The Magical Realm of Craft Stores

Craft stores are magical places. They host keys to unleashing all sorts of creative treasures. I imagine tiny art creatures whispering ideas through the aisles of felt and beads, “Combine this with that; buy all these different parts to create this wonderful masterpiece.” All creative souls find their haven in craft stores.

When I lived in America, going to Michael’s was a big day out. We’d enter the grotto and I’d get whisked away upon streams of inspiration towards the Tim Holtz aisle. I could barely whisper over my shoulder that I’d see my friends later, before I got enchanted away down to the land of distressing and rustic grunge.

England’s craft stores, don’t have the same magical air. We just don’t do things as fabulously large as our American compatriots do. Nevertheless, entering Hobbycraft was still story-like, just more like adventuring through a forest. You see, I had to search every aisle until I found something that enchanted my soul, and placed me, riveted to the floor. Only a Tim Holtz section, no matter how small, will bring me to my knees in a public shop. I could sit and stare for hours at the vast selection of treats that he offers. Inks, dies, stamps, embellishments, cardstock, distressing tools, the works.

It’s all guy-designed. He moves away from girly flowery layered butterflies, and cartoon animals. He takes paper craft and shows it who is boss. He doesn’t just layer papers, he sands them, dyes them, blending colour and edgy attitude in to each layer. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he adds rustic metal embellishments: keys, clock pieces, tags.

I love that he entered the world of feminine ‘Scrapbookingdom’, and he added his grit and deep colour and edge. It’s the warehouse version of scrapbooking; the abandoned attic version.

And like any child in an attic, I can peruse and discover and get lost in this other world for hours. Just looking, just imagining, just creating designs in my head.

He makes me thirst for my own originality. Anyone can be inspired by something they see. It takes guts to be and do something no one has ever seen before.

Except, why should it require guts to just be you? You were born an original. No one shares your face or DNA. Even identical twins have individualities. Create from the originality of yourself. Bring someone else to their knees with how fascinatingly original you are. Captivate somebody in to speechlessness with the individuality of your thinking.

“In a world where the moments of our lives can be captured and created in art of the everyday, it’s important it reflects our own unique personality. Finding just the right objects, accents, and tools to use are most important. Whatever your artistic vision is, exploring the imaginative is a chance for our creativity to escape understanding. Remember life isn’t about finding yourself – life is about creating yourself…” That is the motto of Holtz himself.

Tim Holtz destroyed the status quo of Papercraft-land, by doing something that was him. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to be interested in something like paper craft, when all he must have witnessed was girly butterflies? If I were wearing a hat I would doff it to him. Thankyou Mr. Holtz for unleashing a whole other realm to us ephemera-obsessed artisans.


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