If you find yourself struck by a bolt of craft lightning, Art Parts has the goods to satisfy that spark.
That’s the feeling when first walking into the store, which moved to its current location at 3080 Valmont Road last month, just a few blocks from its original location on Bluff Street.
Nonprofit creative reuse centers like Art Parts accept donations of crafting materials and supplies, selling them to the community for as cheap as mere cents on the dollar.
With an item for nearly any creative project in tidy sections specific to the material, the store presents a wonderland of hidden treasures for those visiting in a craft state-of-mind.
The paint section is lined with $1 charcoal sticks, pastel sets, paintbrushes with colored handles, oil and watercolor paints and 10-cent acrylics. A few feet away, scrapbooking paper and card stock neighbor bookmarks, vintage papers, cards, $1 sheet music and stamps; Needlework canvas, 25-cent embroidery floss, bins of fabric and yarn sorted by color.
That’s the way it goes around the entire store, aisles lined with neatly hanging frames, vintage photo slides, bins of keys, cookie cutters and 10-cent metal door hinges, a rack of dolls and their miniature items.
Local textile and bead work artist Denise Perreault founded Art Parts in 2011 with fundraising and out-of-pocket funds after hearing a presentation on creative reuse centers.
Her husband worked at a local blind manufacturing plant, and Denise saw the opportunity to keep his company’s bent and broken scarps out of landfills. She assumed other companies would have a similar need to discard defective or unused bits and bobs.
For three years, Denise collected industry donations and materials, keeping them in her garage and formally creating a nonprofit before opening Art Parts doors in 2015.
When Denise retired last October, Megan Moriarty became the organization’s new executive director, spearheading the store’s move last month. Art Parts’ new location provides much more intake space than the Bluff Street one, where the store occasionally turned away donations because of limited storage room.
Megan also transformed the entrance’s gallery, featuring 15 local artists’ work with Art Parts materials, to the homemade, bright green Made With Art Parts wall, starring anyone’s creations.
The week I visit, a headband with pink flowers fastened to the top, a Christmas wreath made with corks and an abstractly painted horse speckle the wall.
The store’s entrance and arranged contents meet Boulder locals where they are, catering to more than just those who consider themselves artists, but also those who are simply inspired to make something with their hands or want to fix a broken necklace clasp.
Donation to store floor
After donations enter the shop, volunteers sort and price materials. While some volunteers are artists or serial crafters, others want to be inspired by Art Parts’ creative community and sustainable reuse model. Though 95 percent of Art Parts’ workforce is volunteer and earns store credit, seven part-time women employees run the shop floor and orchestrate intake.
Because Art Parts’ new location has more space for accepting intake, Megan changed the store’s hours to pipeline as much reusable material from the back as possible. The quicker Art Parts combs through products with a streamlined sorting process, the more they can get on the floor to sell, diverting more waste from landfills.
Art Parts’ designated shelved area near the back, intake room is now open seven days a week, as opposed to the previous two days with an appointment. In March, Art Parts started opening on Sundays, too.
Made with Art Parts
Art Parts orchestrates creativity contests and project ideas for those looking for a little extra inspiration, especially when most artistic classes and prompts cost a fee.
“I see demand here for creativity outlets without a membership,” Megan says. In addition to sharing locals’ work made with Art Parts materials on its website, social media pages and on the Made With Art Parts wall, staff share how-to posts online for those looking to exercise their creative noodle while updating something practical in their home, like steps for recovering a throw pillow.
Art Parts holds regular friendly competitions, like one to alter existing art with collage or overlaid imagery or the button challenge, which asks participants how many ways they could use buttons; one of the winners crafted a lampshade. Top submissions receive an Art Parts gift card and the opportunity to have their work displayed around the store.
The store also has a partnership with Open Studios, a Boulder organization enhancing art appreciation for more than 25 years. Together, the two sponsor Crazy Creations, where participants receive a bag of mystery materials collected from Art Parts and have a month to make something unique. Check out the 33 entries here.
Art Parts display wall. Credit: Jessica Mordacq.