Tag Archives: makers

Virginia Made: Sew Brave Designs

Meet May Gonzalez

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City Handmade

“April showers bring May flowers.” How often have we heard this old adage quoted? Every April, as we experience rainy days more often than not, we try to look on the bright side. We think about the reward and beauty the gloomy days will bring. That philosophy can be applied to May Gonzalez and the inspiring purpose that was birthed from her storm. 

Born in the Bronx and experiencing foster care in Texas, May eventually found her way to Richmond, VA. She jokes, “Oh boy, I have a Lifetime story, I’ve seen a lot in my 31 years.” In April 2012, May and her husband lost their first child to Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder which is considered incompatible with life. After receiving the news at 19 weeks, they made the difficult decision to go through with the pregnancy. Caleb was born “sleeping” at 32 weeks. Amidst the devastation and loss, May turned to sewing to deal with the grief. What began as hand sewing personalized pillows and baby moccasins soon manifested into much more.  

With her passion ignited, May began to focus on what she really loved, bags. Armed with a sewing machine (gifted from her mother-in-law), a few lessons from her husband’s aunt and plenty of YouTube videos, Sew Brave Designs was born. The name for the business came to her in a dream. “It was pretty clear from God. I wanted to combine my experience in life with my passion. I love sewing and I wanted to remind people that they too can be brave no matter what they face.”  

The handmade bags feature bold flowered fabrics combined with leather and are not only beautiful but make a difference. A portion of the proceeds for each one is donated to Noah’s Children in Richmond. The Bon Secours organization provides for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Each donation is made in memory of Caleb and he lives on each time May sees someone carrying one of her creations. 

Though faced with the showers of life, May Gonzalez has found her flowers. She and her husband have since been blessed with two fun-loving boys, ages five and seven months. Life is not always easy but they face it together. Assuming there isn’t a Golden Girls marathon on, you might find May enjoying a date night involving tacos and movies or just hanging out and laughing with the family. Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, you can be sure that May is counting her blessings and enjoying the flowers after the storm. 

www.sewbravedesigns.etsy.com

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” www.thehillcityhandmade.com

Just Creative People

Find your creative inspiration at Studio Six!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Grace Brian (left) and Maggie Perrin-Key (right) met in November 2017. They connected immediately, and decided to open an art space together, Studio Six, located in The Aurora Studio Center in Downtown Roanoke. Their serendipitous meeting led them to realize that they had the same vision for an art space that welcomed creative people within the community through workshops and portfolio consultations. The artists complement one other, creating a fulfilling and nourishing space where their talents flourish.  

(Grace and Maggie photo by www.paigelucasphotography.com )

Both Grace and Maggie began developing their crafts at a young age. Grace received a sewing machine at age 10, and Maggie started oil painting during a summer camp in fourth grade. In her early years, Grace never considered fashion design as a career option. While planning for college, she didn’t think of it as something she wanted to pursue. After attending Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCU) for a while, she went back to sewing and found that the stigma she had originally attached to fashion design kept her from seeing the bigger picture. More importantly, sewing made her happy. She decided to transfer to the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University, where she became interested in sustainability within the textile industry. 

As a young adult, Maggie continued her pursuit of the arts. First at VCU, and then at Hollins University. At Hollins, she studied printmaking, bookbinding, and papermaking. She also began exploring fiber art and textiles. 

“Coming from somewhere that was so arts-centered, I didn’t realize how important it was to have so much support for studying the arts. Originally, Maggie and I wanted to make a place where anybody, specifically young adults who are looking to pursue a career in the arts, can come and get that support. Guidance is important because a lot of people get to the art school application and they need a portfolio and they haven’t been working on one, don’t know what to do, or don’t know how to photograph their art,” explains Grace.

That initial idea morphed into something bigger, however, when the two decided to offer workshops within their space. The workshops have taken off, and with their success, Grace and Maggie have expanded their vision.

“I wanted an art space that was not as daunting and was more on community level where young people felt like they could come and hang out with us or make something,” says Maggie.

“There is a human desire to create things. It’s rewarding and confidence-boosting when you see something that you made. We want to be that outlet that gives people that opportunity. To be able to make something and create something gives you power and knowledge. In addition to knowing you can now do this, you will also know what goes into a painting the next time you see it. Consumer education is so important to me, so I think that when we are talking about the arts, this is consumer education in a way,” Grace adds.

Grace and Maggie offer portfolio consultation and open studio opportunities throughout the year. They also host popular workshops including Zodiac Embroidery, DIY Pom Pom Wall Hangings, Live Model Figure Drawing and so much more. Visit their Facebook page (@studiosixroanoke), Instagram (@studiosixroanoke), or visit their website at www.studiosixroanoke.com for more information on upcoming workshops and events!

Virginia Made: Lane Paper Works

Meet Sydney Lane of Lane Paper Works!

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

In a complicated world, there’s something to be said for simplicity. Simple shapes and colors are the signature that twenty-four-year-old Sydney Lane has become known for. What began as hand drawn greeting cards has now grown into illustrations and custom portraits. Lane Paper Works has emerged to be the area’s go to source for uniquely illustrated family portraits, localities (Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Nashville to name a few), and pets. Each of Sydney’s digitally drawn designs capture her subjects in a cartoon-like way that has become instantly recognizable as her work. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and starting Lane Paper Works, she never dreamed that it would all take off so quickly.

Exactly one year from its internet launch, the company opened a storefront location on 11 S Main Street in Chatham. The quaint building features not only her own handcrafted designs but those of fellow makers. With a passion for supporting small businesses, the contents of the store consists of artisan gifts, each piece carefully selected from talents across the region. There are many advantages and challenges to going from a website to now running a store. Sydney has not given up her website or selling at handmade markets, she now has not only her products but all of the store inventory to take into consideration when making decisions.

Every day her she remembers the advice of her grandfather, who recently passed, “Do your best.” Sydney holds these words close to her heart as she goes through the day to day operations of planning out store products, display windows, and sales all while still creating for herself. While there are many pressure-filled days running the business, Sydney feels extremely humbled to have a supportive family and loyal customers who follow her work and shop in Lane Paper Works.

A self-proclaimed cat lady who takes pride in the unique names she gives her cats, Sydney also enjoys music. Her love of music keeps the tunes in the store changing to match her mood for the day. Every day is a fresh start. New and old customers to interact with and get to know, window displays to design around the season, and new work to create. Most importantly, every day is a day to be thankful as an artist and as a supporter of artists. Giving back is just as important as profiting. Her grandfather’s favorite three words of encouragement are featured in one of her prints whose proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. In addition, Lane Paper Works also supports another charity, A21 with proceeds from Sydney’s “Strong Women” print. “It is about 10% luck and 90% hard work, day in and day out. However, it is worth it—so worth it.”

For more information, visit www.lanepaperworks.com. She’s on Facebook and Instagram @Lanepaperworks. Enjoy a special discount during April for our readers! Enter code “lovelybella” for 25% OFF!!

Local business: Hawk + Owl Weaving

Meet Jen Whitcomb of Hawk + Owl Weaving

Interview by Samantha Fantozzi

How did you get your start with Hawk and Owl?

So my business came about from the need to just be creative again. I studied art in college and a couple years ago I stumbled across Maryanne Moodie; an Australian, well-known female weaver. And within the weaving world, she’s super popular. She made me want to learn to weave. Her weavings were super colorful, and full of texture and I thought ‘I really have to try that’: so, I did. And people really wanted to by them, which was a surprise. I didn’t plan on that becoming an actual business. But when they started reaching out to me, I opened an Etsy shop and it took off from there.

How did you come up with the name?

It’s about my kids. I have twins; boy and girl. My daughter was a really bad sleeper, so she was the night owl. My son was the opposite. They used to share a room, so it was totally insane. One would be awake, and one would be sleeping. So, when it came time to come up with a fictitious name, I had a hard time deciding and I finally landed on something funny that reminded me of them. Plus, my husband is super into birds, he can do like 400 different bird calls so it’s kind of a thing within our family. Not too much to do with weaving, just more of a family connection.

What kind of weavings can customers expect to find in your shop?

My color selections change seasonally, as do the designs. I don’t really plan out my designs, they’re mostly geometric, free-form weaving. They come in a variety of sizes from extra-large to small, and I also take custom orders. I try to have between 10 and 15 things in my shop at a time. Closer to the holidays I offer more smaller pieces like tassels and pom-poms. But, on a regular basis, just a broad selection of random geometric and bright pieces.

How long have you been weaving?

Not long, I would say 3 ½ years. I picked it up pretty quickly. I made my first loom. I took a premade frame that had canvas on it that was meant for painting. I stripped the canvas off and used the frame and hammered in some nails. After that, I started ordering professional looms. Made my first loom and just went to town: didn’t take too long to get into it.

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done?

I made a piece as a submission for a New England based magazine called Taproot Magazine. It was really big and had lots of heavy fringe. I photographed it on the Blue Ridge parkway and I still have it. It was fun to make, and it’s become one of my favorite pieces.

Find Jen on Facebook at Hawk + Owl Weaving; Instagram at hawk_and_owl_weaving; and hawkandowlweaving.com. Her website contains a small portfolio of her work. If you wish to make a purchase, you can either click her Etsy shop from her website or go to the shop directly at etsy.com/shop/hawkandowlweaving. She also posts about upcoming events, such as workshops and pop-up events, on her website. She does classes through Wool Workshop in Roanoke and will be having one this April.

 

Celebrating Spring

Plan a day with the family at The Early Bird Spring Craft Fair & Gardening Primer!

Are you ready for spring? Gardening season is here, and we are excited to welcome it with The Early Bird Spring Craft Fair and Gardening Primer at 16 West Marketplace on April 14 from 8am to 4pm! (PLEASE NOTE: Date is updated due to winter weather. April 14th is new rescheduled date!!) Spend the day downtown supporting local businesses, and drop by throughout the day for workshops, vendors, food, and fun!

In its second year, The Early Bird is an indoor/outdoor event with over 50 vendors including indie crafts, wearables, jewelry, edibles, and more! For all the animal lovers out there, Little Critters Petting Zoo will be on site from 8am-1pm, and photos are encouraged! They will also be selling food so visitors can feed the animals.

Gardeners of all levels can enjoy seed exchanges with local farms and purchase seedlings. This is also a great time to buy, sell, or trade tools at the Used Garden Gear Tent. In between shopping, visitors can participate in demos and workshops on gardening, DIY, wellness, and homesteading. Specifically, Roanoke Community Gardening Association is putting together a Build Your Own Worm Bin class. There is something for everyone at this event, and it’s one you certainly don’t want to miss!

For anyone interested in doing their part to make the world around us a brighter, healthier place, Bartlett Tree Experts will also be on site with free trees. Last year, they gave away five hundred trees including Dogwoods, Redwoods, Crepe Myrtles, and Holly Trees! Planting a tree is a great family bonding experience, but it is also important for our environment. Bartlett’s act of kindness is an opportunity for us, as citizens, to truly pay it forward in our community.

You can easily make this event an all day affair with your family. There will be several food vendors available between workshops and shopping opportunities including Granpa Ike’s Mini Donuts, Little Green Hive, Wok n Roll Kitchen, and a brand new restaurant in 16 West, S and J Cafe. For more up to date information on vendors and workshops, find The Early Bird Spring Craft Fair and Gardening Primer on Facebook!

Bella Magazine is a proud sponsor of this event. See you there!

Virginia Made: Shop Local!

Cozy. The word itself evokes images of crackling fires and hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. Cold days are here and snow is on the horizon. Extra blankets are thrown over beds, winter decorations adorn the walls and scarves are a must. The season for all things cozy and warm has arrived.

Simple and classic. That’s how Chandy Haskins of The Nifty Needles describes her knitting style. Taught at a young age by her oldest sister, the 24-year-old has turned a hobby into a business. Palettes of navy, gray, and cream come to life in her downtown historical Danville apartment. There Chandy creates puffy cloud-like blankets using super soft bulky yarn. “I am definitely the cat lady of the family, known for my love of naps and carrying my own blanket to the movie theatre.” When she’s not knitting Chandy is likely to be hiking, reading with her cat, or watching old movies. That is, if she’s not travelling the world.  (Find Chandy on Instagram @theniftyneedles. This month, she is giving away a 45×65 Bulky Knit Blanket to one lucky Bella reader! She has also provided a coupon code for free shipping:SHIPMEFREE12.)

Under over, under over, under over. As a working mom of two young children, Christine Dwyer is no stranger to stress. Looking for a creative outlet from her day to day job in public relations, Christine discovered the meditative process of fiber arts. Learning through books and tutorials, a class with Maryanne Moodie along with a nudge from friends and family, inspired her to start Copper and Fringe. The unique wall creations are made on a frame loom using cotton, wool and alpaca yarn for varying textures and are customized to order. “Advice starting a business? Don’t rush into it. Take it slow, hone your skill, and invest time. The rest will come.”
Christine enjoys weaving, teaching classes and spending time with family in the Virginia Beach area. Find her at West Elm and somewhere between avoiding seafood and grooving to Landslide by Stevie Nicks.  (Email Christine at copperandfringe@gmail.com, or find her on Instagram @copperandfringe! This month, she is giving away a free custom small weaving to one lucky Bella reader.)

The Minted Evergreen is more than just the name of a business. For Kasie Chapman it brings back memories of her childhood home in Michigan surrounded by blue spruce trees and camping amongst evergreens. Kasie is a self-taught maker of knits, crochet and macramé in Lynchburg. She enjoys working in earth tones and neutrals with a pop of color to create stylish knitwear and home décor. “I’m a wife, mama, believer, maker and wanna-be homesteader.
Making and Jesus are what help keep me sane. Well, those and date nights.” Kasie and her husband hope to own a farm one day. In the meantime, homeschooling her wildlings, gardening, and tacos will have to do. (Find Kasie on Instagram @themintedevergreen. This month, she’s giving away a $50 credit to her Etsy shop to one lucky Bella reader, and offering a coupon code: MEETMINTEDINBELLA for 15%off!)

 

Written by Faith Jones of The Hill City Handmade and Faith Inspired.

Meet the Makers: Minor Terry

Minor Terry started crocheting at the age of five in a friend’s basement. From that time, she could make a square or scarf for anyone who needed it. When YouTube become more prevalent, she was able to watch videos on repeat to figure out how people were holding their hands, and her projects became more intricate, personal, and detailed. Today, she crochets just about everything from fuzzy stuffed animals and stroller blankets to coffee cozies and ear warmers. Her hobby has turned into a small businesses, Crooked Mountain Crafts, and has given her the opportunity to reach more clients with her work. She crochets wherever she goes, and often has more than one project in a bag by her side.

“I can crochet and walk, and I’ve definitely been that person to pull it out at the bar during trivia night,” she laughs. “Anytime we are hanging out with friends, they know I’m going to have a crocheting project.”

  Like many knitters and crocheters, Minor has several projects “on the needles” at any given moment. Although this may seem like a large commitment, the reaction a person has when they receive something she has created makes the entire process worthwhile.

“I sent my sister a blanket, and I asked if she could film one of her friends opening it since I wouldn’t be there to see it. One of my favorite memories is her joy as she unfolded it,” she explains.

In addition to projects of her own choosing, Minor does a lot of custom creations. She’s crocheted blankets with specific colors, patterns, and even sports logos. Recently, a Mets blanket proved to be her most detailed design yet.

“It’s a single stitch, so every single stitch had to be counted and done. I think that was my most challenging piece, but that isn’t to say it wasn’t fun. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it goes pretty quickly,” she says.

Her clients are not limited to purchasing crocheted pieces. Minor’s boyfriend is an arborist, and he has designed copper trees that are available on her Etsy shop and at her craft shows. People use them for Christmas trees, jewelry trees, money trees, and talk pieces. With so many choices available, Crooked Mountain Crafts is a great place to find fun, personalized gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

Minor spends her evenings stitching and making everything she sells, so you know your purchase is made with love and not mass produced. If you still need a gift for someone on your list (or yourself!), be sure to check out her work. You can find Crooked Mountain Crafts at the Kazim Shrine Holiday Arts, Crafts & Vendor Show on December 9 from 10am-2pm, or at www.etsy.com/shop/CrookedMtnCraft.

 

Featured image by Ronnie Lee Bailey

Roanoke’s Kid-Made Market

In January of 2016, one of Chad Young’s sons had a dream.

“He came to me and said, ‘Hey, there is a nice Star Wars Lego set I want to buy.’ I told him that was great, and we would go see how much it was and see if we could make it happen,” Chad recalls. “I hadn’t bought a Lego set in 30 years, so I didn’t realize how expensive they were.”

At the store, both Chad and his son were shocked to see that they would have to pay $80 or $90 for the toy. Even with the money his son earned from doing chores around the house, he was still far from the hefty price tag. They would have to come up with another way for him to raise the money he needed to fund the purchase.

“We decided to take the farmers market idea that is so big right now and do it for kids. That way, they can make their own stuff, sell it, and make their own money,” Chad explains.

So, the Kid-Made Market was born. Now in its second year, the monthly market allows kids ages 6-17 to come and sell their creations to the public. Unlike many local markets, the event does not charge the children who participate. The creativity at this event is second to none. One child went as far as to convert a bicycle so that, when pedaled, it turned a rotor inside of a blender and made smoothies. Customers had the opportunity to make their own smoothie on-site. The harder they pedaled, the more it mixed.

Another girl used sections that her father cut from a fallen tree in their yard to create tic-tac-toe boards. She painted them by hand, and sold one to Chad himself.

“I’m a throwback guy, so I like old nostalgic games and toys,” he says. “I’m also a Fruit Loops junkie. If it’s Fruit Loops, I’m all about it, because it reminds me of my childhood. There is a young lady who has been coming since we started, and she makes her own bath salts, bath bombs, scrubs, and lotions. She makes this bath scrub that smells like Fruit Loops. I bought a little jar of it and use it all the time.”

“That is what is so rewarding about putting this function on,” he adds. “The smile on the kids’ faces when people come taste and test their products and buy their stuff.”

Chad hopes that, in addition to providing a platform for children to express their creativity, participating in this event will allow kids to learn valuable life lessons. For example, understanding the value of money and learning to interact with the public. There is something for everyone at this market, and as the holidays approach it is also a great place to start looking for and purchasing gifts. The next market will take place this Saturday, September 16 from 9am-1pm. Find them at 3716 Colonial Avenue, Roanoke. Follow their Facebook page for up-to-date information on future markets and participants!