A few months ago my desperate need for art supplies was followed by feelings of depression when I realized my only option was to make the trek down 15-501 and face the corporate world of Michaels, devoid of inspiration and ingenuity, and sell my soul once again. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly…but more than any other consumeristic endeavor I wanted to find a place that was homegrown, less commercialized, and more focused on the art itself, rather than solely selling a product. I was rocketed from my state of melancholy when I stumbled upon Bull City Craft, a family-owned art supply store and craft studio with two different Durham locations.
Bull City Craft made its beginning in 2011 when Jessica and Franklin along with their 7 year-old daughter, Frances, opened their first store. Jessica’s experience as an art teacher coupled with Franklin’s business background and sales experience led to building a business with the aim of cultivating artistic expression in children and adults. They have a small annex in the Golden Belt of downtown Durham amongst art studios and gallery space that sells art supplies and hosts paint and pour classes every Friday. They recently opened up their second location in Homestead Market where they host children’s birthday parties, drop-in playcraft, paint and pour for adults, and ‘cupcake and canvas’ for kids.
I have had the pleasure of doing some part time work on the weekends with Bull City Craft to help facilitate a few of the children’s birthday parties. I have to say, they are truly special. Personalized to the birthday girl or boy with chalkboard signs and specified craft (either painting a canvas or a treasure box) the kids absolutely love it. They start out playing in the toy section sculpting homemade plato (sometimes it’s glittery) and drawing or coloring before donning miniature aprons to paint their masterpieces. Afterwards they have snacks and birthday cake. If you’ve purchased the craft-spectacular/zero responsibility party package then each kid also goes home with a miniature goodie bag filled with art supplies. Regardless of which party package a parent chooses, each kid leaves with his or her creation, and a sense of accomplishment.
When asked about her thoughts on the relationship between art and a child’s development, Jessica responded, “Art is essential for a child’s development. Making art develops children’s motor skills, decision-making abilities, and language development. Research supports the idea that art is an important means of learning and communicating for children. I have 15 years of experience in art education and I’ve seen how meaningful it can be to children and the delight and joy they experience when creating.”
I have to agree. I have just started introducing my 20 month old to the world of coloring and painting and she lights up every time we sit down to create. With policies that continue to deemphasize the importance of art in the public school system, Bull City Craft proves that such policies are doing children a great disservice. As I have seen firsthand, children grow and learn in remarkable and unexpected ways when given the opportunity to express themselves artistically.
Gratefully, Jessica and Franklin are here to stay and are hard at work broadening their current services and expanding their retail inventory to meet the needs of anyone with an artistic itch. Whether you’re 5 or 55, Bull City Craft is the kind of homegrown, good people, good feelings, community-driven business that makes me proud to live in Durham.
Homestead Market Shopping Center
105 West NC 54 Suite 265 Durham, NC 27713
Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Closed Sunday
Bull City Craft Annex at Golden Belt
807 East Main St Durham, NC 27701 (Directions and Parking Info)
Open Friday 1-5pm (Open until 9pm for Third Friday)
Other days by appointment or order online and schedule a pick up time.
Art Supply Shop only, no play space or craft studio