Whatever Craft House in Newton, KS was built in 1903, according to the inlaid centerpiece in the upstairs hardwood floors. It has had many lives since then – as a home to many and a daycare to others. It’s current job is to house creative people of all walks of life thanks to owner, Meg Duerksen. I was fortunate that my dear friend, Jackie Clark was brave & rented the house to host her own retreat devoted to doing whatever project floats your boat (yes, you can rent the house!). There were quilters, crochet artists, fiber artists and project life enthusiasts (9 of us) – people like me who love it all. I took a few WIP projects that needed to be finished and started several new ones.
I was fortunate to have spent 3 days and nights exploring the house – at all hours of day and night. One of my favorite spots was Meg’s display of photographs she has taken ( which are for sale – some as little as $15 for 8×10 prints).
There are very few places I have ever stayed were as inspiring & restful as The Whatever Craft House.
It was clean, flush with impeccable vintage decor – the beds were comfy, dozens of them draped in chenille spreads, & quilts, the sheets were soft, the water was hot, the books and movies available to guests were lovely. The decor made you look again and again and was better from one room to the next. The vintage house has a wrap around porch decorated with sitting area and porch swing perfect for visiting and sipping coffee -who could ask for more?
It took me a bit to find clues to the origin of the name for the “Whatever Craft House”... A lovely painting in the dining room explained it one evening as we sat and ate as a group and discussed caring for family and friends:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”
Sharper visitors probably got the reference straight away by visiting the website- I was excited to have found the answer all by myself in person. I am not one for quoting scripture, but I do love this particular verse & how it relates to life, love, friendship, family and creativity. The Whatever Craft House is not named flippantly, as it would seem at first glance. I think it was named with deep thought and insight.
I brought this fun, naked, metal lamp shade with me to the retreat. This became a group effort – everyone was so in love with the size and shape of the tiny shade. I gave the shades on Meg’s work tables a good examination for her technique and copied as best I could…
Our group spent the weekend sewing, laughing, and shopping. It was fun to walk the downtown main street of Newton. Each shop had it’s own specialty and reminded me of what life was like before big box stores and chain shops. I was so lucky to find the darling lamp base for my shade at the local thrift shop: Et Cetera shop.
One of my favorite things about the house was Meg’s use of bright, cheerful color everywhere. I want to do this in my own home on the stairs…. someday. Other inspiring images of the Whatever Craft House.
Jackie brought the brightest flowers to welcome us on the porch – this was an early morning favorite spot for coffee, visiting and reflection. The scrap rug on the porch reminds me that scraps, color and details are important. Taking this reminder home with me!A porch swing in cool fall air- say no more! Fortunately for me my dear friends, Jackie Clark and Tamara Gonzales are sisters… and both were on retreat with me this weekend. That meant enough creativity, personal instruction, home cooking (famous tacos by Tamara) to thrill anyone. A bonus and unexpected treat was the introduction to talented jewelry artist Melinda Hutton, Closures – Remnants, and a tour of her work studio. Melinda has worked with buttons and vintage jewelry for a few decades. We toured Melinda’s studio on Saturday.
I love to see how other people work and create. Melinda is very organized and has put a lot of thought into how she works. We were invited to open any drawer and touch the bling! My favorite trays/drawers were the bright vintage pieces, of course.
Each and surface had a whole new story and the contents promised endless possibilities!
Miss Tamara tried on a few random pieces that stuck together and became an instant muse for a moment…
I could not capture the details of Melinda’s extensive collection she has built over the past 24 years in my photos – I am just not that gifted. BUT – I will describe the tour as “a live walk through of the studios you read only get to read about in Where Women Create.” It was that amazing. Melinda has a gift for creating the unexpected, she was a breath of fresh air and reassurance that thinking “outside the box” is exciting, relevant and important. I cannot imagine the hours of work that go into creating the imaginative, one of a kind creations Melinda produces. This tour was one of the most exciting things we did this weekend.
Additionally on our shopping trip, I made a big commitment by purchasing a miniature terrarium from Eau Lilly Boutique. Right next door to Charlotte’s Sew Natural. (Mother & Daughter – how awesome is that?). I had fun at both shops. I found perfect fat quarters for several of my sewing projects at Charlotte’s.
I was so excited to have traveled no more than 40 minutes from Wichita to find a delightful, inspiring, small town get-away. What I loved most was shopping and eating on main street just a few blocks away from the Craft House. It was a perfect Maybery weekend.
If you can find a way to rent the Whatever Craft House for your next retreat, I would highly recommend it and the darling town of Newton, KS. What a fun and inspiring weekend!