Blue Sky Signs: A Hobby that Became a Business

     Mary Olson, Hallock, Minn., showing and selling her work at the annual craft show in Roseau, Minn. this past weekend. Olson has turned her hobby into a business – Blue Sky Signs.                                                  (Enterprise Photo by Linda Andersen)

By Linda Andersen
“I like to be busy,” says Hallock resident Mary Olson as she discusses her craft making hobby which she has turned into a business – Blue Sky Signs.
She calls crafting a “stress reliever,” and the wife, mom, and Income Maintenance Worker at Kittson County Social Services did appear to be stress free and calm as she anticipated some full days ahead.
Interviewed two days before Thanksgiving, she would be hosting Thanks-giving dinner (with help from her husband, she says) and then spend the following two days selling her work at the annual Holiday Arts, Crafts, and Vendor Show in Roseau.
“I’ve always done some sort of crafts,” Mary states, mentioning that she has done scrapbooking, quilting, and briefly tried knitting.
Today she creates signs, pillows, towels, and aprons with lettering and designs she makes on her computer. She also makes and sells buttons which mostly feature sports teams. In addition, she teaches crafting through community education and “painting parties.”
She started selling her work in September of 2016 at a monthly craft sale in Moorhead, and has gone full steam ahead since then. She has continued with the craft sales in Moorhead, participated in the 45th Annual East Grand Forks Arts & Crafts Fair in October 2017, sells regularly at craft sales at the Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, and has her work for sale at Vintage Plus in Lancaster.
Regarding tools and materials, she owns a Cricut Machine which she uses to cut out her designs and a heat press which she uses to apply her designs to pillows and other cloth projects.
“Some of my wood is reclaimed wood,” she says, adding that she also uses new pine wood which she planes, sands, stains, and varnishes.
A “Harvest” sign on the Olson’s front porch is one example of her work on wood. These porch signs are five feet long and are often reversible. She explains that the “Harvest,” sign would soon be turned over to reveal the message, “Be Merry.” She shows another porch sign which declares “Let It Snow” on one side and “Hello Fall” on the other.
One of Mary’s wood signs displayed above the couch in the living room reads “stay awhile.”
Small white kitchen towels display such messages as “My Kitchen My Rules” and “Watch Me Whip.” Fall pillows read “Happy Fall Y’all” and “Hello Autumn.” Mary says her aprons for men and women would soon reveal such words as “Grill Master” and “Grandma’s Kitchen – Seasoned with Love.”
A Christmas sign on canvas featuring a Christmas tree in the back of a red pickup truck includes battery operated Christmas lights.
Mary will be teaching a sign painting class at Kittson Central on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. An advertisement for the class reads in part, “Come on out for a fun night of sign making! Christmas tree on either canvas or wood…No artistic skill needed.”
“I enjoy helping people create something they love,” Mary says, which explains why she organizes the painting parties. She said that people can host their own party and earn a free 12” x 24” sign.
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On a personal note, Mary is married to Dana who works for the Kittson County Highway Depart-ment. They have a son, Brady, who is in the fifth grade. The family enjoys camping and also keeps busy with a small herd of cattle. Mary says she enjoys gardening in the summer which necessitates she cut down on the average of 10 hours a week she spends on crafting during the rest of the year.
Mary welcomes custom orders. If you’d like to contact Mary with an idea, host a party, or see her work, call, text, email or send a message through Facebook: (218) 843-1274, or https://www.facebook. com/Blueskysigns/

(Left) BLUE SKY DESIGNS is the name of Mary Olson’s sign painting business. Here is just one of Olson’s creations that hangs in her home in Hallock, Minn.  (Right) Olson will be teaching a sign painting class at Kittson Central, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m. (Enterprise Photo by Linda Andersen)


(Left and Center) Mary Olson is holding two examples of her signs that she has created. for sale.  (Right) Olson’s crafting room is full of signs that she has created.

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