They say all you need to know in life you learned in kindergarten. Well, I didn’t get to go to kindergarten, but my Mom taught me how to sew when I was six.  I learned how to alter hand-me-downs to fit, then how to make newspaper patterns of my girlfriend’s pedal pushers and put them together, and eventually a skill developed out of necessity has become one of pleasure. I always said, “When I retire I want to learn how to quilt.” But for me, real quilting is way too much about exact points and repetitive blocks.  I’m a bit too lackadaisical to follow all those rules.  So, upon my second retirement and move to St. Petersburg, FL, I poked around the shops of Gulfport on Beach Blvd until I was given the inspiration to create a line of  Quilted Greeting Cards involving quilting on a very small scale.  It took me about a month to get the prototype right, then another month to find the right venue from which to sell them.

After about six months, and with an inventory of about a hundred cards in stock, I decided to expand my soft goods line to include pretty Mermaids with hand painted faces, and Quilted Carp Fish for seacoast décor,  all bearing the embroidered tag “Gulfport, Fl” to fall into the souvenir group.   I LOVE the interaction with customers that I get when working a table on the sidewalk on Beach Blvd!  I could blog every day stories about the characters of Gulfport. I dare say they could rival the likes of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon tales.

Another thing I didn’t learn in kindergarten was how to paint.  My dad had me painting window panes and floor boards of every parsonage we moved into from a very young age.  His father was a sign painter and all of his brothers and sisters were painters or artists, so I think it was passed down the family tree to my branch.  I worked in the educational end of the craft industry for over twenty years.  Before there were websites or Google, I was on the other end of the helpline number printed on each bottle of paint, assisting folks with their DIY projects.  In 2002 the DIY faux finish craze hit, and I was desperately trying to convince people not to paint their linoleum floors or cover their walls with torn brown paper bags like they were seeing on Trading Spaces.  Thank goodness they began getting a computer in every household and the website chat rooms opened up!

It’s interesting that the #1 craft item of 2017 was a rock.  I absolutely adore the #St Pete Rocks movement that has put thousands of families together painting inspirational or comical figures on rocks, hiding them in parks, and posting found rocks for the painter to see.  It is the most uplifting crafting craze I have ever known.  And if you are a member of the posting site, you get to read how seniors who never painted before are feeling artistically empowered to join in, some of the disabled in our community are participating, groups are getting together for rock swaps, and all are accepted and praised!  Amazing!

Rock Painting Nativity Set

Another thing I didn’t learn in kindergarten was how to paint rocks; however, my family often vacationed in Colorado along mountain streams because Daddy loved to fish even more than he loved preaching.  I always had a shoebox of collected rocks under Momma’s seat in the car, and I valued my rocks more than any toy.  My rock painting began about 2005 after I had spent a month in Kenya, Africa.  In a tiny shop in the village of Mara, I found a table of carved white soapstone figurines.  I was especially drawn to the Nativity figures and the angels, and bought several pieces to bring home as gifts.  At this same time, I had been collecting rocks from the Chattahoochee and Hiawassee rivers on trips to North Georgia.  So I got this inspiration…… see how that works?…. to paint the smooth granite river rocks into a seven piece nativity.  Again, it took me a while to work out the kinks and to figure out how to make round rocks stand up, but oh, what a blessing it still is to know that about 40 families have an almost indestructible set of figures to tell the story of Baby Jesus’ birth every year, and those sets will be passed down to other generations.  Who knows how old granite rocks are or how long they will continue to be beautiful?  It warms my heart to know that long after I am gone the telling of the story with simple rocks, lovingly painted into The Holy Family, Angels, and Shepherds, will go on.

My son is a web designer.  He has coaxed me into opening an online store to sell my Quilted Greeting Card line from the air-conditioned comfort of my condo studio in addition to the very warm sidewalks of Beach Blvd in Gulfport.  The cards do not photograph the details of stitching and embellishments very well, but rest assured that the product will always be more stunning on arrival than it is pictured on the site.

The cards are 5”x7” art quilts that are mounted on wedding stationery, and when removed from the card can be framed as an art piece.   Embroidered text needs to be no more than 24 characters including spaces to fit.  Suggested text may be selected, or you may select “custom text” to personalize your art piece.

Fabrics are subject to availability, and patterns may change slightly.  Every effort will be made to keep the selection pictured current to specific designs available.   Every card is an original, so rarely are two alike.  Art is like that.

If our paths have crossed personally in Georgia, Texas, or Florida, hello again.  I have made many friends in this Artsy Fartsy world of crafting.  If we are new friends via my website, I look forward to our sharing gifts of encouragement to spread a little joy through our artworks.  Welcome!

– Jan