She Creates

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