A creative spark

Pam Fish has been tweaking and transforming her 1940 Ardmore bungalow since 1989. Where some may be daunted by a home’s blank canvas, Fish sees possibilities.

“I think because my dad was a contractor in Boone, I just grew up around it. I just plunge into whatever my project is,” said Fish, the owner of Fish Originals, a graphic and Web-design business.

As a single mother to 17-year-old Avery Wells, a junior at Reynolds High School, Fish’s ambition has included adding crown molding, painting and rebuilding her front porch. When she doesn’t know how to do something, she Googles it or watches YouTube videos.

Recently, a toilet needed overhauling. Fish found the directions, disassembled the interior parts and rebuilt it. Next, she plans to replace the Sheetrock tape in the long hallway that serves as a gallery for Fish’s extensive and eclectic art collection.

Every piece of art has a story. The batik hanging in the breakfast room features three angels, the middle one in memory of one of Fish’s friends. Fish created the textile art in green, blue and yellow tones.

The dining room is a visual feast. The bright, funky mosaic on one wall was once Avery’s school project that spelled “Hanes.” Avery and Pam have layered plastic milk tops, toy cars and a giant, plastic, orange M&M to hide the letters. It has become one of Pam’s favorite pieces.

On another wall, a hot pink, red and green piece of textile art featuring three flowers was done by Elizabeth Henderson. Masks play prominent roles in Fish’s art collection. The dining room holds two. One is a face emerging from unfurling leaves. Titled “New Beginnings,” Fish found it in Asheville years ago shortly after her divorce. Another mask plays off of a similar nature theme. Avery created a face as part of a ceramic tree trunk with a tiny bird perched in its mouth.

Her mother’s love of art has been an influence on Avery, 17, who has made it to the last round of applicants for the summer art program in North Carolina’s prestigious Governor’s School. She has been a frequent participant in Sawtooth programs.

“Our house is always a good source of inspiration. Living in a creative environment helps me be more creative,” Avery said.

In the front of the home, the living room serves as the central gathering spot. Fish decided to freshen up the space with a rich, golden butter-cream on three walls. On the far wall, she created an accent wall with brown paint.

Rather than choosing new furniture, she made coordinating pillows and embellished them with buttons. Window treatments for the bright, airy windows cost only $24. Using an idea borrowed from a television show, Fish purchased 12 yards of dark burlap. The burlap panels puddle on the floor. No sewing was required. Drapery hardware clips to the fabric. The burlap adds texture to the room.

The warm, earthy colors serve as a soothing backdrop for the bright art. A thought-provoking painting of a woman’s face, done by Avery in art class, is a focal point. Two sculptures by Jan Detter, a local textile artist, add interest to the room: a blue mermaid and a rabbit with a button-mosaic jacket.

Avery’s room is also a visual treat. After seeing a Gap store display using multi-colored squares in a falling pattern, Fish decided to recreate a similar look on one of Avery’s walls. After painting a base coat of mint green, Fish used a light pencil to draw the 5-inch squares.

Avery’s chest of drawers is a repurposed black lingerie chest from an old department store with sleek, retro chrome handles. Her book case is several boards nailed together in T-shapes and painted black. Fish nailed the T-shaped structures in various right-angled positions to create a floating bookshelf in the corner.

Fish painted the wall above Avery’s bed with dry-erase paint that she found at Lowe’s Hardware. Avery is able to doodle, write her schedule, jot notes. Above the bed is a framed Winter Jam concert poster, organized each year by Fish and Avery to benefit Care Highway. Fish serves as the global nonprofit’s treasurer.

Pam Fish has a dual degree in art marketing and communication design from Appalachian State University, which she received in 1984. She has built a successful business as a freelance graphic designer working in the furniture industry and for nonprofits.

Her morning commute consists of heading down the hall and stepping into the bright, airy office that runs across the back of her home. When she turned 40 in 2000, she gave herself a 900-square-foot addition that makes up her office, back hallway and spare bathroom.

For people who worry about hanging or buying colorful art, Fish said that she buys what she likes without a thought to where it will be displayed. Some of her favorite pieces have stayed behind an antique buffet in the dining room for three years until a certain spot beckoned. Some pieces, Fish said, just take time to find the right place.

“I think art brings life and character into a home. It just makes life more interesting,” she said.

Source: Winston Salem Journal

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