Green Thumb Gets Messy with Art

By Beacon Staff

Miriam Ascher likes the idea of making mistakes.

At the worktable in her new Kalispell business, Creative Arts and Beads, she adds different glitters and paints to a red ribbon before discarding it as “begging to be thrown away and put out of its misery.” With the store, Ascher hopes to spread her artistic mantra to others: Be creative, try new things and don’t worry if the result is, well, ugly.

“I want to give people permission to make mistakes, because if you can get comfortable making mistakes in art, often times it globalizes into the rest of your life,” she said. “Some things look absolutely ghastly, and that’s OK – you learn what you don’t like and how the materials work.”

Numerous paintbrushes are organized across the work area of Miriam Ascher at Creative Arts and Beads.

With that in mind, Ascher hopes to make Creative Arts and Beads, located at 335 E. Center St. in Kalispell, as much of a classroom as a retail shop.

After opening the store Nov. 19, she plans to partner with local artists and arrange monthly class schedules, including workshops on jewelry-making, card-making, clothing alterations, art lessons with fiber and polymer clay and even materials testing. Eventually, she plans to host events akin to a musician’s open-mic night.

“Two or three artists would be able to come in and set up their work, then have the public come walk through and ask them questions about it,” Ascher said.

Since working about 30 years ago as part of the first all-female landscaping crew in Berkley, Calif., Ascher has been employed primarily as a landscape designer, most recently spending seven years at Kalispell’s Bibler Gardens. Jewelry design was only a hobby.

A collection of hand-made necklaces hang on display at Creative Arts and Beads. The necklaces, made by owner Miriam Ascher, are an example of one kind of art piece that we be available for purchase.

But in many ways, Ascher said the transition between the two jobs has been straightforward. Both lines of work draw from the same creative source and require focus on form to function, intended purpose, budget and resources.

“Basic design principles apply whether it’s landscaping a garden, making art, doing an interior design or making jewelry,” she said. “I’m just taking my design indoors.”

And there’s at least one benefit to jewelry over landscaping, she adds: “Landscape design stays in the backyard or garden or wherever you did it; jewelry goes out into the world.”

With a bead inventory in the hundreds, Ascher’s shoppers will be able to choose everything from the popular Swarovski crystals to semi-precious stones and Czechoslovakian glass. By buying in bulk, Ascher said she’s able to keep prices lower, ranging from the most expensive, like the crystals which run about $50 or $60, to more common beads that are just a couple of cents each.

There will also be a large selection of findings – the clasps, ear wires and links that hold the beads together, or as Ascher describes them, “like flour to a baker.”

Miriam Ascher shows a selection of beads she uses to create her pieces at Creative Arts and Beads in Kalispell.

Customers who bead for business will receive discounts. “In Montana people have to do more than one thing a lot of times, so they may be supporting their income by making jewelry,” Ascher said. “I think it’s important to help them.”

An espresso machine, cards and small gifts will round out the inventory, creating an environment Ascher hopes will be home to a community of varied artists.

“I think there’s a deep need in people to create beauty and that’s something I really want to support,” she said. “They can come here, get messy, try new things and open up that creative side in themselves.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.