Monday, November 21, 2011

A Very Mary --and inspiring--Weekend!

Yes it was a very Mary Engelbreit weekend! So much fun!

St Louis was tons of FUN!
Let's start at the top.

Friday: our first day

My daughter and I were off on an adventure down to St Louis to attend a Mary Engelbreit Studios Home Companion Creative workshop!

I won the the two tickets for the November Workshop via a contest that Mary held on her site and blogs. If you haven't seen the new online website for Mary E and her art, check it out! Her son, Will, who looks to be about my own son's age, runs it and they intend to eventually have all her current products available there. Seriously cool.

I flew from Minneapolis in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and Jenny flew from Pennsylvania. We got in at exactly the same time on different airlines and met at the airport. Yeh! Hug, hug, hug.

Thanks to the kindness of our online friend, Vickie S, we were swept up and off to a delicious brunch at Miss Aimie B's Tea House in historic St Charles, Missouri. Isn't this building that Aimie B's is in a great Victorian? I want that ornate railing! Great conversation and food. I was so glad to meet another longtime ScrappersChallenger. Thanks Vickie!

Jenny and I spent the rest of Friday afternoon catching up, walking around the Central West End, and getting to know this intriguing hipster area of St Louis. But seriously, the best part of Friday was just seeing and talking to my daughter. I would have been happy to do so on a rock in the rain. :)

A wonderful conversation, a yummy dinner and TWO cocktails each at Bar Louie's and then a caramel apple cake dessert to share as well! Send hubby the bill! LOL

That caramel cake was huge! We shared of course. Good thing the walk back to our hotel was only a block. Haha.

Saturday: our second day

Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed over to the ME Home Companion Workshop at the Mary Engelbreit Studios area of the West End neighborhood. That part of town has some truly wonderful old architecture. Unsure of exactly which building the Studio was in, we paused by the newspaper stand on the corner to get our bearings. Coming up immediately behind us, someone pokes her head between us and asks if we are looking for the Workshop. Her big sunglasses did NOT disguise her. Turning to see Mary Engelbreit herself right beside you speaking to you over her coffee cup, offering to give direction, is such an unexpected treat. Well, hello Mary E! And off we then went into the right building!

The everyday-ness of that kind encounter really set the pace for the aura of genuine character during the whole weekend. All 20 or so of us Workshop crafters knew we probably should probably be shell-shocked in awe to be in the Studio with one of America's most renowned and well-loved artists of our lifetime.....but we were not in "awe". I mean that in a very good way. We were comfortable and happy and creative! I give credit to Mary for that. Her happy calm --almost a modest shyness--put us all at ease. She is smart and clever and witty yet all somewhat quietly. Not a show off. Not trying to be the center of attention. They say that the observers make the best artists. I can see this in her. So nice.

We wandered about the Studio admiring Mary's original artworks and anticipating new product lines.

I love her sense of humor....Mary's workroom.....witch? I don't THINK so! :D

above photo from ME Studios

Adorable figurines. I was happy to see they are just the right size for my little village on my buffet during the holidays.

Around every corner was a darling vignette combining vintage and ME goodness.

Amazing felt art kits from Herrschners and Bucilla.

Anne Estelle's winter dress is embroidered wonderfully.

One of Mary's original art works in the front lobby.

New fabrics and calenders in production now for Spring.

The above fabrics are available NOW in their online store. So cute! Perfect for a kitchen or porch.

Re-submit your work. Ignore the nay-sayers. Never give up!

The Nutcrackers.

Some of these vintage and hand painted birdhouses look very familiar! I am crazy for a swoopy roof line!

My favorite item was Mary's printer box shadow box of memorabilia. Her art comes from her family, her experiences and her past.

An adorable 20 inch tall retired Santa kit from Bucilla and Herrschners.

Here is a pic of my daughter and I. Getting ready to CREATE!!

photo taken by staff at the ME Workshop

Mary's team was awesome. We got to meet John M her COO, Barbara Martin from The Home Companion who was our hostess, and Will, Mary's son, who runs the online store. Teaching us were Charlotte Lyons, Kathy Curotto and Nancy Wethington who are all terrific artists themselves and very talented instructors. We even got to meet Mikayla, Mary's daughter. She just popped in to give hugs to her brother and her mom and spend a little time with all of us simply because she missed them...I love that.

Soon creativity was blossoming all around us in class! Small class sizes allowed us get to know each other. We shared trinkets, ideas, and conversation. This was truly a blessing of the workshop. Having fun learning a new skill with my daughter in this amazingly happy and unique studio was awesome! Our first class was wearable art with Charlotte Lyons and most people did decorated sweaters. You start with felts and wools and baubles!

This one was designed by our table companion for her daughter Anabelle who is four years old. Lovely design. Lucky little Anabelle!
Jenny did a hat complete with amazing wool acorns. And then she did a rhinestone-embellished black sweater for New Years Eve. Pics below.

This one was Charlotte Lyon's photo of her own sweater. So inspiring!

Jen in her embellished hat - photo by Charlotte Lyons

Jen's rhinestone sweater--stunning! I loved it. So very her.

My creation took two classes to make. I worked on it in both the wearable art class with Charlotte and the following wool needle felting class with Kathy Curotto. It is a 9x12 wool felted clutch bag/tote from Hancock fabrics. I think this size bag is for Ipads but I am using it for all my needle felting tools and supplies. I added a lot of fun embellishments and wool felted accents.

Below we are getting ready for scarf/needle felting class in the afternoon. Like I said, my bag took both class times. Our talented needle felting teacher for this class was Kathy Curotto, previous style editor of the Home Companion magazine. I discovered that I just LOVE wool needle felting. It is so fast and so texturally beautiful. Plus, it's a great way to upcycle some secondhand wool!

Our wonderful classmates

close up of my wool strawberry with seed beeds embellishment. Photo by Charlotte Lyons.

and a pic of my 9x12 inch wool bag, unfolded, so you can see the backside too.

Jenny's original needle felted scarf--lovely!!!!

An Unexpected Treat--or Two!

Back in 2001, a group of us ME fans on Yahoogroups called the MaryEngelbreitScrappers got together in Houston, Texas at the Great American Scrapbook Convention. Mary Engelbreit just happened to be signing autographs there. We made her ahead of time a 8.5x11 photo album with layouts from each of us fans. We then presented the album to Mary in person at the convention. Guess what! During our creative weekend workshop, I asked Mary if she remembered the Houston event. She not only knew immediately what I was talking about, but she still had the actual MEScrappers album on display at the Studio! Here I am with it 10 years later! What are the odds of that?

And here is my layout page set inside the album. Even my daughter Jen was in the set of photos from another autograph signing at the Mall of America in MN on these pages. So we got to embarrass Jenny a bit and show her photo to Mary when Jenny was 11 and had BANGS! :D

Our next surprise was a gift from Mary herself. She gave each of us an autographed copy of her newest beautifully illustrated children's book THE NUTCRACKER. What a wonderful treat!

above photo by Charlotte Lyons

Truly a classic and yes I will, someday a few years into the future, read this to my grandkids!

What a day! Off to dinner at the end of the day. We were famished! Several people recommended Sub Zero so away we went!

Burger for me.

Jenny loves sushi. :D

I sent this pic to hubby just to make him jealous. LOL Definitely a yummy meal.

Sunday: day three of a wonderful weekend

Vintage Ornaments with Charlotte Lyons

Previous web photo of Charlotte teaching her vintage holiday ornaments---I was too busy crafting to take pics. LOL I still only got two ornaments done out of three. Jen got all 3 done!

Jenny's shadow box paper basket: (photo by Charlotte Lyons)

Here is my Putz glitter house decoration. Note the personalized K wreath above the door. :)

...and my mitten ornaments. Have I mentioned I love blue?

Such a treat to be creative in such a wonderful setting.

I didn't take the above photo. No, it's from the internet. But Mary did pose for us at her drawing table just like this if we wanted her to do so. I figured after 20 other people asking her to do that, I would give her a break. Mary was so patient.

However I did go for the Workshop photo shot with Jenny and I and Mary at the same drawing table. Jenny is actually sitting in Mary's drawing table chair. Too bad they cropped out the drawing table AND added that huge elf! Oh well!

But we got a better photo later.

Soon it was time for us to say goodbye to Mary and the Workshop team. Jen and I hit up the Central West End shops for a bit shopping. We stopped for a refreshing lunch at Duffs and on to a few eclectic antique shops like Rothschild's before we headed off in the nice yellow taxi for the airport. It was only my second taxi ride--ever!

Living large in St Louis I tell ya. :D

Thank you, daughter Jen for joining me. And a special thank you to Mary Engelbreit and all responsible for allowing me to win such a wonderful prize weekend! It was a dream come true for me and I won't ever forget it.
So much fun.
So much inspiration.

Cross this one off the bucket list. :D


SueB said...

Oh My Gosh! What an amazing trip. I am impressed you got as much done as you did. I would have been too busy looking at everything! All I can say is WOW! I cannot believe you got to hold THE scrapbook again! How fabulous that it was important enough to her to keep it and display it. That was such a treat for all of us!

Vickie S said...

I loved seeing all of your pictures! Thanks for sharing them. I am so glad that you and Jen had so much fun at the workshop and enjoyed St. Louis. Your workshop items are amazing.
It was so much fun meeting you both. Let me know when you travel this way again!!

bella3cadie said...

Kathy, Your verbal and photographic descriptions of this awesome experience made me feel like I was there with you...well, almost! What a cool serendipitous prize award, and what makes it truly special is that Jenny shares your love of craft and was able to accompany you. I used to live in that area of St. Louis in the olden days, so nostalgia was part of my appreciation. Thanks for sharing!
Kay Mack