Painting with Flowers, the charming and attractive establishment at 298 Main Street, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the visit of two renowned potters, Richie Watts and Nicholas Mosse. The potters displayed and signed their beautiful selections for the many Port Washington residents who came to celebrate with owner Gayle Silver and her family and friends. Delicious refreshments were served, including Irish scones courtesy of Sullivan's Quay and a cake baked by the store's mail carrier.
Watts, a native Mississippi artist, produces exquisitely designed products that are high-fire glazed using a unique process that he developed. The glazing process makes the product safe for dishwasher, oven, freezer, and microwave. His designs feature birds of all kinds as well as butterflies in lovely earth shades. Many of the pieces, which include place settings and a variety of serving dishes, have unusual shapes. We spotted a charming olive dish, a fish-shaped platter, and a number of unusual cheese dishes. Of the anniversary celebration, Watts said, "It has been a great day. Port Washington is such a beautiful place, and the people have been very receptive."
Nicholas Mosse, a world-renowned potter from Kilkenny, Ireland, and his staff create each piece by hand. They offer a wide variety of cheerful, charming floral, fruit and landscape designs, all hand-painted using the traditional Irish sponging technique. The store's website (www.paintingwithflowersltd.com) describes his work as "reminiscent of a simpler and gentler era." The collection includes mugs, egg cups, plates, bowls and pitchers. All his pottery is dishwasher and microwave safe. Mosse said that he has been doing pottery since he was about 7 years old. "My mother still has a teapot I made when I was 11," he said.
Both potters have limited distribution outlets; Silver said that she is pleased that "Painting with Flowers" has been selected as one of them.
Silver said, "When people come in here the first time, they always say, 'I had no idea.'" [Editor's note: This was our reaction on touring the store.] Although, as anticipated, many of the items for sale have designs that are related to flowers or nature (the name came from Silver's previous garden design business), the unifying theme is that all the offerings are beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary. As expected, there are a variety of botanicals, floral art, and other home décor items featuring floral designs, but there is much, much more.
The store carries unique furniture items. In particular, there are charming, tasteful selections for a child's room. This reporter was enamored with a child-sized chaise longue with a floral design. In the beautifully furnished baby section one also finds lamps, lampshades, bedding, floral rugs, baby gifts of all kinds, vintage music boxes, and "vintage-looking" ABC nursery blocks. "The baby department evolved when my first grandchild was born," Silver said. (She now has five.)
Painting with Flowers also carries a huge variety of bedding, including Bella Note, in dozens of different colors. It is all completely washable. In addition there is a full line of Vera Bradley totes, ranging in size from iPod holders and small clutches to full-sized luggage. The totes, too, are all machine washable. There are also robes in a soft microfiber fabric.
Painting with Flowers also offers lovely jewelry, note cards and toiletries. We sampled the lavender lotion and bath soap, as well as the verbena hard-milled soap, and found them to be very special, with natural scents that are not overpowering. There are also potpourri and scented candles. Silver said that her best-selling candle is the "apple pie" scent, in part because of the common wisdom of real estate agents that says that your home will sell faster with the smell of an apple pie in the oven. The store currently stocks hats, scarves and gloves handmade in Nepal. "I like to find things that are made in the USA," said Silver, but it is getting harder and harder.
There is much more, and the stock changes constantly. "You never know what you're going to find here," said Silver. Right now the store is featuring charming Christmas figures.
As mentioned, Gayle Silver, a Port Washington resident, began as a garden designer. The shop evolved from a rented corner in a retail establishment as a way of generating income in the "off" season. People loved her selections, one thing led to another, and, 20 years later, here she is. The business is a family affair: Her two daughters, Tara and Allison, now married with children, have been very involved, and her husband Warren has been very supportive as well. He works in the financial sector and helps with the business end. "This is a second job that he doesn't get paid for," she said. "If it weren't for him the first year or two I wouldn't have been able to stay in business."
The shop is a delight to visit. Silver said, "People find it uplifting. It makes me feel good if we can brighten someone's day. It's great if they buy something, but it's more than that. We want them to enjoy the feeling that we put into it." She added, "We want to thank all our customers and friends for their wonderful support."
The store, which is located on Main Street at the intersection of Shore Road, is usually open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.; but during the holiday season they will also stay open on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday from noon to 6 p.m. A gift registry, gift wrapping and shipping are available. They put a little bit of potpourri in each package-a lovely touch.