Doing it yourself, together
A Tulsa couple catches the DIY wave and encourages other local crafters to jump on board.
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Boomeranger brings modern fabric and craft shop to Cherry Street
Bianca Howell didn’t move back to Tulsa to open a gift shop. She returned to become part of the modern craft and DIY movements. For her, that meant creating a store for crafting supplies and modern print fabrics. Oh, and shoppers can buy items made by crafters, or — as some people call those items — gifts.
Howell is a crafter herself, making accessories under the brand Urban Creatures. The shop features her jewelry, hair accessories and pillows made from recycled T-shirts. At the same time, she was a quilter and a member of the Tulsa Modern Quilt Guild. That’s what got her sewing again.
“It became my life,” she says. “I was always making something. I couldn’t sit still.”
Like many crafters, Howell was always creative and artistic. She was a buyer at Miss Jackson’s before taking a similar position at Nordstrom’s in Portland, Ore. Her return to Tulsa was spurred by her assessment of the city as an untapped market for handmade goods. That’s what led her to open Owl & Drum at 2810 E. 15th St. with co-owner Dani Weaver.
The shop is something of a hands-on Etsy store. Many of the artists represented are from Oklahoma, but she also stocks works by artists and craft makers from all over. Pieces on display include a stool made from a drawer and a big table filled with adorably embroidered onesies. But Howell’s main focus is modern quilting fabric.
“Most local fabric stores carry very traditional prints,” she says. “We carry modern prints, inspired by artists who have worked in fashion or product design.”
Owl & Drum also carries specialty crafting supplies for cross-stich, embroidery, needle felting and more, while also offering crafting classes.
“It’s a shop for modern craft enthusiasts,” Howell explains. “Whether they make stuff or not, there’s something here for them.
“Or, they can buy gifts.”
Bloggers blog for all kinds of reasons. Holly Embry does it to spread her happy vibe. She calls it, “the thoughts, creations and adventures of a free spirit.”
Four years ago in college, Embry — the woman known in the local crafting world as “the polymer clay girl” — started blogging to promote the art of polymer clay through project ideas and tutorials. Today, she has a part time job at the Tulsa City-County Library and spends the rest of her hours blogging, although not for profit.
As Embry’s interests grew, so did her list of followers — now more than 300 — and the scope of her blog. She now posts about fitness, photos of trees and flowers, or her latest vintage find.
“I’m something of a thrifting queen,” Embry confesses.
Her Etsy shop, Holly Rocks, features “happy things to decorate yourself and your home.” Such as those polymer clay sculptures, jewelry, photography, home décor and gardening items.
As much as she enjoys making each piece, she takes even greater pleasure in teaching. Embry teaches polymer clay classes, holiday-themed classes and crafty business classes at MADE: The Indie Emporium Shop, Youth Services of Tulsa and other locations.
“I make lesson plans for my crafts classes (both online and in-person),” she says, noting her degree in elementary education. “I like to reach out and help people find their own creative strengths.”
Embry has been crafting since she was a teenager, first making things for herself, then for others and finally, for the marketplace. At her first craft show, the inaugural Indie Emporium, she met event organizers Thom and Christine Sharp-Crowe. The three became great friends as well as founding members of make:Tulsa.
Embry isn’t in this for the money. Her modest goals for her Etsy shop are to keep it open and keep it fresh. Shipping her work to different parts of the country and the world is enough to keep her excited, and she wants to continue teaching other people.
“Crafting in a social atmosphere is good for the soul,” she says.
Visit Embry’s blog for more about her crafting ideas and tutorials.