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LouEllen is happy working on creations

The enjoyment Manilla woman LouEllen Overton of Chiccamamma Designs gets from her handmade craft is evident when she admits “I get quite twitchy if I’m notcreating something”.

              LouEllen, who also took on the role of Manilla Show Society secretary back in 2016, is in her happy place when working on her paper craft flower bouquets and jewelry. But her creativity didn’t just happen. It’s all in the genes.

              “I’ve really had an interest since childhood. My mum and her sister had their own children’s design range. They were both seamstresses and designed and manufactured children’s ware. And my father was a good painter in acrylic and oil. He later made and sold a lot of silver chain necklaces – I think every one of the grandchildren have a piece to keep,” LouEllen said.

              LouEllen was born in Sydney but moved to the family’s Manilla property in the 1970s with her parents and sister (Manilla’s Jane Martin). On completing her education, she secured employment as a legal secretary with JD Kennedy & Sons in Manilla before joining Newman & Pengilley law firm in Tamworth. 

              Though while the craft flair has hovered over LouEllen since a youngster, it’s only been the last few years that she’s really grabbed the reins and run with her passion.

              “I’d been making things for the last 15 years – I see something and think ‘I can do that’. But they’ve only been for personal use or giveaways. In 2019 I came up with the Chiccamamma name – quite by accident one morning, but didn’t do anything with it until just now when I set up my own website and Facebook pages (”

              LouEllen can turn her hand to creations in bead work, paper craft, and “very unpredictable” resin.

              “I started with beaded jewelry which is very predictable, but the resin is so unpredictable. You can go in with a plan and colours, but the resin takes over. The end result can depend on a lot of factors – even the weather. I can make a set of earrings and they’ll both come out completely different. Resin work can lead to an amazing result or an epic failure,” she joked.

              “I’m currently waiting on a shipment of printed leather which will be cut and incorporated into creations.”

              Though creating items for her Chiccamamma business takes up much of LouEllen’s time in the two rooms of her home she’s converted into a studio, she still makestime for a strong involvement in Manilla Show Society as its secretary, a role she took on after the passing of popular secretary, the late Bree Taber.

              By all accounts, Manilla show of 2022 show was an amazing success – several factors contributing to that according to LouEllen.

              “Firstly people had been confined for a long time due to Covid and were ready to get out and back to some sort of normality. A big drawcard too was that people could use their Dine & Discover vouchers allowing them to come for the three days on one voucher. The free kids’ zone, which was introduced four years ago and hugely sponsored by the community and Tamworth Regional Council, was very popular for entertainment. The rodeo was huge – Gill Bros did a terrific job in staging that. Though I think the $30,000 State Grant – which was for expenses in running a show – was a big benefit. We applied, were granted the money and paid quickly meaning we could afford more entertainment. We normally run on the smell of any oily rag, but that grant now stands us in a good position for next year.”

              Due to Covid, the 2021 Manilla Show was only a Virtual Show – not open to the public. And the pavilion being the core of any rural show, the society focused on that.

              “People of all ages love to display their wares, so we let them drop entries off, they were displayed, judged and photographed then put online for the public to see.” By Vinnie Todd