Get to know Chelsea *Sparks*
Hello there! My name is Chelsea Weiss, but people know me as Chelsea *Sparks* too. I came up with the name, Chelsea *Sparks*, because I found that when I worked with people, I loved when the creative sparks would fly.
I opened the doors to Art Collective on Jan 9th, 2019 after a successful Pop Up Shop in November and December of 2018. I created a unique boutique in historic Downtown Frederick that offers one-of-a-kind handmade goods, original artwork and mixed media workshops with the most fabulous of artists.
I tend to call myself a mixed media artist. Over the last 11 years, I’ve been trying out many different techniques and areas of art & making. I like to make things that have many layers and some aspect of sparkle or shine to them. While I love a crisp and new aesthetic in art styles, in my own work I prefer things that are weathered, look as though they have lived a life already and tell a story.
My schooling was in graphic and interior design, and I’ve also dabbled in event design and planning. Throughout my career, I have ongoingly participated in artistic learning experiences in a variety of mixed-media specialties. My favorite work is my steam-punk inspired mobiles. I am always open to learning a new technique, and am constantly experimenting.
So here’s my story about starting the shop:
After participating in 5 weeks of Artomatic Frederick in the Fall of 2013, I realized my need to have artist friends actively in my life. There I met my future Artner, Bette Brody. On one of my shifts, someone told me about an online group organizing site called MeetUp and how I could find like-minded people looking to “meet up”. So I investigated and set up a group called Art *Sparks* of Frederick. We met pretty much monthly and either had demos by other *Sparks*, show and tell, or brought individual projects to work on while we met up.
Art *Sparks* of Frederick was a great meeting place and we had a variety of artists and makers over a 5 year span. I hosted Holiday Markets in my home for a few years and then moved onto more public spaces with a larger group of artists.
In the summer of 2018 while I struggled to strap two mannequins onto the roof of my car heading to the Chincoteague Blueberry Festival, I realized I wasn't up for festivals or shows any longer. It was an exhausting way to make money. A fortuitous call from Sharon Mesa during the drive to the Eastern Shore changed all that.
Sharon owned En Masse in Downtown Frederick asked if I was still interested in having a pop up shop in her studio space. I said, "YES!" before she even finished the question. I came up with a plan and enrolled my art *sparks* tribe into participating. Chelsea *Sparks* Pop Up Shop was a great success. At the end of the run, the lease for the space became available and I chose to open up a permanent shop.
The first half of 2019 was a bit rough, as I was running Art Collective by myself. I started hosting a handful of onsite classes and workshops. For the second half, Bette started working the shop a couple of days a month, which helped me a lot, along with the artists volunteering during the holiday season. I realized that for the shop to be successful and for me to have time to create and make art, I needed more help. I asked Bette to be my Artner and she was on board.
We began hosted even more classes at Art Collective and were just getting our schedule ramped up earlier this year, even adding a visiting artist’s multi-day workshop, and then the pandemic hit. We had to cancel all our classes and workshops and close our doors for April and May.
To be honest, it has been a test in small business ingenuity to keep the shop running. The biggest help has been creating personal virtual shopping appointments. This is a personalized Zoom or FaceTime appointment where I walk you around the store and show you what we have in stock.
People ask if we have a website, and we do, though with most of what we sell being one-of-a-kind, listing all the items is just too overwhelming. Plus, it’s far more interesting having your own personal tour of the shop to see the collection of unique items our artists have made.
If you are interested in shopping virtually with me this holiday season, you can find more details on how to set up an appointment with me here.
Updates on COVID-19 decisions
For the rest of May 2020 Art Collective will remain closed to the public. Bette and I would rather be safe than sorry and practice caution. For the time being we offer virtual Look-Around appointments (shop virtually with owner Chelsea *Sparks*) or you can purchase a gift card to shop later! These virtual appointments are very nice because you get the story behind the artists & makers.
Orders can be received by you via:
1-curbside pickup (contactless)
2-local delivery (contactless)
Look-Around Appointments and Gift Cards can be found on our website.
Stay safe. Support small business.
Shop with Chelsea *Sparks*
Now Available E Gift Cards & Virtual Shopping Appointments
These are trying times for us all in many different ways. I understand that many many people are struggling, so this is not meant to disrespect anyone's situation. I am speaking as a small business owner in her second year of owning a retail shop selling 18 regional artists' work. I'm working to be creative to figure out how those out there that love our shop and need a gift or want a treat for themselves - might seek our shop to get a gift that isn't from Amazon or other online place. A customer that values handmade and one-of-a-kind pieces. So if that happens to be you, please keep reading to see how you can shop our unique works with me virtually.
In order to serve our customers we offer E Gift cards & virtual shopping appointments with the owner, Chelsea *Sparks*. E gift cards can be purchased here on our website.
These Look-Around Appointments are a virtual shopping experience where the owner, Chelsea *Sparks*, walks you around the shop and shares what we have in stock. Your appointment will be via Facebook Messenger, FaceTime (iphone only) or a Zoom meeting. The standard time slot is for a 30 minute lookaround.
If you see something you like during your Look Around:
1- You can place an order to be shipped. I’ll send an invoice for your purchase plus shipping, once it's paid online or over the phone, I will mail your package to you (or for you, in case you want to send it as a gift).
OR if you are local
2- You can place an order for free delivery in Frederick, MD. I’ll send an invoice for your purchase. Once it's paid online or on the phone, I will set up a day and time for delivery to your door.
Thank you for your time in reading this. Thank you to all the people that are out there taking care of us all - all the hospital staff, the people behind the scenes that keep the hospitals going, the first responders and all those that are keeping the essential stores open.
Sending love and hope for you and yours,
Art Collective is closed for the time being, but feel free to reach out here. Small businesses still need support in these trying times. Consider following us on FB also to see what we are up to.
I’m working on getting our merchandise in an online store. Bette and I will be creating live events on FB to show what we have. Items will be available for curbside pick up or to be shipped via USPS.
Chelsea, Art Collective Owner
Visions in 2020
The time before spring is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what seeds have been cozied in the ground over the Winter, and to look ahead to growing our Vision in 2020.
In 2018, we grew from the Chelsea *Sparks* Pop-Up Shop to the full-time shop Art Collective in 2019, which now has the space to host other pop-up artists, classes, and small workshops throughout the year. More on this in the Classes and Workshops sections below...
January 2020 saw the one-year anniversary of the Shop’s Opening. It also brought a new Artnership with Betty Brody, of Bette’s Creations®, formerly in the Shops at Damascus. Bette is a self-taught mixed media artist specializing in handcrafted journals/books, paper design, mixed media, & unique jewelry. Retired from the corporate world, she is now a full-time artist. Find her on FaceBook and Instagram. Sharing our time working the shop has given me a welcome respite, and a chance to cultivate future creative projects.
We are excited to share about some new Artists, Classes, & Workshops coming up with Art Collective...
Upcoming Classes & Workshops
Our classes and workshops offer opportunities to learn various mixed media techniques and connections to other artists & makers. For all details about supply lists, supplies provided, optional items to bring, and how to sign up, please visit our workshop page.
Junk Journal Journey Workshop
Unique Nature Inspired Designs
Steampunk 3D Sea Creatures
It's so exciting! Kecia is coming to teach a workshop at Art Collective in June of 2020. Please enjoy this short video by Kecia about her art & inspiration. Details for the workshop can be found on our Workshops page.