Sarah Holmes has been making things like flowers and cats and Christmas trees out of discarded books for many years and she has recently expanded her business – PaperDoll Handman – by opening a boutique in a The Painted Tree in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is best known for her locations in The Painted Tree in Murfreesboro, The Painted Tree in Franklin, Simplicity in Bell Buckle, and The Basement Marketplace in Mt. Juliet/Old Hickory.
She started in locations in the past at East 96 Marketplace and Re-Invintage in Murfreesboro and went on the craft fair circuit in places in the South and Midwest. Besides Ohio and Tennessee, she has developed lots of followers in St. Louis, Missouri and Ashville, North Carolina.
Her cats, bees, mushrooms, apples and bookshelves are a hit wherever she goes, but she also makes items for every season of the year. These items include Christmas trees, snowmen and angels for Christmas. Pumpkins are a big seller in October. Carrots and bunnies come out for Easter. All kinds of flowers that can be put into vases on their own or come with their own vases are found on her shelves for Spring and Summer. Her wall hangings made from pages in old hymnals are exquisite works of art all made by her and her family.
“[Sarah] has such beautiful and unique creations,” said one reviewer on Facebook. “If you’re like me and love all things books, then you will love what she has.”
“They store well,” said another reviewer. “They look beautiful year after year. I have seen a few others [who do this sort of thing], but none [are] made with the quality Sarah puts into hers.”
“These pieces are great quality at an affordable price point that make for a perfect gift,” added a third reviewer. “I also loved my recent holiday pieces I purchased … for my own home.”
Besides quality, what makes Holmes’ products so special is that she has a real eye for display. Using old ladders, rustic shelving, and a few pieces of furniture she shows her customers how these unique creations can be placed in their own homes.
To find raw materials, she and her husband travel all over looking for books to transform. This last summer they went to second-hand books stores in the Midwest and the Northeast.
“This is what we do for fun,” said Holmes on Facebook. “[We visited] the most amazing bookstore ever! The icing on the cake was meeting the owner and collector, John K. King himself. It was huge. Four floors packed in a building over 100 years old.”
Hunting for more books is always fun and a learning experience for the family. One book-buying road trip around the northeast was such a success that they had to rent a U-Haul to get all of the books home.
“[We] learned the hard way, whilst driving through NYC, that our Suburban CAN NOT carry 100 bags of heavy books,” Holmes noted. “But that was okay — we hit a great book sale in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and filled the U-Haul, too!”
The business has really grown thanks to Homes bubbly personality and unique, quality products. It is a family affair with the help of her husband and daughter. While she got started in a few stores in Murfreesboro and traveled to many craft fairs, with a growing number of retail locations she is cutting back on the number of fairs that she attends. And she does not currently ship.
In Rutherford County, you can find PaperDoll Handmade at The Painted Tree Murfreesboro, located at 552 N Thompson Ln, Murfreesboro, TN 37129.