Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Love of Crafting from Life's Experiences!

Meet Michele Kline from Clever Kid Designs…
I was raised in the northeast Ohio area, the oldest of five kids, am a mom of two beautiful adult daughters, a family nurse practitioner who has a busy practice, and possess a love for sewing and a big heart for little kids. 
I enjoy traveling and wherever I am I try and venture to nifty quilt shops in the area to keep my fabric selection fresh and new. I also like to golf, play tennis, ski when I get the chance, plus I have never outgrown listening to James Taylor!

I get my creativity from my mom. She decorated cakes for side money when we were little and she also sewed all our Easter outfits and Halloween costumes! She loves to paint now…

Like my mother and my grandmother before her, I started sewing my kid’s Halloween costumes. My daughter and I loved baking together. I saw her putting the measuring spoons and bowl scraper in the pockets of her jeans and that spawned the idea of making her a baking apron with pockets in it to hold her own baking tools.  Her friends liked them so much, I decided to take a batch to their school’s holiday craft show and I sold them all…..

I get inspired from so many things…. Sunny days – hence my brightly colored fabrics….I like to see kids being creative and not bored – hence my aprons inspire creativity and imaginative play.  A creative side to the mind is so important for balance in life.

Meet Barbara Stephenson from Created By Barbara…
I’m Barbara Stephenson and I’m the Barbara in “Created by Barbara”.  What a journey this has been. I was born and raised in the Cleveland area. From age 12 through 18, I was a professional ballerina.  I loved performing, but I knew it was a short career. So demanding physically, I switched gears. I chose to become an actress and entered Baldwin Wallace College as a Speech and Theatre major. I quickly became a leading actress in many musicals, comedies and dramas.

When I graduated I was inducted into the Speech and Theatre Honorary Societies and became one of the top 12 graduating senior women. I went on performing in Dinner Theatres across the country. Some years later, B-W submitted me into the organization “Outstanding Young Women in America” because of my contribution to the arts. I helped start a Dinner Theatre in California. I was the Artistic Director and Resident Leading Lady. At this time, I was also cast in many commercials.

About 6 years ago I started having pain in my right hip. My husband Mike took me to Kaiser for X-rays. The doctor asked Mike if he would like to see the X-rays.  My right hip was bone on bone. I was in shock, so was Mike. My doctor said that my left hip didn’t look good either. It was diagnosed as severe degenerative hips. All because of ballet! I came home and cried. I cried a lot. I couldn't tackle the pain. I couldn’t stop it. It became so real when I hear so many people say that they have chronic pain.

A close friend of mine said have you tried magnets?  (I limped badly now when I walked). I was taking 8 Aleve a day. My doctor gave me a prescription for Steroids. So when my friend asked me about magnets I had no idea what she was talking about. She said “My 80-year old parents sleep on a mattress pad with magnets sewed in, they swear by it.” Why? “They say magnets cut their arthritic pain in half!”
Well, that was the beginning -- Magnet Therapy and my quest to find strong magnets to be made into bracelets. I’ll never forget when I first put on a magnet bracelet. I couldn’t believe it! I felt I was born again!

As for the crochet articles – my mother taught me how to crochet when I was 5.  She created a stitch for me. It’s unique and beautiful. My mother was a school teacher and she never wanted to “mess with yarn” in the summer. Summer was for golf! Mickey and I play golf one a couples league at Springvale in North Olmsted. One more reason (a big one) to be driven to find a healthy alternative to pain management. By the way, a lot of my customers are golfers!

My Mickey has a painful ankle and started to limp. He is an engineer which requires him to do field measures that requires climbing a lot of stairs. It was at this time he started wearing a magnetic bracelet that I made him. No more pain or limp for my Mickey. Six months later, he was doing a field measure at the Frito-Lay Plant. He was required to remove all jewelry for safety reasons. He gave me a call from the roof of the plant to tell me “You’ll be happy to know, I’m in a lot of pain.” Barbara: “Yippee!!” A few hours later he left the plant (with his magnet bracelet on) called and told me the pain was gone!
My Mickey, the engineer, believes the theory that because our nervous system is the wire-way for electrical impulses, that the magnetic flux from the bracelets interrupts the pain signal to the brain. I believe the theory that magnets increase circulation, then decreases inflammation, which is a source of pain.

Not to forget our furry little friends who can suffer from pain whether from an accident or old age. We have had success with magnetic pet collars that my husband has designed. We have witnessed them work in a very positive way.

Whatever the reason that magnet therapy works I receive great joy from the hundreds of calls I have gotten from customers telling how good they feel using their non-invasive (FDA approved) means of pain management.

My Mickey came in 1st place in his men’s flight in our couple’s golf league and I came in 2nd place in my women’s flight (degenerative hips and all). We have first-hand experience with the benefits of magnet therapy.

Check out these vendors this winter at the 2012 Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show. This eclectic show will feature 100 of the most talented artisans and crafters. A portion of the show's proceeds will be donated to Stewart's Caring Place, an organization that supports families touched by cancer.

2012 Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Sunday, January 29, 2012, 10:00am-5:00pm
Wagner's Country Inn
30855 Center Ridge Rd. 
Westlake, OH 44145
For more information, contact Becki Cooper, at

Friday, January 20, 2012

Artists with a Creative Spirit!

Meet Barbara Bloom from Images in Bloom...
Barbara Bloom is the owner of Images in Bloom, which offers hand dyed silk scarves, homemade soaps and scrubs, wire crochet jewelry and Reblooming Bags made from upcycled plastic grocery bags.

Barb is native to the Cleveland area, having grown up in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland’s West Side.  She makes her home in Parma. She holds a masters degree in Public Administration from Levine College of Cleveland State University. 

Art has always been a driving force for Barb. The business came at a transitional time in her life.  Discovering the passion to create beautiful things, and the joy of seeing others appreciate those creations Images In Bloom was born. 

The company formally began last summer, with a presence at a number of fairs and festivals, craft shows, and the distinction of being juried into the Cleveland Museum of Art Textile Art Alliance Fall Show last October. 
About the products:
Handmade Soap – My husband is the soap maker – and he uses only the best olive oil, organic products, essential oils and natural herbs in his soap. The soap is cold processed, and when ready he carefully wraps each bar and bands them. Our original soap was the gardener’s soap – an olive oil based soap with comfrey leaves, corn meal, and a mint eucalyptus essential oil added for a clean fragrance.  He now makes over 26 different fragrances of soap. In addition he specializes in men’s shaving soap and shaving soap kits.
Hand Dyed Silk – Scarves are 100% Habotai silk, and have a luxurious sheen.  The technique involves a process of knotting and tying the silk in preparation for dying. Shibori is an ancient Japanese technique that was once used for creating the patterned fabric for kimonos. While there are multiple types of Shibori dying, I choose to do the knotting and binding technique. The binding acts as a resist and restricts the dye from free flowing. I strive to create floral forms in my dying. All of my silk is 100% color fast and is hand washable.

Wire Crochet Jewelry – Thought to have been a lost art of the Victorian era, wire crochet involves copper wire, and a crochet hook to form the body of the piece. I bead embroider over the body to create a lush and colorful one of a kind piece of jewelry. When possible I try to upcycle the beads from previously loved jewelry.

Reblooming Bags- Putting plastic grocery bags to an alternative use by making them into plarn (plastic yarn) and then crocheting the plarn into unique handbags and totes is a statement about being green.  Each handbag takes between 50-150 grocery bags, which would otherwise go to landfills. I have also begun up cycling old sweaters by tearing them apart and using the sweater yarn mixed with plarn to create unique outcomes.

Facebook: images in bloom
Twitter: #imagesinbloom

Meet Danielle Cole and Shannon Morrison from Curious Compositions...
Curious Compsitions started with an idea between me and Shannon that hey, we really love art, we're creative people, and we both have such a different aspect on art that combining our stuff together into one sort of shop would be really interesting and fun. She came up with the name after reading a craft magazine, and saw someone described their items as curious, and then Curious Compositions was born! We create things based on inspirations we receive, and there is no rhyme or reason to anything. We create things like steam punk, naturalistic, glitz and glam, even down to knitted animals and cute totes. The best way to describe us is in fact Curious!
Our creativity comes differently. I draw a lot of inspiration from movies, music, and art. Shannon draws much of her creativity from nature, the beauty of the human experience, and Asian cultures (mostly Japanese). But just about anything can inspire either of us, and carry with us for a while (ex: Our steampunk line).

I would say our creative processes take stages. We see something, then visualize it into what we want for art, then make it!
The way we got started.. Well i had already been selling Jewelry and told Shannon 'You know, you make awesome stuff, we should sell it together!' and there the idea was born. So we came up with the name and created our etsy and never looked back!

Our advice to others who are looking to start their own business would be, follow your heart! Even if it doesn't sell well at first, stick by it, and just try try try everyday. Exhaust every resource (Facebook, word of mouth, flyers, everything)!

Meet Jenna Balogh from Bizzy Cat Studio...
I grew up in Northeastern Ohio on a small horse farm. Ever since childhood, both art and nature have held huge significance in my life. My earliest memories involve imaginative afternoons playing outside and making art creations from the world around me. I would make mud and clay pots, vine woven baskets, painted stones, daisy necklaces... you name it!
For me, creativity comes from all over. The way afternoon sunlight softly illuminates a hillside, the up close pattern of a woven blanket, the rich, deep color of red wine, the crazy motions of my dog playing in snow, even things like trash on the side of the road, can initiate that creative spark. Flexibility and open mindedness are two characteristics that I believe greatly influence creativity. Possessing these two attributes help take ideas to the next level.

I have a BS in Environmental Science and a minor in Studio Art from Allegheny College and have worked in the science and education fields. I have a passion for wildlife and conservation, which is what often inspires my artistic work. I recently moved back to my hometown in Ohio after living in Jackson, Wyoming. There I worked for a well-known science school teaching and planning a variety of outdoor education programs to student, family and adult groups. 
I got started crafting when I was about 3, my family is composed of very creative people. I use to sit on my dads lap watching him design (he's an architect). I'd doodle along side. It just always felt very natural for me to imagine something and then make it (or try to!) with my hands.

I'd have to say my years producing black and white photographs in a dark room yielded my favorite items. In college, I did a large photo project where I investigated the process of aging. At the time, we had a 36-year-old horse whom I had grown up with. I also took photographs of my pseudo grandmother who was 86 at the time. She has an amazing face. I love the images of their eyes. Eyes are funny things that can illuminate youth while surrounded by the wear and tear of a long life.
I currently work part time at Countyside Florist of Richfield, as a floral designer and am looking into graduate programs. One day I would love to combine my love for photography, travel and creative writing with my interest in conservation. Working somewhere that I could use more of my creative talents would be a dream come true!

Check out these vendors this winter at the 2012 Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show. This eclectic show will feature 100 of the most talented artisans and crafters. A portion of the show's proceeds will be donated to Stewart's Caring Place, an organization that supports families touched by cancer.

2012 Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Sunday, January 29, 2012, 10:00am-5:00pm
Wagner's Country Inn
30855 Center Ridge Rd. 
Westlake, OH 44145
For more information, contact Becki Cooper, at

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Your 2012 Wish List- Who Said the Holidays Stop in December?

Meet Kerry Remp from Folding 4 U...
I am an engineer with the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio – working in the NASA Safety Center creating training curricula for safety, reliability & quality engineers.  I am also a professional accompanist for school and church groups.
I had an interest in origami throughout my life, but never took the time to explore it. In 2007, I had a planned business trip where I knew I would be secluded for a week, so I thought ‘Why not now?’ I got a basic origami book from the library, a pack of origami paper and began by making the traditional crane and boxes. To me, this was merely interesting – until I built my first modular ornament. When it dawned on me that I could actually build things with paper – not just tediously fold it – I was hooked. The logical engineer and the creative musician kicked in together and realized this could be a fun hobby. I’ve been building modular creations with paper ever since. Since 2009, my ‘little hobby’ has grown from craft shows to include art shows, workshops and teaching opportunities.

I began selling my initial designs in 2009 at a local craft show. At this time, all of the other vendors came by and told me what I had was unique and that I should ‘do more of it.’ So I did a few more shows in 2009, then expanded to about 6 craft shows and 2 art shows in 2010, and then opened things up in 2011 with 12 craft shows and 3 art shows – which led to additional referrals for workshops and teaching gigs.
My inspiration generally comes to me during two situations: when I am purposely sitting quietly for some reason and when I am walking (I walk 3-4 miles per day for exercise). I’ve learned to jot them down as soon as possible, since I never know exactly when they’ll come to fruition. Some ideas I pursue almost immediately and some stay on a ‘Possible Do List’ for a long time. Many of these ideas never amount to much, or don’t work out in the paper medium, or I don’t have the time to create them due to their complexity. However, every once in a while I get that one idea that clicks in almost immediately and, once designed, it's added to my repertoire.

Meet Whitney Neidus from Party Couture...
My name is Whitney Neidus and I started a company called Party Couture in November of 2010. Party Couture is a children's event planning company that specializes in birthday parties, playgroups, classes and get-togethers to celebrate any occasion! We customize events for children ages 1-16 and bring an educational component, as well as fun, to every event!! 
We recently launched the Party Couture Boutique that specializes in making customized Diaper Cakes, Bringing Baby Home Baskets, Children's Art Baskets and Cake Pops.  Before starting Party Couture, I was part of the founding team at CHABAM, and was the director.  
In addition to the above info, I am also a teacher by trade.  I work at Hawken Private School during the week and run a few Passport programs. I also run weekly music, art and movement playgroups for moms and their children ages 10 months- 4 years of age.

Meet April Bleakney from Ape Made...
I'm a 26 year old female, Kentite, screen printer, artist. When I'm not working on Ape Made, I take care of my 2 beagles, volunteer at Zygote, volunteer with youth programs, (work a part time job) love to eat/cook, travel, music, family. But most of my time is spent creating things.

I've been making things since I can remember. Making art since I was a kid. I received a lot of encouragement from my family and friends. I graduated from Kent with a BFA in Fine Arts (Printmaking as my concentration). The decision to turn my hobby into a career, developed very organically. I started printing tees for fun, put some pictures on Facebook, and the rest is history.
My creative process can vary greatly depending on what medium I am working in.  For screen designs, I usually start by drawing my design on paper first, then scan it into digital format and alter digitally if necessary.

My goal 5 years from now, is to hopefully expand my print shop out of my basement and maybe have my own storefront.

Meet Lucy McClure from Bel Monili...
My name is Lucy McClure, and I am the owner of bel monili by l.marlane. I hand-craft jewelry and accessories using a variety of vintage and re-purposed materials, making each item perfectly one of a kind. I started making jewelry in the summer of 2010, and since then bel monili has exploded!
I have always been interested in color, texture, and design. As a child, my grandmother had a little antique shop in the town I grew up in. She would take me with her when people called her out to look at their things, and we'd come back and re-arrange all of the beautiful things she had. I loved putting together little vignettes and "stories" with her lovely things.
I kind of fell into my craft. My boyfriend at the time was traveling extensively during the summer, so I decided that I'd like to take some classes and learn about new things I had always been interested in. I took 3 jewelry making classes, a sewing class, and quilting class. Sewing and quilting didn't stick, but I knew right away that the jewelry was going to be it for me. People started complimenting me on my items and color combinations, and before I knew it I had friends and family members wanting to buy my pieces.

If I had to give my creative process a title, I'd call it "A Beautiful Disaster". I am constantly on the hunt for cool vintage and generally funky jewelry pieces, and at home I have them all organized by color. Then, as the mood strikes me, I'll pull out a piece that "jumps out" and I'll start laying things out. From there, it's anyone's guess. It's a wonderful mess of beads, chain, vintage jewelry, lace, fabric, buttons, glitter, and a tangle of wires and tools. 
Check out these vendors this winter at the 2012 Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show. This eclectic show will feature 100 of the most talented artisans and crafters. A portion of the show's proceeds will be donated to Stewart's Caring Place, an organization that supports families touched by cancer.

2012 Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Sunday, January 29, 2012, 10:00am-5:00pm
Wagner's Country Inn
30855 Center Ridge Rd. 
Westlake, OH 44145
For more information, contact Becki Cooper, at