With These Hands

With These Hands

The Women Makers of Spar Cove

Photo by Claire Houston: Lisa Blanchard

There is a lovely, little peninsula in South Freeport flanked by two coves: Spar and Staples. From its tip, you can see boats anchored in Harraseeket Harbor and pilings from an old bridge that, at one time, linked the peninsula to the mainland. It’s home to wild turkeys, deer, the occasional fox, and in the warmer months, shore birds, egrets, and Great Blue Herons.

Abundant in natural diversity, it turns out it’s also rich with makers. I identified eight women in the neighborhood, myself included, who are makers with various mediums and recently spoke to them about their artwork. We all find this area to be a sweet, magical spot, a source of inspiration, and a muse that enriches our creativity. 

Photo by Claire Houston: Pam Olsen

So, who are we? We range in age from 32 to 69. We create full-time and part-time. Some of us sell our work, while others of us make art for personal pleasure. We like the intimate nature of making, as well as the delight we find when others respond favorably to something we’ve made. We love to lose ourselves in our work and while doing so, let the rest of the world fade into the shadows. And while we are different in many ways, the common thread for all of us is the inspiration we derive from living near the water in Spar Cove. I want you to meet some of the women makers who live in this charmed place, as they share what inspires them to be creative.

Sandy Brennan has lived in this neighborhood the longest, having moved here with her husband 34 years ago to build their dream home. Sandy has a bachelor’s degree in Art Education, and masters’ degrees in Education and Integrated Art. She taught K-12 art in local schools for 44 years, and served as President of Maine Art Educators for several years. After years of teaching, she now enjoys making art for herself. “I love making sculpture, drawing, and painting with acrylics and with watercolor.” She said, “I’ve spent my life doing art. For me, it’s a natural connection. I can’t image my life without it.” She loves the inspiration that comes from other sculptors, studying paintings in museums. She plans to spend the winter in her studio carving masks.

Photo by Claire Houston: Sandy Brennan

Laura Blanchard took art classes in high school and attended numerous workshops, but her primary source of learning has been her mother, Lisa. She has also taught herself some skills by watching YouTube and by reading blogs. After spending a lot of time living on boats, she’s excited to have the space to pursue two of her loves: screen printing and woodworking. She has taught herself how to use a jigsaw and is now in the process of learning how to use a laser cutter. Recently, she’s been making items for a friend’s wedding: a guest book and the cake topper, all with a Maine theme. Indicative of her love for the water, Laura named her business 13290, which is the chart number for Casco Bay. Her website is under construction.

Photo by Claire Houston: Stacey Lodato

Lisa Blanchard grew up in a family of makers. “We always made one another’s gifts as we didn’t have much money. Over time, the handmade gifts became much nicer than the store bought,” she said.  Lisa says she loves to make anything. And while she enjoys painting, she’s a gifted glass artist. She loves “looking at shapes, at lines, and finding these in the things I’m viewing—be it the drape of a pine branch or the lines in the seashell.” Her love of science and math work their way into her art in many interesting ways. Lisa owns Glass Mermaid Studio, where she teaches glass and other workshops. She also sells her work at www.glassmermaidstudio.com

Photo by Claire Houston: Christy Zavaznik

Kimothy Pikor has a background in commercial art, graphic design, and photography. A few years ago, she started to play with watercolor and fell in love with it. Today, she’s making inspirational art pieces that marry words with her colorful watercolors. Kimothy looks to “messages that unite, not divide.” As a mother of a young child, she spoke to the constant dance she’s involved with when creative ideas come to mind. She “has to be patient, surrender to what is, until I can sit and do my work.” Kimothy’s artwork can be found at www.kimothyjoy.com

Photo by Claire Houston: Suanne Williams-Lindgren

Stacey Lodato, an interior designer by trade, has had her hands in many forms of art all of her life. Several years ago, she picked up painting again and especially enjoys painting landscapes. Regarding painting in Maine, Stacey says, “the landscape is unlimited. I can go to the same place time after time again, and it changes every time. It stimulates my creativity. Inspiration is all around us, and I don’t even have to travel.” Stacey frequently shows her work locally and is now serving on the Board of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Freeport. You can view Stacey’s work at www.staceylodato.com

Pam Olson has recently moved to Maine, and since arriving, she has been channeling her technical skills, scientific knowledge, and passion for marine life into her videography and digital art. She wants her art to “resonate with others and help them learn what is going on in the marine world,” influencing people’s view and treatment of the ocean. Pam’s website, www.womenmindthewater.com, is home to her work.

Christy Zavaznik works full time helping high school students discover their career pathways, but she’s made music since she was four years old. A few years ago, a friend gifted her with a beautiful handmade mug, which became a major turning point or awakening for her. Making pottery became a new love. Christy took a pottery class, which in turn spun her into being a maker of beautiful small cups and bowls. She said, “I love to see them take shape in my hands on the wheel. It’s so elemental and so satisfying.”  And right now, Christy is going more in the drawing direction, experimenting with using pastel crayons.

I (Suanne Williams-Lindgren) was employed, by interest and education, in the area of organizational consulting. While working with a statewide craft organization, my passion for craft and art—always strong in childhood—was reignited. Classes and workshops helped me tap into my creativity and love of making art. These days, I enjoy printmaking, designing artistic books, making encaustic collage, and losing myself in whatever it is that I’m working on in my studio. While nature is often a theme for my work, I like to create art that’s politically inspired—it’s a terrific way to act out constructively. You can view my work at www.sparcovecreations.com 

Photo by Claire Houston: Kimothy Pikor

Making is who we are and what we do. Being creative adds a valuable aspect to our lives and adds vitality and life to it. From all of us, I kept hearing the same idea, expressed in different ways: “It’s the air that I breathe.” “I can’t imagine not having some form of artistic expression.”  “Life would be so dull without it!” “If I didn’t have some sort of creative outlet, it sure wouldn’t be my life.”

After talking to this group of women makers, I want to encourage you to pursue some aspect of making, if you don’t already. It’s a good way to bring more richness into your life, especially with the famously long Maine winter approaching.  If you find yourself saying “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” my response is, “Really? Think again!”

Photo by Claire Houston: Lara Blanchard

We are all creative beings, with many possibilities and opportunities, such as drawing, painting, writing, book making, felting, knitting, sewing, weaving, carpentry, cooking and baking, making a new computer application, photography, and decorating, to name a few.  I invite you to stop using negative self-talk, if that’s getting in the way and limiting you. Keep your expectations low and keep it simple.  Set aside a quiet space for yourself to pursue what you’re interested in. Get playful and make it fun. Shove aside the need to be perfect. There are hundreds of “how to” videos online. Choose one that interests you and just begin. Lean into the maker in you, and you’ll find much joy within.

(Note from the author: In preparation for this article I interviewed the above women, knowing that there may well be others in the neighborhood who are makers who remain anonymous to me. If so, I apologize and encourage you to make yourself known!)

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