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
Deep Run Elementary School PreK classes had a special visitor before their winter break, it wasn’t Santa but close…. it was Creative Capes™. Each December the individual behind Creative Capes, Holly Hagen, searches for a local group of well deserving children who would be thrilled to have their own cape.
Students enrolled in Deep Run’s PreK are off to a great start this year. For most of the students this is their first school experience and many are learning English. They come to school each day ready to learn and to gain skills to be ready for kindergarten. Who more deserving of a personalized cape to transform them into their superhero selves?
Holly Hagen partnered with the PreK team leader, Nicole Epstein, to create a day of empowerment for the students. Books were carefully selected for circle time which reinforced we are all different but that is where our strength lies.
The students drew pictures of their superhero selves and were asked to identify the superhero power they would want to have….kindness, super fast speed, invisibility, healer?
The smiles reached ear to ear as the kids slipped on their capes and masks. The kids transformed one by one and the class room was filled with vivid colors and kids bursting with feelings of pride, joy, self esteem, happiness and self confidence. It was a magical transformation in Deep Run’s PreK classes today thanks to the generosity of Creative Capes.
"The looks of surprise and Awe on their faces when they put that mask over their eyes it is absolutely amazing. The children were truly transformed into their own superhero and I loved hearing them tell me about their superpowers with such confidence. The children couldn’t believe that they could keep them, they kept saying “we get to take them home?” And the conversation that I heard from my children when we took out the capes how they recognized each other‘s initials and were pointing at them saying “that’s your cape, that’s your cape” it was just absolutely amazing. My children were excited, engaged and empowered. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to make them feel special, unique and significant."
- Nicole, Deep Run PreK Teacher
About the artist: Holly Hagen, a local Howard County resident, started sewing personalized superhero capes and accessories to empower children of all ages. She began in 2010 working late every the night after coming home from her 9 to 5 job at a strategic graphic design firm. As her cottage craft business took off she took the leap of faith and turned Creative Capes into her sole work, putting all her time and energy into it. Eight years later, Holly now makes thousands of satin capes a year spending most waking moments at her sewing machine. She and her husband travel up and down the East coast selling their handmade capes at 25 juried craft festivals annually in addition to online presence at creativecapes.com.
Holly has devoted her life to help children find their inner hero strengths encouraging them to be proud of who they are and what makes them stand apart as an individual. Be a hero and help Holly in her ongoing efforts to empower students at Title 1 schools by donating to Heroes Unite.
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!
I'm so happy to bring another superhero into the family! Come by this weekend and visit the Bizarre Bazaar, Christmas Collection. Details below.
The Bizarre Bazaar - Christmas Collection
November 29 - Dec. 2, 2018, Thursday - Saturday 10 - 7pm, Sunday 10 - 5pm
The Richmond Raceway, 600 E Laburnum Ave, Richmond, VA
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.