New arts and crafts shop opens on Hwy. 489

By DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,

Newton County area residents now have a new place to shop for paintings and decorative crafts for their homes after the official grand opening of Crafting the Night Away on Saturday.

Owner Mildred Stephens first held a soft opening earlier this month before holding a five-hour event complete with giveaways this past weekend at the location at the corner of Hwy. 489 and Stamper Pond Road.

Stephens, a lifelong Newton County resident, had always had a gift for artwork and was a self taught painter but didn’t get into arts and crafts seriously until her children left home. 

“In 2013, my three kids were grown and had moved away and it was just me and my husband in an empty nest,” Stephens said. “I’m at that age where I don’t sleep good at night so I kept finding myself up at night with nothing to do. So I decided to start crafting and sewing, and I’ve painted all my life so I just pulled my brushes out and started painting again and it was just something to keep me busy when I couldn’t sleep. Then I had so much of it that it was running out of my ears, so I decided to sell them.”

Her late night crafting would later be what inspired the shop’s name. After retiring from East Central Community College, where she worked in the business and admissions offices, Stephens decided to start doing her painting and crafts full-time. She would sell her paintings and crafts at various flea markets around the state, including in Canton, and built up a following on Facebook. The shop, which is a small home down the road from her and husband’s home, came on the market when the previous owner moved.

“We had the opportunity to buy this little place. Nobody had lived in it for about three years, so I asked her if she wanted to sell it and we worked out a deal,” Stephens said.

Each of the rooms is filled with Stephen’s trademark animal paintings, including her special cow paintings, and different items that she has put her own personal touches on, from pieces of driftwood to candles, to doll clothing and baskets.

Outside of the cash register in the kitchen, the shop feels more like cozy home filled with unique crafts rather than a store, something Stephens hopes sets it apart from other arts and crafts stores.

Stephens said that for now the shop will be open on Fridays and Saturdays but she has not set specific times yet. Because she is busy throughout the week painting, she will be available only by appointment during the rest of the week.

She also finds items at flea markets in Louisiana where her daughters live, and brings them home and to revamp them, but she said that her passion is still her paintings.

“I’ve never taken an art class. I taught myself everything. It’s a gift from God,” Stephens said.  “I try to pay it back and I do a lot of donations and I give my time.”

Stephens holds paint parties for area groups including church groups and rest homes.

For more information about Crafting the Night Away, visit the shop’s Facebook page.