Artist embellishes new Helena business

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vallie Pate completes the interior design motifs for Top It Off Yogurt, which opened last week. (Special/Laura Brookhart)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Vallie Pate says she is a born entrepreneur. Her explorations with paint and brush on canvas and on wall murals in nurseries, children’s bedrooms and dental offices reflect her playful and light-hearted style.

For several years, she has offered painting party classes as The Everyday Artist, in and around the area for children’s parties, adult groups, fundraisers and corporate events.

“Our motto is ‘We bring the party to you’,” Pate says.

Several years ago, Pate designed and produced a 13-pattern line of bisque ceramic dinnerware from her warehouse studio in Homewood assisted by students from Samford. The set included complete place settings, canisters, serving pieces and giftware items. These were marketed through shops and boutiques in the area.

“Part of marketing a product is staying flexible enough to change with the times, and I also needed to scale down my production after the birth of my daughter, Makenzie, now 10.”

While at home with her daughter, Pate had the idea of making ceramic plaques featuring baby and children’s foot and handprints. Soon, she had requests and increased production, showing in art and craft fairs.

This past month has found Pate contributing ideas and executing the interior décor for the recently opened Top It Off Yogurt shop on Hwy 58 in Helena. She came up with the slogan that greets each customer, “Life is too short not to enjoy the sweet stuff!” for owner Jay Modi, as well as embellishing other designated areas and adding her swirly motifs around the menu board.

“I want to do my own thing-sail my own ship,” Pate said. “I am known for my windows, but last year I was looking for a smaller, more affordable product, so I created a line of crosses called ‘Windows of the Soul’, which is now represented at the Atlanta Gift and Accessories Mart. Each cross is hand painted on wood and categories include Home, Teen, Baby, Team Spirit and Christmas. Within each theme are three design choices and six colors.”

The windows are salvaged or created from old wood, given new life as a hand-painted accessory to brighten any room. Pate said this element of “re-creation” reflects her artistic philosophy and parallels the idea that our own imperfect lives can be re-created by the Heavenly Father.

Pate’s window and cross designs can be found at Wrapsody in Patton Creek; Monograms Plus in Vestavia Hills; Blue Willow in Cahaba Heights; and the Spotted Zebra in Trussville, among others.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e-mail at