Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Nicole of Chic Somethings Boutique

Thursday, May 30, 2013
We're very excited to introduce Nicole Picache Bleich, the talented designer and creator of Chic Somethings Boutique.    Her work has been featured on The Knot Live and recently in the Best of Etsy Summer Finds roundup on Everyday Family.  We're so glad she’s part of Arts on the Square and can't wait to see what she creates.

Tell us a little about your company and what inspired you to start it.
I started Chic Somethings Boutique in September of 2011 as a home-based business when I opened my online shop on Etsy. I always loved giving handmade gifts during the holidays and special occasions. I find there's something heartfelt and soulful about giving a handcrafted gift. Motivated by the loss of my full-time teaching position, I searched within myself to look for other means of career fulfillment. With the support of my loving husband, family and friends, Chic Somethings Boutique was born!

How did you learn your craft?  Do you have formal training?
I spent many years as a high school History teacher. I spent most of my life with my nose in History books--so, my craft comes straight from my heart. I'm a self-taught designer who truly believes in the Art of "trial-and-error." Every artisan has their own techniques and methods to creating their works; it's what makes their product unique to their brand. I can't tell you the amount of supplies and creations whose fate was the landfill, but I can tell you what worked for me and didn't work for me. And I'm always changing and improving my techniques. One thing I've taken from my career as a teacher is that there's always room to learn more.  

What kind of materials do you use to create your designs?  How long does each piece take to make?
I eat, sleep and dream in tulle, fabric and ribbon! Anybody that knows me knows I put my heart and soul into EVERY item I create. I spend an average of one hour on a single tutu, and up to 4-5 hours on just one of my tutu dresses. I feel that anything worth doing is worth doing well. My clients deserve a quality product, so I spend whatever amount of time it takes to make sure it’s perfect.

How would you describe your style & where do you find inspiration?
I would describe my style as modern, yet classically for any Princess. My inspiration comes from the world around me, my loved ones, my experiences, even from my own likes/dislikes. I find inspiration in the simplest things sometimes. 

What items are you featuring at the Arts on the Square festival?
I will be featuring various designs from several of my tutu lines. I'm very excited to be introducing my new Summer and Fall 2013 designs at Arts on the Square. This will be the unveiling of many of my newest Tutu and ShabbyTu designs, something I'm very excited about!

What is your most popular item?
My most popular item this season is my Jessie ShabbyTu. This cowgirl-inspired fabric tutu is one of my favorites!

What are your can’t live without craft room essentials?
One thing in my craft room I can't live without is my glue gun. My glue gun is so special to me, it has a name...Betty! I've had this glue gun since I was 11 years old. It was the first and only glue gun I've ever owned. Sixteen years later, she's still going strong! 

How do you make your workplace an inspiring place to be?
Being that I work from home, it’s important to have that separation of studio and home. But I also love how my studio is part of my home. I have a lot of homey touches in my workspace to make it an inspiring place to work. 

Follow Chic Somethings Boutique
Facebook:  Chic Somethings
Instagram: chicsomethings

Follow Arts on the Square & ScrantonMade
Twitter:  ScrantonMade

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Ruth Koelewyn

Monday, May 27, 2013
We got the opportunity to have a virtual sit-down with talented fine artist and designer, Ruth Koelewyn, about her work, process and inspiration. Her gorgeous pieces are minimalist and timeless; luxe yet suitable for everyday wear. We can't wait to see what she crafts up for Arts on the Square.

Tell us a little about your company and what inspired you to start it. 
I've been in business actually selling things since last November. I was inspired to make the move to an independent artist in large part because of the example Valerie Kiser sets. She's an incredible worker and a great designer. Her success in her business made me think about working for myself more. I took a class on arts businesses, and from there started to make work. It's been hugely rewarding thus far, and I am very excited to meet more of the local art and design community at Arts on the Square. It is always inspiring to meet new people and see new work!

How did you learn your craft?  Do you have formal training? I started studying jewelry making in a community class when I was twelve, and took the class two years straight. In high school I went to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and studied metalsmithing in more depth. From there I knew that metal and jewelry was my passion, and went to Syracuse University for my BFA in Metals and Jewelry, then Cranbrook Academy of Art for my MFA in Metalsmithing. In the summers I worked as a bench jeweler for another designer, learning more about the fine jewelry industry and how to run a business.

What kind of materials do you use to make your work?  How long does each piece take to make? I normally use sterling silver for my work, but I also use gold and platinum occasionally. My jewelry pieces take between one and four hours to make, but more complex pieces can definitely take more time.

How would you describe your style & where do you find inspiration? My work is minimal. I try to strip away anything from the piece that isn't absolutely essential to the composition and experience of the work. Jewelry is inspiring in how people use it to define who they are and change their own style on a daily basis. I am thinking here of wedding rings, lockets, or fashion accessories. Earrings are especially interesting to me, because the jewelry and skin are in a direct relationship unlike any other sort of jewelry. The space under the ear allows the earring to be very sculptural, but the earring also needs to respond to the body in a very sensitive way. I like the extreme limitations, and paradoxically the extreme freedom, of this design challenge. While I work on other pieces I design earrings much more than any other type of jewelry.

What items will you be featuring at the Arts on the Square festival? I will be presenting earrings primarily, especially some new work that I'm designing now that explores different textures I can make and the act of touch.

What is your most popular item? The Folded Rosettes. They are sterling silver stud earrings made from recycled material left from other projects. I love making them and people love wearing them. They have a lot of visual depth and play of light, plus they are lightweight and easy to wear.

What are your can’t live without craft room essentials? A pot of tea and natural light.

How do you make your workplace an inspiring place to be? I try to have objects around that display some characteristic I am aiming for. Right now I have different textures and bubble wrap on my walls. I basically treat the whole room as a pin board, but with objects, not images.

Will you be demonstrating your craft at Arts on The Square? If so, tell us a little about it... I won't be demonstrating my jewelry making. Jewelry requires a fair amount of tools and I use a jewelers bench that is a little large and heavy to move around. But I am always willing to show people around the studio if they want to visit. So if you're interested in seeing how I work, just send me a message.

Is there any other information you would like to highlight about your work? Jewelry has been a significant part of my life, as you can see from how long I studied it, but drawing and other arts are also a big part of my creative process. You can see my drawing work on my website, along with some installations. 

Another big part of my art life is The Pop Up Studio. We're a group of local artists and designers who make one time art happenings and events for the public. They are always fun to work on and I get a lot of energy from working with the rest of The Pop Up Studio gang. You can see images of our past events and get information on new events at: 

Connect with Ruth:
Twitter: @ruthkoelewyn

Connect with Arts on the Square & ScrantonMade
Twitter:  @ScrantonMade

Arts on the Square: Planning Update!

Sunday, May 19, 2013
The 1st Annual Arts on the Square festival planning is coming along!  We're so excited to finally be announcing some of the performers, artists and artisan vendors with many more to come.  This all-day event will feature music, performance art on both the street and the stage, artist demonstrations, children's activities, delicious food and a variety of the best handcrafted wares from the local area and beyond. 

We're super excited about the interactive mural being sponsored by the Scranton Cultural Center, Everhart Museum and Albright Memorial Library!

Are you a performer or cultural group that would like to apply to the event?  

Are you an artist, artisan or creative business that would like to participate?  

Applications for both can be found on the Arts on the Square website or by emailing 

Have an offbeat idea that you think would be great for the event?  Pitch it to us.  This festival is open to all creative ideas. 

See our growing list of artists and artisan vendors  — from fine art, jewelry, home decor, photography, clothing, prints and handmade goods and more here. And, we will be adding to this list daily. 

Special thanks go out to the Lackawanna County Commissioners Corey D. O'Brien, Jim Wansacz, and Patrick M. O'Malley and The Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department.