First time is the charm for Duerksen


“Sometimes when it gets down to this point, it’s ‘I don’t know why I did this—what’s wrong with me,’” said a smiling Duerksen about her short-notice decision to create an inventory of projects to sell.

“It seemed like a safe place to try this out and see what people think,” she added about Art in the Park, now in its 29th year.

Duerksen creates bulletin boards using old window frames and also paints seasonal themes on old wooden doors.

She decided to call her fledgling business Chicken Coop Creations in honor of the place she found her primary source of materials.

“I just kind of peaked in there one day,” she said of the coop. “We have lots and lots of scrap wood that’s in decent shape. It’s been stuff that’s been taken down while remodeling over the years, like molding.

“I realized we had lots of old windows and old doors, too,” Duerksen added.

The inspiration to use weathered window frames to accent bulletin boards came from a friend who had done it.

“I just asked her one day how she did it and she showed me,” Duerksen said. “I decided we’ve got lots of windows, I could try that.”

Duerksen altered her friend’s approach by covering the cork bulletin-board area with decorative fabrics.

“I try to use choose themes, like sports teams or John Deere—stuff that might appeal to people,” Duerksen said. Her favorite fabric so far has a horse theme.

“I’ve got a lot of different kinds of fabrics, hopefully coordinating with the different kids of windows,” she added. “I’ve tried not to add any paint to the windows. I just want to clean them up and use them as they are.”

Duerksen said she also will customize bulletin-board themes according to the interests of the customer.

“I’m glad to take orders because I know the people may want a different fabric than what I’ve chosen. There might be people who would say, ‘Would you do an O.U. one?’ I could do that.”

Adding decorative doors to her inventory was a very recent decision.

“We have lots of old doors that I’ve gone ahead and painted,” she said. “I’m doing a fall theme on one side of the door, mostly stenciling leaves—I don’t do them freehand because I want them to look uniform.

“On the fall door it will say ‘Happy Harvest.’ I’ll stencil that. Then on the reverse side, I’m doing a winter scene.”

She said decorative doors can provide artistic flair for porches, gardens and yards.

Duerksen said she got the inspiration for the doors while driving through Hillsboro this summer during the city-wide garage sale day.

“I saw a lot of people were buying doors,” she said. “A couple of the doors were really bright, but I thought I’d like to add something more to that than just paint. I’d like to add something that makes it fun for the garden or the yard, or whatever.”

One thing Duerksen likes about the projects she’s chosen is that almost all of her materials are being recycled—even the orange paint she’s been using as the background color for her fall-themed doors.

“The orange paint we literally wanted to paint a room in our house,” she said. “The first gallon I bought I was totally sold on, but I put some on the wall and said, ‘That’s a little much.’ We had a gallon of it. So I’m recycling paint, too.”

Duerksen, who grew up in Hillsboro, said she has attended every Arts & Crafts Fair since it started more 37 years ago. In fact, Saturday’s will be the first one she’s missed—unless she stops by “real early” on her way to Marion.

“I’m kind of a diehard Arts & Crafts Fair person,” she admitted.

Duerksen also is a veteran browser at Art in the Park. She said she decided to investigate the possibility of exhibiting there because her decision was so late-notice—plus, she likes the environment that Central Park provides.

“I called them to see if it was an option and they were very encouraging,” Duerksen said.

She said her years of browsing have helped prepare her to be a successful exhibitor—and seller.

“I guess I feel I have a good sense of what things should sell for, and I know what I’ve put into it cost-wise,”she said.

Her entry into the crafts market is an avocation. She works part-time as a private academic language therapist in area schools.

“I work with kids with dyslexia, or kids with reading, spelling and writing difficulties,” Duerksen said.

Although her job requires a certain creativity to find and develop alternate ways for her clients to learn, Duerksen said she had an itch to do more with her creative interests.

“I just really noticed that I needed this outlet. I was attempting to do things with students which they need, but I don’t have to embellish it much,” she said. “You have to be creative with the language-therapy sort of thing, but you don’t have to be this creative.”

Duerksen said her family—husband Gary, daughter Olivia, 8, and son Zach, 3—has been supportive of her new venture and the hours it has demanded of her of late—almost every free minute, she said.

“They’re really understanding—they’re kind of living in squalor right now,” Duerksen added with a chuckle. “A few things will have to be let go for another week yet, then I’ll get back to it.”

The pressure of Saturday’s deadline hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for what Duerksen has undertaken.

“The good thing is I’m enjoying it yet,” she said. “It’s not a chore at all.”


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