Creations Range From Baby Blankets to Violins
BBs for Babies
Heather O’Malley credits the idea behind her thriving business to her first-born son and his very first baby blanket. His beloved teddy bear blanket, affectionately nicknamed “BB”, fell apart after numerous washings and had to be replaced repeatedly.“It just seemed to me that something that brings so much security and happiness to a small child should be better built,” O’Malley explains. “I designed my blankets so that moms can wash them every single day if needed and they still look and feel good.”
O’Malley started BBs for Babies in 2009, selling double-sewn, machine-washable, custom-made security blankets made from materials specifically selected for their quality, durability and softness, along with original stuffed animals. “I keep my designs as simple as possible, so that they provide the most comfort to baby,” she adds. “Everything is designed with safety of children in mind, such as embroidered faces, larger ears and paws and minimal parts.”
All BBs for Babies are custom made to order, with numerous fabric and color choices, animal options (including bunnies, unicorns, kangaroos and sharks) and upgrade options, including custom monogramming, loop or ring attachments, and rattles. Blankets begin at $42.50 and custom orders can be placed at www.bbsforbabies.com/.
Violin-maker Arsenios Corbishley fills an important niche for local musicians. Corbishley played the cello from an early age and his experience as a musician led to his love of instrument-making. He discovered his talents doing instrument repair and maintenance in a local music store, and decided to pursue formal training in Chicago to further his career. Knowing that there was a need for his skills in the greater Oklahoma City area, he returned and set up shop in 2012. Today, he works to build, restore and repair violins, violas and cellos.
“I enjoy providing quality repair and restoration work for professional musicians who need work on their instruments,” he explains. “And, I hope to transition to making even more new instruments in the next few years.”
Corbishley was featured as the Artist in Residence at the Skirvin Hotel for a year, and now operates his own shop in the historic Film Row area of downtown Oklahoma City. “My handmade instruments grow and develop with the players and provide a wide array of tone and color options,” Corbishley adds.
For more information, visit corbishleyviolins.com
Bells Mystical Beginnings
Inside the nondescript building that houses Bells Mystical Beginnings lies a treasure trove of handmade local items. Owner Harlan Bell blends his own essential oils by hand, which he and wife Willow use to create incense, soaps, bath salts and beeswax candles. “The oils that I use in my products are all 100 percent pure, cold-pressed essential oils,” Bell says. “They are a higher quality than most oils that you will find on the market.” Bell’s handiwork also includes handmade jewelry and dream catchers.
In addition, Bell features the creations of local artists and artisans in his store. Locally made products include Chickasaw Gypsy soaps, paintings, gourd art, paper butterflies and table décor, tapestries, crystals and wood burnings. “Any time I am approached by an artist, I always want to be sure it is a good match for our store,” he explains. “We want to be able to offer the best products, featuring the best energy, at the best price for our customers.”
Bells Mystical Beginnings is located at 529 E. Main St. in Norman, and is open Monday-Saturday.
Every colorful stuffed doll and monster that Darci Lenker creates is truly one-of-a-kind. “I’ve sewn since I was 7, and have an art background, so I’ve always made things,” she says. “I first started making dolls for my kids. Every time I made one, I thought of something else I’d like to try.”
Lenker’s stuffed animals feature an eclectic mix of coordinating 100 percent cotton fabrics, oversize eyes and hand-embroidered details. She makes a variety of monsters of animals, including owls, unicorns, squirrels and narwhals. Her dolls are often made to resemble famous people. “Every time I make a new animal or person, I try to give the impression of that animal or person,” she explains. “I use my own pattern to make the dolls. I buy smaller amounts of fabric to make sure I don’t accidentally make two the same.”
Lenker regularly sells her monsters and dolls at local festivals and public events and also takes custom orders. Felt monster ornaments begin at $5, and monsters, animals and dolls range from $10-$30. Follow Darci Dolls at facebook.com/darcidolls or instagram.com/darcidolls for updates on new products, festivals where you can meet Lenker in person or to place a custom order.
Local weaver Susie Skaggs says that her love of textiles started as a type of survival tool. “I began weaving shortly after I retired,” she explains. “I was taking care of my father, who has Alzheimer’s disease. I needed something to do while I was spending time with him that still let me be productive.”
Under the guidance of a good friend who also weaves, Skaggs bought her first loom and has been weaving professionally since 2008. Her business has grown steadily as more customers fall in love with her woven and felted scarves, shawls, wraps, handbags and more. “I’ve always been drawn to hand crafts and sewing,” she recollects. “I have sold my pieces to people all over the country and I love that they get to enjoy something that I created with my own hands. Weaving had almost become a lost art. It is wonderful to make something that is not pre-manufactured. It is the uniqueness of each piece and the creativity that keeps me going.”
Skaggs also creates hand-designed jewelry that is available in the Oklahoma State Capitol gift shop, and she accepts custom orders for both jewelry and her woven pieces. To place an order and for pricing information, email email@example.com.