Crafter gives back after health crisis

Shelby Township resident winner of first C & G Holiday Craft Contest

By: Linda Shepard | C&G Newspapers | Published December 14, 2011

 Margie Conn of Shelby Township is the winner of the first C & G Newspapers Holiday Craft Contest. Here, Conn displays one of her decorated boxes.

Margie Conn of Shelby Township is the winner of the first C & G Newspapers Holiday Craft Contest. Here, Conn displays one of her decorated boxes.

Photo by Linda Shepard

After Shelby Township crafter Margie Conn waged a successful battle against breast cancer, she decided to use her skills to help others.

“I had to give back,” she said. “I got involved with Relay for Life. I am always looking for a way to contribute.”

The winner of the first C & G Newspapers Holiday Craft Contest, Conn received 245 votes for her repurposed cigar box, decorated with keys and memorabilia. Crafting the decorative storage boxes involves weeks of work layering paints and resin.

Conn, a longtime crafter, said she began creating useful and decorative crafts as a child. “My grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet,” she said. “Then I had a silk flower business in my home and made centerpieces for Art Van.”

The boxes were inspired by Conn’s mother-in-law, who reminded Conn of a cigar box she and her daughter decorated 35 years ago with pipe cleaners, paint and aluminum foil. “She still had it,” Conn said.

That led to the painted and decorated cigar boxes Conn fashions with a specific theme in mind. Her boxes have featured her grandmother’s vintage sewing supplies, a collection of coins, wedding invitations and more.

All proceeds from the sales of Conn’s boxes, which she sells at local craft shows, are donated to the American Cancer Society.

The C & G Newspapers inaugural Holiday Craft Contest generated 41 handmade holiday decorations, ornaments and gifts from local crafters — from knitted items like a cupcake purse and a Santa baby bunting to a wall hanging, gift bags, angel ornaments, an Advent calendar, wreaths, garlands and more.

The submissions included creative uses of dollar store finds, fabric, wood, recycled foam, sequins, wire, wine bottles, paper, knee-high socks, buttons, cross-stitching, china, fused glass, clay, ribbons, graham crackers, gourds, glitter and glue.

“It was exciting just entering the contest,” said Debby Martin of Rochester Hills, who entered her hand-knit cupcake purse. “I love to share gift ideas with people.”

Conn wins a $100 gift certificate and four craft classes at My Craft Room on Rochester Road in Troy. The store carries a wide selection of craft supplies.

Joyce Rapezzi, owner of My Craft Room, said card making and knitting are the most popular crafts among her customers. “Lots of people are making their own holiday cards,” she said. “They use paper and rubber stamps and scrapbook supplies.”

The hot new yarn for knitters is a self-ruffling yarn. “We’ve sold a lot of it,” Rapezzi said. “We also sell a lot of jewelry-making and scrapbook supplies.”

Rapezzi said she talked to Conn about her prize winnings and believes Conn will find plenty of materials for her decorated boxes at My Craft Room. “She will have fun with her prize,” Rapezzi said.

Relay for Life will be held May 19, 2012, at River Bends Park in Shelby Township.