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Business & Real Estate

State Street retailer The Makery strives to reintroduce arts and crafts to Los Altos

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An array of colors greets customers who enter The Makery.

The door to The Makery swings open, revealing yarn, fabrics and kits arranged in a spectrum of colors.

Apart from the steady hum of a sewing machine and the tap of shoes on the hardwood floor, the room is quiet. The inkpads, rubber stamps and well-lit tables sit unmarked and unused. The entire shop hums with unfulfilled creative energy, ready for its new customers.

Los Altos entrepreneur Mary Heffernan launched the arts and crafts studio last month at 170 State St. It is a new addition to her growing stable of downtown Los Altos businesses that include Bumble, Area 151 and Red Racer Hobby Shop.

“I’ve always enjoyed arts and crafts, but it’s really hard to find all the best materials,” Heffernan said. “I wanted to create one place with all of the nicest materials, right here.”

The shop imports wool felt from Holland, felt balls from Nepal and yarn from Petaluma. It also boasts a Vandercook printing press, a screen-printing machine and a 3-D printer.

“It’s not Michaels,” said Heffernan with a laugh.

A crafty comeback

Heffernan is convinced that nostalgia isn’t the only value to be gained from The Makery’s printing press, carved stamps and writing ink, rendered obsolete by newer technology.

“Working with your hands is making a comeback,” she said. “I think with so much technology, people want to do something with their hands and come out with something they made.”

Despite the emphasis on handmade crafts, The Makery does not shy away from technology.

Customers can sign up for one-on-one instruction, but the studio also supplies iPads with tutorials at each station and a self-taught online program. Additionally, the studio offers computer-based design programs like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and 3-D printing.

At The Makery, the H&H Co., co-owned by Heffernan and her husband, Brian, continues its trend of local sourcing.

“I think it’s important to be locally sourced,” Heffernan said. “Everything (aside from imported materials) you see here was manufactured locally.”

The store sells retail kits and products from other vendors, but Heffernan aspires to fill her shelves increasingly with Makery-made items.

The store’s employees, also known as “Makers,” create items onsite. The Makers have all worked professionally in the arts and crafts.

According to Heffernan, customers with a large variety of interests have shown up in the few days since the store opened. The only demographic the store doesn’t cater to is children.

“People assume it’s for kids, because many of our stores have been geared toward kids,” she said. “But we wanted to create an adult sanctuary.”

In fact, no one under the age of 14 is allowed in the main studio rooms. A separate courtyard features long picnic tables and art supplies to occupy children while the adults work at The Makery.

“There’s been some pushback about (the rule), but I think it’s really important, because when there are kids, you just can’t really focus on your craft.” Heffernan said. “Also, there’s a lot of heavy machinery.”

Heffernan’s studio and shop combination is geared toward making high-quality crafting handy for people with busy lives.

“We try to make it easy for people by preparing all the materials beforehand,” she said. “We pre-wrap the yarn, make kits and provide all the supplies and working space to increase efficiency.”

Heffernan hopes to spread her love of crafting to others who haven’t tried it before.

“I really hope that people who don’t consider themselves crafty would come and do something with their hands,” she added. “They could give it to someone, and say, ‘Hey, I made this.’”

For more information, call 397-5613 or visit makerylosaltos.com.

The Makery - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Los Altos Town Crier

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