Remember phone books, those, bulky dog-earred tomes of indispensable reference? You might find one as a small repurposed basket at Maker’s Loft, a comprehensive shop for do-it-yourself crafters.
“It’s my own little brainchild,” said Jennie Sullivan, its sole owner.
Opened in Nov. 2018 on Pine Forest Road near the fairgrounds, Sullivan stocks a bounty of supplies and completed works from its sweeping menu of craft projects.
“I don’t tell you what to do, I just have the example so you can do what you want,” she explained. “Some people are extreme visionaries and they can just go there and see it and do it.”
A denizen of the westside for 20 years, Sullivan worked as a store manager of a McDonald’s for 11 years, and twice that long with the local Boy Scouts as its District Training Chairman. Grafting her business background with setting up projects helped her create Maker’s Loft.
The shop is also a community effort. Sullivan keeps a tight schedule of classes taught by herself and several local instructors. She posts them on her monthly calendars, which helps draw renewed interest.
“If I don’t create events on Facebook, there’s nothing that gets shared or shows up,” she said. “We’ll always have some type of event to plan and share and have and do.”
Classes are mainly taught at night for crafts like soap making, leather, quilting, crocheting, window coffee tables, stained glass and string art. But some crafters prefer to come in on their own time and toil away for hours. We’re talking about you, scrapbookers.
“They haul all their stuff in and work all day,” said Sullivan. “I’ve learned lots about paper crafting since I’ve opened this place up.”
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Stampin’ Nuts, a loose coterie of such crafters, is guilty as charged. Nikki Murphy, who lives in the neighborhood teaches a card making class with her bundled kits. She took advantage of the space when the shop first opened and has created a loyal following.
“I saw the signs for Maker’s Loft and thought it might be someplace I could go and have some ‘me’ time but also bring my husband with me,” Murphy recalled.
Her husband was battling cancer and in a wheelchair when she signed up for a crochet class. The shop was accommodating and she became a repeat customer. Stampin’ Nuts meanwhile has been around since 2000 as a rubber stamp-based approach to making cards.
“When I decided to start teaching at Maker’s Loft, I went with Stampin’ Nuts because the joke is ‘We must be nuts if we think it is cheaper then therapy.’” said Murphy, referring to its name.
Paper crafters call their gatherings a “crop.” Maker’s Loft hosts them every month. Murphy offers her students “card buffets” for eager enthusiasts. As she explains it, a crop is a means of escape from family and chores when friends spend hours, even days, for their fetishized craft. Sometimes they will travel to a beach house or a resort; there’s even cabins designed specifically for scrapbooking retreats.
Local crafters of course, don’t have to travel far, as Maker’s Loft regulars know. Sullivan said her core audience is women between 40 and 60 but crafters come in all guises. Birthday parties are a hit as kids are corralled for a single project before the cake and ice cream. Recently, a surprise party for an 80-year old woman turned into an acrylic pour paint session.
Mothers and daughters find their way to Maker’s Loft as well. Linda Brown and her daughter Amy ventured in to create a windchime using driftwood collected from the beach.
“Jennie is very welcoming and offers help, but really respects each artist’s ideas and creativity,” offered Brown. “I love being able to try different crafts without having to buy all of the tools and supplies for myself. Not only does that get expensive, but I’d also have to find someplace at home to store them. It is so convenient to just go use theirs.”
Brown was able to use a glass cutter and grinder to make a sunflower pattern for a birdbath.
“She has such an assortment of supplies to really personalize anything you choose to make,” said Brown. “I am really proud of the things I created at Maker’s Loft”
Want to go?
Address: 6675 Pine Forest Rd., #2
Hours: Noon-9 p.m.Tuesday-Thursday.; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday.