One could say that Cora Wells was destined to one day own and operate an art and crafts studio. “I grew up in a very creative family,” shares Wells. “My mom was a seamstress and a master crafter — still is — and we were always making and creating things at home. Making stuff is natural for me.”
Taking a tour of Craftopia, or better yet, enjoying one of the many classes offered at the fun studio in downtown Tacoma, one cannot help but agree — Wells is indeed a natural when it comes to making and teaching arts and crafts.
The high cost of arts and crafts supplies and the difficulty of independently learning the necessary skills and techniques to create them inspired the crafty businesswoman “to provide people with opportunities to explore new forms of arts and crafts in a safe and encouraging environment, without draining the bank.”
Wells, with decades of experience teaching the art of dance, feels that such a place would have been a blessing during her college years at Pacific Lutheran University. “A friend and I decided to learn how to knit. I remember how frustrating it was to try and figure it out with nothing to learn from but a book — this was before YouTube was such a big thing and no one to ask for help,” she recalls.
The memory of how difficult it was to learn a new skill without help always stuck with her.
“We did finally succeed in making a few incredibly tiny beanies, but that was pretty much the end of my knitting days for a while,” says Wells. “Also, supplies can be expensive, so we give people an opportunity to try things before they invest or just to be able to come and have fun making stuff they can enjoy.”
The inspirational studio space offers classes and events for all ages and skill levels, with lessons taught primarily by Wells herself and Craftopia employee and Wells’ “crafter-in-crime,” Darcy Jones.
Tacoma and Pierce County residents have a plethora of both practical and whimsical (or a combination of) choices when it comes to class selection at Craftopia. Locals can learn how to knit, crochet, and make all kinds of jewelry, including earrings, pendants, bracelets, crystal holiday ornaments, and more. They can even learn to make their very own gnome.
Craftopia’s jewelry-making and kid-centric classes are among the favorites taught at the studio. “Slime, hands down, is our most popular craft. The kids love it. I can’t stand it. Thankfully, Darcy teaches that one, so I just get to watch and don’t actually have to touch it,” Wells jokes. Craftopia is also available for private events — an exciting way to celebrate birthdays, bachelor or bachelorette parties, and friends’ nights, or just for an original and fun way to gather interactively.
When it comes to events open to the public, Craftopia’s free craft night, which takes place the third Saturday of each month from 4 to 6 p.m., is a massive hit with local families. Besides being free of charge, craft night also offers attendees the opportunity to try out different types of crafts during the two-hour event.
“We want people to feel comfortable trying new things even if they have zero experience,” Wells says. The free events are integral to Craftopia’s mission to create a space where people can explore their creative side without breaking the bank.
“As an adult, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to learn and create art. There are plenty of places you can go and ‘paint and sip’ and a handful of spots to do pottery, but there are very few other opportunities, especially for adults, to try new things out,” says Wells.
For those who have tried learning a craft online and been unhappy with the results, Craftopia’s offerings offer what online videos cannot — live feedback and the opportunity to ask for help when you get stuck. “Scroll through Offer Up or Facebook Marketplace, and it is filled with people getting rid of craft supplies they purchased because they were ‘going to learn to fill in the blank.’ I kept hearing that story from people over and over when I was buying yarn,” says Wells.
Wells opened Craftopia because she could teach people how to freely explore their creative sides without worrying about the cost. “That is what Craftopia is here to do,” she says. Get crafty and have a ton of fun in the process. Tacoma’s Craftopia is here to offer the space, supplies and guidance needed to create while having a wonderful time!
917 Pacific Avenue, Suite 100