OAKHURST – One look around the Creative Hands section of Pak and Page and it’s immediately clear – this place is so much more than a craft store, it’s a Mecca for artists and others who want to express themselves creatively.
Located inside Pak and Page at 40108 Highway 49, Creative Hands has emerged as a complete local arts and crafts supply store with jewelry, paper products and a long list of just about everything a DIY junkie could dream of.
Kathy Kirchmeier, Pak and Page owner since 2005, is nothing if not enthusiastic about what they have to offer.
“We have scrapbooking supplies, papers, albums, tapes, glitters, adhesive, cutters and three-dimensional embellishments,” Kirchmeier says, taking a quick breath before continuing the impressive inventory list. “We have wood, acrylic paints, and ribbons, jewelry supplies and beads, baking supplies and edible accents – everything you need to make your own gifts. And If we don’t have it, we’ll order it for you.”
Kirchmeier says they get a lot of ideas from customers, who get ideas from each other. Over time, Creative Hands has become an important hub for the area’s creative community.
“We do have a lot of artists and ‘crafty’ people in the area, and it was important to me to start having some items available here, so we didn’t have to run down to Fresno or order things online,” she says.
Like fashion and furnishings, the craft market has its own trends, according to the experts.
“Jewelry is always a big one because you can pick out something special and unique to that person,” says Kirchmeier. “It’s easy, and it’s thoughtful. Besides gold and silver, jewelry is currently popular in gunmetal, antique gold and copper, and makes a great gift.”
The allure of making jewelry caught store manager Cheryce Chartier by surprise.
“When we got the jewelry in, I swore I wasn’t going to start doing jewelry, because I was a scrapbooker,” says Chartier, who has since changed her tune and now understands the addiction. “The thing I like the most is, it’s smaller and compact and I can bring it with me wherever I go.”
Another fanciful trend Creative Hands stocks up for is wire-wrapping.
“Big pendants are great for wire wrapping, and even beads,” says Chartier. “We sell the wire, the beads, jewelry and tools for wire wrapping. We also have lots of buttons that people can use to make bracelets or to embellish their pages or ornaments.”
Chartier, herself a talented crafter and photographer, says it’s not too late to make gifts this season.
“We have regular and outdoor Mod Podge,” she suggests for decoupage, “and we sell foam brushes, paint brushes, oil colors and Liquitex paints. We are growing that part of the craft section and continuing to add to the painting and photo part of the store.”
Chartier frequently offers advice on everything from art supplies, to which craft to make, or which to buy. She recommends the hand-made route whenever possible.
“We have four different kinds of Christmas card packs that come with everything you need to decorate them, and sets of cards that you can just put your picture in”, says Chartier, who made her own cards this year, as usual.
Both Chartier and Kirchmeier agree that whatever one makes, it’s a gift that’s greatly appreciated.
“People like getting homemade things, because you took the time and effort to think about them and to come up with something that’s uniquely their taste or uniquely their color,” says owner Kirchmeier.”
For those who feel they’re running out of time for holiday shopping, the people at Creative Hands advise you not to fret. The shop has solutions for people looking for the perfect, personalized, even last-minute gift this holiday season.
“We have all the schools’ logos and mascots in their scrapbooking paper and embellishments,” says Kirchmeier, who could be called the guru of glitter.
For customers who don’t like making gifts, the store’s ready-made selection is full of timely temptations. “We always have small gifts in here that are a little different and unique. We look for the ‘Wow!’ factor.”
Creative Hands stays open late once a month to accommodate those who like to work together.
“We ask $5 to hold your spot and you can work on anything. If you want to learn something, we’ll be here to teach,” Kirchmeier explains, adding that the coveted scrapbooking Cricut machine is available on open craft nights.
“We sit around and visit and get some new ideas and watch somebody else’s project and think, ‘Oh, yeah, I d like to try that!’ Once you’re a crafter you’re always thinking about what to do, what to make.”
Kirchmeier has kept her hands busy since she began sewing at age 10.
“Whatever I saw that was new and different, I wanted to try,” she says. Crafting, in all its forms, remains one of Kirchmeier’s favorite passions. Another is giving to schools and children. She is formerly a job developer working with severely handicapped young adults.
“You can never help a child too much,” she says. “They need those opportunities.”
The store is currently a drop-off for Toys for Tots and Box Tops for Education.
The next open craft night is Dec. 13, and spaces are limited, so call 692-2200.