Mave Alft has always been interested in color and design. Little did she know that her artistic interests would take a new direction while she was studying textiles and fashion merchandising at Stout State University. While studying at the University, she met her future husband who’s family had founded Alft Decorators in 1946. Early on in her career Mave was taught by her father-in-law and husband, working in every facet of the family business.
Mostly self taught in decorative painting, Mave began stenciling in 1972. At this time she was co-managing a retail paint store and managing a home decor and stencil shop, and did so for the next 20 years. Also during this time she was taking on work in decorative painting as well as teaching stenciling and faux finishing classes. In 2001 the company downsized to a partnership consisting of her and her husband. The new partnership began offering interior painting, specializing in decorative paint and plaster work.
Over time they have expanded their business from operating locally in Wisconsin Rapids and the surrounding areas, to working in numerous states across the country. She's proud of the fact that she has grown her business to the point where she operates completely on word of mouth and does not have to rely on print advertising.
She refers to plasters as her trademark finish, saying that troweled plasters are great to add a look of depth. Embossing, heavy and light textures, she likes them all and uses them to finish walls, ceilings, furniture…anything that she can apply plaster to. She loves the versatility, feel, and play that plaster has. One of the most popular trends is to use it in backsplash design. Working with the plaster allows her to create a custom backsplash for clients, their imagination being the only limit. Over time, she has developed a special process that makes the plaster highly scrubbable and durable.
Mave says of her work: “I love a finishing challenge, new products, and concepts in our industry, and strive for innovation in wall and ceiling finishes and use my somewhat obsessive “eye” to customize projects and create unique room designs.” An example of this is her work in area log homes. Wisconsin Rapids is home to a log home company, Golden Eagle Homes. Mave has had the opportunity to work on many of the area homes creating “Rustic Elegance”. She says of working on the homes: “Log homes are an exiting challenge because wood begs for color, texture and design to help break up the space.” The blank canvas of the wood allows her to make a statement on the space.
In addition to the work that she’s done in private homes, she has also done work for businesses such as Ferguson’s home centers, who also specializes in plumbing, lighting, and appliances. In a local Ferguson center she has created many vignettes to display their products. She continues to work with local furniture and cabinetry stores in their showrooms.
When Mave is not on a finishing job you can find her in the classroom teaching her trade. She loves the networking and sharing of teaching and enjoys sharing her own learning experiences with her students and meeting others that share her background. She says of her teaching style: “In my classes, I encourage creativity, innovation and feedback. I teach what I have learned, and hope my tips, tricks and lessons learned the hard way on the job site will help my students avoid ‘issues’ I have had as I have taught myself decorative artistry.”
Mave met Kathy 9 years ago while taking a class from her at the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes. Through the years, she has built a relationship with both Kathy and Sue, saying of them “I feel like they provide so much to our industry. I support them in their business because they support me with the best knowledge and customer service in the industry.” Not only has she taken classes at the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes, but Mave has also taught several classes there as well. Mave will be teaching a backsplash class, teaching how to create her best selling most durable backsplashes created with Kathy’s own Bella line of products the first week in May. You won’t want to miss it!
In addition to her teaching and finishing work, Mave has been a member of IDAL since the 80’s and has taught finishing classes at the “Faux Retreat”, “Camp Faux”, IDAL conferences in Indianapolis, Fort Worth and several IDAL chapter groups. In 2016 she became a non-stocking dealer and instructor for Metropolis Ivas USA which has afforded her the opportunity to participate in teaching training sessions across the country. Always open to new ways to use her talent, 2017 brought a new challenge to her work as she became creative director for a company that creates wall finishes for the high end RV industry.
To learn more about Alft Decorators, please visit their website alftdec.com. Mave Alft can be contacted by email at email@example.com or via phone at 715-340-3035.