PORTER TWP. – Whether you are looking for garland, floral arrangements or handmade ornaments, you will probably find it at Smiling Hearts.
Owned and operated by local crafters Lee Ann Ishman and Sandy Barrett, Smiling Hearts specializes in handmade crafts and decor fit for every occasion, which will be for sale during an open house set for this weekend at Ishman’s Porter Township home.
“We have a little bit of everything,” Ishman said of Smiling Hearts, noting that in addition to handcrafted items by she and Barrett, the shop will also feature sewed pieces by Sue Shirey. “It’s not just all fall and winter — we have things for all seasons.”
Barrett added that the longtime friends turned business partners have been crafting for years. Although they each have different abilities when it comes to crafting, the pair agrees that they have taught each other some new skills along the way.
“I taught her now to paint and she showed me how to do flowers,” Ishman said. “We thought that maybe we could do something together and have some fun with it and share our stuff with everyone else.”
When describing some of the unusual crafts she has created Ishman said, “I just like to take stuff — a lot of it just stuff that people throw away — and make something out of it.”
Ishman said that she and Barrett have talked about starting a shop for years, and have even done some select selling in the past.
“We had a small, selected open house two years ago but haven’t done anything since then. I think it was because we really didn’t have room” she said, noting that was all before they moved their crafting into a separate building on Ishman’s property.
“I started out in the basement of the house in a little utility closet but outgrew that,” Ishman continued. “I moved upstairs into the craft room and outgrew that, so we moved out here.”
Barrett said that the venture fulfills two longtime dreams that she and Ishman shared.
“We just want to bring handmade items to the community,” she said.
Noting that they grew up together, Barrett said that over the years family and other obligations occupied their time.
“She went into the military and we drifted apart,” Barrett said. “The crafting may have gotten us back together.”
When asked about the name, Smiling Hearts, Ishman said that it actually reflects how she feels when she is crafting.
“When I’m in my craft room, I’m in there for hours. It’s my happy place,” she said. “Doing this just makes me happy — it just makes my heart smile.”
Barrett added that when she came onboard with the project, she liked the name so they decided to keep it.
“For us, it’s all about enjoying each other’s company and crafting together,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see something you created make others happy.”
Smiling Hearts is located at Ishman’s house at 65 Smithland Road, New Bethlehem.
The open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. The duo noted that COVID-19 restrictions will apply and that masks are required.