On the make
Tracy Clopton’s love affair with arts and crafts is an enduring one—lifelong, in fact, she says.
She and her husband, Jim Clopton, a UPS driver, co-own a salon called Peace.Love.Hair at 20 Hillcrest Drive. Its décor is a testament to Tracy’s crafting prowess and a good illustration of her work’s aesthetic, which she calls “trash to treasure.” Others might know it as “upcycling,” finding creative, artistic reuses for old materials.
In the salon, Tracy has given old furniture and a cheap, retro chandelier facelifts with bright paint. A piece of framed chicken wire with clothespins serves as a bulletin board. On the wall hangs a dragonfly made from old fan blades and a table leg.
In October, the Cloptons opened another business called Create, in the same complex as the salon. It’s dedicated to the kinds of crafts Tracy specializes in. But—as the name implies—customers can’t simply buy the art. They have to make it. It’s an idea Tracy came up with while attending a paint-and-sip with friends.
“I had a really good time, and I was out with my girlfriends and just thought, ’OK, this is so cool,’” she said. “That market, however, has been saturated. And I, personally, am not an actual painter. I thought, ’Well, we could do this same kind of concept but with strictly arts and crafts.’”
Create is next door to the salon. The sip aspect is optional. Customers can bring their own drinks. Inside, the space is tiny—and adorable, like a fairytale cottage. Wooden workbenches, built by Jim, lend a bit of an all-season Santa’s workshop vibe, except this shop is obviously devoted to crafts. Examples of student projects cover the walls and shelves—painted wine glasses, dreamcatchers, wall-mounted beer openers with attached bottle cap receptacles made from Mason jars. Create looks, quite honestly, like the physical manifestation of a DIY home décor Pinterest board.
“As a matter of fact, it’s funny, because, in my other business, I talk to people all day long, and everyone talks about Pinterest,” Tracy said. “Whether you’re looking at hairstyles or home décor, or looking to create something, Pinterest is the go-to. Yes, I think people are looking to be more creative and that Pinterest shows them that you can be creative.”
But the classes at Create are not recreations of Pinterest tutorials. Workshops are led by local craft enthusiasts. Tracy teaches, of course, and Jim has thrown his hat in the ring as well. He led the beer opener workshop. Other instructors, the Cloptons say, are mostly people like them, with other day jobs.
“Heather, for instance, works for REMSA, but she’s just creative,” Tracy said. “We have Michelle, who—she has her degree in marketing and works at the Atlantis. … Christie Mumm is a local photographer.”
Instructors bring a variety of crafting interests in various media to the workshops. And there seems to be plenty of interest in teaching. Create’s monthly calendar for August listed more than two dozen workshops. Some, like macramé bracelets, look simple—others, like hand-painted pictures on wood or glass, a bit more daunting. But the Cloptons say that even these are really meant for anyone, regardless of experience.
“You hear from a lot of people who will say something to the effect of, ’Well, I’m not very artsy. I’m not very creative. I don’t know how to paint,’ these kinds of things,” Jim said. “They take the class—step by step—and they’re the ones whose creativity blooms the most.”