One day a couple of months ago, I was googling (can you believe that is now a legitimate verb?) for art stores in my area as I was in need of a new reflector board for my food photography. My original one was, or should I say still is, packed away with some of the artwork somewhere in a box I have yet to feel motivated to open.
On demand, Google delivered: a hefty list of links on the left of the page, and a map filled with red pins on the right. Two of the red pins were even a voice throw away from where I live. But the one that called to me was one called Once Around in Mill Valley, so I checked out the website. In my book, any excuse is good to go to Mill Valley. If the expectations are high, then the reasons pile up.
My expectations were not crushed: Once Around is one of the most beautiful and well assorted art and craft stores I have ever seen. If you are an artist, or enjoy crafts of any kind, or both, this is the kind of place you want to take your time exploring because you will find a lot of treasure you had never even thought of.
Not only is it well assorted with quality items, but everything is beautifully displayed, often by the use of vintage pieces both as display and decoration, making it a feast for the eyes as well as a session of color therapy.
Once Around is clearly the love child of someone very passionate and with a strong creative streak, in one word, an artist. Meet Julie Stanton, the Fairy Godmother and mastermind of Once Around. We e-mailed back and forth for a few weeks setting things up, and, when I finally met Julie on the day I went to photograph the store, I was immediately taken by her sparkling energy and bright smile.
Julie opened Once Around five years ago together with her sister. It was their second creation, expanding from a previous knitting shop. Soon after, her sister moved away to be closer to family, and Once Around remained as Julie’s own. She said she likes to fill the place with all those wonderful items that your know are out there, but not easy to find.
Julie is one of those amazing women that make you wonder how they do it all. Besides being a successful business woman, she is also married with (grown) children. They are a family of artists, just expressing themselves in different ways.
I asked Julie where the name Once Around came from, and this is what she answered: “It’s primarily about living life to the fullest, since we only “go around once”. Also, there is a lot of “around” motion in crafting, knitting, sewing, even drawing; a lot of circular movements.”
The spacious craft room above is where classes in various techniques are held, as well as free weekly workshops. You can check the schedule of what is coming by clicking here. The website also offers free tutorials in the craft of the week section, which you are able to save on your computer as PDF files.
You cannot help but be inspired. As I walked around the store taking photographs I considered taking up knitting again, or maybe learn origami. If my mom saw this store, she would want to start one of those colorful quilts she always mentions from American movies.
This is going to be a very visual article, filled with lots and lots of images and rich in color and showing wider views of the store as well as details of the beautiful items within. So sit back and enjoy the scroll, and let your creativity be inspired.
I think we are all creative in one way or another, whether we choose to make art our main activity or not. So which is the way in which you express your creative side? Do you knit, quilt, crochet or maybe cross-stitch? Do you paint or draw? Or maybe you are a digital artist, or a photographer. And there are no musical instruments in this store, but you could be a musician.
Besides my camera, my current tools of choice are colored pencils and acrylic paints, but over the years I have painted baskets, umbrellas and silk cushions, did pencil drawings for friends, took up cross-stitch for a while – the super-detailed kind – and even started a quilt I never finished. For a while, I even knit fluffy and gorgeous shawls for everyone just because of the pleasure of watching and feeling the colors and texture of the wool develop on my lap from the needles. It was like a meditation.
I still have my first, very treasured box of Caran d’Ache colored pencils, and have added several others since. So yes, I have lots of colored pencils in all sorts of shades. And now it is also canvases, paint brushes and acrylics – which I like because they dry faster than oils and can be diluted in water and not turpentine. Eventually, I will show you some of my work.
So, are you inspired yet? Any ideas of what you are going to create next?
A good place where to find fun ideas for crafts and D.I.Y. ideas on-line is a blog called A Subtle Revelry, which covers all sorts of topics.
352 Miller Avenue – Mill Valley, Ca 94941 l ph. 415-389-1667 l fax 415-389-1257 l firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm – closed on Sundays and major holidays
Update of July 12th 2016 – Unfortunately, I found out a few days ago that, because of a personal crisis in Julie’s life, Once Around will be closing on August 1. I am very saddened to hear this, and I know you will join in sending Julie love and wishing her the very best.
Update of June 6th 2017 – I have just discovered that Once Around has resurrected, probably under a new owner, at a different address but still in Mill Valley. I will go and check it out at the earliest opportunity, but in the meantime, if you are in the area and want to take a peek, they are located by the parking on the main plaza, near the Depot bookstore. The official address is 75 Throckmorton Avenue, with 415-326-5217 phone number, and the website URL is the same.
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