Create!: A Place For Artists in Downtown Kent

by Michelle Gehlman-Teeter

Create! is a new space for the arts in Kent. It was years in the making and on March 16 they had their Grand Opening with a party and ribbon cutting ceremony. The store was full of residents celebrating this dream come to fruition.

Deborah Larson is the owner of Create!. She wanted to make a place where artists didn’t have to work in solitude. Somewhere they could have community. A lot of artists also don’t have the space and/or money for large equipment like kilns.

At Create!, a person can either pay project-to-project, or they can join as a member. The memberships give the artist access to the studio facility and equipment for one day per week up to 30 hours per week depending on the membership they sign up for, as well as discounts on classes.

Create! has various art classes offered throughout the month. They have seven teachers right now, teaching things as varied as making Tlingit Paddles from S.E. Alaska to watercolors, printmaking to throwing pottery on the wheel. They have two classrooms for a wide variety of learning and social opportunities. But the main event at Create! is the large open studio for members to work on their own projects, with equipment and retail art supplies for drawing, painting, pottery, sculpting, glass fusing, and lampwork.

“What’s fun is that we’ve even had some art teachers find us,” said Create! employee Emme Brown.

The icing on the cake is the coffee, wine and beer bar and cafe that sells locally sourced food and beverages. They carry food from Alki Bakery and brew Rad Roasting Company Coffee from right here in Kent.

What makes Create! unique, says Larson, is they have equipment and supplies to do more than one medium in the studio. Also with food and beverages right on site, an artist can take a break and not have to interrupt the creative process by having to leave to get a meal.

So far the majority of the customers coming in have been people looking for something fun to do, as well as artists trying out new mediums.

“For some reason men want to work with the glass,” said Larson with a smile. A lot of people want to try the pottery wheel and the bisque-ware painting she also said.

They have a clamshell kiln for glasswork, and two different sized coffin kilns for ceramics. Also for use are pottery wheels, glass torching tools, stained glass equipment, grinding and cutting tools for glass, soldering tools, tile cutters, molds for glasswork, including making jewelry. Available to purchase is everything you might need in one spot: clay, canvas, paint, brushes, glass, glaze, bisque-ware and more.

The future of Create! is bright, with plans already in mind to open a Create! studio in Olympia next and then in Issaquah.

Larson opened her business in Kent because it’s where she lives and she likes the downtown area. She used to work in engineering, but finds this a much happier job.

“It’s something society needs right now,” said Larson. “They are taking art out of the schools
and putting a lot of emphasis on hard science, taking away free creativity.” She said she knows how important hard science is, but if we do not hone creativity, inventions and progress in many other areas will suffer.

Create! Is located at 216 W Gowe St. Suite 300 in downtown Kent. Their hours are Monday-Saturday 7AM-9PM and Sunday 11AM-7PM. Visit their Facebook page here.