my own website www.choosemoose.com that my husband created for me.  I do not travel to shows, working at home truly suits me the best.
Q:  What makes you laugh the most?
A:  Actually, myself. I can be a “Goof” sometimes and I laugh at the smallest things. Laughter is good for the soul. I laugh daily.
Q:  What are your favorite foods to eat?
A:  Pizza, soft pretzels and chicken
Q:  If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
A; First, I would create a very large studio for all of my fabric, sewing machines and supplies with lots of cabinets. Then take my family on a weeklong cruise and have lots of fun with no regrets. Finally, I would donate money to people in need to make their lives a little more pleasant.
Q:  What words of advice would you have for someone starting out?
A:  First, believe in yourself! I researched so much on the internet, especially at first getting my business started. Go to the library and get books about your passion whether it’s sewing, embroidery, knitting etc. Read, read, read and find out what works for others who are starting a business in the art of selling their crafts.  Secondly,practice, practice, practice. I remember when I started my business I thought “Are my things nice enough that someone would want to purchase them.” After that first sale you kind of have that addiction. It feels good to know someone has taken an interest in something you have made with your own hands. I’ve met so many wonderful people out there, some even in other countries.
Margo,  we thank you for sharing your story. Your hard work and dedication is inspiring with in itself.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Motherlode Toad Factory- Meet Robyn Martin

Nestled in the historic Sierra-Nevada Foothills the Motherload Toad Factory is delighted to have you share in the “Contagious, Creative Insanity” that flows out amongst the love and laughter within.

Robyn Martin
My name is Robyn Martin and I was given a wonderful legacy of a lifetime love of fabrics and sewing by my Grandmother Evaretta, an avid seamstress and quilter.  I have been creating and designing my entire life (which is a lot of years).  I lived and went to school in Southern California. Too busy making “stuff” to go to college.  I started painting murals professionally for an interior decorator in my early teens and was an enthusiastic, prolific painter in both oils and acrylics for several years.  One of my favorite memories was getting a blue ribbon at the Los Angeles County Fair in 4th Grade for a finger painting. To top off the Blue Ribbon, someone actually bought the painting.  Once I achieved the wonderful title of “Granny” (nine times) in later years, I decided that ladders and Grannies do not mix very well and I retired from Mural Painting.

Murel in private residence
Rock Wall and wine Barrel Murel
I have always loved sculpting with Papier Mache and really enjoy mixing up my own paper pulp.  My studio is my laundry room. I have an abundance of cupboards, large Formica counters and linoleum floors to help contain my many and varied messes.

The largest project I have attempted (so far) was a float entry that was a life-sized baby dinosaur. He had an armature of my husband’s entire Toyota Pick-up truck underneath.  The next year the truck became a Covered Wagon pulled by an eight foot Monarch Butterfly.  Fortunately, (for the truck and my husband) the parade was cancelled the following year!

My inspiration must come from the creative muse gene in overdrive I was born with. I have more ideas and things to make than years left to create them. My Artistic style is best described as “Eclectic Creative Insanity” it varies minute to minute.

Dino pick-up truck float
Besides Papier Mache, I now am creating and sculpting all kinds of critters from muslin. They are sewn, sculpted and then painted. Many of my designs are now available in both printed and E-Pattern format so others can enjoy making them too.

My artwork is only shown on ETSY www.motherlodetoad.etsy.com and at a once a year Boutique in my area. I did do a lot of shows and events in the past, but limit myself to only one show now, since I retired 10 years ago.  I also have a blog- please visit me at www.motherlodetoad.blogspot.com

Nyia The Mermaid
The Motherlode Toad Factory is quite appropriate, in that I live in the Gold Country and at any given time, I am generally surrounded by toad, frog and other critter body parts waiting to be assembled.

I have a few questions for Robyn:

1.Q.  What skills have you found essential in your work?

   A. Patience, concentration and always a sense of humor.

2. Q. How often do you work?

    A. I never “work,” but I do create everyday something new and intriguing.

3. Q: What was the most significant decision you ever made?

 A. To marry my husband David of 50 years! (June 17th this year) He is very patient and understanding of my “Creative insanity.”

4. Q:  What are your favorite foods to eat?

    A. A great green salad and seafood.

5. Q: What makes you laugh the most?

    A. Everything makes me laugh. Including myself! Life is so full of things to see, do and laugh at.

6. Q: Who is your favorite artist?

    A. Monet. I love the soft colors in his water lily paintings.

7. Q: If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

    A. I would try to buy a clone of myself so she could do all the housework, cooking, etc. and I could just make “stuff” all day. But, on the second thought, I’m not sure the world could take two of me and I’d probably put it in a trust for my grandchildren’s college fund!

8. Q: What words of wisdom do you have for someone starting out?

    A:  Always try new things. Follow your Muse!  Have patience and learn from your mistakes. Insert        humor and whimsy into your life and works of Art. LOVE what you do!

9. Q: What is your favorite quote?

Crow on a Pumpkin
ECHO the Crow
     A:  “I dream my painting and then I paint my dream” Vincent Van Gough

Robyn Thank you for sharing your work and story with us.  Robyn’s email is motherlodetoad@volcano.net  you would like to contact her.


Leonard and Wesley

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mona Rae Cich of Hidden Talents Shares her Autumn Creations

Mona Rae Cichs

It is no secret that Mona Rae Cich is of the most fascinating woman I have ever met. We have featured her seasonal creations throughout the inception of Creative Chicks Cafe. Why? Because her two hands have created the most inspirational dolls and quilts I have ever seen. If I had to describe her with one word it would be "Perfection."

From the studio of Mona Rae:
Autumn brings that time of the year that the leaves cascade down from the trees above, this is no different than when a dream is presented to me on what next I should make next. Colors of leaves are swirling around in this cloud and it all comes together in a form of a Scarecrow, Witch, Pillow, or Quilt. When I'm stuffing a doll I can feel the time when as a child I would take giant leaps into a pile of orange, gold, brown and green leaves. When a Scarecrow is finished I look at the happy smile that I have just placed on his face but I'm sure that if I turn him upside down that face turns into a grumpy one that would certainly chase away all of the crows that want to upset my harvest. Speaking of harvest I encourage you to take a look at my Etsy page to see what item you might like to harvest for your home, also join my Facebook page and watch as my creations come to life, maybe you can even participate in one of my "Name the Doll" or "Count the Stitches on a Quilt" contest.

May the Leaves of Life Swirl around you and give you the gift of Happiness.  Mona Rae

My Etsy Page http://www.etsy.com/shop/MROriginals?ref=si_shop or visit my website at http://www.monaraeoriginals.com

Friday, August 5, 2011

Meet Linda Welcome "The Mousemaker' creator of Heartfelt Ornament Company

Linda Welcome The Mousemaker

I have met many talented woman on my Creative Chicks Cafe journey, but I would have to say that Linda Welcome "Takes the cheese" with her adorable handcrafted Mice. Linda's Mice are composed of at least 16 pieces. She starts with the face/head which is made of 100% wool felt, it is a special color of silver gray with lots of "light" in it. It must be sewn turned inside out, stuffed and then the MOST important part is "Beading the eyes and nose." Linda states; "Not only is the beading important, but the bead must be glass not plastic. It must be round not cylindrical and also must be from a source that makes each and every bead exactly the same." "This is what helps to make a Heartfelt Mouse so special, it is simply the sweetness of their face." This is Linda Welcome's story: I grew up in the little town of Hazardville, famous for being the place where the gunpowder was made by Colonel Hazard in “Powder Hollow” that they used in the Civil War. Hazardville is gone now. It was combined with Thompsonville to become Enfield, Ct.

My parents were older when I was born. My Dad worked at Bigelow Mills, the largest Mill in the area which made Bigelow Rugs. He worked there for 55 years and missed only one day of work when he was injured. Before that he was apprenticed to the Shaker Community. Yes there were Shakers in Ct. I grew up on Shaker Rd.

Daddy learned how to fashion their famous wooden hangers, chests of drawers and wooden bridal boxes. My Mom was a homemaker that did just about everything to keep my younger brother and me in clothes for school. She stripped tobacco, plucked chickens and for over 15 years she “candled” eggs. I use the deep cell egg flats in my production of the mice. Our home was comprised of 30 plus acres, mainly woods. We didn’t have a paved drive way. My first bike was made of plumbing pipe and joining pieces and painted red. I often wonder if that is why my calves are so big. It’s really hard to peddle a bike that heavy, on a dirt road. When I was in 5th grade I wanted to sew so badly. We had an old treadle machine and I itched to use it. It was on that machine I made my first 'Outfits" and have been sewing ever since. I made money by working in the shade grown tobacco fields during the summer. In the winter I made clothes for "Fancy ladies" who could afford to have their garments fitted especially for them. I made a complete wedding dress before I entered the 9th grade, gown and trousseau.

My senior high year, I won Miss Teenage Enfield, again by sewing and competed with other girls from Ct. at the State Capital in Hartford. I was the “Hick” but it was a great experience and my Mom was so proud of me.

I went to Bay Path College in Longmeadow, MA and earned an AA. In Liberal Arts. My mother always told me I got the ability to work with my hands from her mother. She could sew and crochet just about anything. After a few jobs I married, and crocheted my wedding gown and carried Lily of the Valley, my grandmother's favorite flower. When my youngest was 6 weeks old we bought our first house. Money was tight for gift giving at Christmas and it was then I created my Mice for gifts. I donated a small table top tree to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford Ct. ( the oldest Museum in the US) during their Festival of Christmas Trees. The tree had my first 12 ornaments on it. The Mice were an immediate hit and I was given the names of all the people interested in purchasing them. After I completed all of my orders, we bundled up the children and delivered the Mice two days before Christmas. I made nearly $600.00, (which back then was a fortune) it was then I came up with my business name Heartfelt Ornament Co. My customers wanted to start a collection of Mice ornaments for all of the holidays, I branched out and extended my Mice designs. Next, I entered craft shows and from there I was persuaded to do wholesale. I was accepted into the George Little New York International Gift Show in the American Craft Division. Other large wholesale shows followed and I was "Discovered" by large mail order catalogs and many small retail stores. I even sold to the Walt Disney World in Florida.

In 1995, QVC did a 50/50 Tour of the United States. Each state featured 20 artisans. Out of a hundred or so that displayed in Harford, I was picked as one of the 20. They chose my Santa Mouse and my Chocolate Chip Cookie Baker to be sold live on TV. We were filmed on the grounds of the State Capitol. Pretty heady I must say. Shortly after that, many of the catalogs and small retailers were forced out of business by the Orient. US crafters were selling their designs to China and China was doing an excellent job of reproducing them at half the cost of what US artisans charged.

My sales dropped and after being a homemaker for 18 years, it was time to get out into the real world and find a job. My office skills were not up to par, so I worked for Michaels Store then recruited to JoAnn's ETC until corporate decided to close the department and purchased ready made items from where else, but the Orient. Since the inception of the internet, I have been able to feature all of my work. I created my own .com website http://www.heartfeltornaments.com and joined ETSY in October of 2007 at http://www.warmth.etsy.com I am also on Facebook and would enjoy some new friends. The times I feel most alive is when I am designing a new mouse, a new ornament or a new decorative accessory. Just about the only thing I do not do is Quilt... I'm saving that for my "Later years." Thank you, and I hope you enjoy my Mice as much as I love creating them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Glenview Art Show in Glenview IL.

Jim Rasmussen, Erika Sullivan and Grandaughter Anne
Grandson Charles
Jim's booth
This past weekend was the 58th Glenview Outdoor Art fair in Glenview IL. Jim Rasmussen, a new Facebook friend and fan of our Creative Chicks Cafe site just happened to have his booth set up. My step-son and family live a few blocks away and went to visit the show. Charly is a avid hockey fan, and I knew that he and his wife Erika would enjoy Jim's multi sport photography. I think they liked his work, as Jim made a sale. Please check out Jim's website at www.razfoto.com

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Godmother's Garden- by Pam Vincent

My Godmother's Garden
My sister Pam has created her biggest dried floral art piece ever. It is called "My Godmother's Garden" in remembrance of  Phil Savage. All of her flowers are from Pam's garden, she spends countless hours picking and pressing them. Friday, she will be entering her creation at the MN State Fair Arts competition, there are over a thousand entries. Good luck Pam, as I know you will be chosen once again, your work is beautiful and unique.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hand Prints Bring Back a Wonderful Memory

In 1984 my Dad put down a new concrete sidewalk. Before the concrete dried my niece and nephew, Stephanie and Chris placed their hand prints in it. For 27 years we admired their artwork, my Dad made it a separate section so it could be removed some day. Our parents are gone now and there home is up for sale, Pam and I wanted to surprise them and dug it up and brought it down to Redwood Falls,Mn. for our July 4th gathering at my sister Sandy's house. Stephanie is going to put their hand print keepsake in her flower garden. My Dad was always a very sentimental man. Thank you Dad for keeping so many wonderful memories alive in our hearts.
Stephanie and Chris
27 years later

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 9th Anoka Riverfest & Craft Fair

Pam and Brian in their booth
After we completed our July 4th gathering, next on the agenda was the Anoka Riverfest Craft Fair. This was the first outdoor show that Pam attended. Over 130 booths and all items were 100% handcrafted by the people in the booth. Pam did very well selling many of her dried floral art pieces, over a 1,000 people came through her booth. Pam was so excited she never left her post, and we had to bring her food. Speaking of food, I had one of the greatest pronto dogs ever. Okay, I ate two. We were very proud of Pam, she worked so hard to get her work ready for this show. Thank you to my family and friends that came to support Pam and Brian.
The Mob
Marit and Sandy
Pam's booth
Jerry, Matthew and Pam