New owner buys Freeland’s popular Whidbey Art Escape

Do-it-yourself craft spot bids good-bye to Tina Beard

Freeland’s popular Whidbey Art Escape has been sold and will continue to offer its same do-it-yourself craft menu.

Tina Beard turned over the keys to new owner Carol Evans, after an evening potluck with longtime customers last month.

“I’m so excited that it sold,” Beard said. “It was at the very last minute. I had written my landlord that I couldn’t sell and would be leaving the space at the end of the year. I had it addressed and stamped and ready to go when I got the email.”

The crafts location at 1664 Main Street is popular with both kids and adults and offers paint-your-own ceramics and glass fusing. The back room of the building will remain the Backdoor Clay Community Studio, a cooperative nonprofit where clay artists work on numerous pottery wheels and fire up kilns.

Beard has been training Evans in the intricacies of the business.

“I have no artistic background whatsoever,” admitted Evans, who has worked in Seattle’s high-pressure tech industry. “I wanted to get back some fun in my life. Look, I’m making a space ship.”

Evans said she noticed the business was for sale driving by on one of her many outings to Whidbey from Seattle.

“I come to Whidbey for Mystery Weekend in Langley every year,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed of living here.”

Beard, on the other hand, dreams of getting away with her husband on a cross-country road trip. The RV adventure will start once her husband retires.

She announced in the fall she’s retiring after 12 years of owning Whidbey Art Escape.

“I’m relieved that the studio will keep going on for the community, but I am ready for my after-studio life,” Beard said. “But I will miss the customers who have been the driving force of the business.”

Beard assured “the ladies” that longtime “Ladies Night” will continue from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. She also plans to be available by phone for frantic calls about colors, the kiln and customers who never pick up their ceramic works of art.