Do-it-yourselfer Beschen prefers tools to diamonds
Michele Beschen loved school and always wanted to be a doctor. But something about the workload as a pre-medical school student in college along with 40 hours a week in a laboratory led her away from medicine and into communications. She became a friendly face on KDSM, the Des Moines Fox affiliate, as the station’s on-air personality for Kids Club. After eight years with the station, she launched “Courage to Create,” a weekly 30-minute television show, which airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on KDSM, that spotlights creative people and their endeavors. Beschen, who says her own home is a mismatch of various projects, encourages viewers to take the do-it-yourself approach and personalize their living spaces.
You hosted KDSM’s Kids Club for four years. What did you enjoy most about that experience?
It really was the interaction with kids and teaching. I think that’s what helped me get into my role now. I love to learn things and then share that knowledge with somebody else. That’s probably what will be on my tombstone: The Kids Club Girl. That’s what everyone remembers.
Initially, were you intimidated by the on-air experience?
I was very nervous. I couldn’t act to save my life, but I can talk and that’s all it is. But it was a little nerve-racking, because all of the sudden I was subjected to comments such as, “What did you do to your hair?” or “That doesn’t look good on camera,” or “You need to poof your hair a little more” – stuff I never had to be concerned with before.
Where did the concept for “Courage to Create” come from?
My husband built a studio for me behind our house, and whenever friends came out they always wanted to work and play with gadgets and paints, but they would always say “I can’t do anything like that.” And I’d say, “Yes, you can,” and when they left, they’d say, “I can do that.” I realized that a lot of people are afraid to try things or to express that side of themselves.
What did you set out to accomplish initially?
I didn’t want a show that just catered to women or men or kids. I wanted a show that was all-encompassing, that really could appeal to anyone and everyone. When you’re talking about creativity, it’s the single thing that every one of us has in common, but not everybody chooses to use it. Everybody expresses it in different ways, whether it’s how they get dressed, how they prepare a meal, how they do their job. It’s something that comes into play in every aspect of our lives, and everyone does have it.
Now that “Courage to Create” has been syndicated in other markets, what are your goals for the show?
The goals are to expand and grow into other markets, and we would really like to do a day camp or workshop, some kind of a creative facility where people can come in and exercise their creative muscles. I’d love to have a book series that ties into the projects that we’ve done on our show. We’d love to have some sort of line of tools that look cool. Tools are ugly. Girls like tools that are fun colors or have designs on them. PVC pipe and other materials are so blah that you have to take them and do something with them. So I think there’s a market for a very colorful line of hardware and tools.
Since you launched the program two years ago, do you have one subject that really inspired you?
I love making something out of nothing, and putting together unexpected things. Those are the shows I really like to do – where you take something that’s intended for something completely different and utilize it in another way. I like being challenged by somebody saying, “What could you do with this?”
What is a really creative project that you’ve tackled?
We built furniture out of grass last year. We built wooden frames and then filled them with dirt, took the forms off and covered the dirt with chicken wire. Then we upholstered it with sod.
Do you actually sit in them?
Oh, yeah. It’s just like sitting in the yard. If I would have had more of a crew and more of a budget, I would have loved to furnish an entire outdoor room – couch, coffee table, chairs, dining table. I had a picture in my head of this great grass room.
Are you a woman who prefers power tools to diamonds?
I’m not a diamond girl. I’d rather have jewelry I made out of hardware. I think money can be much better spent. And I like tools because I can do something with them. I can’t do anything with a diamond ring. But with tools, I can make stuff, and I can do stuff over and over and over again.
On the show’s Web site, you say it’s possible to remodel your kitchen for $100. Is that part of the challenge for you?
It’s not about being frugal or cheap, but it’s fun to try to figure out a different way to do something. It’s more fun for me to buy a bunch of junk furniture and do something with it than to buy a roomful of brand-new furniture. Who says you have to have traditional things in the living room that everyone else has? I have the attitude that says why can’t you have a chaise longue in the kitchen? Anything goes.
Do you have a chaise longue in your kitchen?
I don’t have room. Otherwise I would, absolutely.