Category Archives: Mentions & Coverage

January 2018 Classes & Events

Creating a Life You Love in 2018

Saturday | January 6th | 10:00am – 12:00pm | $23.91

Are you ready to renew your commitment to living your best life in 2018? Have you been reaching for change and keep hitting the brick wall of frustration?

To truly achieve the shift you are looking for, you must personally invest in the process of creating your success rather just having the intention of getting motivated and setting goals. In this class, you will learn the 5 ways we fail at sticking with the goals we set and how to overcome that failure. We all have an inner critic, telling us we aren’t capable, and have a voice of judgment dashes our dreams. We will learn to overcome the voice of judgment.

Once we have faced our limitations, we use tools and hands-on exercies to decide on the specific desires, goals, and shifts for 2018. Using the creative process, you will understand how to get to where you want to be. We will conclude with a powerful guided meditation to set the intention for our deepest desires for the new year.

If you are seeking to create more happiness, joy and fulfillment in your life, come and learn the art of shifting your life from where you are now to where you want to be. The subject of this coursework was taught at Stanford for over 35 years and now it is in 6 countries with over 80 certified coaches.


Styling for Instagram

Thursday | January 11th | 5:30pm – 7:00pm | $15

Mystified about how those great pictures appear on everyone else’s Instagram pages but yours? Come hear tips and tricks from fellow Instagrammers with years of photo experience. Bring your phone and try your hand at styling!


Deeper Dive into Authentic Presence

Saturday | January 13th | 1:00pm – 5:00pm | $51.99

A way of being that helps you release the fears that keep you silent, discover your own unique style of expression and natural presence allowing for deeper, more meaningful and powerful connections personally and professionally. Join us for this intensive half day workshop focusing on how to speak up.

Please note: seating is limited.


Introduction to Calligraphy

Tuesday | January 16th | 6:00pm – 7:30pm | $25.99

This class is an introduction to the basics of calligraphy. From these basics in class, students can pursue developing the skills of a traditional style of calligraphy or can adapt them into a more contemporary style. Good penmanship is not required – only a desire to enjoy oneself and to learn some of the basics of the art of calligraphy.

Supplies: We will provide all supplies including: paper for practice and calligraphy pens for you to take home. Students will need to bring a small quotation or an inspirational phrase to use for your project.


Wedding Planning 101

Wednesday | January 17th | 5:30pm – 6:30pm | $16.62

Weddings can be stressful, but having a well-planned one makes all the difference. If you’re planning a walk down the aisle, join us for an insider’s guide to all things you need to know to plan a wedding, including tips to stay organized, and ways to stay on a budget. You’ll walk away armed with planning materials including spreadsheets and other documents to make sure you’re ready.


Love & Logic for Parents of School-Aged Children

Thursday | January 18th | 5:30pm – 7:00pm | $16.62

This course is designed to empower parents of school-aged children to balance their households to avoid the push and tug of the parent/child relationship. Learning how to discipline with love and logic so that consequences become growing experiences, rather than punitive, self-defeating guilt-inducing negative family experiences will be the goal of this session. Embedding the 5 to Thrive Strategies of Chattanooga Basics, families will leave with the goal of maximizing love while minimizing stress. In addition, families will get some tips on how to create a One-Year Plan to help their child be successful in school.

Are you ready for some practical ideas for raising responsible children who feel great about themselves – children who are responsible and ready to live in the real world? Are you ready to feel empowered and confident in leading a home that is filled with calmness and positivity? Are you ready to get started?

This course is for you!


Watercolor Sketching: A Half-Day Workshop

Saturday | January 20th | 9:00am – 1:00pm | $68.64

This half-day workshop will cover all basic concepts of sketching, gesture drawing, pen and ink, and watercolor. The class will provide students the foundation needed to establish a daily sketching practice. Students will head outside to work on how to capture buildings and people, build a loose sketch, add ink and finish with watercolor.

All students will be supplied with a watercolor travel set, water brush pen, fine line Sharpie and a small watercolor sketchbook to keep. Snacks are provided, and participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch.


Introduction to Weaving: January

Sunday | January 21st | 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm | $58.24

New year, new skills! – Learn the basics of weaving on a simple frame loom. Beginner weaves and stitches will be covered, and you will begin your very own woven wall hanging to take home. Love fiber art? This class is for you. Each participant will be supplied with a small tapestry loom (to keep), yarns, and all the necessary tools to create one wall hanging, which we may finish during the 3 hour workshop. Light snacks provided.


Beginner WordPress

Monday | January 22nd | 5:30pm – 7:30pm | $27.03

Are you just getting started with building a website? This class will start with the absolute basics of WordPress — no previous experience required. We’ll go over installation, an overview of the WordPress dashboard, and how themes work.


Using Collaging for Self Care and Expression

Wednesday | January 24th | 6:00pm – 7:30pm | $16.62

Have you been longing for an excuse to pull a Ms. Frizzle and “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”?

Join us for an evening of having way too much fun ripping up paper and making a mess with glue sticks, markers, and magazines. In this judgment-free space, you will learn how to use collaging as a tool to explore aspects of yourself and whatever might be weighing you down, so you can leave feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next challenge. We will start the class with a brief check-in exercise to warm up the creative juices, and end with an opportunity to share. Feel free to come with some friends or a partner, or just your own lovely self.

All collaging supplies are provided, but BYOB/BYOW.
Remember: No artistic skills needed, just a willingness to have fun!


Analyzing Data via Excel: Data Visualization with Charts & Graphs

Thursday | January 25th | 11:30am – 1:00pm | $32.23

Learn how to build really cool and highly useful visualizations within Microsoft Excel. The usage of dashboards helps end users see high level data visually. This is a must know within the corporate environment!

Choosing appropriate charts and graphs
Utilization of Dynamic Charts and Graphs


Analyzing Data via Excel: Advanced Pivot Tables & Visualization

Thursday | January 25th | 5:30pm – 7:00pm | $32.23

Learn how to quickly analyze big data at a Fortune 500 level through Pivot Tables and Charts and Graphs. We will review a business case to perform an in class deep dive analysis.

In this class, we’ll cover:

Recommended Pivot Tables
Calculated Fields
Pivot Table Formatting
Recommended Pivot Charts
Review top metrics and tools utilized in order to be successful in your role as a business analyst
Identify key trends in order to help drive strategic business decisions


Bouquet Basics: Flower Arranging 101

Friday | January 26th | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm | see link for price

In this class, you’ll learn how to turn grocery store, farmers marker or freshly foraged flowers into beautiful arrangements! Learn the fundamentals of arranging flowers, using basic concepts of design. Your flowers will last longer, look cleaner and be showcased beautifully in your home!

Each participant will walk away with a bouquet of their very own and the knowledge to make one themselves.


Grassroots Organizing for Our Public Schools

Monday | January 29th | 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm | FREE

Ready to take action to make change in Hamilton County public schools? Here’s your opportunity! UnifiEd is a grassroots organizing and advocacy organization, and our trainers will guide you in the basic principles of community organizing, arm you with information and tools to get active in your neighborhood and networks, and impact policy change for our kids and schools!

Goals of this workshop:

– Get the big picture of the history of education in Hamilton County
– Understand concepts of community organizing and how it affects policy change
– Learn what UnifiEd is and how you can get involved
– Understand the APEX Project (Action Plan for Educational eXcellence) and community members’ roles in developing and implementing it
– Better understand and share your own story about education
– Learn and practice organizing strategies to learn how to (1) Hear story of community member, (2) Support other people to understand, and (3) Recruit other community members for involvement
Build power to make change!

Snacks provided.

About the series:

These classes are offered in partnership with UnifiEd as part of their Building Power for Change series. You can help build our community’s power to make change! UnifiEd is here to support you to affect the change you want to see in public education, and our trainings and workshops give you the skills and tools to organize within your network and neighborhood. The series is named “Building Power for Change” because you’ll gain leadership skills to help our community hold elected officials accountable to ensure a brilliant future for every student. Through these workshops, you’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with a diverse group of community members and unite toward a shared vision for excellence in public education.


December 2017 Classes & Events

We will not have an Open Studio Nights in January. Stay tuned for updates & posts about upcoming January Classes & Events.

Open Studio Nights will resume Friday, February 2nd, 2018. We hope you have a Safe & Happy New Year!

Christmas Pop-Up Shop

December 4th – 19th | Monday – Friday | 9:30am – 6:00pm | FREE

Come shop our 12 day Pop-Up Shop here at Chattanooga WorkSpace! All items are local & handmade.
There will be a mix of all sorts of gifts such as paintings, photography, jewelry, music CDs, woodwork, knit hats & scarves, paper goods, blown glass, woven works, mixed media, & so much more. Best of all it’s priced right. You will find lots of affordable gifts & maybe even check off that hard to buy for person from your list.
We have free parking & are located downtown across from the YMCA. We will be open Monday – Friday from 9:30-6:00pm. Support your local Artist & Craftsman buy purchasing handmade items this year!

Open Studio Nights – Deck the Walls

December 1st | Friday | 5:30pm – 8:30pm | FREE

Join us for the 5th Annual Deck the Walls at Chattanooga WorkSpace on Friday, December 1st from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. This is an All Member Show featuring our very own artists in the WorkSpace Gallery.

Dish T’ Pass is celebrating their 5 year Anniversary and will be serving delicious hors d’oeuvres in their kitchen.

It’s Back….20 minute speed painting by Ali Kay accompanied by live music with Rick Rushing. Hot Chocolate Bar will be on the 3rd floor….plus so much more.

Lisa Phillips Denney and Janet Campbell Bradley will be in the ArtSpace Gallery on the 2nd floor ~ Print: A Perspective of Pattern and Color.

Guest Artists for Open Studio Night are: Ricardo Chang, Travis Seera, Christina Thongnopnua and Tony Mraz.

Chattanooga WorkSpace artists enjoy opening their personal studios to engage with the community, showing their finished works and providing a glimpse of their artistic process. Visit each floor to see a new theme, exhibit or meet someone new. It’s a cultural experience perfect for a date night, family night out or for anyone interested in meeting others.


Holiday Pop-Up Shop

December 4th-20th | Mon-Fri | 9:30am – 6:00pm | Free – Local Gifts for Purchase

More Details coming soon…


The Art of Authentic Presence

December 5th | Tuesday | 5:30pm – 8:30pm | $18

Authentic presence means being in touch with your true self: heart, mind, body and soul. When you are truly in touch with your Authentic Self you open the door to the rich and wonderful relationships that can occur between human beings, whether at work, play, or in love. Speaking and listening from your Authentic Self is to be fully present, with yourself and your listeners, allowing you “selves” to shine through.

In this class, you will be introduced to a new way of being that allows for deeper and more powerful connections in all of your relationships through a series of experiential exercises. Come and discover your Authentic Self.


Gotta Get Up To Get Down: Painting Sunrises and Sunsets

December 6th | Wednesday | 6:00pm – 8:00pm | $48

Painting like a seasoned, professional artist doesn’t have to be hard. In this class, you’ll learn some painting tricks around painting sunsets and sunrises. Using minimal equipment and household paint to create these beautiful works of art will ensure that you can take these ideas back home and keep creating. All materials are provided in this class.

This class will give you a sense of accomplishment when you finish this piece and hopefully open up avenues of creativity you didn’t think were possible before.

Oh, and there will be drinking and paint fights of course. BYOB.


Creating a 2018 Vision Board

December 7th | Thursday | 5:30pm – 7:30pm | $19

Your new year deserves a vision!

There have been many documented benefits of having a vision board to guide your year, project, career or family. It brings clarity, provides incentive, documents your goals and gives constant inspiration for the journey. But the proof is in its use. Welcome your 2018 with visual representation of all you want to accomplish. All supplies included to make your vision pop, but bring any old magazines or other types of inspiration!


Introduction to Weaving – by Lisa Denney

December 9th | Saturday | 11:00am – 2:00pm | $59

December class – Learn the basics of weaving on a simple frame loom. Beginner weaves and stitches will be covered, and you will begin your very own woven wall hanging to take home (as well as a sweet little loom). Love fiber art? This class is for you. Each participant will be supplied with a small tapestry loom, yarns, and all the necessary tools to create one wall hanging, which we may finish during the 3 hour workshop. Light snacks provided. Feel free to bring lunch.


Mindset Mojo for Happiness in 2018

December 12th | Thursday | 5:30pm – 6:30pm | $17

Happiness isn’t something you have to chase or dole out sparingly only after reaching a particular milestone. This workshop teaches you powerful tools that get to the root of why you have made it hard to achieve and helps you shift your mindset away from old patterns that have been keeping you from showing up with killer happiness!


DIY Holiday Gifts: Simple Syrup

December 14th | Thursday | 6:00pm – 7:00pm | $24

Simple syrup is an essential ingredient to your home bar. It’s also the best way to add a little sweetness to your favorite cocktail, cup of coffee or tea. In this class you’ll learn how to make your own infused simple syrups and you’ll go home with your own bottle to keep or give as a gift.

During the class, we’ll be testing our concoctions in tasty cocktails.


Create Your Own Terrarium

December 16th | Friday | 1:00pm – 2:00pm | $42

Using different living plants, we will create terrariums with a variety of materials. We will have the option of creating a desert habitat, with the use of succulents, and will also have the option of creating a more tropical habitat with the use of moss and other water loving plants. We will talk about the different types of terrariums, why it works to create a mini-ecosystem, and will explore different aesthetic choices you can make when arranging a terrarium.

The class will include all materials necessary to create a terrarium, including the glass container. If you have your own glass container you would like to bring, that’s okay as well!




November 2017 Classes & Events

Open Studio Nights – Celebrate Art

November 3rd | Friday | 5:30pm – 8:30pm | FREE

Come experience a glimpse into a working artist studio and engage with art enthusiasts during Open Studio Nights at Chattanooga WorkSpace on Friday, November 3rd from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. The artists currently in residence at Chattanooga WorkSpace will have their studios open for everyone to explore, purchase local art and see their newest creative works on display. This is a free family-friendly event.

Celebrate Art is being sponsored by Kreative 1s, Inc. and Hors d’ oeuvres served by These Girls Cook.

Colleen Williams with Colleen Williams Clay and Nestor Valdes are the featured artists in the WorkSpace Gallery. Victoria Kile is the featured artist and guest on the 2nd floor.

Chattanooga WorkSpace artists enjoy opening their personal studios to engage with the community, showing their finished works and providing a glimpse of their artistic process. Visit each floor to see a new theme, exhibit or meet someone new. It’s a cultural experience perfect for a date night, family night out or for anyone interested in meeting other artists.


Fall Wreath Making

November 6th | Monday | 6:pm – 7:30pm | $44

Get ready to dress up your front door and make the neighbors a little jealous with a beautifully handmade Fall wreath.

Join us for a super fun evening with creativity. You will learn the process of how to pick and arrange Instagram worthy wreaths to deck out that front door. So grab your friends and get ready to spend an evening learning and making beautiful things together.

Best part? The wreath can be used for every season. You’ll simply change out the decorations. Cost includes all supplies.

Excel at Excel: Beginner’s Excel Training

November 9th | Thursday | 11:30am – 1:pm | $25

Join us for a lunchtime lesson of fun and take your Excel skills to the next level. Boost your productivity and make a statement in your workplace. Attend this session to learn about setting print parameters, formatting spreadsheets, sorting information, filtering information, splitting and combing cells, simple formulas, PivotTables (they’re easier than you think!), and other features of Microsoft Excel.

Please bring your own PC to this course as there are no computers on site. MAC user are also welcome to attend and bring their computer; however, some key strokes and functions vary. Autumn’s expertise is in line with PCs.
You’re also welcome to bring your own lunch.

DIY Fall Decor: Beginner’s Macrame

November 9th | Thursday | 5:30pm – 7:30pm | $25

We’re well into a new season and there’s nothing better to get you into the mood than refreshing some of your home decor. Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, West Elm and many other home decor sites showcase these beautiful macrame wall hangings, but why buy it when you can DIY it?!

Come and craft your own chic work of art. You will be amazed at how quickly you can DIY something that could easily have cost you more than $100!

Excel at Excel: Intermediate Excel Training

November 10th | Friday | 11:30am – 1:pm | $25

Excel workbook? More like funbook!

Join us for a lunchtime lesson of fun and take your Excel skills to the next level. Boost your productivity and make a statement in your workplace. Attend this session to learn about formatting spreadsheets, PivotTables, Vlookups, splitting cells, creating drop down lists, forecasting and other advanced features of Microsoft Excel. Attendees should have a basic Excel knowledge and the ability to execute simple formulas prior to attending the class.

Please bring your own PC to this course as there are no computers on site. MAC users are also welcome to attend and bring their computer; however, some key strokes and functions vary. Autumn’s expertise is in line with PCs.
You’re also welcome to bring your own lunch.


You CAN Speak Up – Anytime, Anywhere!

November 11th  | Saturday | 10:am-5:pm | $135.00
Hosted by the Chattery

Is the fear of speaking holding you back in your personal or professional life?

Are you quiet in meetings or at parties because you are afraid you’ll say the wrong thing, or say it badly?
Does the thought of making a speech or giving a presentation terrify you?
Do you experience that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? Dry mouth? Sweaty palms? Quivering voice?
Does your heart race?
Do you question your ability? Wonder if anyone is really interested in what you have to say?
Do you find it difficult to be spontaneous? Be yourself?

Would you like to:

Release the fears that hold you back?
Be your most comfortable, authentic self in personal and professional settings?
Communicate with full presence, ease, confidence and impact?

Come join with others who share the same anxieties. Support each other, share your stories, laugh (and cry) together as your break through old fears.

Claim your voice, speak the scary, find the funny, touch the heart – you CAN do this!


Using Calligraphy for Thanksgiving Placecards

November 13th | Monday | 6:pm – 7:30pm | $25

Are you trying to take your Thanksgiving up a notch this year?

Join us as we make beautiful placecards for your Thanksgiving guests. You’ll learn and practice calligraphy, create placecards using fall foliage, and end up impressing your guests before dinner is even served.
All supplies included, and participants will walk away with a calligraphy pen to keep practicing!


Venting & Gratitude: Journaling 101

November 15th | Wednesday | 6:pm – 7:30pm | $17

Do you want to journal but think your thoughts aren’t profound enough? Do you already journal and worry that it’s a book of negativity and if someone found it they’d think you’re a horrible and miserable person? Yes, we have this healthy outlet and yet have unhealthy thoughts about it.

In this class, we’ll talk about the relief of journaling, and that you can actually have fun! We’ll do writing exercises in the class, exploring methods to find the one that feels both easy and powerful for you. Please bring tools to write: paper, journal, computer, or journal app. Pens and pencils will be provided.


Introduction to Stand Up Comedy

November 16th, Thursday  | 6:pm – 7:30pm | $17

Have you always loved stand up but have been too nervous to try it? Do your friends think you’re funny and tell you to share your stories on stage?

At this class, you’ll learn the basic “how to” of stand up comedy. This class will cover holding a mic, introducing other comedians, outlining a joke, collaborating with others, and information on open mics. Most importantly, the class will cover what not to do – how to keep from failing on stage.

Introduction to Weaving

November 18th | Saturday | 2:pm – 5:pm | $55

Learn the basics of weaving on a simple frame loom. Beginner weaves and stitches will be covered, and you will begin your very own woven wall hanging to take home (as well as a sweet little loom). Love fiber art? This class is for you. Each participant will be supplied with a small tapestry loom, yarns, and all the necessary tools to create one wall hanging, which we may finish during the 3 hour workshop. Light snacks provided.


Holiday Peace: Bath Salts & Sugar Scrubs

November 29th | Wednesday | 6:pm – 7:pm | $25

Come and learn a few tips to have less stress for the holidays and enjoy more excitement and adventure. Have fun making DIY spa products with essential oils! You can make one or both. One will be a relaxing bath salt (using Lavender or Serenity) in an ornament, that you decorate, and the other will be an invigorating sugar scrub! Keep one for yourself and give one as a gift. You’ll also walk away with a few recipes for future use.



Coasters & Ornaments Ink Class

November 30th | Thursday | 6:pm – 8:pm | $45

Have fun creating coasters and ornaments with vibrant alcohol inks! Keep them for yourself or give as gifts! $45 include all supplies! Message me “Michelle Fountain:  to secure your spot!



Fine Craft Right Here in Chattanooga

Mixed media by Alexa Lett on exhibit at Tennessee Craft Handmade Here

A famous playwright once asked, “What’s in a name?”

ℹ️ Colleen Williams, member of the ℹ️ Southeast Chapter of Tennessee Craft, finds herself struggling with that same question.

“I don’t identify myself as a ‘craft’ artist,” said Williams. “I’m an artist who works in ceramic medium.”

Identity angst is a common sentiment among many members of the newly formed Tennessee Craft—Southeast Chapter. This is the newest of seven chapters of the statewide nonprofit organization, ℹ️ Tennessee Craft, which is based in Nashville and tasked with connecting the public with artists working in the fine craft tradition.

ℹ️ Alexa Lett, President of the Southeast Chapter, aims to change locals’ perceptions of what it means to be a craft artist. “We want to enlighten the community that there are traditional methods of artistry that should be saluted and celebrated,” said Lett.

Marjorie Langston, a glass artist for more than 35 years and vice president of the Southeast Chapter, emphasizes there is a difference between “fine crafts” and “crafts.” Langston’s art, historically called lampworking, takes years to learn and master. In addition to working as a full-time artist, Langston teaches her medium everywhere from the ℹ️ John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, to the University of Miami and in Ireland.

Sculpture by Colleen Williams

Ensuring that fine craft artistry continues into the next generation is a heartfelt mission of this artist group. ℹ️ Lolly Durant, a textile and ceramic artist and secretary of the Southeast chapter, stresses the importance of fine craft education and mentorship. “There’s a difference between teaching and mentoring,” said Durant. She stresses that because the skills are often so difficult to master, it’s important to learn from someone who is actually working as a professional artist.

Originally founded in 1965 as the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists, Tennessee Craft offers members scholarships for continuing education and professional development. They also produce fine arts craft fairs across the state in addition to hosting their largest annual event, ℹ️ Tennessee Craft Week, each October.

Chattanooga served as the host city for the 2016 Tennessee Craft Week, months after the new Southeast Chapter formed. Thousands of tourists had the opportunity to watch live demonstrations of local craft artists at all of the Welcome Centers across the state, including those close to Chattanooga.

“Lolly was sewing her hand dyed fabrics,” said Lett of last October’s Craft Week event. “Marjorie was making her handcrafted glass beads. There were weavers, wood craftsmen, and silversmithing. The public stopped and watched; everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.”

This year’s Tennessee Craft Week runs from October 6–15. The Southeast Chapter will host an opening night reception on Friday, October 6 at ℹ️ Chattanooga Workspace. The weeklong event’s goal is to highlight the collective impact of craft artists on the state’s economy.

And there is no doubt the arts play a significant role in Tennessee’s economic development. According to a study recently released from Americans for the Arts, the annual economic impact of the nonprofit arts and cultural industry in Tennessee exceeds $1 billion. In the greater Chattanooga area, the annual impact is $183 million.

Jewelry designed and crafted by Marjorie Langston

“Arts and culture drive activity and add value to Tennessee communities—promoting and increasing quality of life, inclusion, economic development, tourism and provide a more balanced education for our children,” said Tennessee Arts Commission Executive Director Anne B. Pope. “The arts are a vital tool for attraction and retention of businesses and help build stronger communities by enhancing the distinctive character of Tennessee places.”

Since the Southeast Chapter’s inception, Chattanooga WorkSpace has served as its home base. Located at 302 West Sixth Street, across from the downtown YMCA, Chattanooga Workspace opened in 2013 and currently has 35 local artists who rent studio space in the building.

“When we started this chapter I went to Kathy Lennon (Director of Chattanooga WorkSpace) because I thought this would be a good hub—a home port for Tennessee Craft Southeast—because it’s such an artful community,” said Lett. The space has more than fulfilled Lett’s expectations. The Tennessee Craft—Southeast Chapter, which includes Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties, now boasts 50 active members.

In May 2017 the chapter hosted Handmade Here, a Tennessee Craft artist exhibit, at the Chattanooga WorkSpace gallery. The show was a huge success for the young chapter, with more than 20 local artists exhibiting their handmade work. Although many of the chapter’s members also have their studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace, anyone can join Tennessee Craft.

“You don’t have to be a professional artist to join,” said Williams. “It’s about learning.” Education, collaboration with fellow artists, and opportunities to share their work are just a few of the reasons why artists chose to join this 50-year-old organization.

Although an artist for years, Colleen Williams was able to enter the 2016 Tennessee Craft Week fair as an emerging artist due to recently relocating to Chattanooga from the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Not only was she able to network with hundreds of Tennessee artisans, Williams ended up taking home the Best Emerging Artist Award.

Original works by Charlie Pfitzer(pottery) and left to right Carrie Pendergrass (first three abstracts) and Lolly Durant.

Lett tells a similar story about her initial involvement with Tennessee Craft. Lolly Durant urged her to enter the 2015 Handmade Here exhibit when Knoxville hosted the annual event. Lett quickly joined the organization to be able to participate and pulled a piece of artwork off her studio wall to send with Durant to Knoxville. A few weeks later, Lett was awarded Best in Show for her piece. She was hooked.

Lett thinks this is a great time to be a craft artist in Tennessee and in Chattanooga. “It’s innate to our region,” said Lett. “I think our community as a whole is much more open to appreciate the artistry that goes with craftsmanship on this level.”

Williams, the most recent transplant to Chattanooga, agrees. “It’s a real pleasure to come into a state that has an actual state-run organization because you can feel the support. That sense of camaraderie and feeling of support from your peers and the organization, that’s pretty great.”

Although the public perception of fine craft art has evolved, these artists believe a certain stigma associated with being a craft artist will be an ongoing challenge for the Southeast chapter to tackle. Lett suggests one key to overcoming this hurdle is more collaboration—something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to different art groups.

“I think a more fluid integration of Tennessee Craft trying to be a part of the broader arts community—all of us helping each other as opposed to just being individual entities,” said Lett. “I know that’s difficult at times, but it can be done.”

For these Southeast Tennessee craft artists, the goal is to bring the community together by sharing their work, and their love for fine craft, with as many people as possible. So no matter what it’s called, these artists are here to stay and to ensure their craftsmanship lives on for the next generations to enjoy and appreciate.

For more information please visit

Photography by Steven Llorca

This story was originally published in Chattanooga Magazine.

In a Positive Space

Ali, Wilson, Breckin and Justin Kay left to right)

Swaddling an Italian-inspired landscape painting in bubble wrap to be shipped to a customer in Denver, ℹ️ Ali Kay pauses to talk about an intriguing series of art pieces on one wall of her studio. Red, peony-like blooms loom large on canvas squares amid gardens of orange rust and green copper patina. To get this rustic European “reactive” look, she explains, she applies a layer of black paint containing iron particles, creates the flower images, then sandwiches them with more iron before spraying the pieces with a special acid that oxidizes within a few hours. “It kind of has this push and pull, back and forth, with the acrylic painting and the iron paint kind of mixing together,” says Kay. “By the next day, it’s completely changed.”

Kay, 33, a muralist who moved to Chattanooga in 2013—she and her husband Jason drove their rented U-Haul truck straight from Houston to her Chattanooga WorkSpace studio before heading to their new home—has since made a name for herself as a go-to artist for all types of imaginative commissions. One of her most-recognized local creations depicts a goggle-clad boy aviator on a vivid brick wall in the 1400 block of McCallie Avenue. She has also painted murals and faux finishes for numerous homes and businesses, including images of foundry workers for MetalTek International and, more recently, a 5-foot-by-6-foot portrait of the iconic Little Debbie for ℹ️McKee Foods in Collegedale. And Kay, who has won several awards from the American Society of Interior Designers, has become a sought-after instructor for portrait, landscape and reactive painting workshops across the U.S.

Kay instructs students at Chattanooga Workspace during a workshop.

Originally from West Bend, Wisconsin, Kay has no trouble remembering her first commissioned art piece: A drawing of her sixth-grade teacher’s daughter and granddaughter, for which she earned $20. As a teenager, a friend paid Kay to paint a large underwater scene in a bathroom; by the time she was 16, she was working with a designer who hired her to paint furniture and walls.

Fresh out of high school and newly enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in 2003, Kay launched her own decorative painting business, Positive Space, and began concentrating on murals. Seven years later, she and her husband moved to Houston for his new job, and she quickly built a new customer base amid a booming economy and a proliferation of upscale homes. In one house, Kay filled an open space beneath a stairwell with funky, brightly colored peacocks and enormous tropical flowers. For another client, she added gigantic rose-colored tulips to an elegant bathroom to match the ones in the antique-style sink. In children’s rooms, she painted princess scenes and flowers, cars, planes and trains and, in her own home, a chipmunk’s-eye view of tall autumn trees reaching for the blue sky.

Many of her murals showcased chandeliers, and more than one pleased client hired her to paint scenes in the rest of the house. “One idea spurs another,” Kay says. “The gears start turning and I integrate the home owner’s style.”

One of Kays more recent works of art “New Day” which was created using acrylic paint.

After moving to Chattanooga, she continued to paint oversized wall murals on canvas and send them to clients for installation in Houston and elsewhere. These days, she does more small paintings and corporate art pieces, partly because her personal life has changed so dramatically and such projects are easier to manage.

In 2010, not long after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Kay and husband Justin volunteered to travel there with a non-profit organization to help a group of orphans. Almost immediately, the couple felt a “calling” to adopt and, back at home, started researching the possibility. In spite of discovering they didn’t meet the criteria—in their 20s, they were too young, and hadn’t been married the required 10 years—they vowed not to give up.

“It was always in the back of my mind, that maybe I would want to do that at some point,” Kay says. “But I think almost anyone—when you see the need in a place like that—feels the impact. We felt like that was what God wanted us to do. It wasn’t because we couldn’t have children. We would have adopted 10 if we could take them home.”

Commissioned by Houston based Anything But Plain and designed by Slovack-Bass, Kay completed this spectacular entryway mural.

By the time Wilson came to live with his new mom and dad last fall, Kay had given birth to Breckin, now two years old. Wilson, seven, who is fluent in English and Creole (not the New Orleans kind), has “really rocked our world in such a positive way, and his has changed for sure,” Kay says.

Independent, perfectionistic and dedicated—and unlike many introverted artists, an outgoing “people person”—Kay recently broadened her business palette to include national workshops, primarily in reactive painting, for decorative arts professionals. So many participants signed up for a class she offered at Chattanooga WorkSpace in February that she added a second one for the next day, and taught another in early April. The students, many of whom are members of the International Decorative Artisans League, learned how to incorporate reactive paints, plasters and textures into works of fine art.

A completed mural by Kay that was commissioned by MetalTek International in Chattanooga.

“It seems like a lot of the people who have a background in faux finishing and have successful businesses want to try something new,” she says. “They want to use some of the products and techniques that they already have, but do it more as a fine art and build their art portfolio. A lot of times it’s just because it’s easier not to be climbing ladders all day.”

Kay’s encouraging, one-on-one mentoring style has been well received. “I come from a family of teachers,” she says. “I always said I was not going to be a teacher, but I just kind of fell into it. People think they can’t do it and I know they can. They just have to go through the steps, so that’s fun for me to help them realize that.”

One of a half-dozen “originals” who set up shop at Chattanooga WorkSpace when it opened in the spring of 2013, Kay credits the art incubator for establishing her presence in a new city and giving her an outlet to meet customers and other creative entrepreneurs. “Now, with my business expanding with workshops, that’s the kind of thing I couldn’t do if I was just working out of my house,” she says. “Being able to use that gallery downstairs has been awesome, and Chattanooga WorkSpace has come a long way with our Open Studio Nights. Every month it’s booming. The last OSN Friday we had there were several hundred people here. You never know when a new project’s going to come along.”

When she’s not working, Kay and her family enjoy skiing (both water and snow), wakeboarding and snowboarding. During summer months they enjoy launching their boat on the Tennessee River and leisurely cruising the developing waterfront.

Persistence, she says, is key to any artistic endeavor, including her own. “And also not being afraid to take on something I haven’t done before, because most of the time I’m doing something I haven’t done before,” she adds. “I usually just say, ‘Sure, I can do that.’ And then I think about how in the heck I’m going to do it. But there’s always a way.”

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Story by Nancy Henderson

This story was originally published in Chattanooga Magazine.