The second week of October, Amy Bagley held her annual fall craft retreat at Heit’s Point Lutheran Camp near Lincoln. To provide materials for the retreat, she loaded up double-sided rolling racks with paper, inks, stamps and other supplies from her store, The Craft Lab in Deepwater.
When she got back to town on Tuesday, Oct. 17, she had a message from Roy Millen, the producer with KMOS Public Television in Warrensburg. The message: he wanted to feature The Craft Lab on his show, “Making.”
And that he would be there with a camera crew on Friday.
“I had two days to put the store back together,” Amy said. “It usually takes two weeks. I worked from sunrise to 2 a.m. on Thursday to finish up.”
She got enough of the store stock back up, she said, and on Friday, Roy and two camera crew came and interviewed Amy and hung out at the store with the crafters. The segment aired on KMOS-TV last Saturday, Nov. 11, but Amy has posted a link to it on The Craft Lab Facebook -- click on Episode 3. “Making” is a series that profiles artists and artisans involved in keeping the creative spirit alive in Missouri, which Amy’s store has done since she transformed her parents’ hardware store into a multi-media arts and crafts store in 2015.
“It was a craft desert before that,” Amy said of the surrounding area.
Amy carries decorated paper, ribbons, paints, paste and other scrap-booking supplies, but most of her customer base is people who design and make their own greeting cards. She also stocks supplies for a new craft called “junk journaling,” which is creating handmade, one-of-a-kind books by recycling parts of an old book into a journal for recording ideas and drawings or an album filled with family stories, photos and memories.
Amy’s family story: Parents Jerry and Kay Jones moved to Deepwater when she was in 7th grade. Her grandparents, Bertha and Ira Jones, had lived in Brownington, and before that, in Harper, a small town east of Osceola.
“My father was the youngest of 12,” Amy said. “When the family moved, the school closed down.”
Amy’s older brother and older sister were already grown and had left home when she and her parents moved to Deepwater, she said. Her parents built a house in Deepwater, and in 1984, opened a True Value Hardware on Second Street where Amy worked on weekends. After graduating from Lakeland High School in 1986, she attended SMSU, now MSU, in Springfield, then worked in Johnson County, Mo. and Waco, Texas, in printing, desktop publishing and IT.
In 2007, she moved back to Deepwater and took over the hardware store from her parents. Working in her parents’ store during high school did give her a knowledge of hardware, plumbing and tools, she said.
Her college major, in industrial technology and printing with a minor in industrial management, did not prepare her for running a small business.
“I definitely learned as I went along,” Amy said. “It was trial by fire.”
Six months after taking over the hardware store, she began adding craft supplies to the mix to test the market — a few stamps and craft paper. In 2009, the scrap-booking supply store in Lincoln closed, and Amy bought the inventory from the owner, Dorcas.
By the end of 2014, Amy was selling more craft supplies than hardware, and in February of 2015, closed the hardware side and concentrated on selling craft supplies. She still gets calls from people looking for hardware, she said.
“For the first three years, men would walk into the craft store holding a chain-saw chain that needed sharpening,” she said. “People don’t expect things to change.”
The Craft Lab is now the only brick-and-mortar store left in Deepwater, Amy said —the corner bar has closed and on another corner, the “bank” sign has been painted over.
“Even the welder retired,” she said.
Amy and her husband own the three buildings on Second Street the hardware store occupied, and live in the house her parents built. Her father passed away, and when her mother remarried, Amy made the wedding invitations — 150 of them - for her mother and stepfather, Buel Engle, who she calls her “bonus Dad.” The Craft Lab has products on pegboards all around the walls, on tables and counters, and in display racks for carrying product lines from 18 companies that make art supplies.
There are long tables for crafting, a sitting area with a sofa and a table of snacks. Tables hold bargain bins of sale items.
Fridays are “Girls’ Day Out,” when her regulars come and work on crafts. Everybody is welcome, she said. Two of her regulars are sisters, one who quilts and one who scrap-books, and both bring their projects to work on.
“People come for the welcoming environment, the camaraderie and the free therapy,” she said. “We love to see what everyone is doing.”
The therapy is provided by the shop greeters, Fritz and his brother Schnitzel, two of a series of six miniature Schnauzers the Bagleys have owned.
Her regular customers range in age from 20-something to 83, she said, with most being women who are close to retiring or have retired, and are looking for an artistic outlet. One woman has brought her two granddaughters since they were six years old, Amy said.
Girls Day Out on Fridays is $10 per person and includes the use of an eight-foot work space in the workshop and a 10% discount on items purchased during the day while they craft.
Also available is use of Amy’s extensive collection of stamps, which fills a floor-to-ceiling cabinet on one wall. Some are woodcuts, but most are rubber stamps.
“I have thousands,” she said. “I have been a member of the Unity Kit of the Month club since 2015.”
Amy also gives demonstrations of card-making tools, such as dye cutters, the foil machine, embossing folders and letter presses. Making your own stamp is an art that is coming back, she said.
The Craft Lab’s 15th annual Christmas Card Swap on Nov. 11, for which crafters design a greeting card and duplicate it for the number of people attending, plus one for the store. On Nov. 7, she held an annual shoebox card swap where the crafters design a Christmas card, then assemble kits for each participant to put the card together themselves. The cards her regulars create look intimidatingly professional, but Amy said they aren’t.
“If you passed kindergarten, it’s nothing that you can’t do,” she said.
Amy also participates in Holy Rosary Church Altar Guild’s fundraisers, held in August and February. Crafters pay for a day of crafting, plus lunch and dinner, and craft vendors give part of their proceeds to the school. For her “make and take,” Amy showed people how to make one-of-a-kind bookmarks using letterpress plates printed on water-color-washed card stock.
For really professional looking cards, she sells a letter press that impresses the ink into the card. The letter press is sold out, but she’s getting more in, she said. One of her customers has it on her wish list for Christmas . Amy assembles and wraps the gifts on the woman’s list, adding, on the husband’s suggestion, something not on the list but his wife has talked about wanting, as a surprise. Then he comes down to The Craft Lab, pays, takes the gifts home and puts them under the tree.
Amy collaborates with other professional crafters, charging a small fee for them to hold classes at The Craft Lab. The store has hosted clay-jewelry making classes, Shelly Bales’ painting classes, and has a gnome-making class by Michelle Parmelee scheduled.
Amy has been experimenting with making eco-prints, using leaves and plants on paper dyed with coffee, and plans to offer a workshop on the process. She’s also thinking about a customer’s suggestion to start an “explorer club” for people who want to experiment with different materials and methods.
“There’re no mistakes in creativity,” Amy said, “only the opportunity for more creativity.”
The Craft Lab, 109 S. Second, Deepwater, Mo., 64740, is open Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment with 24 hours notice. Call 660-696-2667. Go to The Craft Lab Facebook for more information, or email amy@thecraft lab.com to sign up for her newsletter.