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Taste of art through Craft Crawl

BY LAURA WILLIS | FEBRUARY 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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Nancy Westvig remembers the time when a young couple stopped in her pottery store, Fired Up Iowa City Inc., for a weekly date night.

“People got mad at them for talking in the theater, so they would came here,” Westvig said and laughed.

She recalled customers while unloading boxes of clay materials, as her border collie, Ukie Marui, sashayed through the store. The relaxed environment doesn’t resemble a typical business setting; it seems as if it’s a social outlet encouraging creativity.

Interactive businesses are what Fired Up, 112 S. Linn St., and six other local craft stores support.

Beginning Saturday, seven stores will host the second Craft Crawl, an event that enables crafters and “non-creative” individuals to experiment with different art media. Throughout the week, each store will offer a variety of simple activities. Those who make a purchase at a location will receive a punch on a ticket, which in turn can be entered in a drawing for a grand prize: a gift certificate from each location.

“For a crafter to have that kind of money to buy materials is phenomenal,” said Beadology Iowa co-owner Karen Kubby.

Common Threads Quilt Shoppe owner Peg Griffin-Wood came up with the idea for a Craft Crawl.

The retired nurse became interested in quilting fabrics after hearing about the craft from a group of friends, and she learned through them about “shop hops,” in which those involved in crafts traveled through Iowa to various quilting functions. She liked the idea but felt that driving long distances was inconvenient.

“My idea was to get people out in the winter, when they wouldn’t normally get out,” she said. “You can stay right here in your community and learn something new.”

For storeowners, part of the excitement about the Craft Crawl is allowing people an opportunity to try new techniques and crafts that they normally wouldn’t experience.

“We recognize that our customers cross over,” Westvig said. “They don’t do just one craft but others, too.”

For previous Craft Crawl winner Georgia Heald, spending time on one skill was not nearly so fun as having numerous artistic hobbies. She enjoyed classes that combined different media, and she appreciated the short time period to complete activities. She noticed that local stores were brainstorming ideas to promote their stores, creating a livelier setting.

“Craft stores have a pretty good reflection on the owners, because they are small businesses,” she said. “I find them interesting, whether I need something or not, because they are all so different.”


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