Vicky Overbeck and Linda Wingo have done what many people would like to do: turn their hobbies into full-time jobs.
Ms. Overbeck, a former paralegal for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Mrs. Wingo, a former administrative assistant, traded in their desk jobs to spend their days sawing, sanding, painting and peddling crafts.
"We thought about wanting to do this -- at least to get some grocery money out of it," said Ms. Overbeck, a 47-year-old divorcee who lives with three cats in a Gambrills duplex. Now they hope to earn a bit more than grocery money.
The two met when they were working at Bell Nursery in Burtonsville and began going to craft shows together, which is where they got the idea for their business.
Since December, they have converted a spare bedroom in Ms. Overbeck's house into a workshop, investing a couple of thousand dollars in supplies and equipment. They have sold their handiwork to five local stores, including Arundel Pet and Pony in Edgewater, and they hope to drum up mail-order business through Country Folk Art magazine, in which they have placed an ad in the September issue.
This month, they have set up the only craft booth at 450 Market Inc., an open-air flower mart just over the Anne Arundel County line in Bowie at Routes 3 and 450.
The two have yet to break even, but they say they hope to by summer's end.
Ms. Overbeck had been working for the Department of the Interior for four years when she gave up her job to make crafts. At first she couldn't support herself, so last year and this year, she moonlighted as a receptionist for the House Environmental Matters Committee during the 90-day General Assembly session.
The temporary job has helped her make some sales.
Del. George W. Owings III, a Democrat who represents Calvert Count and parts of southern Anne Arundel county, bought a couple of her "garden angels." Each angel, made of painted pine, holds a heart that can be inscribed with a message.
His inscription for a garden angel that he gave to his mother reads: "May all your weeds be wildflowers."
His mother has displayed the $40 angel "in front of her pansies and daisies," Mr. Owings said. "I just thought it was a delightful gift."
For a decade, Mrs. Wingo worked at Westat, a Rockville research firm, then at American University. She grew tired of the work and began taking horticulture classes and working at the nursery, she said.
"About six or seven years ago, I decided that I hated working in an office. I loved plants," recalled Mrs. Wingo, 44, who lives in Germantown with her husband, Don.
Things changed when she and her husband adopted a baby. The commute to the Burtonsville nursery left her little time to spend with her son.
"I wanted to stay at home longer, and this was great," Mrs. Wingo said.
Ms. Overbeck and Mrs. Wingo, who have no formal training in making crafts, make a variety of items, from garden accessories to Christmas ornaments. Their most popular item is a painted birdhouse.
Ms. Overbeck saws and sands pine to make a birdhouse the size of a gingerbread house. Each has 18-inch stick legs and chicken feet. Mrs. Wingo designs and paints the houses with themes. The Southwestern design house has a teal roof with salamanders, and the "When Pigs Fly" design has a blue roof with pink, winged pigs.
"Linda and I sit around and brainstorm. We both have a weird sense of humor," Ms. Overbeck said.
The two also make birdbaths and bird feeders with cat designs. Colorful wooden cats clutch plastic birdbaths.
One features a cat with its head stuck in the bird feeder, helplessly watching birds eat.
They are working on making wooden crabs, painting them red and attaching them to pots to hold crab paraphernalia, such as mallets.
Eventually, the pair would like to set up their own store. But first, they say, they have to find their niche.
"It's a hard market, because you don't know what people like," Mrs. Wingo said. "Yet, you want to make something different."