Tamar Hendricks, owner of Crackpots, a pottery store on Main Street, believes that everyone has creative potential. For the two decades, the studio has let locals find their inner artist.
Hendricks relocated to Longmont, from Chicago, 20 years ago for her husband’s work. The then-engaged couple would walk up and down Main Street imagining the potential for the storefronts they passed. At the time, Hendricks said Longmont didn’t have the robust downtown district it does today.
In Chicago, Hendricks would go to a little hole-in-the-wall pottery studio. She always loved expressing herself through art, but at the time it wasn’t a part of her career.
Moving from a big city to Longmont was a stark difference. She decided to recreate part of her Chicago life by opening her own pottery studio.
“Twenty years ago, Longmont’s downtown didn't have very many things,” Hendricks said. “And it just really felt like all the people we met in Longmont, really wanted something nice and something fun to do.”
Hendricks quit her job in marketing and opened Crackpots next door to the current Old Town Outfitters, at 505 Main St. The store recently celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 21.
The main activity provided at its studio is painting. Customers can pick from a wide selection of molds that includes dishware, figurines and garden decorations. From there, their ceramics are painted with glaze and fired to seal the colors.
Other popular activities are creating mosaic artwork or glass fusing — a process of combining glass pieces by placing them in a kiln. Classes are regularly offered that explore other art methods including clay building.
Hendricks said some people are intimidated by making art because they have to acquire supplies or don’t think they have artistic abilities. At Crackpots, the mission is to make it accessible. “Be an artist for the day” is printed on the storefront’s window.
“I've always wanted a place where people could just come in and not have to plan or prepare,” Hendricks said. “Just know that they are going to come in and just be creative and we will take care of all the hard stuff like having all the supplies and the tools. And just make it easy for anybody to be creative because everybody has it in them.”
Anne Harvey, who’s worked for Crackpots since it opened, didn’t have any art hobbies before working at the shop. Now she enjoys creating and teaching adult art classes at Crackpots. Harvey said she loves working at the studio and meeting customers.
“I'm very thankful that I've been along for the ride. I think it's amazing and I love that Longmont, and its families are able to support Crackpots,” Harvey said.
Hendricks said that while children dive right into their projects, adults can be more timid. However, adults end up making up most of the client base. She sees corporate groups, couples on dates and clubs painting ceramics together.
Throughout Crackpots 20 years on Main Street, Hendricks has watched downtown grow. She’s also been through hardships, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shop was closed to customers from March to June last year, but Crackpots got creative. The studio offered Zoom classes, where customers can pick up supplies and follow along with an instructor remotely. Other take-home kits were offered where a ceramic can be glazed at home and returned to go through the kiln. Crackpots used the same kits for the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser that benefits Longmont’s OUR Center in January.
In-person customers are slowly returning. Over spring break, Hendricks said she saw several grandparents seeing their grandchildren for the first time. She felt touched that they chose Crackpots as their first in-person activity with their families.
Large groups are still limited, but Hendricks is preparing for the warm weather and more customers. The outdoor tables didn’t get much use before the pandemic, but now customers enjoy painting outside. She plans on adding more outdoor seating.
After 20 years of business, Hendricks looks forward to what’s next for Crackpots. She plans on adding more classes and items for whoever wants to be an artist for the day.