Artist of the Week: Deb Koch

This week our artist of the week is Deb Koch, she lives down in Eden Prairie.  You’ll recognize her work in the shop as 98% of the lovely variety of sewn bags like the tutu bags, the large and small project bags, the lunch/activity sacks in the children’s room.  She also has vintage goods for each season as well as seasonal crafts that have been made into centerpieces and swags.

How long have you been sewing?
I have been sewing as long as I can remember, long before we had to take Home Ec in jr high.  I would make doll clothes out of Kleenex and paper towels before my mom gave me fabric and taught me how to use the sewing machine. 

What inspires you to sew what you do?
I do get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, but I guess what inspires me most is the fabric.  I see a great fabric and think I need to make something with this.  I like to coordinate different fabrics to go together and see the end result.    I love every piece I make.

What are your favorite items to sew?
I started out sewing a lunch bag for a friend who got a plain black one free at work.  I found some cute fabric and made my own pattern and she really loved it.  Another friend showed me a picture of a tutu/dance bag that she wanted me to make.  I made my own pattern and figured out a cute way to put the “tutu” part on the bag and it was so cute!!  So I guess my answer is my favorite items are my tutu bags and lunch bags.

Anything you dislike sewing?
I hate filling bobbins.  I try to do two at a time so I don’t have to stop to fill the bobbin.

Where do you find most of your fabrics?
I find a lot of my fabric at JoAnn Fabrics.   I also like to go to all the local quilt shops to find unique fabric,  I will buy the basic fabric at JoAnn and then the coordinating fabric at quilt stores.  There is also an outlet store in Burnsville that has great fabric.

What types of items do you sew?
I mostly sew some type of bag, purses, coin purses, duffel bags, beach bags.   I just started making diaper bags and they are really fun to make.

You’ve started branching out into seasonal centerpieces and swags, which do you like better crafting with seasonal items or sewing?
I have been doing crafts for a long time also.  My mom was a campfire girl leader, so we made a craft at every meeting, also going to day camp when I was young we made a lot of crafts.  I really like making artificial flower arrangements and wreaths.   I work with fresh flower arranging and plants at my full time job as the Floral  Supervisor for Jerrys Foods 16 Cub Stores.  If I had to choose I probably like the crafting better, however sewing can be so calming to me.

Other than Smith’s Infusion, are there other locations in which you sell your items?
I  do a few craft/art fairs usually in the fall.  I have done the Harvest Moon Festival for a number of years and the  Cozy Cottage event at Loon Lake.  I have had a booth at the Embarrass Region Fair, the Virginia Miner Fall craft fair and a few small fairs in Minneapolis.

Meet Andy & Jane from Bench Pressed Cards

This week we are meeting Andy & Jane Shannon from Bench Pressed Cards down in St. Paul, MN.
How did you get started in the printing business?

  • Andy was an illustration and printmaking major at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art & Design) and I, Jane, have a deep love for stationery. We quickly figured out that letterpress was the best vehicle for Andy’s illustration (plus, it’s just really cool!).

Do you print using an old fashioned printing press?

  • We do! Our oldest press is from 1890 and our newest press is from 1965.

Is it a multi-step project for cards with different colors if using a printing press?

  • Yes, I like to explain the printing process as a really industrial rubber stamp. In our case, each color on a card gets it’s own stamp and it’s own inking. For instance, if a card has three colors on it, it means that it goes through the press three times, and the press has to be cleaned up and re-inked three times.

Where you get your inspiration for your cards? Sassy sayings?

  • We tend to think of them on the go– we always are taking notes when something makes us laugh. Most of those don’t end up on cards, but a lot of them do. We also like to think about cards that we would like to give and receive. We try not to make cards that we wouldn’t give ourselves.

What seem to be crowd favorites?

  • Right now our best seller is “The World Needs More Women Like You” and “Hope Your Neighbors Aren’t Creepy”. But generally anything that has a swear word on it does really well for us.
    -Smith’s Infusion currently carries the “Hope your
    Neighbors Aren’t Creepy.”

What are your favorites to make?

  • We just started making “Get Heard” postcards, which are a political fill-in-the-blank postcard to get the conversation started with your elected officials. I love making those and knowing that they are going out into the world and doing some good.

Where do you sell your cards other then Etsy & Smith’s Infusion?

  • We wholesale our cards in about 200 stores across the country and in a couple of other countries. We mostly sell to small independent stores, like Smith’s Infusion!

Anything else you’d like folks to know about you and your company?

  • Bench Pressed is a dream come true, honestly. We get to make cards for a living — helping people celebrate some of the biggest milestones, best days and help lend a hand when someone is having a hard time. We are so lucky to get to do this everyday.

    You can find Bench Pressed Cards at our Shop as well as

Lynne King…Music to My Ears

This week we have Lynne King from Eveleth, MN who makes earrings made out of guitars…yes, guitars.  Her brand is music to my ears…pretty appropriate I’d say.

How long have you been making jewelry?
I have been making earrings for about 2 1/2 years.
Where did you get the idea to make earrings from guitars?
I have a friend who is a Luthier, John Currier. He builds custom guitars. One day he showed me some scraps of the exotic woods he had been using to build guitars. I immediately saw them as really great earrings.
What inspired you to make jewelry?
When John gave me the scraps of the guitar wood, I simply started making earrings.  It is fun and creative.  I am enjoying learning a new skill and working with my hands. And I love that fact that the woods are unique and a renewable resource.  
Is this a complicated process to get such tiny pieces and form them to look alike?
It is not very complicated, but it can be difficult. 
Would you share your process?
The process includes cutting two pieces of wood, matching size and grain as closely as possible.  I do most of the shaping and sanding with a Dremel tool and a lot of hand sanding. When I feel that the two earrings are balanced in size and shape, I apply a finish (tung oil, stain or varnish), let them dry, do some more sanding, repeat, then drill the holes and add the findings.
Where do you create from (studio, home)?
I set up a work station in the corner of the basement of my home. 

Will you be making other jewelry items to match your earrings such as necklaces with pendants or rings or bracelets?
I have made necklaces, but am mainly focusing on earrings.

Do you take custom orders?
I am very willing to do custom orders with woods I have available. 

Or if someone loved a set of earrings but has a sensitivity to metal could you switch out the finding for another alternative like gold?
I would certainly be able to exchange the findings. The findings I am currently using are all nickel free.  I have hypoallergenic silver and stainless steel available, as well as the 22k hypoallergenic gold. 
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am grateful to Smith’s Infusions for the opportunity to showcase my work.  

 

Greetings Carol Bowman!

This week I introduce you to local photographer, Carol Bowman who takes wildlife and nature photographs and lives on Embarrass Lake between Biwabik & Aurora.
  How did you get interested in Photography?
I was always Loved taking pictures, just because i got excited about the beauty of nature/wildlife and of course then taking pics of my sons growing up, and such. Capturing moments. I wanted to be able to have photos to remember things and to show others what i had found that was so important to me, what I thought was amazing. I have thought many time when I take a picture – “Ooh, that’d make a great card”

Did you take a class or are you self-taught?
I pretty much taught myself at first, but as i got a bigger camera, Idid take a class at Andrew’s Cameras, in Virginia. I really learned a lot and continue to learn everyday, every picture you take – you learn. 

How did you know what kind of camera to buy?
I talk to other photographers, and the people at Andrew’s Cameras. They are very helpful in all aspects of the taking of photos.

Do you have more then one camera?  A favorite kind of camera?
I have a couple of cameras.  I do have myNikon that i use more, mostly because its easier to take photos, and not change lenses, as my Canon T3i you do. I use what works for me.  Its a personal preference for everyone.

Is your camera Digital or 35mm?
My camera is digital.

Do you process your own pictures?

I get my photos printed all at Andrew’s Cameras

Favorite thing to photograph?
Anything in  nature and wildlife. Especially when I kayak, and happen to see those beautiful loons, or deer on shore, or beaver swimming – the slap of their tail in the water, etc.  I love it all.


Favorite place to captivate your photographs?
All of my photos are basically taken with a 60-75 mile radius of where I live. There’s so much beauty.  Just get out and enjoy.

You have a Children’s Book titled Tucked Under which is a photo documentary of a Loon hatching and growing up…What inspired you to do this?
I was kayaking by an island and happened to notice a loon nest, and got excited to watch the new baby loon come into the world.  I kayaked out everyday and sat out on the lake near by and just kept watching and snapping many photos..Its first 3 months of life. Everyday, i shared, on FB, the progress of the little baby and how much it was growing. I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Someone suggested i make a book, so i went through all those photos and put together 50 of those pics for a book. I told the story as if the baby was telling the story.  the baby was so cute, and interesting to learn, that it was easy to write the story with the photos. Great gift idea for all ages.


Any insight as to how you always seem to be at the right place at the right time?
I just get out a lot – i take my camera EVERYWHERE! I mean EVERYWHERE –  as you never know when something just HAS to be photographed, and you know , many times the one or two pictures turns out pretty good. If I don’t have my camera with, i am lost. Especially,  if I miss out on a photo opportunity.

Any chances of more books?
 I am thinking of another children’s book. Ideas, ideas!!! Just trying to get ideas together.

Other than Smith’s Infusion where can folks find your work?
I have my books in many places – Silver Lake Floral, Irma’s Finland House, Andrew’s Cameras, Kunnari’s, Virginia Hospital Gift shop, many places in Ely, Grand Marais, Grand Rapids, store all along the North Shore, Walker, Cook, Rochester, Hinckley, Minnetonka, Lake Kabetogama, etc. I also have nature, wildlife cards in many shops, including Hallmark Card in Virginia. I have over a hundred designs of 5×7 nature/wildlife cards. I sell prints, framed, matted or just the prints. Printed on metal, paper, or canvas. Also, make a yearly calendar – my 2017 calendar has30 photos in it. I try to have something for everyone.

Do you have any projects in the works with your photographs?
In April I am part of the Art Crawl in Virginia from April 20th – May 20th where artists display their works in their store windows.  Myself, Marianne Niemiste, and Ian Carlson are having an art showing called Moments In Time at the Northwoods Friends of the Arts Gallery in Cook, mn for the month of May, I am entering in an art contest in June at the Arts Gallery in Cook in June. Also, theres an Art Expo in Cook, in June to show artist works. I am planning too be in various art festivals this summer, hopefully.

Anything else you’d like folks to know?
I would say, just get out there and enjoy nature,  it’s amazing, makes me smile, and remember bring your camera = don’t be afraid to take pictures. We all have our own idea of beauty. Our own eye. Go for walks, kayak, enjoy the outdoors! I do.

Carol works at Smith’s Infusion twice a month, you can also find her at Northwood’s Friends of the Arts in Cook as well as Andrew’s Camera in Virginia.

To see more of Carol’s work check out her website here

Becky Korbel from Red Sky Beads…

This week let me introduce you to Becky Korbel of Red Sky Beads.  Becky rarely uses an actual bright red bead, well at least in the first batch she sent…
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Becky lives in Montgomery, MN way down south…

How did you get started making jewelry?
 I got started in making jewelry in 2008 when a girlfriend signed us both up for a jewelry making class through community ed.

Do you make your own beads?
I do not make my own beads.  I do however make some of my metal focal pieces.

How did you develop your style of jewelry?
Style of jewelry…hmmm…well, I guess, it comes from who I am, which is a layed-back mellow jeans and t-shirt kind of person.  My designs are all earth-tones.  I have tried making the loud and flashy but never liked the outcome and ended up taking them all apart.

How long does it take to make a piece of jewelry?
I have never timed myself.  I create my yearly line Feb through May.  During these months, if I’m not at my table physically making, I’m thinking of ideas and layouts (I keep pen and paper handy).  The (jewelry) brain doesn’t switch off for 4 months.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Hmmm, another tough one…my inspiration comes from the bead or piece of metal that catches my eye, I just have to buy it because it has this artistic flow to it.

You are very reasonably priced.  Any feedback regarding your pricing?
I’m proud of my products and I like to keep them affordable so everyone can enjoy them.

Do you do custom orders?
I have done custom orders, but I don’t enjoy them.  It’s hard to see the idea that’s in their head and most aren’t too good at explaining exactly what they want, so I usually have to tweek it after it’s completed.  They usually give me their beads to use and because of that, they expect not to be charged much.

Do you sell any where other then Smith’s Infusion?
Besides Smith’s Infusion, I sell at the Paramount in St. Cloud and I’m involved in a Pop-Up store in Northfield in Nov and Dec.

Can folks find you at craft shows?  If so which ones?
I do 33 craft shows June through Sept.  My schedule for this year isn’t completed yet.  However, anyone can email me to get the schedule, which is completed by April.

Where is Montgomery, MN?
Montgomery is located approximately 40 miles sw of Mpls.

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Meet Sheri Murray from Glass Matrix

This week I am introducing you to Sheri Murray from Glass Matrix who lives in Duluth, MN with her daughter.  Sheri makes our glass necklace pendents, earrings, bracelets, and hair clips.
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How did you get started making glass jewelry?
Glass jewelry was a natural progression of learning how to play with glass.  I took a stained glass class back in 2000 and was hooked on glass as a medium.  From there I learned how to fuse glass (which is how I make my jewelry) and made plates, vases and naturally jewelry came out of it because I would have small scraps I didn’t want to waste.

You say your favorite color is dichroic. Can you explain what that is to folks?
Dichroic is technically the type of glass, not necessarily a color.  It comes in lots of colors.  Dichroic means 2-color, you will notice this when you hold it.  If you move the piece, the color seems to change.  This processes was invented by NASA.  It is a way of depositing metal oxides onto glass. Each oxide brings a new color to the party.  If you have ever seen the space helmets with the orangey shield, that is dichroic coating.

How is your jewelry made?
Each piece is cut, ground, fired in a kiln, re-ground and re-fired by me.  I start off with sheets of glass and using a straight edge I cut the square shapes. If I want an irregular piece I will use mosaic snips.  After my pieces are cut, I may grind the edges so they are a bit smoother.  Once they are shaped as I like, I will stack the pieces and put into my kiln.  There are numerous temperatures I fire my glass at. Each one gives me the flexibility to melt it entirely or leave some dimension to it. Each piece may be fired up to 3 times and takes about 12 hours to complete one cycle.

Out of everything you’ve crafted/created so far, what is your favorite and why?
I have made some large bowls that I use at home.  Those are fun.  Of course I love the earrings and pendants because the colors catch our eye and people always comment on how colorful they are.

There have been a few projects though that meant a lot.  I am able to encase cremains into glass beads.  Using this technique I have made Pandora style beads for people.  I made a set of 3 for a gentleman and his sisters.  Each had a simple yellow rose design on it (that was their mother’s fav flower.)

Do you still make the glass jewelry? If not, are you working on anything now?
I do make some from time to time. I always have ideas in my head, I just need the time to sit down and create.  Currently I am a single mom, working full time (55+ hours during tax season) and going back to school. I am not sure what I want to be when I grow up but I have to start somewhere.

If you have new work, can you explain what got you started on something new?
I have been taking metalsmithing classes for my art requirement.  I have always wanted to learn how to incorporate metal with my glass so why not take a hands on class.  I have made rings and pendants and I can’t wait till I find some time so I can create some for the shop.

Is this a full time goal?
I wish!  Of course I would love to do art full time but right now I have to take care of other things.

Anything else you’d like to include?
I do love creating and collaborating with others.  I have worked with blacksmiths & leathersmiths to add my glass to their projects.  There is always something that makes my mind wander and sparks a little glimmer of artsy insanity.

Do you have a Facebook page for your business? If so what is it?
I have actually changed my business name (and am in the process of another re-vamp) but my Facebook page is under Glass Matrix.  Unfortunately I have not updated it in a while (divorce and life will do that to ya) but there are some example of past items.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or have an idea of a special project.

Sheri’s Facebook page can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/Glass-Matrix-292227347696/

Hello Crafty B aka Laura Bachschneider

This week let me introduce you to Crafty B other wise known as Laura Bachschneider!  Seriously have no idea how this lovely lady finds time to do the number of crafty items she does as she works full time and has some very active high schoolers!  Laura lives in Virginia, MN with her hubby and two daughters.

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Where do you get your craftiness from?
I’ve always been interested in how things are created. I watched my mom and grandma sew, knit and crochet. I never figured out how to do any of those things, but branched out in other areas.

How do you come up with what you make?
My family and I used to own Country Roads in the late 1990’s- early 2000’s and I really loved going to market and spotting the trends. I still like researching what is up and coming and try to adapt those concepts to what would work for people I know.

Can you give us an idea of what types of things you make?
I do all types of small scale vinyl and embroidery. I do lots of custom work. My most popular sellers are the character hooded bath towels, dish towels, whimsical socks, and custom ornaments. I customize lots of items such as a variety of cups, picture frames, and clothing.

How do you craft while working a full time job, and having very active children?
It is a definite juggling act and I have been known to drop a ball or two. My husband Paul is great at household tasks freeing up time for me. My daughters Holly and Annie also help out by assisting with craft shows and with many of the projects. We have “all hands on deck” during busy times or when there is a big order due.

How long have you been crafting?
I suppose since I was a teenager– in some form or another.

What are some of your favorite things to make?
Anything with the poop emoji makes me laugh 💩. I also love custom work that people order for friends and themselves. Its heartwarming to know a little piece of what you did will be cherished by someone.

What’s your favorite crafting machine? Embroidery Machine, Cricut, Heat press, etc?
I can’t play favorites– it could hurt their feelings and then they will misbehave. Yes– they are like kids to me. I treat them with love hoping they will not behave badly. Nothing worse than a machine down!

Anything else you’d like to include about you and your craftiness that you want folks to know?
I’m so very thankful to all my loyal customers and I love what I do. It’s so wonderful for our community to have a store like Smith’s Infusion where artists and crafters can showcase their talents.

Thank you to Laura for taking time out of her very chaotic schedule to answer some questions for us!  You can follow Laura’s Craftiness on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/craftybach/  and as always when new work is added to the shop you can check out Smith’s Infusion’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/smithsinfusion/