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Katie Bramlage turned her Hazel Park girl cave into a one-of-a-kind studio that’s part of Detroit’s revitalization

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Sometimes a big flood can change everything for the good, and the torrent doesn’t have to be of biblical proportions.

Two years ago Katie Bramlage’s basement flooded – she might say it was of biblical proportions for her – and that let her make some big changes.

You see, Bramlage is an arts and crafts professional who specializes in ceramic and wood works. The flood, which hit many in Hazel Park where she lives and works, ruined her kiln and some of her art.

In the end, she got a new, bigger kiln and replenished her work in what she now calls her “girl cave.”

Bramlage and her new kiln.

Bramlage and her new kiln.

“I’m a cave girl,” says Bramlage, a College for Creative Studies graduate. “And I want to make my cave comfortable.”

It is. It’s also home to her shop, make. do. studio.

Bramlage grew up in metro Detroit and uses her knowledge of our region’s natural wonders and the revitalization of the city as inspiration.

She says when she was at CCS she watched Detroit breakdown and “beautifully erode.

“It reminded me of the metaphor of the plants by the highway that still find a way to grow through the cracks,” she says. “I found complex beauty in the city breaking down and spent time scrounging through the bricks and wood to give them a new purpose. I found my own natural forest that me be creative and was a constant source of inspiration.”

These repurposed items show up in her work.

There are beautiful ceramic and wood pieces hanging on the walls and sitting on shelves in her “girl cave.” I was particularly drawn to her latticework design clay baskets that seem to play with light. They go for $80 to $120.

Each piece Bramlage creates in unique.

Each piece Bramlage creates in unique.

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A collection of baskets in Bramlage’s make. do. studio.

Many of Bramlage’s wood pieces are also in the studio or on her website. Here are some example:

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She also designs and builds out entire spaces for window displays and visual merchandizing for retail locations.

Whether wood or ceramic, each piece is special and created to fit the customers budgetary and timeline needs.

“As artists we can’t make pieces for ourselves,” Bramlage says “We have to listen to other people and find out what they want. Detroit is hard-earned money. I want people to feel love in every transaction.”

Sometimes creating that love can be noisy work, but it’s not an issue in Hazel Park.

“I love Hazel Park,” she says. “It’s don’t ask, don’t tell, so it’s no problem if I use my air nailer at night. As long as you’re doing good, it is OK.”

She does “do good” and in many ways is contributing to new American manufacturing. So much today is mass-produced and, while those items may be less expensive, they are not terribly unique.

Bramlage creates something special for each of her customers. Hours and hours of hard work and a lot of tender loving care go into each unique piece that is all their own and can never be duplicated.

“Things handmade carry an energy that is not easily defined,” she says. “Everyone one who touches a piece leaves some energy.”

Bramlage brings that energy to special Talismans Workshops where participants create their own lucky charm out of her handmade, fired stoneware clay pieces. Talisman mobiles are like modern dreamcatchers and are inspired by ancient traditions and cultures from all over the world.

She recently did a workshop for Yvette Jenkins, owner of Love Travels on Livernois in Detroit. It was held at Always Brewing in the Grandmont/Rosedale area.

Bramlage explains how to create a talisman at the workshop.

Bramlage explains how to create a talisman at the workshop.

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Stringing the talisman together takes concentration.

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Talisman pieces are laid out and ready to be turned into a unique piece of art.

 

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Here’s the finished product.

Bramlage teaches participants simple knotting techniques and then lets each person use his or her imagination. The classes are $55 per person.  A talisman handmade by Bramlage is $70.

“You can hang it in your entryway, bedroom – any place you want quiet contemplation,” she says.

It is said a talisman contains certain magical properties that provide good luck for the possessor. Since Bramlage believes everyone who touches a piece of art leaves energy, some of that luck could come from the love she puts into each piece.

“Everything is a success because I enjoy making it whether it sells or not,” she says. “It is not about being rich. It is about feeling fulfilled and at peace.”

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