I’m a Wisconsin native and have been living and working in Chicago for the past 15 years. I received my B.F.A. in Musical Theater from UW- Stevens Point and since then I’ve been lucky enough to be able to call myself a working actor. I’ve worked all over the Chicagoland area, sneaking out once in a while to work somewhere in the country.
I may have come out of the womb singing and dancing but I also emerged with busy hands. I grew up a 4-H kid. No, we didn’t live on a farm or in the country. My dad was the county agent for the entire 4-H program. Now most people think of 4-H as having to do with cows and farming. That is part of the program but there are projects in every area, to bring urban and rural kids together. Most of my summers growing up were creating projects for the county fair. Sewing, painting, woodworking, refinishing, crafts etc… Always making sure the quality of all items were “blue ribbon” and finished in time for the judge to pick up without their hands sticking to the varnish. Throwing a paint project in the oven doesn’t speed up the drying process, believe me I know.
Creativity is a family trait. My mother taught me how to sew and refinish furniture and my dad taught me how to use woodworking hand tools, an important skill to learn before graduating to power tools. Both sets of grandparents had their own sets of skills, ones today we equate with creativity but they considered living life. Grandpa Barthel was a contractor/builder who would pull out an old window from a house and replace it. He’d take the old one home, fix it and use it on another job somewhere. Grandma Barthel was a fantastic cook who canned, pickled and preserved everything they grew in the garden. My mother’s father is still to this day a skilled woodworker and grandma is a busy knitter and quilter.
On my mother’s side of the family, every year we would draw a name out of a hat during the summer months and then for that person we would make a handmade gift to be given on Christmas Eve. None of these gifts ever cost much of anything but time. I still have many of these gifts and treasure them as much as if they cost thousands of dollars.
My friends have compared me to Martha Stewart in the past but please don’t confuse my love and ability to create things with organization. I don’t like to cook. I don’t clean the bathroom as often as I should. And I like to think and hope I’m a bit more thrifty than Martha.
I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with all of you. But also I hope to not only be the teacher but a student as well. There is plenty out there to still experience and that’s part of the fun. You’re only limited as far as your own imagination.