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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easter Quilts and Dolls Hand Made Originals by Mona Rae Cich

Mona Rae Cichs of Hidden Talents

 We first introduced you to this talented woman on December 6, 2010 here as our featured artist. Mona Rae Cich creates unique hand made original quilts and dolls and is the owner and creator of  Hidden Talents. http://www.monaraeoriginals.com/
 Mona Rae is an avid fan of our CCC blog and Facebook.  Even on the road during their recent travel to shows in Phoenix AZ, Denver CO., and Lancaster PA. she always keeps in touch and provides updates.
Mona Rae has been very busy preparing quilts and dolls for the upcomming Canterbury Spring Festival on April 8, 9, 10th in Shakopee MN.  Please stop in and meet Mona Rae and her husband Ken at the show, they will be in booth# D1&D2.
In addition to our Easter featured decorating and gift ideas, check out Mona Rae on Facebook and view all of her beautiful creations at: and become a fan https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mona-Rae-OriginalsHidden-Talents/127350071963

Maxwell 9" tall $23.99

8"x12", $45.00 with stand, $30.00 quilt only

Mr. Rabbit and Ms. Bunny 24" tall, $39.99 each

14"x16", $69.00 with stand
Pete is 8"inches tall, $12.99
Birdhouse 6"x8", $35.00 with stand

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9, 1935 My Mother's Birthday

Mom and Dad
 My mother Marlene Vincent would have turned 76 years old today. Happy Birthday Mom, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of you. Although I am surrounded by the wonderful things you gave me, it's not the same as seeing you everyday and hearing your voice. I miss your laugh, but I saved many of your messages on my answering machine and find it comforting to be able to hear your voice. I miss your dark brown eyes, they showed your happiness as well as your pain. I miss holding your hand next to mine and seeing how they looked exactly the same. I enjoyed cleaning and doing your laundry because I knew how much it meant to you as you grew sick and could not do it on your own. You used to say to me; "Your a good cleaner, Grandma would be proud of you."I miss your cooking, I don't think I could ever duplicate your barbecue ribs, sauerkraut, pork chops or liver with onions and home made vegetable soup. You were a good mother, you did your best to raise all five of your children and protect us from harm. We each have strong family values, a strong work ethic and caregivers to anyone in need. I know that you are proud of all our accomplishments. I hope you have a big birthday cake in heaven and Dad is helping you blow out your candles.
Happy Birthday Mom, I love you!
Mom (second on the left)

My favorite picture of our family

Mothers Day 2007

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Green Sheep- Joan Olson Brings Life to Used Wool Sweaters

Joan Olson- Artist and owner of The Green Sheep
I have a visual for you, follow me for one moment.  After a long day you reach home put on your comfort clothes to unwind, it is cold outside; you make a cup of hot chocolate or perhaps tea with a teaspoon of honey in it just to get the chill off your bones.  You go to that spot in your favorite room in the house and drape a beautiful warm blanket over your lap that you received as a gift. But would you ever have imagined that the blanket is made from recycled wool sweaters? 

Happy Little Tune

Joan Olson is an artist and creator of The Green Sheep, her mission is to “Rescue wool sweaters for a new life.” Take a quick peek at her site before you continue; http://thegreensheep.wordpress.com
Joan grew up in Southern California, married there and then moved to the Midwest to Crystal Lake Illinois where they raised their family. “Our two daughters are just about grown up; our oldest is getting married this spring and our youngest is in college.” Joan’s “Day job” is as an occupational therapist. “I love my day job; my after-hours job is as The Green Sheep (sounds like a masked crusader), designing and sewing things from recycled wool sweaters.”

Going To The Beach

Joan creates her unique genre from her home studio. “Now that we are empty-nesters, I have slowly co-opted more and more portions of the house for my sewing- and still my wonderful husband never complains. My sewing machine is set up by a sunny, west-facing window in our home’s loft.”
When did Joan first discover the artist in her?  “I have always enjoyed messing around with crafts, learning how to do new things.  When I was young, my mom had a huge box of odds and ends to create fun stuff with.  In grade school, I checked out library books to teach myself to knit and crochet.  I have a very wide “do-it-yourself” streak and generally think that with a little education and some extra time, most of us are capable of doing more with our own hands than we suspect.”
Life Is A Gift
Joan shops for her sweaters, or has them given to her. “I felt them and cut them and make blankets, mittens, sachets, coasters etc. from them.”  She shared with me; “I like things that make me feel comfortable and at home, so that’s what I try to make. I try to create things that conjure up warm memories of favorite places. I think of my blankets sort of like comfort food.”   Felting is done by washing 100% wool sweaters in hot water, and then drying them on high heat. This process allows the wool to shrink and creates a tightly woven fabric so it will not unravel when you cut the fabric.  Raise your hand if a family member threw your favorite wool sweater in the dryer, and you held it up and it looked child size.  
Lovie Babies
Joan draws her inspiration from the sweaters themselves. “I like to say that they choose their own partners.  Sometimes I’ll just pick up a beautiful sweater once it’s been felted and I’ll walk around and hold it up to my other sweaters until a color combination stops me in my tracks.” It’s all about color and texture for Joan. “An idea often begins with a photo or a pairing of sweaters that I just can’t get out of my head. Or the sweaters are so touchable that I can’t put them down-that’s how I started the lovies for babies.”
I had a few questions for Joan that I think your will enjoy reading her responses:
Sweet Pea

That 70's Throw

Where did you learn your technique?  My mom gets the credit for teaching me to read a pattern and use a sewing machine.  She was a great and patient teacher, and she loved to sew right along with me.  I’ve taken drawing, painting, and woodworking classes at various times through my life.  But the techniques that I use with The Green Sheep have all been discovered by observing how others have used felted wool and then trying out ideas of my own.  This method involves tons of trial and error!”

How often do you work?  Ideally, I’d like to do a little something everyday—look at pictures, plan a blog post, cut wool, lay out a design.  Of course, it certainly doesn’t always work out that way!”
What skills have you found essential in your work? “The willingness to try something new without the assurance of a good result.  Experimentation is invaluable.”


Where are you currently showing your creations?  Online (through my blog: thegreensheep.wordpress.com) and at seasonal home shows.  As my inventory grows a bit more, I’ll probably consider putting my things on etsy.com.”

What advice can you give people just starting out? “I am just getting started myself!  I’ve been working at this a little more than 1-1/2 years, but so much still feels new.  A friend who was a few years “ahead” of me in a crafting business encouraged me to just give it a try.  It looked very overwhelming, but I took one step at a time.  I started by setting little deadlines for myself, like: “This week I’m going to make a simple business card.” Or “This week I will learn how to register a business name in my county.”  I still set little goals like that.”


If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?  “Really—I have no idea!  I suppose I’d pay my taxes on it, put the rest in the bank, and then have a good, long conversation with God about what he’d want me to do with that money!”

  "Additionally, if you have wool sweaters of your parents or a loved one, Joan can create a keepsake blanket that would be personal and meaningful."  Or if you live in her area and would like to give her any old wool sweaters, please contact Joan at her email jo@thegreensheepstore.com, or visit her blog at http://thegreensheep.wordpress.com and see all of the beautiful treasures she creates.
Thank you Joan, your story is inspiring, and to create art from re-purposed wool sweaters is very unique talent.