Creative crafts kits for kidsWhen Leslie Flax, a graphics...


February 14, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

Creative crafts kits for kids

When Leslie Flax, a graphics artist, and her friend Donna Weiner couldn't find any crafts classes they liked for their children, they decided to start their own. They formed a company, named it Fleiner's, and held workshops for 4- to 7-year-olds.

The classes went well, but the partners aren't offering them anymore. Their new project, CreateAbles, is taking up too much of their time. They found parents weren't enthusiastic about the crafts kits on the market, so the two women designed their own, with three goals in mind. "They would be wide open to the imagination," says Leslie Flax, "so that everyone's finished project would always be totally different. We wanted to cater to the younger child." And they wanted to keep down the cost.

Fleiner's now makes eight kits. They cost from $10 to $14 and include finger puppets, tissue collage, light switch plates, mobiles, jigsaw picture frames, bracelets, cape and mask and spoon puppets. More will be out by early summer. You can find CreateAbles at the Baltimore Museum of Art gift shop and local stores like Zyzyx, Toy Chest and Calico Cat. With the growing emphasis on convenience and comfort in interior design, plus the trend back to traditional decorating, the table lamp has come into its own again -- in Baltimore as well as nationally.

Kathy Brown of Wilson Lighting reports an "incredible" business in table lamps this past year, not only in the company's showroom but also in the repair department -- as if Baltimoreans were dusting off all those lamps that were put into storage when track and recessed lighting was in fashion.

The difference now, according to Susan Sunderland of Louis Mazor, is that table lamps are a lot fancier than they used to be, "with silk rather than synthetic shades, using fringes and trims and interesting finials." George Rayme of Valley Lighting agrees, pointing out that his company's biggest sellers are decoupage and other handcrafted lamps.

Stephen O'Brien, a senior designer at H. Chambers, says his clients are having lamps made out of architectural artifacts -- like interesting moldings -- and antique porcelain and statuary. (Both Wilson and Valley offer this service.) "People no longer want table lamps out of catalogs," he says.

Until recently, Sono -- for South of North (Ave.) -- was an antiques store. But owner Keith Huppert has turned his space at 1730 Maryland Ave. into a gallery for local artists and a decorative arts and antiques shop.

"I want to keep prices in the mid-range for the younger collector," says Mr. Huppert, "yet still offer good quality and interesting accessories."

He plans to hold openings every six weeks. Between exhibitions, Sono will have groupings of furniture and accessories showing how to incorporate the artists' works into room settings. His current exhibition, a group show, will continue through Feb. 28. It features furniture artist Lester Bill, who incorporates found objects into his metal furniture; Scott Arnold, who works with cardboard painted with faux finishes; Keith Huppert himself and Don Joint, who do color Xerox collage work. Sono is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.; the phone number is (410) 385-1393. How would you like to have John Stair, director of Sotheby's Restoration Company, show you how to wax ornately carved furniture? Or Sotheby's specialist in rugs and carpets, Mary Jo Otsea, work with you on coping with stains on your antique Oriental? The advice doesn't stop there. Experts from all divisions of Sotheby's Restoration Company -- clocks, porcelain, silver, books -- offer practical help in a new 75-minute video guide, "Caring for Antiques."

Even if you don't own valuable antiques, the step-by-steprocedures can be useful for taking care of treasured possessions. You'll learn how to clean candle wax and water stains from your dining room table, and the proper way to pack dishes when you move.

"Caring for Antiques" comes with a list of resources for when you need professional restoration services or hard-to-find materials. To order the video, which costs $49, call (800) 444-3709.

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