Where creativity rules the day

Rubber stamps are the springboard for artistic adventures at this Savage Mill store

Business profile The Queen's Ink

June 14, 2006|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Patti Euler, the owner of The Queen's Ink, a store selling stamps and other art supplies in Savage Mill, grew up in a creative family.

"I always loved art," she said. "My mother and my grandmother, they were sewers and knitters; my mother painted."

An aunt was a clothing designer. "We just always did creative things. That was our entertainment."

Art is still Euler's entertainment, except now she makes a living from it.

The Queen's Ink, which moved from Crofton to Savage Mill in November, sells stamps and stamp pads, beads, gold leafing, fancy paper and other items that can be used to create what Euler calls multimedia art -- art that mixes materials such as paper, clay, fabric and metal.

"It's a really cool shop," said Carole Long, who lives in Laurel and was browsing with a friend recently. "A lot of fun things, and unusual things that I haven't seen before. ... I see rubber stamps in all the stores, but these are really different."

The stamps at The Queen's Ink come in all shapes and sizes, many with highly detailed designs and some featuring sayings. One says: "Love: The irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." Another says: "Art is everywhere, but you have to see it."

The cheerful, sunny shop, which has royal purple carpeting and walls painted a similarly majestic shade, also hosts classes, bringing in artists from all over the country, many with national reputations.

The store's classroom, a spacious room with long purple-painted tables in the back of the shop, can seat as many as 24, but some artists request smaller class sizes.

Either way, the classes, typically held Thursday through Saturday nights, tend to be full, according to Euler. One draw is that customers leave with at least one completed project, she said.

Euler, who grew up in Howard County and lives in Prince George's County, said rubber stamps are the most popular item in her store.

But stamping is much more complex than pressing a stamp into an ink pad and then slapping it onto a sheet of paper, she said.

Stamps can be used to decorate fabric, jewelry and even metal, she said. "It's not just your typical stamp on a piece of paper," she said. To decorate metal using stamps, the stamp is first applied, then a stylus tool can be used to trace the image.

Euler also sells something called precious metal clay, which, when baked in a jewelry kiln, fires away the clay, leaving sterling silver.

"We stamp on everything that doesn't run from us," said Lolly Keaveney, who has been with The Queen's Ink for six years, maintaining the Web site and working in the store.

One of the many "queenly" mantras espoused at The Queen's Ink is that refining your technique can transform your art. In other words, knowledge is just as important as product.

Another is, "You're only as good as your tools." As Euler says, if you invest in good tools, "you're struggling less to get a beautiful end result."

Though Euler loved art from a young age, she worked in the corporate world for 27 years, retiring as a national account manager for a phone company.

For several years in the late 1990s, she scratched her creative itch when she and seven other women put on a home show every November.

The women made quilts, jewelry, paintings and other items, which were sold at Euler's home. Euler contributed watercolor paintings.

"I always loved being surrounded by creative people, and I was very energized by that," she said. "When I retired from AT&T, there was a window of opportunity for me to open a business."

She and a friend, Tina Lowe, opened The Queen's Ink in Crofton in December 2000. Their vision was "having a place where creative people could come and learn and share, just really refine their craft," Euler said.

They chose the name The Queen's Ink because "everything we wanted to do in the shop was over the top," Euler said. From the purple carpet to the ambitious class schedule, "we wanted people to have a royal experience."

From the start, the owners were clear that The Queen's Ink wasn't an ordinary scrapbooking or stamping store. "We incorporate so many different mediums, and that's what really makes us different," Euler said. "I look for very different products, things that you're not going to find in the big-box stores. I bring in artists from all over the United States to teach different techniques."

Three years after the business started, Lowe left. "She was ready to move on," Euler said, adding that the two women are still good friends.

In 2005, when the five-year lease on the Crofton store was up, Euler moved the store to Savage Mill.

The new space is larger, she said, and brighter. She also likes that people come to Savage Mill to browse, while the Crofton store was more of a destination.

"Being here at the Mill, there's just character here in this building, which translates well with what we're trying to do," she said.

The Queen's Ink is located in Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry St., Savage. The phone number is 301-497-9449.

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