Artistic Home and Garden makes DIY concrete projects simple and satisfying
Artistic Home and Garden
421 N.E. Cedar St., Camas
In a time of slumped home prices and a still-sludgy real estate market, homeowners are looking to create a “wow” factor in their yards and gardens. Artistic Home and Garden has been providing that wow factor for more than 14 years. Warehoused in Camas, the business that Tammy Ramadan and her husband Farouk started in 1997 has grown exponentially over the years and has garnered customers and fans all over the world, said Tammy Ramadan. “For some reason,” she laughed, “Norway loves us!”
Artistic Home and Garden specializes in molds for concrete items such as stepping stones, benches, birdbaths and fountains.
The company has recently carved out a niche creating architectural-style molds for concrete balusters, railings and structural columns. Farouk Ramadan is an architect and the designer of the company’s 50 unique molds, while Tammy Ramadan is a history buff and offers, as she puts it, the average homeowner perspective. Each mold tends to convey some historical reference or significance, particularly to the Northwest.
The company manufactures its molds in Washington using Pillar Plastics in Washougal for its injection molded designs and Accel in Seattle, previously contracted with a company located in the Orchards area of Clark County.
“We’ve had the opportunity to make [our molds] overseas, but we are keeping jobs here,” said Tammy Ramadan.
While the majority of Artistic Home and Garden customers are do-it-yourselfers, a fast-growing number are contractors who have made finished products from the molds part of their product offering. For the relatively low price of an injection mold, the contractor can make up to 100 reproductions of any one item before the mold begins to wear out. In the residential line, molds can last up to 50 reproductions, inspiring ubiquitous garden art projects and gift items.
Tammy Ramadan has a great rapport with her customers. They call and email to ask about products, double check instructions, offer feedback on their projects and, best of all, send photos of beloved finished works. Tammy said a lot of her ideas for molds come directly from customers, such as the balusters which are the company’s second biggest seller.
Quite a lot of customer interaction happens through the company’s website, which includes instruction downloads and videos. Customers are “really into home improvement, into nesting and making their homes beautiful,” said Tammy Ramadan. “They have the tactile experience of making their [item] on their own and they are so surprised and happy.”
In the summer edition of North Bank Magazine, which will be released on Friday, there is a story about the continuing problem of foreclosures in Southwest Washington by writer Jodie Gilmore. Many local resources are available for those facing foreclosure, as well as the Foreclosure Fairness Act, a Washington bill that was signed into law on April 14. If you or someone you know is considering foreclosure, read on….
Foreclosure Fairness Act
The Foreclosure Fairness Act attempts to reduce much of the frustration experienced by homeowners trying to communicate with their banks about mortgage modifications and foreclosure procedures. Its aim is to stem the flow of foreclosures in the state.
“Right now, communication isn’t happening on both sides,” said Alex Kamaunu, executive director and counselor at the Family Financial Resource Center (FFRC) in Longview, which helps Cowlitz and neighboring county residents with mortgage default issues.
Advocates of the bill, said Kamaunu, simply want lenders to take Washington state homeowners and their problems seriously.
Among other things, the law:
- Requires lenders to communicate early in the foreclosure process to give homeowners the best opportunities to get help from a HUD-approved foreclosure counseling agency.
- Outlines a mediation process.
- Establishes a $250 fee on each notice of default, payable by the lender. The fee will primarily fund more housing counselors.
HUD-approved foreclosure counseling agencies:
- Community Housing Resource Center (Vancouver) – serves Clark County and northwest Oregon. 360-690-449
- Family Finance Resource Center (Longview) – serves several counties, including Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, and Pacific. 360-423-9197
The following organizations can help with other financial issues, such as credit counseling, utility bill vouchers, home repairs, etc.
- Financial Independence Center (Longview) — serves Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. 360-425-343
- Clark County Community Action Program (Vancouver) — serves Clark county. 360-397-2130
- Washington Gorge Action Programs. Serves counties in the Columbia Gorge. 509-493-2662
- Coastal Community Action Program. Serves counties on the Pacific coast. 800-828-4883
On the web
The Parks Foundation is recruiting volunteers to help plant the large planters and flowerbeds in and around Propstra Square, at Esther Short Park on Saturday, May 14. The planting will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to be completed by 11 a.m. Event sponsor Hilton Vancouver Washington will provide refreshments for volunteers both before and after the planting.
Volunteers must preregister through the Parks Foundation office by Thursday, May 12, arrive at Propstra Square no later than 8:45 the morning of May 14 to sign volunteer forms, and should bring their own small gardening trowel. Please contact the Parks Foundation office at 360-487-8370 or email Cheri Martin to preregister. For more information, please see event flyer.
Flowers and plants for the 2011 planting were funded through Parks Foundation Propstra Square Memorial Brick sales. To help support future plantings, please consider purchasing a Memorial Brick.
Thanks Vancouver (and Portland) band Terwilliger Curves for giving two of our Friday Fiver winners a copy of the CD Catatonic in the Blitzkrieg. We love you! And congrats to the lovely Amy Carpenter and Anita Fleming. May you enjoy delicious rock and roll.