Thursday, June 16, 2011

weekending with mary engelbreit

Can you imagine a happier way to spend a girls' weekend than sharing Mary Engelbreit's birthday in her St Louis studio surrounded by her cheerful designs and crafting with the likes of Charlotte Lyons and Kathy Curotto? The weekend went by so quickly that I took barely any photos, but you can find more photos here, here, here and here. Mary made us all feel as though we were the very friends she wished most to share her birthday.

Hostesses Barbara and Mary

Red magnetic wall display

Mary's birthday included gift bags for us

Charlotte's class setting

Kathy's display board and a small part of her class supplies

The birthday girl blowing out her candles

During two full days of crafting, we all made our own version of the four fun class projects offered by Kathy and Charlotte. I wish I had photos of the very creative outcomes that proliferated in each class. But at least I can show you some of my weekend projects.

In her first class, Kathy had already sewn for us various sizes of canvas bags, straps and pockets so that we could chose our own combinations and move right to the fun part of embellishing. My bag includes a pocket inside and another outside, the latter sewn to the front on three sides with a folded-over flap concealing one pocket while another is open at the top right behind it. Since I hope to use this bag on my next visit to St Maarten, I used a Sharpie to write "on holiday" across the pocket. My trims all came from Kathy's room-filling stash of trims, buttons, fabric, and more. I enjoyed sitting next to Jen, a recent design graduate, who fashioned a small hand bag with a zipper and an embroidered octopus. Fun!

Kathy's second project was paper-based, again with a room full of stationery supplies, vintage papers and old books, boxes, ribbons and trims--enough for endless possibilites. Among her inspiration photos, Kathy had some folded book art, which I had never tried. She gave me a quick tutorial on some options and an article from Mary's Home Companion magazine. While others made their very different projects, I patiently folded my old poetry book page after page, imagining myself sitting on the beach since Kathy said that's where she and Mary and Barbara folded their books. :) Then I added some stickers and a banner reading "once upon a time", surely still the best lead-in to a book adventure.

Charlotte's final class was all about shadowboxes. Using cigar boxes and foam board, we divided and papered our boxes and added our collection of tiny items to tell a little story or showcase a vignette. Many of my items came from a little gift tin assembled by my sweet friend Amy for our trip. My shadowbox also includes a hidden fold-out section behind the Eiffel tower (from a gift bag at Kim's Moulin Rouge event), which proved to be just the place to tuck a little gift Cherie gave me at the end of class. Again each creation was so different and personal.

As we wandered around Mary's studio, enjoying all the creative vibrations and new friendships, it was not easy to leave this magical place. Finally, Amy and I did leave, but only with a lovely invitation to return tucked firmly in our pockets. :)

Mary plans to host another crafty weekend in her studio in November. Stay tuned.