Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Ryan Makinson of Clarks Cultures

Saturday, June 27, 2015
We love Kombucha!  This fermented drink is not only delicious but has wonderful health benefits. Clarks Cultures has taken the area by storm since opening up shop about a year ago and we’re so glad that they are vending at this year’s Arts on the Square.

Hello Ryan!

So what exactly is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea!  Brewing kombucha starts out very simply: It begins with steeped tea and sugar, the sugar being a food source for the culture that does all of the work.  Kombucha is fermented with a yeast & bacteria culture over a period of days and weeks.  The yeast eat up the sugar, which results in carbon dioxide (effervescence!) and alcohol - the alcohol is then converted by the bacteria into their own food so they can grow and multiply.  So, after a brew session is completed, we're left with a non-alcoholic, low-sugar, probiotic drink!

Photo: Lawrence Braun

How long have you been brewing kombucha and when did you start?
I have been brewing kombucha for just over two years, and my business has been up & running for one year.  I discovered kombucha when I started working at Everything Natural about three years ago.  One of my co-workers gave me my first culture and instructions on how to make my own brew, and I haven't stopped brewing since.  I literally began with one kombucha culture and now I have hundreds.  Since I picked up my first culture in Clarks Summit, I decided to name the company after the town, Clarks Cultures!

Photo: Lawrence Braun

Do you have various flavors of kombucha?
Yes indeedy -- Naturally, I have an Original flavor which is just kombucha, nothing added.  Additionally, I have six other flavors that are crafted using real, organic fruits & herbs during a secondary fermentation -- BlūBerry, Turmeric & Ginger, I'm a Ginger!, Raspberry, Slightly Strawberry, and Mango-Lime.

What are some of the health benefits of kombucha?
Basically, good bacteria in - bad bacteria out.  Since kombucha is a probiotic beverage, it helps restore good bacteria in the stomach.  As a result, bad bacteria have a harder time taking hold within the digestive system and the body can more easily eliminate.  In turn, this helps promote a detox effect by restoring the natural balances of the stomach, which can then contribute to overall, bodily health.  Sidenote: What I just said is what I have learned about kombucha and hasn't necessarily been verified or approved by the FDA.  (Have to cover all of the angles...)

 Photo: Lawrence Braun

Where can our readers find your product?
Several different places around Scranton: JJ McNally's, Zummo's Café, Terra Preta, eden- a vegan cafe, Mansour's, and the South Side Farmers Market every Saturday!  If you want to venture outside of the Electric City, you can find my full line at Everything Natural (Clarks Summit), and other places like House of Nutrition (Luzerne), The Mill Market (Hawley), and several more -- check the Clarks Cultures Facebook page for the full list.

Learn more about Clarks Cultures:
Facebook: Clarks Cultures
Instagram: @clarkscultures
Scranton Times-Tribune article

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Artist Katie Novak

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
We’ve been a fan of Katie Novak’s work since she lived right here in Scranton. Now residing in Philadelphia, we’re thrilled she is bringing her artwork & handmade products back to Scranton for Arts on the Square.

Have you always been an artist?
I have loved making art since the day I got my first box of crayons! I graduated from Marywood University in '06 with a BFA in Illustration. Shortly after graduating I played a role in the rebirth of Scranton’s Test Pattern Art Gallery. I was a studio assistant for a minimalist painter where I learned the invaluable lesson of how to properly stretch a canvas -and I’ve stretched a lot of canvases since then!  I worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a few years and now I am working at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  My preferred mediums are acrylic paint, water colors, and wood. For a while I was painting on large scale canvases but currently I have done a complete 180 and really enjoy working on tiny canvases. I like to experiment with different textures and layers and recently have been painting and carving on pieces of wood. I also make custom frames for each of my paintings!

We’ve loved your paintings since you resided here in Scranton. What currently inspires your work?
My surroundings are my biggest influence. A lot of times I don't know what I am painting until I start painting. When I step back from my work and look at the last few paintings I made collectively, they are usually connected with where I am - literally. I am currently obsessed with painting buildings and houses which makes sense because I live in a city. Everywhere I go I am surrounded by buildings and row homes. Whether I am looking at them or not they are everywhere! And it shows in my most recent work. I am obsessed with rectangles!

I see that you designed a line of greeting cards.  Was that your first foray into product design?
Actually, I started with handmade wood planters! When I decided to start selling my work at craft fairs I wanted to have an array of handmade items available. It was really important to me that I was making as much as possible with my own hands. So I dabbled in handmade, hand painted greeting cards. I am having a lot of fun with them!

What will you be showing at Arts on the Square?
I will have my custom framed paintings, wood planters (with plants!), and greeting cards.

Where can our readers find your work?
I am new to craft fairs but I will be at a few more coming up, the next one I have lined up is Arts on the Square (of course!) I will also be at The Philly Mart in Manayunk section of Philadelphia. I have an Etsy. And I update my website and blog frequently with new work and projects I am working on.

Find Katie Novak Art online:

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Jennifer Barrett of Woven

Sunday, June 21, 2015
We’ve been fancying these gorgeous dreamcatchers since we first spotted them in our Instagram feed.  Meet Jennifer Barrett of Woven; the artist behind these dreamy creations. We can’t wait to see them at Arts on the Square!

Tell us a little about how Woven came about?
Last spring I began making dreamcatchers as a hobby. As I got better I thought about trying to sell them and coincidentally a local store was looking for a local artist that made dreamcatchers to sell in their store. So, in the fall I began selling my dreamcatchers at The Wonderstone Gallery in Dunmore. In March, I decided to make an Etsy page, and with the help of my friend, Woven was created. 

Your dreamcatchers are just, well, so dreamy! What inspired you to start making them?
I don’t really know if anything really inspired me. I’ve always loved them and have received many as gifts. One day I just decided to get some materials and make one. I have been since.

Tell us a little something about your process.
I usually watch a movie or listen to music while I work on a dreamcatcher. Depending on the size, they can take anywhere from 2 hours to many hours over the course of a couple of days. My favorite materials to use are hemp, sticks, feathers, scarf yarn, and any size of metal rings.

Where else can our readers find your work? 
You can find my dreamcatchers in The Wonderstone Gallery in Dunmore, Nearme Yoga in Moosic, and Etsy. I am also doing Arts on the Square in July and First Friday in August at eden-a vegan café.

Find out more about Woven
Instagram: @sailorjennyy

Announcing the Arts on the Square Band Schedule!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015
We've got the best music lineup for Arts on the Square thanks to our pals over at Highway 81 Revisited and Summersteps Records!  They are once again hosting stages at AOTS and it promises to be a day of fun & lively local music.  Check out the schedule below! 

Find out more about these great acts: 

Brian TV

Heavy Blonde

Cherokee Red

Family Animals

Roy Williams & the Human Hands

Skip Monday

The Bog Swing Group

Coal Town Rounders

Rogue Chimp

See you at Arts on the Square!  Don't forget to visit our Facebook EVENT PAGE to get lots of fun updates!

Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Megan of Typothecary Letterpress

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
It's so exciting to share talented artists that are going to be first-time AOTS vendors!  Typothecary Letterpress is located in Harrisburg but has a connection to Scranton- some of their antique presses were purchased right here! Meet Megan of Typothecary Letterpress.  

Hi Megan!

Tell us a little about your business and what inspired you to start it.
Typothecary Letterpress started after a trip to a small printing museum in Lancaster PA. Around that same time, I had started taking classes up and down the East Coast and decided it was time to get a press. I found one on Craigslist in the Philly area and five months later, Typothecary Letterpress was born! The thing I love about letterpress is that I can get my hands dirty and it keeps me up and moving around the studio. I was getting so tired of sitting in front of a computer and the letterpress turned out the perfect solution. It allows me to design all of my own materials as well as print other people’s designs. I also love that my press is from the 1800s and is able to print beautiful modern designs, the combination is just stunning! 

How long have you been doing letterpress and graphic design? 
Typothecary Letterpress was officially started in 2011, but I’ve been printing for about 5 years and doing graphic design for about 10 years now. 

We see that you offer many custom packages such as event invites, business and promotional items, as well as art prints. What other types of services and products do you offer?
I am happy to print anything that I can feed into the press. One of the most fun and challenging jobs I printed was over 100,000 cigar labels for a local company. Another product I offer that has been big on Etsy is the photo mats. I get a lot of requests for customizing them and again I love the challenges that are sometimes presented. They are usually made for a really special photograph that will be matted and framed and I love that I can make something that no one else is offering. 

What will you be featuring at Arts on the Square?
I always have a variety of goods including greeting cards, coasters, photo mats, art prints and nursery prints, bookplates and recipe cards. But my two newest items are bottle tags and some really colorful business card boxes. I will also have some of my new bridal advice coasters which are perfect for showers or weddings. 

How did you hear about AOTS? Have you ever been to Scranton before?
Believe it or not, I bought two of my presses from a family in Scranton, so hopefully they will make it to the show! I heard about the show a few years back but was never able to commit to the date unfortunately. A lot of vendors from other shows I have been at kept telling me it was such a great show so I was really excited that I was available this year! 

Where else can readers find your work? 
Find out more about Typothecary Letterpress:
Instagram: @typothecary_lp 

Arts on the Square Artist Spotlight: Meet Ariell from Mandalas by Ariell

Friday, June 12, 2015
We recently discovered Mandalas by Ariell and were blown away by the beauty and detail of her work! We’re so excited that she is going to be part of Arts on the Square!

Tell us a little about yourself and how Mandalas by Ariell came about?  

I have always been crafty and I use to paint before having kids.  I found myself building things more often, then painting the last few years.  I had some large floor boards from our first house that we bought that I took with us when we moved.  I knew that I wanted to paint something on these boards to put over our fireplace, so I decided I was going to paint a mandala.  It turned out great and friends and family wanted me to paint more. Painting for me was my therapy, after I had my 3rd child, Zoey I found myself suffering from Postpartum depression.  Painting for me is a type of meditation and it helped me deal with my depression.  When you have kids and give all your energy to them, sometimes you lose a part of yourself that I feel is so important to your happiness.  So I posted some of my pieces online and like wildfire people wanted to purchase them.  That was only 6 short months ago. I'm truly blessed to be doing something I love.

Have you always known that you were an artist?

I still feel awkward with the title artist. I have known of my artistic abilities since I was a young age, but it still seems strange to me to be referred in that aspect. I remember having some artwork in shows growing up. To be honest, I referred to myself as more of a carpenter because I have been building things in my free time for many years. I took my love of wood and painting, and it turned into Mandalas by Ariell.  

Your mandalas are so detailed. Tell us a little bit about your process and how you bring a design to life. 

I use a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram. Each piece is painted on wood, so I have to cut, sand, stain, distress and assemble the pieces together. Recently I have been screen printing the outline of the mandala on the wood but for all my custom orders I draw by hand from the start. For this process, I find the middle point and draw all the circles and lines with my compass and protractor. Every mandala starts in the middle, referred to as the seed. The seed is where is all begins. Every mandala uses geometry and basically I draw or paint the same shape in every section.  The detail work is always my favorite part because it completes the piece and makes it special.  Some of my pieces can take up to 10 hours to complete.

Where else can our readers find your work?

I will be a vender at Split Rock's Wine Festival June 20-21st, of course at Arts on the Square and a few more shows coming up. My Facebook page, Etsy and my online store will also all be stocked up in the next couple weeks.

Find out more about Mandalas by Ariell:
Etsy: mandalasbyariell
Instagram: @mandalasbyariell