Well where might I spend my free weekend last Spring when not off in the Cape Mobile... a craft festival of course! Left my trusty sidekick at home and ventured off to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds in western Maryland. I happened upon a magical booth filled with felted gnomes and other woodland critters.
Going Gnome began quite by accident in 2008 by two sisters, Jennifer and Melissa VanSant. They had been running their bead and scrapbook store since 2005 and frequently spent time needle felting in the shop. They grew up knitting, sewing, crocheting and had a lifelong love of fiber. Jennifer and Melissa's love of gnomes seemed to want to manifest itself in needle felting. How well gnomes and wool go together! People would come into their shop and ask if they could buy our gnomes, could they teach them how to make them, and could they carry felting supplies in the shop.
On a whim Jennifer and Melissa applied to the NY Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck, NY and managed to get a booth! They designed 3 kits, made a whole bunch of gnomes – and sold out what they brought! They were so excited and energized - they moved the shop, dropped the scrapbooking supplies and moved the felting supplies in.
Over the past 10 years Jennifer and Melissa have expanded their line of needle felting kits to 25, they offer 2 limited edition kits each year that change in October, Gnome of the year, and Holiday of the year. Going Gnome attends 15 retail and wholesale shows around the country each year, wholesale our kits to yarn, toy and gift stores, and spend many evenings and weekends teaching.
It has been exciting for them to introduce so many people to needle felting thought these channels. Three years ago they closed the doors of their brick and mortar store to focus exclusively on Going Gnome from their studio. These two talented sisters feel so honored that people have embraced this sweet and sometimes scary world they have created.
Going Gnome is active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Find their kits for sale at http://www.goinggnome.com
The Mouse Works Polarfleece hats and clothing are all handmade by Ryan Williamson near Charlottesville, VA. The hats are sized to fit, babies, children, kids and adults. He believes that unique handmade quality is desirable over mass market brand names. On his website, you will find a great selection of fun, fanciful and functional eco hats and clothing handmade from high quality recycled polar fleece.
The Mouse Works started out of his desire for a jester hat in 1994. His father gave him a quick sewing lesson and let him cut up the bottoms of several fleece blankets. When a friend asked to wear it while running, the idea of The Mouse Works was born.
Ryan, artist of The Mouse Works, has had his sewing machine running around the clock making whimsical fleece hats for all ages. I first encountered Ryan at the Bizarre Bazaar Christmas show in Richmond years ago where I purchased several dinosaur hats for little ones on my holiday list. This fall I found his 4 foot Santa hat to be the perfect gift for my fun lovin’ nephew.
Maureen, artist of Ram’s Horn Connection, has been making wool and wire creations for over 30 years. Each piece has a whimsical quality about it hence the name whimsicalwoolies.etsy.com.
Her subject matter includes reindeer, rabbits, elephants, bears, donkeys, cats, sheep, snowmen and much more. My favorites are the rabbit on skis, the fuzzy black bear wrapped in his colorful wool scarf holding a sprig of evergreen and of course the reindeer with candy cane antlers. You can order her one of a kind felted ornaments on Etsy.
I was fortunate to find her at Northern VA Christmas Market in Chantilly, VA. My tree is filled with beautiful handmade ornaments that I have made or collected from other artists over the years. I am honored to add several of Maureen’s critter creations to my collection. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!
Tis the season for holiday cooking so time to shake things up with our next Creativity Uncovered artist, Chef Tim. His artistry happens in the kitchen, creating a sweet balsamic vinaigrette and several seasoning blends which elevate daily food into gourmet meals.
Chef Tim Foods was started in November 2008 and is owned by the husband wife team, Tim & Sabrena Jutzi. They have remained a family owned, small business.
Chef Tim has 17 years’ experience in the food service industry includes experience at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, in addition to being Executive Chef at fine dining restaurants and corporate dining rooms. For many years, Tim’s customers raved about his vinaigrette, telling him it’s ‘to die for’, and that he should bottle it. Finally, in November of 2008, with Chef Tim's recipes and his wife, Sabrena's business skills, they decided to take a leap of faith, purchased some bottling supplies, and started on their dining room table.
Chef Tim’s Sweet Balsamic is a deliciously sweet balsamic vinaigrette made with aged balsamic vinegar of Modena and olive oil with accents of garlic and black pepper. It is made with seven natural ingredients. It is MSG, Cholesterol and Gluten free.
Not only is the vinaigrette a salad dressing, it’s also an incredible marinade for anything that walked, swam, flew or grew. It is a direct complement to Bleu cheese, Feta cheese, and fresh Mozzarella. It’s great on hoagies, rice, pasta salad, and char-grilled vegetables.
Chef Tim & Sabrena are working on bottling even more products. In the works are: Honey Mustard dressing, Oriental Sesame/Pineapple dressing, Burgundy Wine Marinade & Glaze, and a Fish seasoning.
Where to buy?
Chef Tim’s vinaigrette is sold at Art & Craft shows most weekends, their booth at Green Dragon Farmer’s Market in Ephrata, over 170 + Retail Stores, and online. Follow the “Chef Tim on Tour” to see their travel schedule.
With Christmas right around the corner it was a clear what artist should be featured next. Several years ago at the Herndon Festival, I met the artist behind Life Scooped, Amanda Mahon. Her booth was across from Creative Capes, giving me a great view of her colorful pennant banners. What melted my heart was her burlap Santa Sacks topped off with a vivid red satin ribbon. Needless to say I am a proud owner of several which get used each year during the holidays.
Life Scooped started as an ice cream blog, but symbolically meant so much more to Amanda – about scooping up life’s challenges and creating beauty and fun with them. Life Scooped grew from an ice cream blog to a craft business making festive pennants. She started playing with color and fabrics while her husband journeyed all over the world on a deployment with the US Navy, and she was home caring for their two young children.
Amanda continues to grow Life Scooped as she balances being a mom, wife and artist. She started designing and creating Santa Sacks the year she hosted Christmas for her extended family as a special touch for that gathering. It was so well received the Santa Sacks have become a mainstay of her business, each one created with her unique stencil design. The rustic look of a decorated burlap bag with an oversized red satin ribbon makes your gifts look like were delivered right from the North Pole, and the best part is, it can be used year after year.
The Santa Sacks are the perfect piece to start a special family Christmas tradition, a unique touch to delivering that special gift – or simply a lovely decoration to flank a fireplace or a tree as we decorate for the holidays.
Visit Amanda's Etsy store to order your Santa Sacks, holiday wine bags and banners for the holidays.
Strolling through the Haddonfield Fine Art and Craft Festival on a hot July afternoon I was stopped in my tracks as I came upon "Here's to Ears". I am always on the look out for creative thank you gifts for the wonderful kids who model for Creative Capes. The ears and unicorn horns done by Lori and her husband Jeff were unexpected and so cheerful they brought a smile to my face.
"Since it's inception, 'Here's to Ears' has had only one goal...To make people smile!" - Lori Persa, Owner of Here's to Ears.
"Kids adore wearing our loveable, furry ears. Yet, they are actually worn by more adults than children. Doctors, Nurses, Teachers and a host of other professionals wear our ears to bring happiness to others. Just clip them in your hair, or on a hat, and you're ready to transform into your favorite animal or character."
Everything about this fuzzy product is 100% U.S. made. The hand-crafted and hand-sewn faux fur always maintains a realistic look. Even the clips are sewn on by hand, maximizing the ear's durability.
Here's to Ears also offers a full line of matching faux fur tails, as well as banded Unicorn Horns. As Lori always says, "Whether you are young or old, these creative accessories will brighten everyone's day!" You can find your own ears on their website, herestoears.com
Everyone has childhood experiences that help shape who they become. For me it was family togetherness, staying off electronics which was easy since so few existed back then, and spending lots of time outdoors. Being a fan of "The Hobbit", I credit J.R.R. Tolkien for igniting my imagination and love for magical world.
Fast forward... Yes, I am over 50 and still get unbelievable enjoyment out of creating an artistic fairy garden. I came across Garnette, the artist of Petal Echo, at Del Ray's Art on the Avenue which happens the first Saturday in October. Garnette's organic fairy sculptures drew me into her whimsical booth and now several pieces reside in my own magical garden.
Fairy gardens foster wonder and curiosity, initiating pause in our gardens and inviting us to consider what exists beyond the space that we see with our human eyes. Petal Echo began creating fairy garden sculptures out of a desire to create lasting and beautiful sculptures that were durable for the elements AND for her daughters to play with. Each sculpture is hand cast in marble from her originals and painted with a weather-resistant oil paint. They are perfect in both an indoor and outdoor fairy garden.
Treasures include fairy doors, leaf hammocks, mailboxes, shoes--even a tiny tea set! You can find her sculptures at several local festivals in Maryland and Virginia, as well as at petalecho.etsy.com
Excited to share a recent find from the Lititz Rotary Club Craft show which is one of the largest festivals Creative Capes participates in. There are about 700 artists exhibiting so the crowds are guaranteed to find something that makes their heart sing. The show occurs in early August in downtown Lititz, PA so mark your calendar as a show not to be missed in 2019.
I had the pleasure of meeting the artists of On Lilac Lane, Creg and Carly Drake, and fell in love with their work. Creg is a full time teacher of Biology and a Dad of two little ones but somehow this couple finds the time to create custom signage using a variety of reclaimed wood. They design hand-made, customizable wooden rounds out of 100 year old barn wood, reclaimed wood, and material from a local lumber yard.
A Jigsaw is used to delicately carve each design. Creg and Carly do lots of custom work which is ideal for wedding, housewarming and baby gifts. Their combination of reclaimed wood, craftsmanship with the jigsaw and hand painted lettering creates a beautiful piece of home decor sure to be treasured by all.
I purchased a large wooden round for my favorite room in the house. The wording spoke volumes to me as I to wear many hats... mom, wife, artist, entrepreneur. I think we found the perfect spot above the window overlooking the backyard.
If you would like to see more of Creg and Carly's work visit their Etsy shop. They are also active on Facebook and IG @On_Lilac_Lane.
Check Creative Capes blog often to see my next "Creativity Uncovered" feature. I have some wonderful things upcoming for the ideal children's gift. - Holly
Most weekends I can be found at fine art and craft shows up and down the East Coast surrounded by superhero capes and bringing smiles to little ones faces. In addition to that great joy I have the opportunity to see amazing creations from fellow artists. It occurred to me that the Creative Capes' Community might enjoy seeing my discoveries and learn how to obtain them via the internet.
Every month I'll feature a new artist or two that I discovered in my travels at these art festivals. My goal is to bring attention to the many artists that make beautiful things by hand and to give you some great suggestions in your hunt for the perfect gift or home decor.
My first featured artist is Kelly Barth who founded Cabooties in 2014 based on the inspiration of her son, Conley Alexander Barth (the CAB in Cabooties). She began sewing booties in her tiny town-home kitchen, trying to overcome her frustrations with socks that wouldn’t stay on and stiff shoes that didn’t fit over her baby’s chubby feet. She finally found a design that Conley loved to wear, and Cabooties were born. Since that time Kelly has fine-tuned the design and improved the materials, but the result is still the same – handmade, vegan baby shoes that never fall off. Each pair of Cabooties is handmade with love, packaged with care, and ready for adventure!
I myself purchased a pair of Cabooties with a nautical theme for my neighbor who just had a baby boy. Big hit! Visit www.cabooties.com to see more of these cute booties.
As an artist, I am proud to do all my birthday and holiday shopping at art shows and festivals supporting "Handmade in America" and uncovering one-of-a-kind gifts. Hope you enjoy my discoveries as the Cape Mobile travels far and wide transforming kids into their superhero selves one cape at a time. - Holly