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The Daily Tar Heel

Local arts and craft spaces promote creativity and community

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Photos courtesy of Adobe Stock.

An employee of the new Chapel Hill craft studio Koala Craft said she wants people who visit the store to believe they can create beautiful things and have confidence in their creations.

“Most of the time, I just want them to have some fun,” she said

Across Chapel Hill and Carrboro, venues like Koala Craft provide opportunities for the community to be creative, make new things and develop skills in arts and crafts. They offer a chance to explore a variety of mediums and many hope to foster a sense of community among patrons.  

Koala Craft held its grand opening on Jan. 28 and features pre-selected crafts such as tufting — a weaving technique using yarn, canvas and a tufting gun to create pieces like rugs — painting and more.

The Koala Craft employee said she wanted there to be more opportunities for people who enjoy crafting to go out and do something fun with friends. The crafts the business offers, she said, are easy to do without prior experience and are accessible for a wide range of ages.

Another local business offering arts and crafts opportunities is My Muses Card Shop in Carrboro.

While the store is primarily a gift and stationery shop, it also has workshops in skills like calligraphy, watercolor and papermaking, and has even hosted classes in techniques like cyanotype and Ukrainian art. Most of the store’s classes are geared toward beginners, store owner and art director Anbi Sivadas said. 

Sivadas said that as an artist himself, he always wanted the space to be a place where people can learn and share their artistic gifts in addition to being a shop. After the pandemic, the store was able to host its first workshop and is now in the process of expanding its space to include an area dedicated to art classes and displays of local art. 

“Me being an artist, I do see the benefit of working with these mediums and how transformative it is,” he said. 

Sivadas said the visual arts allow people to slow down and connect to their deeper selves. Community classes, he said, are also great places for participants to learn from the people around them in addition to the instructor.

A space for students to learn and create is UNC’s Be A Maker Space, which offers resources like 3D printers, a laser cutter, sewing and embroidery machines and woodshop and metalworking tools at four locations across campus. 

Emily Orr, a UNC student and position assistant at BeAM, said she has seen students use the space for creations like class projects, embroidered clothes and even kitchen cutting boards.

“I think that people really like coming into BeAM because it's just such a good environment and atmosphere — speaking as a staff member who has worked with other staff members — everyone really wants to help you," she said.

Lindsay Metivier, owner and director of Peel Gallery — a community event space, digital photography lab, retail shop and art gallery — said in an email that she hopes people will experience something new every time they visit the space, as well as meet someone new.

While the gallery primarily focuses on promoting contemporary art and artists, it also hosts events like workshops, lectures, music performances and poetry readings. 

Recent and upcoming workshops at Peel explore skills like iPhone photography, papermaking, collaging and artwork photography. 

“Art and craft spaces are vital to the local economy, as they contribute to the creative economy and serve as platforms for artists,” Metivier said in an email. “These spaces not only showcase and sell unique products, but also foster a sense of community.”

For upcoming workshops from Peel Gallery and My Muses Card Shop, visit their websites.

CLARIFICATION: The original version of this article from February 2024 named all sources and identified them with the information given at the time. In May 2024, The Daily Tar Heel granted anonymity to one source upon request.

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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