Angharad Jones is opening the Urban Craft Center in Santa Monica. Her different sides are revealed by the tones of a serious businesswoman, thoughtful and passionate about her new venture, coupled with an easy warmth and humor, as well as hair dyed in shades of shocking pink. The Mirror talked with this engaging “crafter” as she prepared for her grand opening on August 18.
What is the Urban Craft Center?
It’s a communal creative space where crafty grownups can come and work on their art with access to all the tools, space, light and resources they might need.
Do you have classes?
We’ll offer classes on beading, basket making, bookbinding, soap making, felting, fiber arts, paper arts and jewelry to start with.
Who is your audience?
The space is meant for grownups, whether it’s a student who can’t afford the crippling cost of studio space in LA, or a stay-at-home mom craving a creative outlet and a sense of community, or the urban yet crafty professional who doesn’t have space or time to create their own studio and amass all the tools they might need. All they have to do is walk in, buy a day pass, choose a place to sit and they’re ready to go. We have tools both on a help-yourself and individual check out basis, six long tables to choose from, and a library full of inspirational resources which includes the latest and cutting edge crafting and design ideas. We also have lockers available for rent so they can stash their stuff – no need to haul it all from the car each time! And did I mention the coffee and snack machines? We’ve tried to think of all the things a person might need to get their craft vibe kick-started, and put it all in one place. All they need to do is bring their materials and ideas; the rest is taken care of for them. Well, actually, we can help with the ideas too! Carolyn [Carolyn Crosse, Studio Manager] and I both have Masters in Education and can answer questions, demonstrate tools and offer advice. Carolyn has a background in art and I have over 20 years of crafting experience, so between the two of us it’s hard to find a medium we don’t have experience in. We’re hoping to be a one-stop shop for today’s hip arts and craft movement.
What makes you think something like this can be sustained in “Tinsel Town”?
I think this is desperately needed in LA. There are lots of resources for fine artists and designers, but if you don’t consider yourself an artist, but still have a need to create, then it’s very difficult to find resources or a community of like-minded people. It is out there, the arts and crafts movement is re-surging, and it’s got a whole new sense of design that’s very hip. All you have to do it look at magazines like Craft or go to the Felt Club gatherings (they’re a craft fair that happens every month in Hollywood) to see it. It’s not about crocheting tissue box covers anymore (though I’ve seen some pretty cool tissue box covers in some of the vintage crochet and knit books I’ve collected). Despite that though, “crafters” have been left with craft supply stores as their gathering points. There are some great stores, but no one place to go for resources or to find a group of people who are similarly interested in creating, but not necessarily on a fine arts level.
Is it big in places like New York, or is it mostly in the small towns?
Oh my god, it’s huge in NY! Really, we’re very behind the crafty times here in LA. There are several examples of craft centers/communal studio space in NY, and the NW cities are very crafter-friendly (have I mentioned my NW roots yet?). In fact, Portland has a craft college called the Oregon College of Art and Craft. I do think that the urban environments of the cities are driving the hip, edgy design sense that’s elevating traditional craft mediums to an artier level, and that it is behind the increased appeal of crafting for a whole new group of people that might have found the old crafty vibe a bit stale. I also think that blogging has brought crafting to a higher consciousness, as more and more people blog about what they are creating in their basements, and more and more people stumble across them because of googling the word “crochet.” So though the design sense may be driven by the urban crowd, I also think that there is a much broader fan base because the Internet has made it all so accessible.
I would think this would be something ideal for kids or parents with kids. Why have you made the UCC only for adults?
I think it’s really natural to assume that crafting and kids go together, and if you’re still thinking along the line of the more traditional stereotype, then yes, kids would be a natural market to aim for. But the UCC is more about craftsmanship, artisanship and creative community at an adult mastery level than about craft for craft sake. We hope that the guests of the UCC are people for whom crafting is more than something they do with their kids and rather a need they have for themselves as creative people. If you are a parent, finding time and space away from your children to create, and to strive for the next level in your craft, can be difficult. We hope to help fill that need in the community.
The Urban Craft Center, 3025 Olympic Boulevard, 310.828.1348, theurbancraftcenter.com.