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A drinking place with a crafting problem

New beer, wine and craft bar Arts and Drafts opens their doors in Old Town Eureka on Feb. 17.

An improv acoustic guitar solo and noises of lively voices filled the rooms of the E. Janssen Building in Old Town Eureka on Feb. 17.

The once hardware store became home to Arts and Drafts, a “drinking place with a crafting problem.”

The venue is divided into two spacious sections. Couches and large wooden tables geared with puzzles, sketchbooks and watercolor pencils surround the bar. Guests are encouraged to leave an art piece in the sketchbook, similar to a visual guest book.

A bright mural of purple, psychedelic cats and a four-foot wine glass filled with colorful yarn make up the Kitty Corner of the room. The ambiance of the space is relaxed, open and gives the impression of a cozy living room.

Through the bar, in a separate room, is an art workshop space filled with supplies and art-lined walls. Here, patrons can purchase pre-made DIY art projects, from paintable stone coasters to string art or bring in their own supplies to craft up while hanging out.

Owner of Arts and Drafts, Tracy Dorgan, said she wanted her dream to come true in Old Town Eureka. After extensive searching for the best possible venue, Dorgan said she fell in love with this one.

“When I walked into this building,” Dorgan said, “my entire vision changed and expanded.”

The space is much bigger than her original plan, which ended up doubling Dorgan’s budget.

The grand opening of the new bar brought a steady flow of people throughout the day.

Greggory Allbright, Humboldt State University alumnus, high school teacher and artist, says he often enjoys drinking a cold beer while creating.

“Sitting down and doing art is a lot harder than sitting and drinking,” Allbright said.

Allbright is setting up for a surrealist art show at the Wine Stop and sketched at Arts and Drafts on the day of the grand opening.

Brooks Heaslet from Maple Creek, a bartender at Arts and Drafts, said the crowd was a mixture of locals and tourists.

For Heaslet, the art and beer bar combined two of his passions. Heaslet said he not only works the bar, but also helped build it with his father at Maple Creek Woodworks.

“Woodwork and beer are definitely my mediums.” Heaslet said.

The bar offers 12 different taps, including local beers, ciders, kombucha and nitro coffee, as well as an extensive wine list.

“The only shot glasses we have are the ones you can paint,” Dorgan said.

The small kitchen offers diverse snacks, such as cheesy jalapeno bread and local vegetarian Sushi Agogo.

Dorgan said she worked to make the space welcoming to students.

“You can come hang out, drink a beer and do a mini project for under $10.”

In the back of the bar, Mark Talbert and wife Laurie of Eureka, sipped ales while weaving a burgundy string through nails in the shape of a wine glass.

“She convinced me into it!” Talbert said. “I’m generally anti-social, but I feel totally comfortable walking and nailing nails onto a board.”

Not only are the employees of Arts and Drafts brew buffs, they are craft connoisseurs as well.

Amanda Anderson painted a wooden wine caddy in a deep, nut brown to demonstrate one of the crafts available for purchase at the venue.

Anderson, a wildlife conservation major at Humboldt State University, scored a job at Arts and Drafts thanks to her experience with crafting and teaching. As a statistics tutor at HSU, she felt confident in her ability to guide creatively.

“The goal here is to spread creativity,” Anderson said. “People are going to love this. It’s Arcata, people love their art.”

Dorgan said that in the future, she plans to extend the working hours and the kitchen, as well as work on an option to divide the space in order to accommodate kids.

Arts and Drafts is located on 422 1st Street in Old Town Eureka.

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