Distressed painted furniture and a bejeweled elephant with part of a doll's face are two of the first things you may see when walking into Sweet Pickins.

"It's all made just from junk," said Vicky Carrier, owner of Sweet Pickins, about the art pieces she sells there.

None of the art pieces are the same. Some may have similar styles or be in similar forms, but each is uniquely created by Carrier or one of the other artists she features in the store.

Her art career kicked off when she was about 10 years old and first discovered her talent in drawing. "I went to the Boys and Girls Club," Carrier said, explaining that a woman was there and teaching the kids how to draw. Carrier followed along, quickly finding out how skilled she was and how much she enjoyed it.

It wasn't until Carrier was in her 20s that she started making her art for profit. She started with painting, moving into different forms as she got older. Currently, her favorite form of art to make is assemblage art: putting together dolls, old tools, small household items, or anything else that fits the piece Carrier has in mind.

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A macabre, or a dark art style, assemblage piece that Vicky Carrier created at Sweet Pickins, alongside two other assemblage pieces in different styles. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)
A macabre, or a dark art style, assemblage piece that Vicky Carrier created at Sweet Pickins, alongside two other assemblage pieces in different styles. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

"I'm absolutely crazy about her assemblages," said Brenda Allen, Carrier's friend and fellow artist with featured work in Sweet Pickins. "She's just a really artistic and talented lady."

For most of her life, Carrier created items on the side. A few years ago, she was finally able to make art a full-time job. She started by selling her pieces at Repurposed Pennies, paying rent for a space in the store. In September, Carrier opened her own space, Sweet Pickins, just one door down.

"I had all the pieces," Carrier said, adding with a laugh that "I have a garage full."

The location at Sulaine's Antique Mall was a big perk for her, as Carrier gets the traffic of other shoppers that were at the next-door antique stores. The traffic kept up in the fall and "was very good," Carrier said, but the business has slowed down in the winter. Because of that, Carrier is going to start offering art classes to teach other people in the community to create some of the artwork she has at Sweet Pickins. She plans to start with assemblage art classes, later doing collage, journaling, mixed media, painting furniture, decorative painting, string art, candle making, and fimo clay sculpting, with Carrier, Allen or multiple other local artists teaching the classes.

Along with classes, Carrier is also working to contact other artists and have their work featured in her store. She has two spaces that will be available for rent, eventually having five other artists' work in Sweet Pickins. Or, if artists don't want to pay for a full space, they could be Carrier's featured artist of the month with a few pieces of work available for customers to either look at or buy.

Sweet Pickins

Where: 603 US Highway 10, Sulaine's Antique Mall, store is farthest on the right.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday through Saturday.

Phone: 218-849-5000

More info: For information on upcoming classes, having a specific piece custom made, renting a space at Sweet Pickins or being the featured artist of the month, contact Vicky Carrier by phone or stop into the store.