HIGH SPRINGS – Probably unknown to many Alachua County residents is an enterprising woman who has quietly become a successful artist. She has become an Etsy store owner, blogger and sometime contributor to Somerset Studio, a magazine featuring paper and mixed media art. Her creations sparked such interest that Somerset’s staff contacted her requesting that she write articles to correspond with her unique artwork and color techniques.
Lisa Mallette is a 59-year-old crafter living just outside of High Springs. She has built up quite a following while creating art journals, scrapbooks and Midori Travelers Notebooks, among other fascinating book-related items. Her Etsy site, Studio Rose Boutique, currently boasts 1,256 followers. “The main reason I decided to start my own shop is that I no longer had room to store everything I created,” Mallette said.
Midori Traveler’s Notebooks began with a bound notebook developed by Atshuhiko Iijima, who brought his prototype to a tradeshow in Tokyo in 2005. His creation was a hit, and since then, several companies have created their own version of Iijima's design, usually in leather. Still, few notebooks are as creatively designed as Mallette’s.
Born of creative parents, Mallette found her love of books at the age of four when her father taught her to read. “Books became my very favorite things,” Mallette said. An extremely shy and introverted child, she said, “I relished immersing myself in personalities, experiences and conversations that reality didn’t afford me.”
Although the stories she read captured her imagination, she became enamored of the actual physicality of books as well. “The hard, protective cover, the delicate pages and the scent of fresh ink intoxicated me to the point that at the age of six, I created my first book," Mallette said. "I folded and stapled paper cut from a brown grocery bag, then wrote and illustrated an unintentionally hilarious story about a girl who fell in love with the local delivery man.”
Through the years Mallette said she has tried a vast number of creative hobbies including clay sculpture, knitting, decorative painting, doll making, decoupage, papier-mâché, wood-burning, jewelry design and sewing. But, her first love has always been paper in its many forms, "so that has kind of stuck," she said.
About 10 years ago, Mallette took an online course and learned to make her own travel journal. At that time, she used a simple long-stitch binding and covers that she recycled from old hardcover books. "It was the creative outlet I felt I'd been born to," she said. "I enjoy the very technical work of cutting and sewing the pages together and absolutely love designing a beautiful cover.”
Mellette’s style is fanciful, feminine, vintage chic, with lots of lace and embellishments. “I don’t consider a design truly finished until I’ve paid it at least three visits, adding more embellishments each time,” she said. Her motto is, “More is more!”
Mallette comes by all of this creativity honestly. “My mother was an excellent writer and a wiz at the sewing machine. Mom used to take me shopping for patterns and fabric, after which a new dress or blouse would seem to magically appear,” Mallette said. “My dad started his career as a designer of business furniture. I remember walking with him through the local mall when I was about eight. He stopped in front of a hair salon and pointed inside. ‘See those chairs?’ he said. ‘I designed those.’"
While others create books, notebooks and travel books using a single cloth cover, Mallette's books are unique. Her covers use a multitude of different mediums and are likened to a quilt in some ways. She may use various pieces, patterns and styles of material, laces, pictures, beads, flowers and anything else she thinks may suit her design to create her unique book covers. Each cover is stitched and bound along the outer edges for longevity, beauty and strength.
Not to be outdone by the covers, the inside pages are beautifully made as well. Designs, artwork, floral borders and lined colored paper fill her books, making it a joy for people to want to write on those pages and keep them for a lifetime.
“Over the years, I've expanded into blank coupon books for gift-giving, and other related items as the ideas flow and the mood grabs me,” she says. A favorite saying about her creations is, “One of a kind, one at a time.” "I never make the same design twice, and I love creating custom orders.
“I think everyone should have a hobby that so completely absorbs their focus that they lose track of time and barely stop to eat or sleep. There's no better feeling!”
Many rubber stamp artists, which is another art form she explored, had beautiful blogs, and Mallette was inspired to start her own. “Pinterest and Instagram were only just getting off the ground back then, and blogs were still the best way to share your creative work. Stumped for a name, I wrote down a bunch of my favorite words on scraps of paper, shuffled them into an envelope and drew out two at a time. After a few rejected pairings, I pulled out the words ‘studio’ and ‘rose,’ and thus Studio Rose was born. To this day, my best friend insists I should have gone with one of the earlier options, ‘Free Pie.’”
Mallette and her husband met and married in Iowa. Tired of the cold Iowa winters, they longed to move to a warmer climate. Initially, the couple planned to move to Georgia, but read a book called, “Move South Now” that touted Florida.
“It wasn't a stretch, then, to travel a little further south than we'd originally planned. In 1989, we lucked into a place in the country near High Springs and have lived here ever since,” she said. Devoted cat people, the couple recently adopted their fourth one after being shown photos by a friend who volunteers at a local shelter.
Although Mallette said she started her Etsy shop because she ran out of studio space for her creations, she explains that currently, there is little more than a small path wide enough for herself and one cat. Although Mallette's creativity knows no bounds, her studio space may have its limits.
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