Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Design duo to unveil Main Street sculpture




The bare corner of Evergreen and Main Streets will receive an artistic touch thanks to Dave Frei and Jennifer Corio, the husband-and-wife team of the local Cobalt Designworks. Their design was chosen out of 19 proposals submitted by artists to the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver Downtown Association. It will be the design studio’s eighth public art sculpture.

“We’re really excited. We’ve created a lot of sculptures, but to create one for own town and community, it’s an honor,” Corio said. “But it’s also more challenging and intimate. We know the people here, and we’ll hear about it. You just want to do your best job.”

While she didn’t want to spoil the surprise of the new sculpture’s appearance, she did drop a few hints on its inspiration.

“We use a lot of color in our art, and we love that because in the Pacific Northwest, with its the gray and rainy weather, a little spot of color can cheer people up. It’ll make people smile,” she said.

Though Cobalt Designworks has a strong artistic aesthetic, much of its business comes from “functional art” or architectural elements such as custom railings, gates and even signs.

The process is a true team effort, with Corio doing the design work and Frei determining how to bring it to life. There’s fine balance of art and technical design to engineering larger pieces, but Corio emphasized that the thought process is just as important.

Part of that process involves distilling the wants and ideas of the commissioner of the piece until Corio can create “a piece of art that’s powerful and hits people in the heart.”

The unveiling of Cobalt Designworks’ sculpture is at 7 p.m. Friday, April 6, at Evergreen and Main Streets in downtown Vancouver.

Check out more of their designs at

— Ashley Swanson

Mom, daughter create horror-able cupcakes

Ever had a hankering for cupcakes flavored with fish eyeballs, cow tongue and blood sausage?

Baker Mindy Schleif, 49, of Camas was challenged with baking cupcakes with some of these stomach-churning ingredients when she recently appeared on a horror-themed episode of the Food Network’s reality show “Cupcake Wars” with her daughter, Erin Clancy. Erin, 28, grew up learning to bake alongside her mother. Now, she owns Delicate Flour Cakery in Apple Valley, Calif.

The prize for the episode’s winning team: $10,000 and a chance to serve their cupcakes at Hollywood’s Screamfest, the largest horror film festival in the country.

In the first round, racing against a 45-minute clock and three other teams, Schleif and Clancy baked herb-infused cupcakes stuffed with blood sausage and topped with mashed potatoes and a cherry jalapeño jam glaze.

One of the judges said, “You took some risk with the blood sausage, and it worked.”

Advancing to the second round, the 75-minute challenge was to create three horror-themed cupcakes. Inspired by “Snow White,” their poison apple cupcake was an apple spice cupcake spiked with hard apple cider and topped with apple cinnamon frosting, then drizzled with a brandy-spiked candy-apple glaze and garnished with a sugar shard.

Although they did not advance to the final round, both mother and daughter savored the “Cupcake Wars” experience, including having their own dressing room and making five wardrobe changes.

Watch the entire “Cupcake Wars” episode by visiting and typing “CW S4E12 Scream Fest” in the search field.

For more information, visit

— Susan Parrish

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. Email