Napa’s Shelley Mueller has a new twist on the popular “sip and paint” parties where art is created on canvas. And, it doesn’t require that you be an artist of any kind.
“I call my parties ‘sip and sign,’” Mueller said, “because you are making wooden signs that you hang in or around your home.”
The parties are a new part of her business — Stuck on Napa.
Stuck on Napa makes wine country-inspired gifts with a predominantly Napa theme including rustic handmade signs, vintage inspired flour sack towels, market bags, stone coasters and Napa-themed decals.
Mueller admitted she doesn’t know anything about painting on canvas, “but I do know how to make signs out of wood,” she said.
“So I created parties where you would have a selection of different signs to make. You just get your friends together at home or work, and at the end of the night everyone would have created their own unique sign.”
She held a “beta test” party with a group of her friends in December and said it went great. Since then, she has had eight parties with anywhere from six to 16 people.
“I have 10 designs they can choose from,” Mueller said, “or they can reach out to me if they want to do something more custom. I don’t know how many signs we’ve made now, but we’ve yet to have a flop.”
Mueller said the goal is for people to make a sign they can actually use.
“It’s a popular trend now to have your name on a sign, and these signs can be hung in your home or on a covered porch. I don’t recommend leaving them out in the rain,” she emphasized.
“I bring the wood, already stained, and the stencils, which I make myself from scratch. I can even bring the table and chairs so all the host does is provide the location,” Mueller said.
“I give the host a link to my website, which they send to all the people attending. The guests then go on my website and order the sign of their choice. Once you apply the stencil to the wood — the only part that’s a little tricky — you can just paint and have fun.”
Mueller did mention some people have gotten their wedding dates wrong. “Fortunately, everything is fixable,” she chuckled.
“My motto is ‘perfectly imperfect,’ so if you make a little mistake, we can fix it or you can say it was intentional since art is subjective.”
People can choose from a dark-stained pine or a weathered gray look, which Mueller applies herself to specially selected thick pieces of pine.
“I bring a wide range of colors, which gives people a lot of options.”
“I have purposely made it pretty uncomplicated,” Mueller said, “because I want everyone to have success.”
And if you have a super long last name, she said she can make that work, too. “I had a very long Polish last name once, but I made it fit,” she laughed.
As to the cost, she said it’s no more than a pre-made sign that you would order online.
“It costs $40 per person and then I handle everything else,” Mueller said. “And with my signs, you have the pride of knowing you made it yourself. Plus, you had a lot of fun doing it.”
She added that she comes to the parties herself to do the set-up and make sure everything runs smoothly.
She said she thinks of her parties as sort of an interactive happy hour. “I recommend the host allow two hours start to finish, with six people minimum and 16 maximum.”
Mueller, who has a regular booth at the Farmers Market for Stuck on Napa, is planning on adding a booth for sign-making soon.
“I will have an adjacent booth that people have to sign up for in advance, where we will be doing a sign-making workshop. If it goes well, I’m going to offer it throughout the summer,” she said.
Right now, she is getting the word out through word of mouth, her Instagram and Facebook accounts and her booth at the Farmers Market.
“We’re still in start-up mode,” Mueller said.
Visit StuckonNapa.com or the Napa Farmers Market at 195 Gasser Drive for more information.