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Second Time's the Charm: Ornamentea owner explains cash wrap counter project

Janet Hoffman works behind the distinctive cash wrap counter at Ornamentea in Raleigh.
Janet Hoffman works behind the distinctive cash wrap counter at Ornamentea in Raleigh. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Tucked in behind downtown Glenwood Avenue on North West Street, where warehouses give way to nightclubs, rickshaw garages and art studios, sits Ornamentea. You can buy beads and such, or you can take classes in jewelry making, metalsmithing or reuse crafts; it's a place for people who live creatively to come and learn new skills, says owner Cynthia Deis.

"We would like our store environment to be inspirational," she says. Upbeat electronic music - the kind that may score a fashion show - plays gently in the background as Deis helps customers on a busy Thursday afternoon. Some make purchases and some simply leave with new ideas. She seems satisfied either way.

"Even if it's not something we sell, the idea of making and re-making and having a creative life and doing creative things with yourself - what we do here is encourage people to do that," Deis says.

She grew up in a farm family, where reusing and repurposing was a way of life, and it shows in her store; the chairs, lamps and tables are attractive secondhand pieces. The classes also focus on the recycled, such as a project that turns oddball pieces of heirloom silverware into jewelry.

"The idea of that is you have bits and pieces of old silverware - you have one spoon from Aunt Edna or something like that - and doing something with it if you're not going to be using it," Deis says. "Jewelry projects tend to be smaller and more manageable, so it's a great way to teach a technique and you might take that technique and do something else with it, maybe on a larger scale."

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