PattieWack: Crafty SP resident turns the humdrum into the wow

June 08, 2007
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesShe’s wild, she’s wacky and she’s got a million ideas to transform the humdrum into wow, bring new life to everyday objects, or create something that is both out of this world and daringly stylish. And Pattie Donham, an author-designer of more than 17 crafts books and magazines, veteran television host, national TV guest, and maven of creative madness known professionally as PattiWack, has found serene Santa Paula to her quirky liking.Pattie and her finance, Scott Wilkinson, are “thrilled to be right in the smack of Santa Paula,” a home they decided to explore after seeing the Discover Santa Paula Website. “That was a big draw” when the couple was researching an area that would be convenient for both... their businesses include PattieWack Designs and “Craft Studios” - Pattie’s television show - and Insight Film & Video, the latter located in Valencia while Pattie’s design partners are in Ventura.Former Santa Barbara County residents, the couple were intrigued with what they found on Discover Santa Paula: “It has the history, the community attractions, train depot, art, theater, the airport’s adorable... everything we’re looking for the rest of our lives,” said Pattie. “We plan on this being our spot and we really want to get involved in the community.”Following a January Anaheim trade show they drove out and found a home with a view of the river valley, perfect for Scott, a serious bicyclist, and go-along Pattie, a self-described “namby pambsy” rider. But it took a while to get here, at least on the creative end.Pattie, a native of Oklahoma whose father was a pastor, started sewing as a child, then moved into crafts to help fulfill one of the necessities of ministering. “As a child I would be up at night cutting, pasting and making things” with her mother for church bazaars and holiday parties... “paper eggs with bunnies in them, washcloth slippers for nursing home residents... my mother instilled in me ‘What have you accomplished today?’”The mantra became an ingrained philosophy and morphed into a career for Pattie: “I look at things and think ‘What can I do with that?’” Obviously, in Pattie’s hands, plenty.“Working in a flower shop turned me on to how creative I wanted to be,” and she got a job at a major craft store chain, Hobby Lobby, where self-taught Pattie’s talents were soon evident and she was asked to be the company spokeswoman. Television’s Aleene’s Creative Living was Pattie’s next creative career step as her interest in crafting continued to blossom. “Creativity is just a muscle like everything else... you have to exercise it and it will get better and better,” Pattie noted.A friend and owner of Hobby Lobby encouraged Pattie to “try to think outside the box” and integrate other interests - no matter how wacky - into crafts. Twenty-years later, Pattie has become a legendary designer and crafts master whose talents include painting, paper crafts, scrap booking, rubber stamping, sewing, fiber crafts, quilting, mosaics, candles, kids crafts, floral design, and jewelry making.
But all with a twist of Pattie wackery: “My wildest project? Bra art!” transformed into a one-of-a-kind purse, a project that mixed activism - raising awareness of breast cancer while raising funds for same - with creativity.Pattie, whose professional name was bestowed on her by a friend known as Darsee Doodle - “it stuck with me!” - laughed when described as the Martha Stewart of crafts, as she and her partners just developed a project for Stewart’s company.“I’m the opposite of Martha... she’s all about the rules and I’m about breaking the rules,” said Pattie. “Crafting is supposed to be fun, not serious. Needless to say, my grandkids like crafting with me; they know they’re going to have a good time when Grandma gets the paints out!” Tire Track T-shirts, a jeans upholstered Lazy Boy chair and tassels are much on the mind of Pattie, who created the PattieWack’ tassel tool - one of her line of craft supplies - so everyone can make her own favorite embellishments.And when not creating from scratch, Pattie takes “anything I can find, dumpster diving or at garage sales,” and turns into it unique art. It seems that - much like Pattie herself - all her creations have strong touches of whimsy, and Pattie is a popular guest on numerous national TV shows as well as hosting “Craft Studios” for public television.Her addiction to paper crafting “has grown into a fetish,” but she still has time to work with the manufacturer of Krylon’ developing 13 techniques to create faux marbling, crackling, “shabby chic looks” using the paint.A staple of crafting is glue. “If I can’t glue it I won’t do it!” Pattie said with a laugh, but she’s seriously working on a “a glue bible,” yep, how to use each and every variety in creative projects.Pattie is living what she always urges her fans: “Have fun with it!” and is “really pleased, I’m really one of the lucky ones” doing what she loves and shares with fans on her Web site, And the PattieWack persona? “Someone told me recently that I can’t help it, so I might as well go for it!”

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