Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Countdown to Crafts Begins, Strongsville!

Meet Brigette Lasko of The Bookish Hooker...
Hi! My name is Bri and I’m the face behind The Bookish Hooker. I live in Avon Lake with my husband. I hold down a full-time day job and also help my husband out with his business, Bottoms Up! Yoga & Brew. My hobbies are baking, reading pretty much anything I can get my hands on, and fiber arts. I’ve been making crafts for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been crocheting regularly since early 2017.
I’m the type of person that has a lot of anxious energy so I need a creative outlet. I have another business, Baked By Brigitte that I started in 2015 to create custom cakes, cupcakes, and desserts. I created The Bookish Hooker as a creative extension of that business to showcase my other hobbies outside of the kitchen. My Nana taught me to crochet when I was about 8 or 9 and I never really got into it until about 2 years ago when I wanted a way to create fun gifts for my niece. I grew up around my mom who is incredibly crafty and she fostered a love for creating things in me.
I filter through Pinterest and Ravelry a lot for inspiration photos. From there I tend to customize patterns into exactly what either myself or a client is looking for. My husband always jokes that I create a “nest” wherever I decide to work on a project out of blankets and craft supplies and I tend to not come out until I’m done.
 I’m lucky right now in that I’m in a position to pick and choose what projects I’d like to work on. In five years I’d still like to be enjoying what I do without being in the “I have to get this work done” mindset. I’d like to work on publishing a few of my custom patterns, but otherwise I’d just like to still be in a place where I can create and enjoy what I do. This will be my first ever show that I’ve participated in and I’m really looking forward to it.
There’s not any particular message behind my work other than just to fill my desire to make pretty things that people can enjoy. I always say that I don’t consider myself a particularly creative person, I just really enjoy making something physical that someone can get a little joy out of.

Meet Anna and Sam Weisend of ReAmused...
Anna and Sam Weisend are the mother/daughter team behind ReAmused. Anna is an accomplished sugar artist and pastry chef and Sam has an art studio degree and is a practicing artist. When Sam discovered her love for hand binding books, she made a blank book for her mother using Anna’s favorite game board, Scrabble, as the cover. It sparked a flame in both of them to rescue and recycle old game boards and make them into something that could continue to amuse even the most serious adult. As they did that, they started finding new uses for the game pieces as well. The journals did not fit in with Sam’s more ‘serious art’ pursuits so, after much discussion, Sam and Anna joined their artistic talents and formed ReAmused. They are hoping that through this joint venture, they can bring smiles to the masses.
Sam has been binding books for over a year and Anna has joined her in the last 6 months. We both have the ability to see and appreciate the beauty and potential in unwanted things and it gives us the desire to find ways to use them so that others can appreciate them as well.
Our creative process can be described as the following: We tinker. We play with things. We think about it. And then we go back to tinkering.  In five years, we can envision new product collections and a larger, supportive fan base. The message behind our work is that, first, just because things are old does not mean they are worthless. Second, day to day adulting does not need to be so serious.
This is our first Avant Garde Show and it is also the first show we are debuting our work to the public!

Meet Nate Schultz of Nate Schultz Photography
I am a full-time math teacher, who is always looking for ways to stay busy and be invested in various projects and conversations with people. My wife and I have a Chocolate Lab that we treat as a child; and we also had our first baby girl in June! We love finding new places to explore, eat, and have a good cup of coffee. I became a part-time barista at a local coffee shop, which allows me to pursue conversations and share my interest in coffee with new people. I also love to spend time in the woods, preferably near a lake or waterfall. These types of hikes are my favorite scenes to capture and I attempt to bring them back with me through photography.
A few years ago, I had a combination of life events and stress that led to a group of friends suggesting that I spend time in nature to provide me a “reset.” My wife and I started hiking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the local metro parks. I discovered the value of these great places and one day I happened to take an old camera with me to grab a few photos. It did not take long for this to develop into a passion that I could not resist trying to improve upon daily. I have benefitted from the advice and help of many friends in creative industries! The more and more I shared my love for landscape photography, people started asking for prints. So, I decided to start matting photos and seeking out opportunities to share my work with the public!
One of the things that I love about landscape photography is the interaction with fellow artists. I enjoy talking with local photographers and artists to hear about places they have explored and to share my own suggestions. Also, just seeing the other styles of photography reinvigorates me to try something new.
I love the outdoors. I have heard too many people say that they feel like they need to take big vacations to see exciting and beautiful sights. I believe that Ohio has a unique blend of nature, cities, and culture that provides for great one-day trips in our own state. 
This is my first Avant Garde show! I am looking forward to meeting other creatives and customers!

I’ve just begun exploring the business aspect of photography, and I look forward to seeing where it takes me in the next five years! It could be continuing to sell local landscapes, traveling for photography, finding more opportunities for event photography, furthering my portraiture work, etc. It is a lot of fun for me to learn about different types of skills in this hobby.
As a man of faith, I am fascinated with God’s incredible design of nature. I also love using this outlet as an opportunity to show value in other people and to speak life to them as we interact about hiking or photography.

2019 Strongsville Fall Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Saturday & Sunday, November 22 & 23, 2019
Strongsville Ehrnfelt Recreation Center
18100 Royalton Rd.
Strongsville, OH 44136
For more information, contact Becki Silverstein, Event Coordinator at
Visit us on:

Friday, November 15, 2019

Strongsville Crafters Coming Your Way!

Meet Sharon Gerchak of Pet Portraits by Sharon...
My name is Sharon Gerchak, I am married with one son, retired and am 76 years old. I have lived in, or around Cleveland all my life.  I have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I took art at school and went to Cooper School of Art after graduation. I did a mail-order course (kind of like on-line but through snail mail) and after I retired I went to Tri-C for two terms. I now do acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil , pastels and pen & ink.

I have never done an Avante Garde show before, in fact, this is only the third show I have done. I love animals, and I love to draw them.  I started drawing horses when I was about ten and have progressed to all kinds of animals, even an Iguana.

I retired a few years ago (about 10) and had lots of time on my hands.  I took a few art classes and started painting.  Then I did a picture of my dog, who was getting old.  I was glad I did, because he died a few years later. But, now I have his picture on my living room wall and feel like he is still with us. The same thing happened with my cat.  They are up there, side by  side, even though they never met each other. I love being able to see them and remember all the good times we had.  This made me think about my friends and their pets and started painting them too.

I go to a lot of craft shows with a friend, and we have never seen anything like what I do and she suggested I try it.  So, I am.  There are a lot of people who have fur babys that might like a picture to remember them by when they pass away.  A picture on your phone is fine, but a painting on the wall is even better.

In 5 years I hope to still be doing what I love!

Meet Caroline Lawrence of Crochet by Aunt C...
Hi, my name is Caroline Lawrence. Over the years, I have crocheted gifts for people at the holidays, but I never found anything I could do year-round. Then a few years ago, I saw a sign in a pet store about an animal rescue looking for dog coats and I thought, "Hey, I can crochet dog coats." Well it turned out that the rescue was asking for dog coats not for their rescues, but for dogs whose owners were having financial and housing problems.
Suddenly, my crocheting dog coats went from, "Hey, I can do that"  to, "Wow, I need to make coats that are warm, thick, adjustable, washable, and very sturdy." I also made them pretty and colorful because my philosophy is that having financial problems doesn’t mean you can’t have something nice. 
I still donate my dog coats, but suddenly my friends, co-workers, and their friends wanted me to make coats for their dogs. Then my god-daughter, who is much craftier that I, mentioned selling her crafts at a craft show. So here I am with my dog coats and coordinating scarves (because what dog wants to be seen walking with an owner wearing a scarf that doesn't match his or her coat) about to participate in my first Avant-Garde Art & Crafts Show. Joining me with her intricate ornaments and enticing cat nip toys is my god-daughter.
As for our inspiration, both of us are inspired by colors. When I’m shopping and slowly drift to the yarn department, it’s all of the beautiful colors that get my creative juices flowing. I am also inspired by the cold weather. My dog is not fond of cold weather. When it snows, he gives me a questioning side eye as if to say, “You work from home, why do we live someplace cold?” He has an impressive wardrobe of coats as a result.

Meet Denise Sutak of Designs by Denise, Just Beads...
I retired from corporate America in January 2017.  Now, my days are filled with volunteer work for the American Cancer Society (I drive patients without rides to their appointments), visiting the Cleveland Metro Parks and working on creating jewelry pieces.
I actually started crafting in my 20s when my neighborhood held art and craft classes for children during the summer months and I was always there. I had to put it aside as my children and marriage took precedence.  I took it up again once I retired. I love jewelry and believe it should be worn all the time. I believe fine pieces can be mixed with artsy pieces.  Jewelry should enhance your mood and make you smile.
I decided to start selling my jewelry when one day I made a piece of jewelry, wore it, and received many compliments.  So, I decided to give it a try.  My creative process involves putting the right colors and enhancements together comes from nature.  It takes a while to put together just the right feel.
This will be my second Avant-Garde show and I hope the attendees see from my work that my jewelry is fun, simplistic, and goes with everything!

2019 Strongsville Fall Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Saturday & Sunday, November 22 & 23, 2019
Strongsville Ehrnfelt Recreation Center
18100 Royalton Rd.
Strongsville, OH 44136
For more information, contact Becki Silverstein, Event Coordinator at
Visit us on:

Friday, April 5, 2019

It's Show Time!

Meet Annetta Mackey from Chocolate Desires 216...
My name is Annetta. I enjoy creating chocolate. I work a full-time job and enjoy making chocolate. I have been doing this on and off for almost 30 years. I have never participated in any craft shows. It makes me feel good to see the finished product. My mother made chocolate a few times when I was young, so I decided to try making it one day, and I liked it. It's just fun and exciting to see the finished creations. One day I hope to progress into something bigger. There's no message behind my work, it just relaxed me.

Meet Jeannie Kohler of Aunt Jeannie's Attic….
I’ve been sewing since I was six years old. I love sewing and spend most days in my studio with my helper Lucy, my jack/beagle and Ethel, my baby Pitbull. They are useless as far as sewing, but they do give good smooches. 
I have been participating in Avant-Garde shows since the beginning. My creative process starts with anything that inspires me and ends with a lot of drawing and math. I draw all my own patterns, as well as being a ninja seamstress. I love rescuing and repurposing fabrics and create from vintage furs, antique wool suits, and antique quilts. 

Meet Melanie King...
My name is Melanie King and I first started drawing when I was young, watching my father create signs. Unfortunately, it got pushed to the side to raise my sons until three years ago. I had to make some life-changing decisions where I started painting, my father in law bought me paints and canvases, and now, here I am doing my first art and craft show. I would say my inspiration comes from family and friends and for love of painting. I want people to enjoy the beauty of nature through my paintings.

Meet Maria Falorio from Maria Falorio Kindness Creations...
My name is Maria Falorio and I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH. I am a full-time preschool teacher, but I have a love of creating and crafting. I have tapped into many areas of crafting, from painting to crocheting, but have recently found a love of creating household items and jewelry for friends and family to enjoy. I am excited to begin to share my talents with others!

I have had a creative side for as long as I can remember, but I really started creating for other people in college. Since graduating, I find that crafting and creating gives me a sense of joy and relaxation from the “real world” stresses and find myself creating in my free time.
I am inspired to create when I think about the joy that art can spread between people and with an entire community. My hope is that when someone wears my handmade jewelry, they are reminded of how powerful their thoughts, words, and actions are and choose to have a positive day. I also hope they are a reminder to the customer to spread some kindness that day, whether that be through a random act or a small conversation. I hope the same for my household items. The purpose behind them is to serve as a reminder or just bring a smile to someone’s face.
To be honest, I discovered my talent through trial and error. I fumbled through multiple mediums until I found the one that truly showed me that my creations were not just for me, but that they can bring joy and happiness to those around me if I share them!  As I stated earlier, crafting became a big part of my life during and after college. I have always found it to be a stress reliever and an enjoyable hobby. Once I was gifted my Cricut, I soon realized the wide variety of items that I can create and personalize and I took off from there! I do not have a clear plan of where this tiny business will be in the next 5 years, but I hope to spread kindness through my work and hope it is shared with others! I plan on exploring other products to create as well as find a way to use this business to give back to the community. This is my second Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show. I am so excited to share some of my work.
I try to create things that I feel would serve as good reminders to choose happiness. I enjoy creating items (such as pillows, dish towels, and makeup bags) that I know people can look at each day, in common areas of the home, and make them smile. I think it is so important for people to remember that they have the power to decide how their day is going to go every single day. You have the opportunity every day to decide to have a good day and to use your own positivity to lift others. I hope that my work is a reminder to everyone who sees it to choose happy, to spread kindness and to find the positives in each day. I hope my work becomes a reminder to share kind words or participate in a random act of kindness. We have the power to make the world kinder, let’s do it.

Meet Lynn Pelka of Lynn Patricia Designs...
Creating my handbags and accessories brings me much joy. I love working with the fabrics and textures making a classy looking handbag that may be just right for you.  We, as women, look for a handbag that is specific to our needs whether it has pockets, zipper closer a certain kind of strap/handle. I create my handbags with a full front pocket to hold all your important items at your fingertips with soft webbing handled for a comfortable fit. I also offer handmade zipper pouches, mini wallets, and lip balm totes, as well as special character handbags for the little girl in your life. Even though I’ve been sewing since childhood, my business began when I launched an Etsy store 2011 listing, at that time, my very colorful handbags, tea bag wallets, and water bottle totes.
With experience over the years, my design has settled down to a more classic handbag style in neutral colors. Things have blossomed and I am now established both at indoor and outdoor shows. It is always a pleasure meeting and chatting with those who stop at my booth.  The future looks bright with the hopes to one day retire from my day job as an office manager at a dental practice and participate in as many shows as possible. I’ve found the Avant-Garde shows to be expertly done with vendors who produce beautiful and interesting items making for an enjoyable shopping experience.  So hope you enjoy your day here at the show and be sure to stop by and introduce yourself as a one who has read this blog.

Meet Jerry King of Pet Cartoonz…
I am a professional cartoonist whose cartoons are published worldwide. Since 1992, I have been a full-time cartoonist working for Disney, American Greetings, and other companies. I was always bored as a kid, so I doodled, which turned into cartoons. I started this craft when I was doing caricatures of pets to raise money for pet rescues.

What inspires me to create is making people happy. My creative process is just taking real life situations that people can relate to, and drawing cartoons about them. I have participated in three Avant-Garde Art & Craft Shows.  In five years, I see myself drawing cartoons on the beach in the Florida Keys. My message is this: for the love of pets!

Meet Briana Ashley of AshleysArt, LLC…
My name is Briana Ashley. I am currently a full-time artist and entrepreneur with my business AshleysArt, LLC. My husband Dexter Ashley (also an artist in this business) and I formed this business while I was still in undergraduate college and we have decided to pursue the independent artist industry ever since (hence why it is Ashleys’ art and not Ashley's art; there are two Ashley’s.)
I have been an artist since I was born. Art isn't just a hobby for me nor even a career; it is a way of life. My whole life revolves around being creative, seeking new ways to create things, bringing aesthetic appeal to my customers, and bettering people's lives with art. Dexter is not as heavy of an artist as I am. However, he is very creative and brings his own level of style, opinion, and expertise to our business. Art is almost like breathing for me. I cannot go one day without creating something (or at least brainstorming what to make next.)  Whether I am sitting down drawing/painting or looking up new techniques for my craft on YouTube, being creative is an everyday experience. Dexter is inspired by the various books and knowledge he learns in the world. He creates his artwork with a level of precision and dedication that many people do not have today! He is also a musician and loves to create works that are musically inspired.

Like I had mentioned before, I knew this was what I was meant to do in life. I have however, moved into different sectors of my industry such as producing my own product line, creating handmade decor, and creating digital artwork for multiple uses. I had already been selling my work on the side during high school and in college, so when I married my husband, the business had grown and adjusted to fit both of our lives and desires. When I was two years old, my parents gave me my first crayons. I couldn't put them down after that! As time went on, I continued to work on my craft to the point where people would offer me their money, time, and services to receive my art. I knew around age 12 that I wanted to be an artist. I didn't care how or what formal title it was, but I just wanted to create art full time. Dexter also discovered his talent at a young age. He was very creative as a young boy, also drawing and creating artwork in his sketchbook. He also paired his artwork alongside his skills as a poet!

When I create something, there are two processes I usually choose from. If I'm starting from an idea in my mind, I will solidify what it is, sketch it out (maybe look at some photos if I am doing something realistic) then finish with the medium of my choice (paints, markers, etc.) If I am being given a specific theme, style, or request, I will first do the research on it, sketch it out, figure out what's the best medium to use, then finish it. During both processes, I will keep in mind how I wish to present/sell the artwork after it's finished (on a coffee mug, t-shirt, framed decor, phone case, etc.)

This will be our first Avant-Garde show! We recently went to the  Avant-Grande show in Chagrin Falls and received a lot of support,  encouragement, and knowledge on how to go about as a vendor for this  show. We are so excited to bring my artwork and products and to be more involved in the arts and crafts community. My husband and I have big plans for AshleysArt, LLC. For the 5-year plan, we plan for our business to be in a position where customers are consistently purchasing our artwork and products via our online store and platforms. We also see our business having a permanent location for people to visit, view, and purchase our work in-person.

Finally, we plan to have our more everyday products sold and/or displayed in big-box retail markets such as Walmart, Target, Michael’s, etc.

This will be our first Avant-Garde show! We recently went to the Avant-Grande show in Chagrin Falls and received a lot of support, encouragement, and knowledge on how to go about as a vendor for this  show. We are so excited to bring my artwork and products and to be more involved in the arts and crafts community.There's no such thing as bad art. Our artwork ranges from being extremely simplified to highly detailed and rendered. We want our art to be a testimony to any person (be it young or old) that you can become and artist and not only be great, but be successful as well. Don't let people count you out because you aren't a Michelangelo di Ludovico or Leonardo Da Vinci. All art has a place somewhere in this world and it only takes some support, encouragement, and discipline to take it all the way to the top!
2019 Strongsville Spring Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
Saturday & Sunday, April 6 & 7, 2019
 10:00am-5:00pm on Saturday
11:00am-5:00pm on Sunday
Strongsville Ehrnfelt Recreation Center
18100 Royalton Rd.
Strongsville, OH 44136
For more information, contact Becki Silverstein, Event Coordinator at
Visit us on: