Annual Crafters' Tour set for November 5-7
Lois Schmidgall is probably the only artisan in the 25-year history of the Crafters' Tour who can say she has decorated for both a governor and a president.
An Alexandria resident for two years, Schmidgall has been a floral designer for 22 years and owned a floral shop in Morris. In 1999, she established Nature's Creative Concepts as a freelance floral design business.
In 2003, she volunteered to head up a team that decorated Governor Tim Pawlenty's office for the Christmas season.
"That was his first year of office," Schmidgall said of getting to meet the governor. "He was a sweetheart."
That experience proved invaluable when two years later she was decorating for another VIP - President George W. Bush.
"I got a call and the guy said, 'Would you consider being on the design team for the Bush/Cheney inauguration?' I thought it was my brother playing a joke," Schmidgall recalled.
But it was for real. For three days in January 2005, Schmidgall was in Washington, D.C. decorating one of several ballrooms that would house 6,000 inaugural ball attendees. she was in charge of creating 7-foot-tall topiaries made of red roses and carnations to adorn each table in that particular ballroom. She also created 12-foot green topiaries to line the secret entrance to the ballroom.
"We worked!" she said of the volunteer position. "That room was so big!"
Schmidgall also used fresh garland to decorate a tent where the "VIPs" arrived, which added to the "unreal" and "phenomenal" experience of being part of the inauguration festivities.
Having achieved success with floral design, about three years ago, Schmidgall decided to add another art form to her repertoire. She took up painting and incorporated that into Nature's Creative Concepts.
"I started painting as a stress release," she said. "I didn't know I could paint. It's so relaxing."
Using mostly acrylics, she paints original artwork and décor. She also hand-paints furniture, and refurbishes old furniture and lampshades with her unique painted designs. Many of her creations have been customized using design and color from fabric to coordinate with clients' home décor.
She has displayed her painting at Art in the Park in Alexandria for three years, and also participates in about 15 art shows a year in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Along with decorating for the governor's office and the inauguration, Schmidgall's list of accolades includes being inducted into the American Academy of Floriculture in 2005 and the American Institute of Floral Design in 2006.
Nature's Creative Concepts offers interior design consulting (commercial or residential), custom floral design, custom artwork, event decorating, color and design consultations, specialty furniture painting, and staging and display.
Schmidgall is one of more than 30 artisans on this year's Crafters' Tour. Her art can be viewed at one of the seven stops on the tour - 1404 North McKay Avenue in Alexandria.
CRAFTERS' TOUR INFO
The 25th annual Crafters' Tour is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, November 5 to 7. The tour stops will be open Thursday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This year includes seven places to stop and shop with more than 30 artisans involved. A wide variety of items will be available.
Lunch can be purchased at Carlos Creek Winery on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This year's locations are as follows (all sites will be marked with Crafter's Tour signs):
818 Kenwood Street - from Broadway, turn onto 8th Avenue East, then Kenwood Street.
1115 8th Avenue East - from Broadway, turn onto 8th Avenue East.
720 12th Avenue West - from Broadway, go to 12th Avenue West, follow to 720.
1404 North McKay Avenue Northeast - from Broadway, go to 3rd Avenue, turn right. Follow to stoplight by Elden's. Turn left onto Highway 29 North, follow to McKay, turn left.
1745 Fireman's Lodge Road - north on Broadway, turn left on 3rd Avenue (County Road 82). Go past the fairgrounds. Turn left onto County Road 45, follow one mile to Fireman's Lodge Road. Turn right, go 1 ¼ miles to 1745.
Carlos Creek Winery, 6693 County Road 34 Northwest - Take County Road 34 past Alexandria Golf Club. Stay to the left when you come to a Y in the road and continue over the Carlos/Darling Bridge on County Road 34 Northwest. Go about three miles, the winery is on the right.
6765 Highland Circle Northwest - Take County Road 34 just past the winery, on the left.