Collections of Collectibles
June 25, 2008 · Updated 6:40 PM
"Colleen Hammer, left, and Joan Handy found this 1950s-era Wedgewood stove to use as a centerpiece in the kitchen display area of their new shop, 20th Century Collectibles.Joan Soltys/staff photo Three new shopsKate's Cabin Main Street in Freeland, open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.Whidbey's Wacky Women, Main Street in Freeland in back of the Freeland Chamber Visitors Center, open through the summer and fall, Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.20th Century Collectibles and Greenbank Gallery at 3112 Day Rd., Greenbank, open Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. At the doorway to Kate's Cabin in Freeland are owners (from left) Leslie Saelens, Heidi Norris and Jennifer Whiteman. The fourth member of the group (not shown) is Joni Reed.Shoppers who are also gardeners, antique buffs and arts and craft lovers now have three new shops to explore, all on (or near) the southend of Whidbey Island.Kate's Cabin and Whidbey's Wacky Women recently opened in Freeland, while a few miles up the road in Greenbank is an old farmhouse that now houses 20th Century Collectibles and the Greenbank Gallery, with the neighboring Greenbank Cellars winery on the same property.Together, the shops offer an opportunity to browse among items ranging from antique gardening implements and handcrafted pieces to 1950s era collectibles and original fine art.The four owners of Kate's Cabin -- Jennifer Whiteman, Heidi Norris, Leslie Saelens and Joni Reed -- have combined their extensive collections of garden art and antiques to fill the rooms and the surrounding grounds of the former Far Mor Country School (next to Building Source on Main Street). The walkway and courtyard are made of 40- to 50-year-old bricks recycled from a Sandy Point home chimney. The outside walls are a flower garden of old-time garden rakes and brooms. In the front yard is a wheelbarrow about 75 years old, various arbors and trellises, pieces of old barn wood that can become new garden art.Inside the shop is a living room displaying handmade tables from the turn of the century; vintage fabric linens, clothing and what the owners call shabby chic -- white, puffy and cute. A bathroom opens with an authentic outhouse door (complete with crescent moon cutout), and a kitchen contains an assortment of vintage cookware and dinnerware. Outside on a porch are tons of old implements, Norris said. Collecting has been a hobby and a love for all of us for years, said Whiteman, who ran Far Mor Country School. Norris is the owner of Town and Country Consignments, Saelens is with the Nightcrawler Garden Club, and Reed just recently sold her Smilin' Dog Coffee House.The four shop owners are not finished yet, they said. During the summer they plan to open the grounds for a mini-flea market along the picket fence, and of course they continue adding to their merchandise. Saelens recently found an old Italian birdbath.Everything can be recycled, Norris said, picking up a piece of wood that, she pointed out, could be used for a shelf. It even has a ready-made groove to hold pictures, she said. It's great.The shop is named in honor of the late Kate Aaker, a good friend who inspires the quartet still. We're always saying 'Kate says...' and 'Kate thinks...' If Kate would like it, it's a good find, Whiteman said. JUST A FEW DOORS down the street is the new arts and crafts gallery called Whidbey's Wacky Women, located in back of the Freeland Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.Celebrating a grand opening of their shop this weekend, these artists are noted for their fine work in many craft disciplines. Visitors will find pottery, stained glass, candles and potpourri. Among the more unusual items are spirit dolls and stick dolls, and fabric comfort items.Ceramic sculptures are both whimsical and stylized, while there is pottery in useful as well as decorative form. Hats and bags, paper sculpture, soap and toiletries, dried flower wreaths and arrangements, ceramic tiles, photography and paintings are some of the other items to attract shoppers. The artists calling themselves wacky women include Trevor Arnold, LindeLea DeVere, Mary Jane Donohoe, Sandy Dubpernell, Cheryl Harasti, Sheila Johnson, Judy Lynn, Sandy Phillips, Norma Roberts, Ann Wilson, Sandra Kuykendall, Nancy Simpson, Julie Knox and Linda Devitt.During the grand opening, a drawing will be held for a collection of goods donated by many of the artists, and the lucky person does not need to be present to win.ON THE OLD DAY FARM in Greenbank, another shop has opened, this time one that has moved from a previous location to this pastoral site, which also includes the Greebank Cellars winery.Colleen Hammer and Joan Handy are the proprietors of 20th Century Collectibles, and as the name implies, the shop is filled with items that date from 1900 to around the 1950s. We've been collectors for many years, visiting estate sales and auctions. There are so many things that catch your eye, that are lovely and unique, Hammer said.Started last year on the property of Floralea Gardens in Greenbank, the shop has now expanded to include its original stock of garden collectibles together with furniture, linens, glassware, ceramic items and kitchen ware. A former farmhouse, the new space has allowed the owners to display their collectibles in rooms in which they would certainly belong.In a kitchen that has been retiled in 1950s vintage colors of yellow and red, dishes and glassware from the 1930s-'60s sit in wooden cupboards, while appliqued towels and napkins are displayed atop a shiny formica kitchen table with chrome surround that will bring smiles of recognition to anyone alive in the middle of this century.Against one wall is a Wedgewood stove, familiar with its rounded corners and doors. A side table holds old fashioned cups and plates. There are teapots of all sizes and designs, and several items that could fondly be called knick knacks. There is even an English gardener's bench sharing the space.In another room, fine hand embroidered linens hang on wooden racks; an old white bookcase holds ceramic pieces by noted sculptors of this century; a vintage cabinet opens to display other collectibles. There is also Joan Handy's large collection of buttons.A front room provides a parlor setting for wood and wicker furniture, painted tables, lamps and other elegant pieces.And on the walls throughout the shop are works by well-known artist Betty Rayle, who also has a working studio on the property. Rayle's watercolors, monotypes and etchings are colorful and bright, with many florals, still lifes and landscapes. They are hand-framed by the artist, and many are also available as prints on notecards . Rayle shows in galleries including Islandesign in Langley and the Penn Cove Gallery in Coupeville. This newest venue for Rayle's works offers an exhibit space complemented by the comfortable and reassuring atmosphere of the rooms in mom's (or grandma's or great-grandma's) home. "