There is a low hum of conversation, punctuated by quiet bursts of laughter, as the latest project at Collage Paper Arts in Oak Harbor makes its way around a long table at the back of the store. Helpful hints and encouraging words accompany a stamp, ink pad, paint brush and palette as they are passed from one woman to the next.
It’s just another typical class at the shop, which sells hundreds of different patterns of paper, rubber stamps, inks and just about every imaginable embellishment for card making and scrapbooking. Each Tuesday and Thursday morning before the store opens for business, about a dozen women gather to learn something new from owner Naomi Schneider.
“It’s a happy place,” said Schneider, who opened Collage on SE Pioneer Way five years ago. She moved to her current, larger location two years ago.
For Schneider, the shop is her dream come true, a perfect representation of what she’s always envisioned.
“I just want people to come in and feel the warmth,” she said. “I wanted a place where women can come, meet other women and be inspired.”
Shirlee Hagan of Coupeville has been taking classes from Schneider since she opened her doors five years ago.
“Learning in a class environment removes the fear of trying something new,” she said. “Every week Naomi teaches a new technique. She’s always on the cutting edge of what’s new in the card world.”
Amanda Poland and Kat Venegas were taking their first class at Collage.
“I loved it,” said Poland. “I like how I feel inspired to go home and do more.”
“This was a new thing for us, working with dry inks,” said Venegas.
In addition to the card-making class each Tuesday and Thursday morning, Schneider offers a scrapbooking class the first and third Wednesday of each month, and additional special classes are scheduled at various times throughout the year. Cost for the classes vary, but start at $5.
Schneider, a former teacher, said ribbon is probably her favorite thing in the store, but she’s always been fascinated with paper.
“I love the texture of it, the feel of it. You can do so much with it,” she said. “In class, no two cards ever turn out alike. They’re a real expression of individual artistry.”
It’s a love – and a language – that can be shared anywhere.
“My customers interact with each other all the time,” Schneider said. “They are always willing to share what they’ve learned with somebody else.”
“No matter where you go, you speak the same language,” agreed Hagan, who recounted visits to similar stores in England. “It opens the world to us.”
Collage Paper Arts is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find them on Facebook, or call 360-240-9449. The store is located at 861 SE Pioneer Way in downtown Oak Harbor.