Friday, November 15, 2013

Pieces Come Together to Create Beautiful Art

Meet Colleen Smith from ColMarieSmith...
This is my very first Avant-Garde show! I am an artist who is inspired by an allegiance to what some have called “the greatest location in the nation!” After a few years in Chicago, then Columbus, I rediscovered my love for Cleveland when a job brought me back home in 2007. My art is a fusion of history and paint. Each piece is made with authentic vintage newspapers, magazines, programs, and trading cards – some dating back to the early 1900’s. My collection of original mixed media paintings has been digitally reproduced into poster prints and transformed into a unique line of gift-ables. Each item is 100% handmade with great attention to detail & craftsmanship – right down to the packaging! In a mass-produced world I'm proud to label all my items "HANDMADE IN CLEVELAND, OHIO." My passion for Cleveland is what inspires me to create. I was born & raised here, moved away, and come back, I missed it. I'm a huge sports fan which is pretty evident in my work.
I have been creating things for as long as I can remember. I was the child who demanded crayons at every restaurant so I could flip over my placemat and draw. In school my favorite subject was always art, followed by history. At Ohio University (GO BOBCATS) I majored in Interior Design with a minor in Retail Merchandising. I spent over 10 years in corporate America in retail, merchandising, ecommerce, branding, & marketing. During that time my art was always a hobby, now it is becoming my career! 

I've always had artistic talent, the decision to create mixed media art was just something I stumbled upon. When I moved downtown my Dad gave me a stack of old newspapers about Cleveland he had saved over the years. While looking through those old papers a light bulb went off - I wanted to come up with a unique way to display all of this fascinating history. From that, my first cityscape was created, the piece  that launched my career as an artist.
Crafting is the tangible result of your efforts. There are so many activities we do in life that don't provide that "thing" you can show off & feel proud of. I like seeing the fruits of my labor. An idea pops in my head and if I don't have the vintage newspapers etc. on hand the hunt begins! I do a lot of research before I begin a piece. I bounce ideas off of people. I consult my brother for sports pieces he's always a good gut check. If I'm really excited about an idea I'll work every free moment I have until it's done. I can't wait for my vision to become a reality.
My work evokes a sense of nostalgia. I try to capture the rich history of Cleveland and the passion Clevelanders share for their city. Along the lines of that concept I launched my University Collection including Ohio University, my alma mater, The Ohio State University, & most recently Miami University. It's a formula that is working for me and I plan to apply it as I expand into future markets.
In 5 years, I'd like to think my business will be a more polished version of today. I constantly challenge myself to improve upon my products, push my creative boundaries, and find those business opportunities that produce growth.

Meet Brenda Pokorny from Beads & Pieces LLC...
 I graduated from Miami University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and worked in the design studio of Imperial Wall coverings in Beachwood, Ohio after graduation.  I then started my own textile design studio which I operated until I decided to stay home to raise my 3 sons.  At some point, during naptimes, I began making mosaics…and became addicted!  My youngest son is a high school junior, so that was 15 years ago.  I have been making mosaics since. 

My first project was a coffee table, which is in our family room.  I also covered many other pieces of furniture in mosaic, as well as our kitchen backsplash, vases, pots and picture frames.  In fact, I started selling my mosaics because I didn’t have enough space in the house for all of my creations.
I am inspired by gardens and nature, and by travel, art and ancient mosaics.  My creative process would be described as very random!  Something I see will spark an idea, and I have to follow that idea right then.  I keep a notepad with me, and many times have sketched ideas while waiting to pick up a kid after practice, or in a shopping center parking lot.  You never know when creativity will strike.
There are two reasons I love creating.  First, I love making something that will outlast me.  That someday, a friend, child, grandchild maybe even, will hold a piece that I made, and think of me.  Second, I specifically love the process of mosaics.  I love cutting and fitting pieces into an image.  I love working with glass and glass tile—the materials are so incredibly beautiful.  And, I love seeing the whole picture emerge as I clean off the grout.  It is like magic!

In 2011, I was invited to be an artist in residence at Kenston Intermediate School, where I shared the art of mosaic with close to 500 fourth and fifth-graders.  Together, we created 5 large benches and wall art pieces based on twelve character traits such as respect, responsibility, honesty etc.  What a rewarding project this was for me.  Not only did we create 5 incredible works of art, but I was able to share my enthusiasm for mosaic with a large captive audience!

This will be only my 2nd Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show. I only do 1 or 2 shows a year, mainly because I don't have much inventory. I have spent the last few years creating custom mosaic pieces, which has taken most of my time. Here are photos of 2 mosaic garden benches that were commissioned for memorial gardens in 2013:

Travel and nature are my inspirations. I definitely have wanderlust--especially to see ancient sites. I have quite a long list of ancient mosaic sites on my "want to see" list! I am also inspired by nature--gardens, trees, birds, beaches, blue skies.

Meet Danielle Terry from O'Neill Wear...
My favorite color changes with my mood, as does my style. One of my many mottos is, “If you want it done right, do it yourself!” That was the start of my creating things. When I wanted a painting for the house, I painted one. Then it turned into handpainting glassware. I used to regret throwing things away that I just knew I could have used to make something with- this turned into my creating one of a kind upcycled, recycled, and repurposed jewelry pieces. I have been creating my jewelry for about 14 years or so, but this is my first Avant-Garde show!

I have always enjoyed using raw Shea butter, so I started experimenting with adding fragrances to it. And that is how “Buttered Up” body butter was created! In the beginning I didn’t start out with the intention to sell my items. But others encouraged me to do so, so here I am. I am self taught by trial and error- I believe that puts a little bit of me in each item I create! I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy creating them!
I have many different inspirations. Nature, leafing through a magazine, my husband and Project Runway just to name a few!

I've always been creative.  When I was a child, I remember picking pansies from my Gramma's yard and gluing them to paper to create women with frilly dresses. In my creative process, I have to feel it before I can do it.  I can tell myself I'm going to make some jewelry, but if I'm just not "feeling" it, I have to put it down until the vision of the finished product just jumps out at me!  (sort of like Writer's Block for a writer). I can definitely see my business expanding within the next few years!

2013 West Side Fall Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Saturday & Sunday, November 16th and 17th, 2013, 10:00am-5:00pm

Rocky River Memorial Hall
21016 Hilliard Blvd.
Rocky River, OH 44116
For more information, contact Becki Cooper, Event Coordinator at
Visit us on:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

These Artists Add a Little Spice to Life!

Meet Lauren from The Blonde Italian...
My name is Lauren, mother of two daughters that have been my inspiration for creating recipes and tasty enhancements. We Cook. We are kitchen people!! Two of my 8 products are named after my daughters: Giavanna's GARDEN GARLIC Seasoning & Sister Mia's SAVORY SALSA
I am self-taught. I make everything myself and hold a Commercial Food Manufacturing License from The Ohio Department of Agriculture. All of my sauces are my original recipes.There are no fillers or other sauces within my sauces. No gluten, msg, trans fats, meats, or animal stock (a couple sauces have dairy/ cheese).
 I felt I had talents I was not using. Raising my daughters was my only focus.. Now they are nearly grown up and all of this just came pouring out of me. The first 1-2 years was teaching myself how. Now, I have been selling my sauces for 13 months. I started with designing a website / blog showing step by step demos with pictures of how to cook with my products. It has evolved into more and will continue to change.  You can purchase/ship via paypal right from my website. There is also a list of stores that carry my foods. It will be a full blown online store with more items added in 2014. I am also a self- taught seamstress. My kitchen related, sewn designs will be featured on my website next year, right after I clone myself.

Meet Tris Mihalik from IndoDesigns...
My name is Tris Mihalik, I worked as SAS computer programmer in IT (Information Technology) company for over ten years. Although I loved my job, I have always dreamed of having a small home based business selling the  handmade goods, I love to create. So the timing was right to pursue my dream when I resigned from my position and moved to Ohio to get married. I do love working from home, helping my husband with his small business and just spending good creative quality time with my husband and 17 month old daughter. I grew up with a mom who is a professional seamstress. My mom and I even made my BEAUTIFUL wedding dress, which I was so proud to wear on my big day! She has taught me so much about sewing, but most importantly she taught me the importance of using good quality materials, taking pride in my work and that paying attention to the details is the most important thing in the end. I am grateful that I can do what I enjoy. I have been doing this since January 2011 and this will be my first Avant-Garde Show!
I was looking for something I could do from home and so I started asking my friends for ideas of things to create. I (with my husband help) came up with my first idea of making "The Complete Handmade coupon Organizer with a detailed shopping list".
Then I joined the Etsy website, to try selling them and was so surprised how many people loved my coupon organizer and how quickly they were selling. This got me so excited and motivated, so I kept thinking what else could I create to help people and make life easier? Then I came up with "The Complete Handmade Cash Budget Organizer with detailed Cash Expenses List" and "The Complete Handmade Bill Organizer with Calendar and Bill detailed List". It is just so fun to make handmade things and get the great positive feedback from my customers about how they love my crafts. That makes me want to create more. That's why I keep trying to make other new unique crafts to add to my IndoDesigns shop collection on Etsy. 

I have always enjoyed making handmade things since I was a little, everyone in my family was "handy" and would try making the things we needed. It was also nice to make things to give to family or friends. I just feel great when I am doing crafts and creating things. It's so challenging in the creating and developing stages and then so rewarding in the end when you have a finished product that you created. I admire people who are so creative and come up with great ideas making so many cool crafts. I have always loved to give something unique or different as birthday/holiday gift to my family and friends, so I'm always thinking of what they need and then try to make it.
I’m just always looking and thinking about where there is a need for something to be created from scratch or how to make something just a little bit better or more useful. After getting an idea then it’s challenging to get the creative wheels spinning and figure out how to make it. There’s trial and error for sure but then sticking with it until I figure it out. In the end all the time and effort is usually worth it. I would like to keep being creative, design new things that are useful and practical for people. Maybe, hopefully not only selling my crafts online, but I would like to have a little craft store. I also hope to do more craft shows and meet other artisans and people who appreciate handmade things. 
The message behind my work is that buying and having handmade items is just so much more rewarding then buying things off a shelf at a store. Having a "one of a kind" or unique item just makes you feel better (you’re also helping an independent artist.) I hope more and more people will find that my handmade things are not just beautiful but also useful, unique, practical and really well made. And that they will appreciate all the effort, patience, time and love that I invest in making crafts. 

Meet Barb and John from JB Wood 'n Craft...
JB Wood ‘n Craft is a small company creating hand-crafted wooden items for garden and home.  We design and make all of our products ourselves, using locally rescued/re-purposed wood for our products whenever possible; including vintage barn wood, recycled cedar fencing, rescued hardwoods and wooden pallets. 
We offer a wide range of items for gardeners (trellises, tuteurs, planters, etc.) and bird enthusiasts (bird houses and feeders) as well as culinary products for smoking/grilling, preparing and serving food (wood chips and planks, herb sets, cutting boards, serving trays, etc.) We take great pride in the originality and uniqueness of our products as well as in their design and the quality of their construction. 
2013 West Side Fall Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Saturday & Sunday, November 16th and 17th, 2013, 10:00am-5:00pm
Rocky River Memorial Hall
21016 Hilliard Blvd.
Rocky River, OH 44116
For more information, contact Becki Cooper, Event Coordinator at
Visit us on: