Cary News

Cool Mama Crafts in Apex lets creativity run wild

Karen Campbell, a multimedia artist, holds craft classes at Cool Mama Crafts in Apex.
Karen Campbell, a multimedia artist, holds craft classes at Cool Mama Crafts in Apex. CINDY SCHAEFER

Karen Campbell’s enthusiasm for anything art is infectious. Her home studio is packed with supplies and her own works.

“I’m an art supply junkie,” she said. “Anything I can get my hands on and play with.”

Campbell is a multimedia artist and owner of Cool Mama Crafts, where art projects are limited only by the imagination. She launched the business in 2013, two years after she began teaching group painting classes to children.

“I wanted to be not just painting,” she said. “I wanted to do all kinds of crafts.”

She also wanted to work with people of all ages, not just children.

She experimented with private classes, but found it difficult to balance lessons and the needs of her three young sons.

Campbell said Cool Mama Crafts is two-fold. There’s the local presence, where she holds craft parties either at her studio or at a local venue. Then there is the shop side of the business.

“People come by to shop my inventory,” she said.

These days, she doesn’t have scheduled classes. She says she keeps busy with requests from small groups – from groups of neighbors to reunions of college friends to birthday parties. Campbell provides the materials and lets the customers drive the craft. At Halloween, creepy candlesticks were a hit.

“I’m happy when people want to be creative,” she said. “I’m just excited that people want to do stuff, and I’ll do whatever they want. I feed off people’s comments, suggestions and challenges. I like to rise to a good art challenge.”

A popular item grew out of a space crunch. When she ran out of room to display some of her paintings, she turned them into coasters. Now she has themed sets that can be mixed and matched for customers.

Campbell is not fazed when things don’t go as planned. Not long ago, she entered a contest to come up with a logo for the Town of Apex. She lost, but had T-shirts emblazoned with her design anyway.

The flexibility of her business allows her the time to hone her own craft.

“I’m always taking classes myself,” she said.

“My personal favorite thing to do is draw and paint faces. … I stumbled upon really good teachers and took off like a shot. I haven’t stopped since. Doing faces allows me to play with my tools.”

Her new book “Fun, Fab Faces” (Amazon) is her step-by-step, interactive guide for all ages on how to draw faces. While waiting for the first proof to arrive, she developed an e-course to go along with the book and has a tutorial on her YouTube channel.

“I can never do anything halfway,” she said. “People want to be able to draw but are embarrassed or self-conscious. I wanted to make it accessible.”

Campbell thrives on being embedded in the local art scene. She is a member of the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh and has two paintings on display at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex.

“I like being in charge of me. I have so many millions of ideas and I run with it. … it’s my therapy.”

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About Cool Mama Crafts

Contact: 919-413-9987,

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