Friday, December 9, 2011

Black Cat Pottery Holiday Open House - Meet the Artists: Jennifer Flynn and Urban Attic

That's right - only one day until the Second Annual Black Cat Pottery Holiday Open House on December 10 (10a-4p), during which we open up the studio to fellow local artists and all of our fans for a day of holiday cheer! This year, we'll be featuring artisan baked goods and live music, in addition to five unique garden- and home-inspired artists. I thought it would be nice to introduce them to you so you could get to know each of these amazingly creative and generous folks a little bit better.

Jennifer Flynn, owner of Urban Attic, a unique gift shop located in Ardmore Park Place in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, graduated in 1985 from Michigan State University with a BA in Advertising. She worked in communications in Chicago at MTV Networks and Katz Communications and in Texas at the Arbitron Rating Company and Harrington, Richter and Parsons, another communications firm. Despite embarking on a promising career in the communications industry, Jennifer took herself out of the workforce in 1991 in order to focus her energy and time on her family, especially loving and raising her two sons, Patrick, 20, and Andrew, 17. Multi-talented and uber-creative, in 2010, she decided to strike out in a new business venture, a unique gift shop to showcase her work and the talent of other Michigan handcrafters and artists. Thus was born Urban Attic.

Tea Bag Caddies crafted from vintage handkerchiefs
I first heard of Jennifer early in 2011 through my friend, Don Schulte, who had happened on her shop in when he and his wife stopped for a bite at the Ardmore Cafe, in the same building. He suggested I look into the gift shop as a venue for some of my work. I then happened to meet Jennifer's mother-in-law when giving a presentation for the Grosse Pointe Garden Center at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Recognizing the workings of fate, I contacted Jennifer and set up a  meeting, having determined that her shop - an intimate space chock full of unique Michigan-made goods - would be most suited to my smaller pieces: Mini sunflowers and daisies, fairy houses and lace bowls. After an initial meeting, I felt I had met yet another kindred spirit and, indeed, I count Jennifer as the first of four people to join my family of choice in 2011.

Paper cones fashioned from old wallpaper samplebooks -
what a great alternative to the traditional stocking!
Although we're featuring Jennifer's baked goods at the Second Annual Black Cat Pottery Holiday Open House - including her famous Mom's Bananas Nut Muffins (ask me for the story behind this recipe title), aside from her family, Urban Attic is now her primary focus. And although she carries products produced by local artists and artisans (including various work by Black Cat Pottery and notecards and prints by Notable Greetings), her own creations are some of the most interesting and inventive objects I've ever seen. Jennifer is a past master of "up-cycling", taking goods other folks would simply discard (hopefully, recycle) and giving them new life. Whether it's taking an old book of wallpaper samples and converting them into beautiful decorative cones that would make a Christmas stocking envious or creating a beautiful paper rose from the page of an old musical score, Jennifer exemplifies the magical evolution of the silk purse from the proverbial sow's ear.

Every time I walk into Jennifer's shop, unless she's catering to the needs of a new or long-loyal customer, she has new ideas to share. Folks ask me when I sleep; I know Jennifer doesn't! She has an unerring eye for the "finishing touch" - the little detail that brings out the heart of a piece, whether it's a bottle of olive oil next to one of my tiny lace bowls or the "gratitude" cards available at her "counter", an up-cycled sideboard. As the year has progressed, Jennifer's love for baking has finally taken a back seat to her dedication to her new-found home, Urban Attic.

"As long as I can remember I've found joy in making little things for people who come into my life. Today, the place I sit down to write or to create what is in my head, just feels like the right place to be." - Jennifer Flynn

Find more information about Jennifer Flynn and Urban Attic at

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