Three Makers and the projects that drive them

Makers. The term has an instant image attached–the artsy type making Etsy-worthy items in their kitchen after work. But those that we consider makers are those that create in any way. We caught up with three different makers to explore the ways that they are enhancing the Northland. 

The Architect–WSKF Architects, Inc. 

Williams Spurgeon Kuhl & Freshnock Architects, Inc. (WSKF) are no stranger to large projects. They’ve completed major projects all over the city and the nation but one in particular remains close to their heart–the Children’s Mercy Northland Clinic on Barry Road. Firm principal Mark Spurgeon worked with interior designer Michelle Travers to convert a 38,000 square foot space that used to house a grocery store into a welcoming place for parents and kids a like. 

The project began in 2003 with the initial renovation but has continued over the years, most recently with updates to the waiting area. For this area, Spurgeon and Travers worked with the Children’s Mercy house artist, Scribe, to create an interactive lobby area that is welcoming to kids. The theme? “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.”

Over  the years, Spurgeon and team has made the space functional enough to serve the more than 300,000 people in the Clay and Platte area. With the most recent project, they’ve created a space that is soothing and comforting for kids that may be at their most vulnerable. Travers has incorporated interactive elements as well. Game boxes are located throughout the waiting area. The gas station has a gas pump with characters that can be assembled like puzzles as kids rotate boxes.  The garage has a car on a lift that goes up when the button is pushed, and check-in stations are on signposts throughout the waiting room. 

If you’re a parent that finds yourself at urgent care at Children’s Mercy Northland, the WSKF team has poured their time and talent into making sure your experience is as soothing and enjoyable as possible. 

To see more work from WSKF, visit them at

The Vintner/Soapmaker-Vineyard Lifestile 

Fence Stile Vineyard and Winery in Excelsior Springs has long been firmly in the maker category. The small operation offers five varietals for tasting and purchase at its picturesque tasting room. But with the creation of Vineyard Lifestile, owner and winemaker Shriti Plimpton took it a step further. 

Vineyard Lifestile is a line of spa products that incorporate byproducts of the wine they make. Plimpon uses Chambourcin grape skins and seeds from the fall harvest after the grapes are crushed and pressed for juice that will become the next vintage of wine. Chambourcin is a French-American red grape variety grown in Fence Stile’s 10-acre vineyards and used to make many of its red wines.

In the past, these by-products were composted as part of the winery’s sustainable practices. With the 2018 harvest, Plimpton reserved the pressed skins and seeds and dried them. She further processed them to a finer texture. To create the scrubs, she blended the antioxidant-rich skins and seeds with shea butter, essential oils, and other natural ingredients. 

The Chambourcin Salt Scrub contains Chambourcin grape skins and seeds, shea butter, whole lavender buds, salt, and lavender essential oil. The Chambourcin Sugar Scrub contains Chambourcin grape skins and seeds, cocoa butter, sugar, and orange spice essential oil. 

In 2019, the line will expand to include home items such as candles, grapevine bundles for grilling, and a selection of jams, marinades and other culinary items. 

Plimpton’s products pair nicely with bath time–complete with a glass of wine, of course. 

For more information, visit

The Artist–Orange Ease School of Art

Allison Jensen has always loved art. She loved it so much that she got a degree in it but she never really used it professionally. But as a stay at home mom, she noticed that there was no where that offered art classes, especially to the toddler and preschool set. Dusting off her degree, she started Miss Allison’s School of Art out of her basement. 

Fast forward a few years and Miss Allison’s was a hit, teaching two classes in the morning and three at night. Jensen decided that it was time to make the leap to a space outside of her home and found a spot on the historic Liberty Square. She rebranded to Orange Easel School of Art and has been teaching all ages ever since. 

Jensen’s approach to art classes is different than most. Rather than being motivated by an end product, she’s more interested in the process and what other lessons her students can learn. Her preschool and children’s classes feature art history, literary tie-ins and plenty of time for free play in whatever medium they are studying at the time. She doesn’t stick to just paint, either. Students work in a variety of mediums, from charcoal to clay to classic acrylic paints. 

Since opening in Liberty in 2014, Jensen has expanded to a second location in Platte Woods. In addition to onsite classes, she offers painting parties for all ages. Rather than offering traditional wine and paint nights where all the participants leave with the same painting, she offers a space to dabble in arts and crafts that the group chooses. Is there wine? That’s up to you. 

February is also the first month that Orange Easel has offered a subscription box. For a monthly fee, the box contains all the art supplies that a student needs for that month’s unit as well as online instruction and additional content in a private Facebook group. 

Jensen’s motto is ‘Do art better.’ At Orange Easel, she’s teaching everyone, from toddlers on up how to explore while also honing their craft. 

“People think that natural talent is all that’s needed. That’s just not true. So much of art can be taught and trained. I’m happy to help those that want to learn!” she says. 

For more information, visit