Christopher, left, and C.J. Phippin, right, opened Phippin’s Crafting Corner in Cambridge in May 2022 focusing on a crafting outlet for special needs children and children with autism. (Photo courtesy Phippin family)

With their relocation to the Eastern Shore from Tennessee, C.J. and Christopher Phippin quickly noticed that there weren’t nearly as many regular opportunities for outings geared towards kids with autism and special needs in the more rural areas of the Eastern Shore.
The couple, who have fostered numerous kids over the years, have five adopted sons who range in age from 3 to 13.
All five have special needs, have experienced severe trauma and two are also on the autism spectrum.
They decided that a crafting space where all people in the community could be creative and comfortable would not only be therapeutic and serve their family’s needs, but provide a positive experience for others.
In May 2022, they opened Phippin’s Crafting Corner in Cambridge.
The variety and themes make sure there’s always something fresh and exciting to do.
From making a sensory bottle with lots of mix-ins to later be used as a stress reliever, to perfecting a knitting technique and project, there are projects for all ages and skill levels as well as three studio rooms to accommodate the makers.
The shop has an easy drop-in format and projects mostly fall in the $3 to $10 range with a few at $35.
Currently, there are over 400 items and projects that vary in media; wood, glass and metal projects and many seasonal items.
Winter projects included lots of fun Christmas and winter decor, like centerpieces for holiday tables, or gifts to give, like snowman hot cocoa sets.
As the weather now starts to shift to spring, guests can look forward to creating a rain boot floral arrangement for their door, plant markers for their garden or a fun windchime to make music in the wind.
They also have class series for little learners. January wrapped up a science-based series with weekly experiments and February incorporated different animal features from the Phippin’s own animal menagerie, from a bearded dragon to a turtle to a bunny.
Social events have also sprouted out of the space, such as their popular “high tea” events where participants enjoy a cup of tea, some traditional snacks and tea sandwiches and listen to some British music.
And of course, camaraderie.
The shop’s ability to suit a variety of people has been a meaningful experience.
They said a father has created a crafting ritual to bond with his kids the weekends he has visitation, while another regular customer brings her elderly mother with dementia to create a project in a relaxed environment.
Expressing creativity has become the quality bonding time for many just as they’d hoped it would be.
Aside from families, the Crafting Corner has also become a spot for group gatherings and team building.
Studio rooms make a great hosting spot for a “get to know you” activity for youth sports teams, where players can chat, relax and maybe find something they have in common with one of their new teammates.
Surely there is a project for everyone, but if you’d just like to purchase a finished product from an artisan, there’s also a variety of products from local makers available, from jewelry to sewn craft.
To reach more people in the community, the Phippins have recently started a scholarship program which will match donated classes to members of the community who may have limited income or at-risk factors.
To do this, they are in contact with the local YMCA, schools and foster care system to bring the joy of crafting to those who could benefit from the opportunity.
Donations towards these classes can be done on their website.