Local artisans display wares at Flying Pig

When Dani Davis describes her boutique as eclectic, she's not exaggerating.

And when Davis says she has trouble keeping track of all the creative ideas in her head, you believe her.

Customers can find handcrafted items and delicacies from more than a dozen local artisans at the Flying Pig, 2600 E. Douglas. They can also get a massage, enjoy a smoothie served at the in-store tiki bar and have their portrait painted.

The boutique uses a co-op system. In exchange for not paying Davis commission on sales, a dozen women who make items sold in the store put in four-hour shifts there without pay each week.

"Everybody helps with the displays and they do this and that," Davis said. "It's always changing."

"All the ladies get along," said Felisa Heatwole, who was putting in her shift Friday. "There's no drama."

Among other things, Heatwole makes baby blankets, including one that features mothers with martinis.

"Because the babies don't care what's on the blankets," she said. "The mothers love it."

Heatwole also recycles objects for other uses, like some old wooden thread spools she turned into colorful Christmas ornaments.

Other artisans whose work is for sale in the Flying Pig include chocolatier Sue Anne Wilks and Vicky Lynn Collins, who makes jewelry featuring natural stones. There are greeting cards, birdhouses, children's clothes, purses, clocks, lamps, dolls, paintings, aprons and a whole lot more for sale. About 90 percent of the items are made in Kansas.

One display features rings made of vintage earrings.

"You wouldn't wear them on your ear, but on your hand, they're fun," Davis said.

Last week, one man in the shop said his family picks a different theme for each year's Christmas shopping. This year, he said, the theme is buying locally made products, which drew smiles from Davis and Heatwole.

"We're trying to showcase local artists," Davis said.

Davis says she deliberately chose a name for her store that wouldn't pigeonhole it.

She opened in September of last year, just a month before she was laid off from her job as an engineer at Cessna. Davis grew up in the Uptown area, attended nearby East High and has always dreamed of having her own store. The boutique has housed antique stores in the past, and Davis carries antiques from a few dealers.

Naturally, given the store's name, there are objects featuring pigs, including piggy banks and pig-shaped soap bars.

Davis expects to return to work as a contractor at Cessna soon, but the time off has allowed her to fully indulge her passion for making things.

She said she had tried pottery making and other crafts before seeing an advertisement for a soap-making demonstration.

Today that's her specialty — customized soaps in different shapes and sizes, with scents including peppermint and lemongrass. Davis also produces a full line of body products such as body wash and shampoo.

"I love making and selling things," Davis said. "It's fun."

She also enjoys teaching others to do the same, giving monthly classes in the traditional cold-process method of soap-making at the boutique.

"Ladies come in and bring their own wine," Heatwole said. "It's a lot of fun."