Long about the time my daughter entered preschool, I picked up the nickname “Craft Mom” in the wake of creating a few playdates around painting or holiday projects. I’d like to say it was an honor, but I’m not at all sure that’s true. I distinctly remember an impromptu playdate wherein I pulled out a bowl of beads and some pipe cleaners so the kids could make “bracelets.” As I set the table, one mom (I’ll leave your name out, Amy, but you know who you are) turned to another using a tone reserved for flagging dirty diapers and said, “She keeps supplies around. She’s one of those Craft Moms.”
It didn’t take me long to realize that, much as I loved the women in our standing playgroup, they might not be full-fledged members of my tribe.
It took even less time to know that, much as I loved spending Saturday mornings with my kiddo and a box of glue dots, I was craving bigger and better creative challenges.
After years of searching for a creative outlet that doesn’t involve crayons, vast sums of money or trips to North Dallas, I’m thrilled to report that there’s a new spiritual home for the closet Craft Mom in all of us: Make Shop & Studios, newly relocated from Uptown to the Bishop Arts District at 313 North Bishop. I say “all,” because Make owner-operator and CliffDweller Julie McCullough-Kim has built her one-of-a-kind enterprise from the ground up to ensure that there’s at least a little something to appeal to everyone.
For starters, she offers adult sewing and craft classes of just about every stripe and experience level at her Bishop Arts storefront. This summer, Make’s courses range from sewing to Japanese lace-making to floral arrangements — some taught by McCullough-Kim herself, others by other CliffDwelling artisans like popular local jewelry maker Sarah Cate Kuhner. Most Make courses are one-day workshops, ranging from 90 minutes to an entire afternoon, with all materials supplied (visit www.themakesite.com for an up-to-date schedule). It’s that all-in-one, no-planning aspect of her courses, which run about $50 each, that already has me hooked.
I love knowing that I can drop my kid off with the sitter and head straight to Make without running to Michael’s for that one clasp I don’t have. “Most of our classes are one-time events, which works well for working types,” McCullough-Kim explains. “We have some longer workshops, and we’ll have some series, but most people can find a way to fit our one-time classes into their busy schedules.”
For me, the courses at Make come as close to therapy as I can squeeze into my jam-packed schedule — with the added satisfaction of having something to enjoy at the end of my work. “That’s what most people tell me,” McCullough-Kim beams. “We focus on the process, on having fun — and we force people to leave the perfectionism at the door.”
McCullough-Kim also offers an exciting course for would-be fashion designers: Project Make, her take on the popular Bravo reality TV competition “Project Runway.” The course, which kicks off June 24, poses six weekly challenges to six beginning fashion designers — taking participants from threading their first sewing-machine needle through to full-fledged runway show.
For the younger set, McCullough-Kim runs summer camps, with courses available for primary-school children in grades 2-5, junior-high students, and high-schoolers. Her youngest campers will create basic craft and fashions in half-day sessions; junior-high campers will step up the game with a full day of intermediate fashion projects; and teenaged fashionistas can select from a variety of fashion and design camps.
For CliffDwellers who appreciate fine craftsmanship as long as it’s produced by somebody else, Make’s storefront sells accessories and clothing, home décor and jewelry items created by a wide variety of local artists — including, for example, jewelry-class instructor Kuhner. And McCullough-Kim — who has become an ex-officio leader in Dallas’ emerging craft culture — will also be opening Make’s doors for free craft “sewcials,” proffering complimentary studio space an evening or two a month for people to bring their own crafts and enough refreshments to share with at least one other crafter.
This means, of course, that for the price of some spiced tea or soda and some cookies, I may actually be able to find my elusive tribe, right here in the neighborhood. Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s thrilled. “We’re so glad to be here now,” McCullough-Kim reports. “This is home, and the neighborhood has welcomed us with more than open arms.”