Whatcom Magazine

Whatcom County stores, classes help people make holiday gifts, decorations

Decorate your home for the holidays and that festive feeling becomes tangible. Your home feels welcoming, warm and prepared for the excitement of the season, especially when your decorations are handmade.

Kids often are thrilled to display their works of art and to feel they have helped contribute to the festivities. For them and for you, there are several venues in Whatcom County that offer great crafting opportunities and materials for children as well as adults.

Michaels, at 4383 Meridian St., sells do-it-yourself arts and craft supplies, and offers a variety of how-to classes. Another popular store for do-it-yourself and scrapbooking materials is Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, at Bellingham’s Sunset Square.

For many people, The Re Store, at 2309 Meridian St. in the Fountain District, is a favorite haunt for decorative projects. For example, small old windows with wooden frames can be repainted to make frames for family photos, or perhaps a shadow box to display beach shells from Birch Bay or Semiahmoo.

For more ideas about homemade crafts using inexpensive or recycled materials, go online to Etsy.com or pinterest.com.

In Fairhaven, Chinook Graham opened CreativiTea, a pottery painting and glass fusion store and tea bar in 1998. Just 19 at the time, Graham had visited a pottery store in Seattle where she created a wedding gift for a family member.

“I love providing a creative space in the community,” she says. “We have parents bringing in babies as young as 2 or 3 days old to do their handprints, and kids as young as 1 coming in to paint. All the paints are water soluble and wash easily off hands and clothes.”

Eight years ago, Graham added fused glass to the store’s offerings, enabling customers to decorate dishes, jewelry, plates, bowls, ornaments, trivets and coasters. As the holidays approach, Graham stocks up on seasonal ornaments in her pottery collection, including snowmen, Santas, and items that can be hung from a tree and cost as little as $8 to $10, including paint, glazing and firing.

“Kids that are independent can come in on their own, but there’s no one here to watch them,” she cautions. “They have to be able to come and go as they need.”

CreativiTea is offering evening fused-glass classes through December on the first Tuesday and third Thursday of the month, with projects geared toward winter or holiday projects. For details, go to the store’s website or call 360-752-1724.

Just down the street at Fairhaven Toy Garden, owner Robin Bigelow holds regular weekend workshops attended by kids and adults, through Thanksgiving and after Christmas through May. Participants — many of them novices — learn about needle felting or roll beeswax candles as gifts for teachers.

“It’s a fun, social thing to do for all ages,” Bigelow says, “and we get a lot of adults at these workshops because they know they won’t carve out that creative time in their schedule unless they sign up!”

Bigelow’s monthly Kids’ Club event tackles an array of activities, including pumpkin painting, making place cards for festive dinners, and writing “Thank You” cards after Christmas. The events are free and open to all ages, “but some are more appropriate for certain ages, which we specify at the time,” Bigelow says. For details, call 360-714-8552 or check fairhaventoygarden.com.

For another crafting option, put Whatcom Hills Waldorf School’s holiday fair on your calendar for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 13. The school offers a day of crafts, including rolling beeswax candles and sewing or making translucent stars to paste on windows. No registration is required. Instead, participants purchase tickets for the crafts they want to do, which range in price from $1 to $3.

The annual fair, which draws up to 500 people, is focused on kids up to 14 years of age. Other attractions include a soup kitchen with baked goods, puppet plays performed by the kindergarten teachers, a visit to the Snow Queen and Snow Village — where kids hear a story about a snow queen, then visit a room bedecked in white where the snow queen and her assistant help kids light a candle, float it on an icy pond, make a wish and leave with a crystal - and an encounter with the “Pocket Man,” whose pocket-filled jacket contains a small wrapped treasure for each child.

The school is at 941 Austin St., in Bellingham’s Geneva neighborhood. For details, call 360-733-3164.

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