Face Time: Wilton woman’s business painting and arranging flowers is blooming
WILTON — Kathleen Chenery is a creative stay-at-home mom who, among other artistic activities paints wooden flowers in bright colors and creates floral arrangements.
Chenery moved to the United States from the Philippines in 2017 to marry Maine resident Steven Chenery. The couple and their son, Sean Keane Chenery, 3, live in Wilton.
Chenery was a licensed, registered nurse for seven years in the operating room at a hospital in her native country before moving to the U.S., and still has an active nursing license in that country.
By working at home, she is able to take care of their son and run a small business, which she named after him: SKC Sola Creations
“I love doing arts and making anything crafty, drawing characters in pencil, needle work such as cross stitching or crochet as hobbies,” Chenery said. “Crafting gives me the feeling of fulfillment when I finish a project. I like to (do it yourself). In fact, I DIY my own wedding decorations and bouquets with paper flowers.”
That was before she heard about wood flowers. She officially started her business in August 2021, but has been working with wood flowers since 2020.
“Wooden flowers are made from sheets of the plant called Shola (scientific name: Aeschynomene aspera). Every flower is made by hand by artisans mostly from Asia,” Chenery said. “The sheets of this wood are hand cut to make specific petal designs resembling real flowers or any unique flower designs.”
One day she hopes to open a store to sell her goods.
How did you get into painting wooden flowers and creating floral arrangements? I came across wood flowers through Facebook and was very curious about it, so I ordered some to decorate our first home. Then I fell in love with the wooden flowers and the whole process of making it and painting it. I also love the idea of flowers that never die. I love anything nature and flowers and such, so the idea of flowers not wilting or dying is awesome.
I did one arrangement and posted it on my Facebook personal account and people loved it. My husband thought it was pretty and he gave me an idea of selling them. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, I was trying to find a way to help financially while taking care of our child, so I went ahead and made more and started the business.
(It) … started during the pandemic, when we couldn’t go back home to the Philippines for vacation and see my family. Not being able to see my family for so long, not being able to say goodbye to my grandfather and grandmother before they passed and for them not meeting my son in person was depressing for me. The flower arranging and crafting with the wooden flowers was initially a therapy for me that generally helped me keep busy for a while trying to fill the void of not seeing my whole family back home. Painting them gives me the feeling of peace and relaxation. Then, the idea of building a business out of it followed next and the rest was history.
What types of flowers do you like working with best? Oh I love all the designs they have, but I enjoy painting the hydrangea blooms the most and making them look like pansies. My top five favorite wood flowers to work with are: hydrangea, sunflowers, roses, daisies and lilies.
Is your talent natural or did you have to take classes to learn how to do it? I didn’t have to take classes or any training for arts or anything of that sort. But I do love to watch video tutorials and teach myself how to make things, for example disassembling a specific flower to see and learn how they made them, then incorporating my own theory or idea to it and come up with my own end product based on the original design.
Is it difficult to choose the colors to paint wooden flowers? Yes and no. Yes when I have a creative block sometimes, maybe from exhaustion or burnout. No, when clients know what they want and have a clear vision of what they are looking for. Also, since I love flowers, I already have this idea on how to paint them and what colors are common on that specific type of flower.
What is the best part of your craft that you enjoy? The best part that I love the most about my craft is when I see reactions from people and the feedback they give me when I finish their items. Being able to bring happiness and beauty to my clients and random people means a lot to me. They said the flowers make them smile and that means that my mission is successfully fulfilled. My “why” in doing what I do is “to inspire moments of happiness, long lasting memories in every occasion and give people a reason to smile every day.”
How do you sell your arrangements? I mostly get custom orders through Facebook and emails. I also join craft shows and artisan fairs all throughout the year in various locations in Maine. I also have items in two stores located in Gray and Monmouth.