Five Question Interviews

I’ve interviewed a host of wonderfully talented women who have created businesses, community, and art in Elgin and neighboring communities.

It is not lost on me that many of the stories I’ve shared here involve dogs.

I’ll be sharing more stories of amazing women who create beauty and cultivate community in their homes, gardens, studios, and small businesses.

Look for a new interview every month.

Emma Clark: The Five Question Interview

Emma in her home studio

Emma Clark is the artist/owner of Ferret & Fern where she creates nature-inspired illustrations and handmade accessories, responsibly crafted to minimize environmental impact.

Keeping with her love of nature, Emma tries to source her materials as responsibly as possible. Using ethically sourced fabrics, or second-hand fabric from clothing, fabric, and remnants when she can find them. 

She makes her own natural dyes, sourced or grown locally when possible, and also uses non toxic printing inks.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Elgin initially because we could afford a place downtown, being able to walk to shops and bars was really important to me. Having lived here a while though, I realise how much Elgin has to offer in the way of community and life style! Small town life is definitely the way forward 😊

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

This is a hard one… I don’t think I could name any one thing, if I don’t create anything I get itchy and anxious. I find the process of creating intellectually challenging and incredibly rewarding. Making something beautiful from a simple idea is the best feeling! 

Turmeric Dyed Organic Silk Scarf

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

How to open myself up to people to build new and better friendships. That owning a dog is just as amazing as I thought it would be! That I make art for myself and not for others.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Original art for “It’s Hot in Texas” print

 I’m making a crochet cardigan, I’m reading a book called Overstory, and watching Carnival Row and Picard

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake vs sweet pie – cake! Cake vs savoury pie – pie!
Etsy shop

Lee Charlton: The Five Question Interview

Lee Charlton is the artist/owner at Felting Farmer Lady where she creates sculptures with wool, spins, and knits. She also sells hand-dyed fibers, roving, and handspun yarns for other fiber enthusiasts.

She lives on a small homestead farm in Central Texas with her husband and a host of critters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Bastrop County in 1985 along with a group of friends when we found a most beautiful spot of land in the western part of the county.  It just happened to be in the Elgin ISD.  We raised 3 children here, all of whom attended the Elgin public schools.  In 2005 we bought a sweet little farm just south of Elgin which we share with 2 sheep, a pig, 3 donkeys, an old bull, 4 dogs and a cat.  The farm welcomes all sorts of visitors and especially the grandchildren.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I am not one that holds still well and love when my hands are busy.  Taking wool and creating beauty just fills my heart, it’s plain and simple.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I have always done crafty things but until I retired in 2011, had never attempted an art form that needed to be developed over time.  In the last five years I have learned to keep at it over and over and over again until what is in my mind communicates with what my hands create and the result pleases me. I have learned how to run a small business, all sorts of social media promotional stuff that is a pain but necessary and tackled creating a website which I am quite proud of.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Hmmm, I have to divide my time between creating product for my on-line business (I sell wool to others who do needle felting and spinning so process a lot of raw wool by washing and dyeing) and my own creating.  Needle felting is creating sculptures with wool.  I also spin yarn, knit and most recently, have dived into botanical printing. Botanical printing is a process that draws out the tannins from leaves onto wool/silk and cotton fabrics.  I use natural dyes to modify these prints as well.

This time of year I am busy planning upcoming workshops, doing taxes and all the fiddly stuff one has to do. I have several large projects swirling in my head that I want to tackle this year.  Spring will be a lovely time to get started.

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie! A good apple pie is the essence of life.

Melissa Ladd: The Five Question Interview

Melissa Ladd’s work spans many mediums. She has studied painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, and film.

About her work in the following images…

The series these photos came from started in 1995, and were shot over the course of the next 10 years. All were shot only in film, 35mm and Medium format and developed in darkroom. All the photos were expressions of Melissa’s own journey in marriage and tragic death of a dear family member and his wife. The photos helped her work thru grief, change and acceptance. Most of the images don’t have recognizable faces, so the impressions are left to the viewers interpretation. I also made a short film titled “Trainride”

She lives in a lovely studio home on Main Street with her dog Rosie.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I wanted to do a real estate project and learn about contracting a building or remodel job, saw opportunity in Elgin and went for it. And loved the powerful women that I knew here and the example they had set for living and thriving.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

It is an inner need, that often has a very strong voice that takes over and leads me.  Thru the years that voice has manifested in various ways, photography, print making, screenwriting, film making, even contracting a building remodel was very creative brain process. 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

To be comfortable with uncertainty, To trust myself fully whether a decision is Ok or not….And the love of a dog makes me a better person.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Tinkering with a story about my building and Mrs. Jones and the Jane Doe body they found near here years ago.   Reading lots of yoga stuff, in teacher training until March…Baron Baptiste, Sutras, and anatomy.  Watching lots of Netflix and amazon prime movies and series.  Most recently a doc about Gywneth Platrow Goop experimenting with alternative healing modalities 

5. Cake or Pie?

CAKE as long as there is plenty icing, preferable Chocolate!!

Ashley Smith: The Five Question Interview

Ashley with “Hunter T” and “Poe”

Ashley Smith and her husband Kyle opened The Clever Tiger on June 14th, 2018. Their vision is to serve, inspire, and lead in the  growth and sustainment of the art community. In less than two years it has become a natural community hub for art events and art activities for adults and children.

Ashley is a painter and ceramic sculpture artist. Her husband Kyle is a custom framer and woodworker. 

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I grew up in Elgin, moved away, and then moved back 2 different times.  In total, I have lived in Elgin for about 20 years but only started getting to know the community after opening the local gallery.  Before this, I spent so much time commuting that I was never able to spend time enjoying Elgin.  As a child, my parents commuted to Austin for work, I went to primary school in Round Rock, and as an adult I traveled to Austin and San Antonio for work and college. 

“Good Witch” 18×24 Acrylic on wood

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Creating is the one talent that I have always been confident of.  Before creating art full-time, I help create products, projects, business plans, etc.  I find that teaching actually propels my creating by forcing consistent practice and designing lesson plans for a variety of ages and skill levels.

“Lit” 12×16 in. Acrylic on canvas

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Children are the most creative souls around and if we do not nurture this creativity, they are in danger of losing it. 

If you tap into your deepest emotions and “failures”, creating leads to inspiration and deeper thought for others.

You can only grow if you push boundaries and try something you never have before. 

“Thom Yorke” 4’x4′ Acrylic on wood panel

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently, I am working on  a painting series of old Elgin, Tx buildings, a new portrait series, and beginning work on my next solo exhibition (re-defining the works of masters.)  While painting, I mostly listen to Thom Yorke, Mars Volta, and anything that help tap into the vibe of the specific piece.  

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie.  I prefer homemade pie to any cake in existence.   I love making apple pie, and wish blueberry was much more prevalent.  


Brooke Gaar-Bever: The Five Question Interview

Brooke Gaar-Bever is the owner, creator of OtherPeoplesFamily! She collects found photos in antique shops, flea markets, etc. and turns them into black and white watercolor images and portraits. Her paintings are inspired by these photos, as well as people and places which interest her. She lives with a disability called hEDS and uses painting as a form of physical therapy.

Brooke lives in Taylor with her husband Nathan, and a pack of sweet senior dogs.

1. Why did you move to Taylor? 

We moved to Taylor in 2013 because of our love of 100+ year old houses. Taylor had quite a few to choose from in our price range, so it was a good fit.  

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I’ve always had a love of museums and the visual arts. In college I studied art history and restoration and was classically trained as an art conservator. Due to a medical condition I can no longer perform art restoration, but I started to paint 5 years ago as a form of physical therapy. My inspiration comes from found photos, books, and film. My favorite recent series is of Appalachian serpent handlers.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

In the past five years, I learned that family doesn’t have to be blood-related, it’s okay to take time for myself, and I don’t always have to be in control, (still working on this one!).

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I read one book a week and have a different theme each month. My current topic is injustice within the criminal justice system. This week, I’m reading the autobiography Solitary by Albert Woodfox, who spent 40 years in solitary confinement. 

5. Cake or Pie?

I really like cake, but I LOVE homemade vegan cherry pie!

Instagram @otherpeoplesfamily

Martha Cox: The Five Question Interview

Martha is a weaver and loves learning and exploring new colors and patterns, so most of her hand woven items are one of a kind.

She’s been playing with fabric since her mom taught her how to sew as a kid. She watched her mother explore embroidery, crochet, rug hooking, decoupage, and just about anything else people were doing in the 1970’s.

She also sews, practices aikido, and rescues cats.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Elgin to be closer to my husband’s children and their mom. They eventually moved away, but we love it here, so we stayed. 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Part of it is that I grew up watching my mom make things in her spare time and it was always part of life in our house. Also, I had analytical jobs my whole life and I love the balance I get from making a product.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I really CAN learn some Spanish (slowly!) even if my pronunciation is terrible. I’m happiest if I learn a little bit and move a little bit every single day. That was a hard one because I think i can take time off, but I always regret it if I do. Curating works better for me than collecting stuff.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Watching: Midnight Diner- Tokyo Stories on Netflix. Twenty-minute snippets of delight and totally worth the effort of subtitles. Reading: a couple books about aikido and de-escalating conflict. Listening: The Moth podcast. Fabulous true stories told without notes. It’s my all-time favorite podcast. Making: sourdough bread!

5. Cake or Pie?


Instagram @luckyxenadesigns

Patience Blythe: The Five Question Interview

Patience Blythe is a metalworker, teacher, gardener, and writer. She lives in Elgin in a funky older home with her husband Cody, pup Oscar, and their cats Nakano and Tomoe.

She is an avid gardener and has recently become a beekeeper. Be sure to check out her gardening videos on her IGTV channel.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved from Dripping Springs. It is a funny story. We had planned to take over a friend’s farm in Garfield while she went to France, but the deal didn’t work just at the last moment. We had made a lot of plans and concocted a lot of ideas, and were sorta ‘what now?’ about everything. We couldn’t find a place we liked in Dripping and so Cody said to me; “why don’t we buy a house?”. I laughed at him and said, “sure…let’s do that!”. A few days later, I said, “what about that house in Elgin?” as I had seen our house pop up for the last year. He said Elgin was too far and I said “why don’t we just go and look?”. Neither of us had ever been to Elgin, except for to pass through on 290. So we came to drive by the house and get some bbq at Southside. The rest is history; we loved the town, loved the house, somehow qualified to buy it, and three months later, moved here. That was February 2018. Soon I transferred to Elgin Middle School and Cody was hired by the district as well. And here we are! 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I feel compelled to create each day. Otherwise, I get antsy and, frankly, sad. I find that creativity keeps the Big Sad away. I am quite a nervous person and find that when my hands are busy, I am happier and more relaxed. I also love seeing, with the passage of time and attention to creativity, that hand-eye coordination grows and the work is better, more alive, more fun, more me. I am also compelled by the way we “write” our lives down in the work we make. 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

1) That time passes by very quickly and you would do well to find a way to remember things a bit more concretely, so that memories can be called up with the feelings attached

2) My friends are the most important piece of my life 

3) We humans have far more in common, regardless of where we are on the physical planet, than we could ever be different 

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

1) Making – 2 rings, a bracelet, a dress and a quilt 

2) Reading – Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (it’s AMAZING and so relevant, being that it was written in 1995) 

3) Watching – Twin Peaks and the West Wing and also Beginners (tonight)

4) Listening to – various Spotify playlists but a lot of Pink Floyd and Kurt Vile

5. Cake or Pie?

BOTH!!! But I really love making pies the most. I like eating chocolate cakes and lemon ones, too.
Instagram @blythestudio

Ashley Dahlke: The Five Question Interview

Ashley Dahlke is known around here as The Cookie Farmer. Her stunning cakes and luscious cookies have become kinda famous and sought after for special occasions and community events. She is a trained pastry chef and lives near Elgin with her husband and a farm full of pigs, goats, chickens, and vegetable gardens.

Her latest venture, a 2nd Saturday Pop-Up Bakery, has been put on hold until restrictions on public congregating and flour shortages ease up.

Until you can get your hands on one of her cookies, follow her Instagram for daily dose of life on her small farm.

1. Why did you move to the Bastrop area? 

I moved to the Bastrop area with my husband to have some space. We had first moved from Alaska to Round Rock and couldn’t handle being on top of everyone else! We were able to find some land and start our little homestead in Bastrop County. 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

The fact that there is so much more to learn and experience compels me to spend my time creating. There is a learning experience in everything and if you can create something beautiful at the same time that’s just a bonus! 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

1.Having a sense of community is invaluable.

2. Pottery! (during my baking hiatus)

3. How to start a hobby farm and just how many buckets and hoses you need. 

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently making gluten free almond chocolate chip cookies, as I type actually. Reading Braiding Sweet Grass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Listening to Fair Folk podcast by Danica Child.

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake forever!! 

Follow The Cookie Farmer on Instagram @ashley_dahlke

Miranda Guillory: The Five Question Interview

Miranda Guillory is the artist/owner of The Paper Quillory where she creates beautiful and playful works of art with strips of colorful paper and glue.

Miranda loves playing with paper and exploring its many possibilities. Quilling is the art of creating filagree from rolled bits of paper and has been around since the Renaissance, when nuns and monks would roll gold-gilded paper remnants trimmed during the bookmaking process. They would use them to decorate religious objects as an alternative to gold filigree. 

Miranda lives with her husband David near downtown Elgin.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

Our rent was going up and up in Austin so we started looking to put all that money towards something we could own.  We quickly learned that we wouldn’t be able to afford to buy in Austin.  We looked for months in just about every town on the outskirts of our emerald city, looking for something that we could feel really good about, our forever home.  We finally found it in Elgin.  My husband and I moved here almost 6 years ago and haven’t looked back.  

We love the small town atmosphere and the burgeoning creative scene.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Oh, I just have to.  I get this anxious need to make something. Anything. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for quilling and I’ll just stare at all of my art supplies, maybe skim through some art books, until I find something manageable for the moment.  I’m not very good at sitting still and have to at least be moving my hands.  I find very few things more satisfying than creating something beautiful out of nothing.  

I also have a tendency to feel my emotions pretty intensely and I find paper quilling, specifically, to be a very meditative process.  It’s surprisingly time consuming and I’ll get lost in it for hours, feeling grounded and peaceful once I’m finished.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I’ve learned that just because something I create isn’t my favorite, doesn’t mean it wont be someone else’s.  I used to trash a piece if I didn’t like where it was headed half-way through.  I thought that everything I put out into the world had to be, in my mind, a masterpiece.  Over time I’ve discovered that some of my least favorite works might make someone else smile, or feel seen.  

I’ve learned that I’m no use to anyone if I don’t take care of myself.  When I’m stressed or burnt out, when I feel unhealthy, when I don’t take care of my head and heart,  I can’t REALLY show up for my work or my relationships.  It’s hard to put yourself first.  I wasn’t raised that way.  I’ve had to learn what those little things are that feed my soul and I’ve had to learn to put them in my schedule.  I’ve had to learn that it isn’t selfish. When I take care of me, I’m better equipped to take care of the people I love and to take on the world (or at least my little corner of it). 

Most recently, I’ve learned how much I need to be physically around my family and friends.  I am an introvert.  I LOVE being home.  It’s my safe space and all my favorite things are here.  I like going out but I’ve always kind of had to pump myself up for it.  Now that I’ve been forced to stay home I am desperate to see people face to face.  I miss hugging, high fives, and giving back-scratches.  I have often said that I need to be home or I need to be alone.  Turns out I also need to be around people.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I’m usually working on a few projects at a time.  Right now I’m doing a commissioned paper quilling of a vulva.  I’m also playing around with a sunflower design.  And I just about always have a breast or two in the works.

Currently on my nightstand:  The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover by Kinky Friedman, Gorey’s Worlds by Erin Monroe, and The Show Won’t Go On The Most shocking, Bizarre, and Historic Deaths of Performers Onstage  by Jeff Abraham and Burt Kearns.

Watching just about everything on Netflix and Hulu currently have to offer. Just finished Letterkenny, Ozark, and Baskets (I HIGHLY recommend this one).

I’m listening to a lot more KUTX lately.  They seem to be playing all their best stuff now that more people have time to listen.  We recently got a puppy, so I took up running again and LCD Soundsystem has been helping me through that.

5. Cake or Pie?

Oh, pie for sure.

The Paper Quillory on Etsy
Instagram @thepaperquillory

Susan Fricks: The Five Question Interview

Susan Fricks is the the owner/creator of the FiberObsessions brand of hand-dyed and hand-spun fibers, and hand-woven textiles.

Susan has been working with fiber since her earliest memories, having learned to knit and crochet when she was just 5 or 6 years old from her mother. She has been an avid spinner since the early 80’s, weaving since 1988.

She opened a yarn shop, Yarnorama, in Paige, Texas in March of 2008. Her shop has become a hub for knitters, weavers, spinners, and fiber enthusiasts from around the state.

She lives in Paige with her husband John, a lovely garden and a few cats.

1. Why did you move to The Bastrop area? 

Way back in 2003, my husband John and I started looking for property to begin an organic farm. When we found a piece of land here we loved, it was an easy choice.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

That is what feeds my soul. Taking everyday materials and transforming them into something beautiful for the home, or to wear makes me happy.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Just 3? Lol. 

1. To be less impatient. Things will get done when they get done. And that’s ok.

2. Having friends makes all the difference in the rough times.

3. The work never gets easier, so stop expecting it to.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I’m going through all my handwoven fabrics and doing all the finishing so they can finally go out into the world. And I’m dyeing fiber and yarns. Listening to Joan Baez, and listening to hum of nonsensical TV shows just for the background noise.

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake… or pie.

Instagram @fiberosessions

Katy Gassaway: The Five Question Interview

Katy Gassaway opened the doors at Body + Shine Wellness in October 2017. In under three short years, she has cultivated a thriving community of yoga enthusiasts and friends. She has also inspired a handful of students to become yoga teachers and has nurtured local woman-owned business along the way.

When Covid-19 forced us all to shelter in place, Katy quickly pivoted to online classes, but I have no doubt everyone is longing to practice in the lovely space at 28N Main again.

She lives in Elgin with her Shar Pei, Nama, and enjoys traveling to warm places.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved to Elgin sort of because I didn’t know where else to move! I was living in Hawaii at the time, and had been there for about 7 years, and I knew I needed a change. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted to be closer to my parents, who were living here in Elgin. They were watching the house I live in now being built and kept telling me how cute it was, and maybe I should just live there for a year until I figure out what’s next. And it’s the house I’m still in now! I loved the community, the small town feel, while still having the convenience of a big city nearby. Cow patty bingo was a big selling point, too.  

2. What compels you to spend time practicing and teaching?

 It’s easy for me to spend time teaching really, because it is so rewarding to watch people grow. Not only in the physical practice or their strength or flexibility, but watching them connect more to themselves, become more confident, more empowered. It’s really the most rewarding thing I think I’m capable of doing. If I had enough energy to teach more, I would! Making time to practice is a different story. It’s really hard for me to want to commit time to myself, but I have to remind myself I’m worthy of that same opportunity to grow, too, and I need to take it. The quarantine has actually enabled me to get back to my personal practice a lot more through virtual classes, because I have a hard time being at the studio separating work from my time on my mat. It feels good to get back at it!

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

The past five years have been a crazy ride for me, it’s hard to pick just three! But here we go.

(1) The universe has a plan. Before I started teaching at 28 N. Main, I was ready to quit teaching entirely. I was working all the time for other studios, making almost no money, driving to Austin constantly. Then Melissa Ladd found me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to see her space and the rest is history.

(2) Leap and the net will appear. This is something one of my favorite college professors would say, and it’s served me well with Body + Shine. Every big step I’ve taken, whether it’s buying furniture, investing in software, hiring teachers, has been scary–but I think once you make that investment in yourself, your business, whatever it might be, it will come back to you accordingly.

(3) If you want things to change, you have to change. I’ve learned it’s super easy for me (and others may relate) to sit back and gripe about the things we don’t like or aren’t happy with. But that’s not going to change them. If you want something to be different, you need to be willing to do something constructive. Whether it’s taking care of yourself, being more involved in your community, engaging with customers differently–you can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results. 

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Making: what feels like never ending online content 😉
Reading: articles for business owners on how to cope with COVID related issues
Watching: American Gods and Naruto | Listening to: my yoga playlists 😉

5. Cake or Pie?

This is so hard! Pecan Pie tips the scale to pie though

Erin Flores: The Five Question Interview

Erin Flores and her husband Tiger own Earthen Metals, a family run Blacksmith shop in downtown Elgin. They specialize in unique hand forged metal work in steel, bronze, copper, aluminum and stainless steel to make home decor items, outdoor cooking tools, jewelry and more.

They live in Elgin with their children and pets and are both very active members of the community. Their shop is one of my favorite spots in Elgin, and they offer Blacksmithing classes.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved here because of affordable shop space.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I like making stuff.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

  1. Learning how to take care of my Mom who is suffering from Alzheimer.   
  2. Instagram.     
  3. Making bread.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently making Bronze necklaces     
Reading:  Rick Riordan     
Watching:  ‘Grimm” on Amazon.     
Listening to:  Ska

5. Cake or Pie?


Instagram @earthenmetals

Emily Koller: The Five Question Interview

Emily Koller is the creator and owner of Paintbrush Print Company. She designs and creates modern hand printed souvenirs with just the right amount of class & kitsch. 

She grew up in a small town in Wyoming that saw its fair share of Summer tourists on their way to Yellowstone. Her obsession with retro roadside art started by collecting vintage travel things.

She taught herself how to screen print after she discovered her first Harwood Steiger fabric in a vintage store in in Tucson, Arizona.

1. Tell me about your recent move from Elgin to Amarillo? 

We were happy in Elgin! But, it felt like the right move for a lot of reasons.  Much of it was about a professional opportunity; however, I was also really excited about living in a city with Route 66 history and getting a little closer to family.  I love roadside architecture, collect vintage travel things, and make modern souvenirs, of course. Being here gets me a little closer to the places out West that inspire me the most, but I can also proudly say I’m still in Texas.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

This is actually something I have learned about myself through the transition this past year. If I am not making things or letting my mind get lost creatively, I start to feel trapped. The creative process has a calming effect for me – I just feel happiest when I am making things or solving design problems.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Thing 1: Can I count what I said in #2? 🙂 It is an important realization because I have not identified as a “creative” in the past, but it now means that I have to both allow myself that expression, while also protecting myself from burnout. I have a “normal” kind of demanding career, but also want to do all sorts of creative things on the side. In the next five years, I will figure out a better way to balance it all.

Thing 2: Screen printing – I first learned how to do it exactly five years ago.

Thing 3: That we’re all too hard on ourselves.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

These are the kind of questions where you want to sound really interesting and intellectual. I’m sure my parents will be disappointed. I have two stacks of books that I pick up occasionally and read very slowly. One stack is about yoga and wellness and the other is a stack of Route 66 and roadside architecture books. I read Texas Monthly pretty religiously and I like to follow travel writers. My mind requires total immersion in TV shows so we just finished Jack Ryan and The Stranger.

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake 100%. I would even go without dessert if my only choice was pie.

PPC Etsy Shop

PPC Instagram

Susan Hanft: The Five Question Interview

The artist in her Bastrop studio

Susan Hanft is creator/owner of Gone To Pot. She studied both ceramic sculpture and printmaking and uses drawings, pattern and typography in her pieces, giving them a distinct graphic quality. In addition to her ceramics, she also shares her enthusiasm for sewing and stitching on her Instagram feed.

She lives in Bastrop with her dog Pearl.

1. Why did you move to the Bastrop area? 

After a bad breakup, I decided to leave Houston, where I’d been living for the previous 30 years. I’d loved being in the crowded, vibrant city during that time, but was ready to experience a slower, calmer lifestyle in the country.

I chose Bastrop, in particular, because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my aging mother. My father and sister were already residing in the county, too.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I don’t know, but think most people have the creative urge. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in some artistic endeavor. Since childhood, I’ve drawn and sculpted. As a kid, I also studied violin (my playing was awful) and taught myself guitar (equally bad), but dance was my primary interest. When chronic injuries ended that career, visual arts became more of an outlet. I’ve always enjoyed writing, too. 

Spending time in the studio now helps me quiet my mind during the ongoing pandemic.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I’ve learned how to colorize black and white photos and gained a few rudimentary computer animation skills. 

The big lesson has been patience. A while back, I adopted a little feral dog. Pearl was terrified of everything human, so fearful she tried to jump through a closed glass-paned window the day I brought her home. 

It’s been impossible to hurry Pearl’s trust in humanity. (It was nearly a year before she wagged her tail at me.) She’s taught me to better accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Making stoneware teapots while listening to the Global Psychedelia channel on Mixcloud


5. Cake or Pie?

Pie, fruit or pecan, but vegan, please. 

Etsy Shop

Sonia Browder: The Five Question Interview

Sonia Browder is a photographer, designer, and owner of Lordnidesign. She is a busy portrait photographer and loves taking photos of Elgin.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

Paul and I were living in south Austin when we started looking for a home in the country. We wanted land big enough to settle a couple of families—ours and my sister and hers. We found enough acres to raise our kids in the country just outside of Elgin. Soon after, my parents and brother with his family moved out here, too. It’s our retreat!

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I’ve always enjoyed making and creating. I’m sure I picked up this idea that I could from my mom and her ability to make and create. When I was growing up, we didn’t have much money for extras but we still never did without. If we saw something we liked to wear, my mom would sew it, crochet it or knit it —for us AND for our dolls! It’s always been good therapy for me to create something—it’s a good feeling to make a family portrait, a plate of enchiladas, a hand-lettered sign for a friend, or a T-shirt for a much loved small town festival! It’s art to share!

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

1. Gardening: Water regularly.

2. Jesus went INTO the fire with  Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego (Daniel 6.) We need to invite Him into our tough situations. It’s better to go through life with Him than without Him.

3. Spanish was my first language, but when I don’t use it, I lose it! Im glad for the many opportunities I’ve had in recent years to speak more Spanish. The practice has helped me. I am able to translate and communicate in Spanish more and

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Making:  I just finished working on the Western Days 2020 Commemorative T-shirt. The printed shirt just delivered. I am also working on a couple of logos; one for Evergreen Farms and another for Nanny Goat Salsa and have an engagement photo session planned for the weekend.

Reading/Listening to: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Watching: Just started watching Outlander—I’ve got a very long way to go!

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie —coconut cream, cherry, pecan & millionaire pies for starters!

Instagram @lordnidesign
Facebook @lordnidesign

Monica Nava-Barker: The Five Question Interview

photo credit: @viralmediausa

Monica is owner of Chemn Cafe on Main Street in historic downtown Elgin. She opened her doors in July 2019 and has already established herself and Chemn Cafe as a mainstay in our community. She features locally made goodies when she can, and collaborates with her neighboring businesses. The cafe’s bright and inviting decor is inspired by classic educational design… think chemistry class, with its beakers, dark countertops, and periodic tables.

During this time of Covid-19 she has remained opened by providing take out and curbside ordering, and encouraging guests to wear masks and social distance while in the cafe. She also recognized the need for certain hard to get items such as milk, eggs, and even toilet paper, and has them available for her guests to pick up with their lattes.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved from Austin after I became engaged to my now-husband, Emzy, who grew up in Elgin.

2. What compelled you to create a business in Elgin?

I knew that I would eventually become a small business owner someday; after a year of hating the commute to Austin, being injured at work, and then the company I worked for closing, it was time to decide what business venture was closest to my heart. I’ve always wanted a coffee shop of my own, so thus began the journey forward. 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Family is everything, and having really wonderful people in your corner will inevitably help your success.  

Being forgiving is easier than you think, and will make you happier.  

Believe not only in yourself, but trust your instincts as well.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I don’t enjoy cooking after working very long days (and wasn’t a big fan to begin with) but I do enjoy making new drink ideas for the shop. 

I like to read a little of everything that I can quickly skim through to be caught up in current affairs, so Facebook and Twitter are my go-to. 

I watch things that are entertaining to me albeit a little ‘weird’; I am currently watching The Blacklist, 13 Reasons Why, Dr. Pimple Popper, and Cooked with Cannabis (Netflix/Hulu) but am open to anything. 

I listen to NPR in the car and Spotify most of the day, everything from Bach to Post Malone, from Queen to Willie Nelson. 

5. Cake or Pie?

Oh my! Pie!

Visit Chemn Cafe at:

114 Main Street
Elgin, Texas 78621
(512) 827-9747

Instagram @chemncafe

Jordan (jd.stitch): The Five Question Interview

Jordan is the owner of jd.stitch. She designs and creates unique, and often salty, one of a kind embroidered pieces as well as kits for those that want to try their hand at the craft. Her classes at The Clever Tiger are very popular, so keep your ears to the ground for those in the future.

She finds mornings to be her most productive/creative time and can be found outside with a cup of coffee and her sketchbook or tablet in hand.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

 I moved to Elgin about 4 years ago to be with my husband. We have known each other since 6th/7th grade. 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I have always been a maker, but discovered embroidery shortly after the birth of kiddo with the support of my husband (at the time boyfriend). What started out a fun new medium of art-quickly became a passion! I love every step from drawing out the patterns, to transferring, to stitching and watching my ideas come to life! It really is the best! 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

1: being more open with my art—to make things I am passionate about!      

2: to get over the fear of judgment! Letting myself and my art be who and what it is. Not everyone is going to like it or want to buy it and that is just fine.      

3: not to freak out—things will work out! 

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I currently have maybe 6+ different projects I’m working on! From painting hoops, a new kit, some tattoo flash style art(thanks to a dear friend Juanito from better days tattoos out of Killeen TX, and some new fun products! I am always bouncing around between things! 

I have very little time to read for myself but am very excited to have started the series of unfortunate events by Lemony Snicket with my child. 

Music I listen to-it ranges depending on my mood, but at any give time you can find me with CD’s from my younger days. Can’t go wrong with Jack White, Nirvana  or Alkaline Trio! 

5. Cake or Pie?

BROWNIES! And the best I’ve ever had came from The Cookie Farmer-Ashley! 

Instagram @jd.stitch
Ko-fi jd.stitch
Etsy JDStitchEmbroidery
Society6 jd.stitch