by NICOLE MCPHEETERS
High school sweethearts Emily and Eric McArtor— originally from Greene County, Indiana—have always been “crafty.” Woodworking was an art that Eric’s grandfather instilled in him as a youth, and Emily’s grandmother kept her busy as a child by recycling everyday items into crafts.
So when Eric, now 30, began his second deployment to Afghanistan as a medic with the U.S. Army, Emily went to work at a craft studio in Washington state, where he was stationed, and soon fell in love with teaching adults how to “get messy and let loose.”
“I always set large, ambitious goals to accomplish during [Eric’s] deployments in order to keep myself occupied,” says Emily, 29. “That’s how Craft Happens came to be—this massive labor of love.”
After moving to Bloomington, Emily opened Craft Happens at 879 S. College Mall Road in November 2019 during Eric’s third deployment. The studio offers workshops that guide customers through the process of crafting their own woodworking project from start to finish, as well as take-and-make kits to craft at home. “It’s really a crafting studio that takes you from start to art,” Emily says. “We empower the least crafty person and love challenging people who think they can’t do it, because it simply isn’t true.”
But four months after the shop opened its doors, it was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “To be honest, COVID was really rough,” Emily says. “We had just found out we were expecting our son six weeks before the pandemic. So, since we couldn’t have people in the studio, I drove back to Washington to be with Eric, and we took the time to practice our craft.”
In the interim, Craft Happens Customs was born as a way to keep the shop afloat during the pandemic. Clients contacted Emily and Eric with ideas for custom pieces, and the couple built, designed, and painted each one from the safety of their home.
Married since 2015, the couple recently completed a custom memorial wall for the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment—a project that was a personal favorite for them both.
Find Craft Happens Customs on Facebook and Instagram and at crafthappensbtown.com.