Meet the Delightful & Talented Designer Kathleen George (& Make a Few of her Fun & Fabulous Crafts)

Kathleen George

Kathleen graciously welcomed us into her home.

It began almost 20 years ago, with the picture of a wreath in Woman’s Day magazine. It was an evergreen wreath, accented with balls of STYROFOAM Brand Foam rolled in richly hued spices – mustard, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, oregano, etc. I thought “here is a designer who can work magic with STYROFOAM Brand Foam!” I called the editor and she gave me the designer’s name, Kathleen George, and ever since, I’ve had the privilege of watching Kathleen work her magic.

Through the years, Kathleen has been one of the industry’s most successful and prolific designers, with her designs featured on the covers of dozens of magazines. Paper crafts, mosaics, home décor, garden art, children’s crafts – you name it, Kathleen has designed for all categories. I’ve thrown a lot of crazy ideas at Kathleen, and somehow, she always makes it work.

plastic bag chicken

Kathleen was ahead of the times when she made this chicken from plastic shopping bags almost 10 years ago.

While Kathleen and I have worked together all these years, we’d never met – until this summer! I was so excited when a family vacation gave me reason to plan a detour to Amherst, MA, to meet Kathleen. I would finally have an opportunity to talk with Kathleen in person, and to see the home, studio and gardens I’d heard her talk about for years.

On the much-anticipated day, Kathleen, in her trademark apron, and her husband Steve greeted us at the door of her restored Victorian home. We entered the gracious and beautifully preserved home and I immediately noticed the parlor ceiling with the wallpaper mosaic I’d heard so much about. It was just one of many of Kathleen’s stories that came to life that afternoon.

Kathleen's gardens

Kathleen and her husband Steve have surrounded their home with beautiful gardens.

After lunch on the porch, we toured Kathleen’s studio and wandered through the gardens, admiring several ponds, waterfalls, and perennial beds. A screened pavilion, perfect for picnics, is tucked into a corner. The stone terrace behind the home is accented with Kathleen’s pebble mosaics, another project I had only envisioned till that day.

Pebble Mosaic

One of the four pebble mosaics Kathleen designed for her terrace.

Kathleen built the studio behind her house so that she could conduct craft workshops. Those lucky enough to live in Amherst, MA, experienced her creativity firsthand. Her favorite classes were those for children. “I learned to let kids take the lead, and motivated them with love and respect.”

Kathleen has empowered millions of children and adults through her art, whether it’s in person or through the printed page. “I consider myself the facilitator,” explains Kathleen. “I let my students go wherever their art takes them. The power of creativity is that it takes you wherever you need to go and it makes you whole.”

Kathleen remembers her own childhood as a time filled with “making things”. After receiving a Masters degree in elementary education, Kathleen taught second and fifth grade for several years, and then launched her design career as she raised her two daughters. (One daughter is now a novelist and playwright, and the other a poet and professional chef.)

“My mother was my biggest supporter, and she carried my work everywhere and would sell it right out of her purse,” says Kathleen. “One day, she met the craft editor at Woman’s World, and told her all about my work. That’s how I began my career in publishing.”

“I became known as the ‘finisher,’” explains Kathleen. “Editors frequently called me to clean up other peoples’ designs – projects that were left incomplete or not designed as planned.”

Designer Kathleen George's studio

Kathleen's studio.

Today, Kathleen no longer teaches classes, and is devoted to volunteering in her community. “The small things we do for those in our community are a sure way to make a difference,” says Kathleen. “Many of the strategies I learned in the classroom – appreciate others, be creative, let people follow their own paths, also work when volunteering,” she explains.

From the beautiful gardens that surround her home, to the art studio behind her house, Kathleen George has spent a lifetime inspiring others. I feel very privileged to have worked with Kathleen for so many years, and to finally have the opportunity to meet her in person. I am looking forward to many more long conversations with Kathleen, talking about crafts, homes, families and life.

Designer Kathleen George

I was thrilled to finally meet designer Kathleen George!

Hundreds of Kathleen’s designs are featured on http://www.styrofoamcrafts.com . I wanted to share a few with you, and it was really hard to choose which ones. Here are just a few of my favorites, from cute crafts for the kids to sophisticated home décor. The photos link to the project instructions, so if you’re so inspired, click through and create!

make retro wall art

Disc Wall Art

Easy DIY wall art with textured paper

"Tooled Leather" Wall Art (it's really paper!)

Make wall art from birch bark & twigs

Woodland Birch Bark & Twigs Wall Art

make garden art: a rooster with rust finish

Rusty Rooster Garden Ornament

How to make a robot craft

Recycled Robot

make whimsical folk art pumpkins

Perky Pumpkin Pals

make embellished easter eggs

Paper Blossom Eggs

Paper Wreath tutorial

Loopy Paper Wreath

Tutorial to make a felt snowman

Scrunchy Felt Snowmen

Christmas ornament tutorial

Mod Tree Ornaments

And finally, a heartfelt “thank you” to Kathleen.  I couldn’t do my job without you!

Happy crafting!

Sharon

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7 Responses to Meet the Delightful & Talented Designer Kathleen George (& Make a Few of her Fun & Fabulous Crafts)

  1. Iris. says:

    beautiful,
    Iris.

  2. this is such a great post, sharon!
    i’ve heard her name and seen her name countless times. it’s nice to put a ‘person’ with the name!
    she sounds like someone i would love to meet (i have a love of gardening, too!). you did a great job giving us a peek into kathleen’s creative life. (by the way, i really love that chicken from plastic bags! ingenious!!!)
    awesome post! :-)

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks, Patty. So glad you love the chicken — we couldn’t get any interest in it at the time, but I bet we would today. I will have to see if I still have the instructions and at least I can add it to http://www.styrofoamcrafts.com. I’m sure you would enjoy Kathleen. Isn’t it too bad that we don’t all live close enough to get together? Sharon

  3. What a wonderful interview of a very special and talented person. I too have admired so many of Kathleen’s designs over the years. Thank you Sharon for sharing this!

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you for reading the post, and for your comments, Debra. As a designer yourself and a craft industry “insider,” you know how critical good designs are, and how hard it can be to create them year after year after . . . Sharon

  4. Diane Flowers says:

    Absolutely LOVED reading this story about Kathleen. Thank you Sharon for sharing this will us.
    I am a BIG fan and long time admirer of her work, and so glad to finally see her in person and to also enjoy the pictures of her beautiful home and studio. This is a fabulously written story about a very special person, and leaves me wanting to learn more !

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you, Diane. Meeting Kathleen was one of the highlights of our trip, and I feel so fortunate that we could make the detour. I know you would really enjoy spending time with her, too. Sharon

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