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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Valentine Gift Idea- Crocheted Cotton Washcloths

100% made of 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.
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!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Diva Dolls" by Phyllis Chism Handcrafted with Love

Phyllis Chism creator of Diva Dolls
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 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”. 
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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Quilted in Clay" Meet Jenny Patterson, Creator, Artist and Owner

Jenny Patterson
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.
Polymer Clay Designs
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
Seven Sisters
Amish Star
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.
In 2010, we did 18 shows all over the country in California, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.
Jenny's Booth
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 www.quiltedinclay.com
Thank you Jenny.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We said goodbye to my Godmother Phyllis Savage yesterday

I loved her so much, Phil was my guardian angel, she was the mother I always wanted. She helped raise Pam and I and was our mentor. Soft spoken, kind, patient and loved God. I have every card, every hand made gift, every letter written. Her service was inspirational, the church filled with hundreds of people whose lives she touched. What a wonderful tribute to an amazing women. I love you Phil.