KENMARE For Jane Kalmbach and Tami Gravesen, the creativity that comes from music and crafts has always been dear to their hearts.
Kalmbach was a piano teacher who did oil painting on the side. Gravesen worked for the city of Kenmare but made jewelry and beaded in her spare time.
After years of using crafts as a creative outlet, stress reliever and part-time income, the pair's pastime has now become their full-time job, although it happened by accident.
"The business just kind of happened," Kalmbach said. "We were looking for something smaller and cheaper to sell at the art shows and we came up with the idea of these (piano key) bookmarks and from there we decided to turn it into a business."
Launched in December 2008, Dakota Blessings, is a Kenmare-based musical and spiritual art studio that features hand-crafted jewelry, paintings and unique painted antique piano key bookmarks. Since launching their Web site in January, Kalmbach said the site has received more than 3,000 hits.
"It's been fun," she said. "We've had a really good response from people and they are excited about what we have to offer."
In addition to the bookmarks, paintings and jewelry, Dakota Blessings also offers mat cutting and framing services, commissioned paintings and customized pieces as well as bulk orders of the bookmarks, which Kalmbach said make perfect wedding party, birthday, confirmation and anniversary gifts.
Items from Dakota Blessing can be found at the Pizza Hub, C-Store and the company's studio in Kenmare and at the Front Porch in Bottineau. Aside from those stationary locations, Kalmbach and Gravesen also take their business on the road, traveling to craft shows and events across the state. For the last few weeks they have been preparing for the upcoming State Fair, where they will showcase their items at the Pride of Dakota tent.
The painted piano keys cost between $12 and $15 each or $20 if framed, paintings begin at $100 while the cost of the jewelry varies depending on the type.
In the future, Kalmbach said they hope to hold art classes at the studio during the winter months and Gravesen plans to begin creating stained-glass pieces of art, but for now, the focus is on the company's grand opening, scheduled for mid-August.
Although exact details have yet to be finalized, Kalmbach said they will have an open house at the studio for people to view their work and may even do demonstrations.