Crafty Chics

by Gail Tilton

Crafty Chics began in May 2006 when six women joined me at my home to play with polymer clay and create buttons for some knitting projects we were all working on.

Finding such enjoyment in the crafting and camaraderie, one woman asked if we could please do this again. That afternoon, I sat down at the computer to send out an email with a future date and I addressed the six participants as "Crafty Chics."

The name stuck and the group grew.

We have been meeting ever since to share ideas and suppliers, learn new craft techniques, and, most importantly, to enjoy the company of kindred crafty spirits. The email list at one time numbered over 100.

Crafty Chics working on a beading project

We are currently meeting on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, with the exception of November and December because of the holidays. We meet at the Chatham Community Center from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

We pay yearly dues of $10 to cover the cost of basic necessities. Projects are led by people from both within and outside of the membership, and if a project requires special materials there is a material cost for each participant.

I, personally, have navigated through the craft world trying everything that looked appealing. I love supplies! It seems to be something that runs in my blood.

I started as a young child painting sea shells to sell as ash trays to neighbors and weaving pot holders to give away as gifts. I loved my horse rein tool that made long tubes of woven yarn that could be made into rugs.

I dyed old sheets with berries to make doll clothing for my favorite doll and spent hours making paper clothing and pressing it between waxed paper for Katy Keene paper dolls that could be obtained with a dime sent to Dell comics in the 1950's.

I made plaster of Paris models of Disney characters and painted Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck and Pluto with tempera paints.

I loved my colored pencils and spent hours creating covers for book reports during my school years. I learned to knit and crochet during the doll clothing years and crocheted edging around handkerchiefs with cotton thread.

When I got married, I began refinishing furniture and sewing rug squares together to create a rug for my first apartment. I dabbled in macramé, embroidery, photography, collage, watercolor, oil painting, mosaics, basket making, and then my husband and I graduated into home renovations.

In 1983, we renovated an old home in the center of the town of Warwick, New York that I turned into a gift shop called A Different Drummer. For 13 years, I taught decorative painting lessons and sold items I had painted at my shop or at local craft fairs.

Decorative painting was my big love during those years and I loved primitive style folk art. When I arrived on Cape Cod, I located several stores (the Regatta Shop in Chatham, The Barn & Co. in Yarmouthport and Andrea's Cinnamon Stick in Harwichport) where I sold my painted pieces.

My life changed drastically in 2002 when my husband passed away. I realized it was no longer fun to sit home and work on craft items all by myself.

I began my search for classes or groups that would create a space for me to return to my love of crafts but, unfortunately, I couldn't find anything. So I created my own group, The Crafty Chics.

In recent years, I have become involved in some new craft loves. Rug hooking mermaids and creating jewelry with polished quahog clam shells seems to fit right into my Cape Cod lifestyle.

The Crafty Chics have been meeting for seven years now and we have not yet run out of ideas or projects.

We've made jewelry of paper, glass beads, sterling silver, crocheted wire, polymer clay, embossed cardboard, greeting cards, felted wool bags and mittens, knitted purses, lacey scarves, pottery, fused glass, shell wreaths and trees, boxwood trees, mosaic pots, paper casting, artist books, pierced lampshades and quilted sweatshirt jackets.

The list goes on…Peter Hunt-style painted pieces, birdhouses, ornaments, garlic baskets, decorated mirror and picture frames, wire-wrapped jewelry, paper mache masks for the Missa Gaia production held at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center, crocheted rugs, fleece throws for seniors at Christmas, knitted shawls, socks, latch hook rugs… and many more items.

Grace Filliman shows off quilts that will be donated to Bridge to Hope Cape Cod

The beauty of the Chics group is the willingness and enthusiasm that each of the members has to share their ideas, to teach each other, and to spend time together in the presence of high creative energy.

We have had themed luncheons and baby showers and Christmas parties, and helped each other with wedding planning for our children. There is always a spot for creativity as our own children and grandchildren enter our lives.

We designate a portion of our meetings to a sharing circle and see and hear all the exciting things going on in each of our Chic's lives. Many times that creates a project for a meeting of the future.

In November our last meeting will be on Nov. 27 because of Thanksgiving. We'll be making holiday boxwood trees. Our December meeting will be an ornament workshop as well as a Yankee Swap Christmas party.

We have great plans for 2013. The Barnhill Pottery people will be doing a pottery project with us. We'll also be doing a field trip to the beach to try sand candles. We will be making beautiful hummingbird feeders out of beaded, decorated wine bottles and our schedule will include new ideas that come to the group as we share.

Anyone interested in joining us can contact me, Gail Tilton, at We love to welcome new members. Presently we have people from Chatham, Harwich, Eastham, West Dennis, Bass River, and Orleans in our membership and we hope to attract crafters who would like to share their love of crafts with the group.

Gail Tilton is the founder and director of Crafty Chics. A lifelong crafter, she enjoys the camaraderie of her group members and the challenges of learning new crafts at their monthly meetings. She lives in Chatham.