Our Story

Castle in the Air began as a wish and grew into a way of life. In 2001, painter Karima Cammell opened a small storefront in her hometown of Berkeley, California. Her vision was to create the ideal studio for artists, writers, and dreamers. Castle in the Air would provide the supplies, knowledge, and camaraderie—all rare treasures—that the creative life demands.

Backed by hard work, this clear idea became a reality. Shoppers and students were surprised and inspired by the uncommon riches they found at Castle in the Air. It flourished, and soon Karima and company relocated to Berkeley’s Fourth Street shopping district, where the growth continues. The shop and classroom’s offerings have prompted the revival of many long-lost arts, including crepe-paper flowers, calligraphy, and vintage crafts. Over time Castle in the Air has garnered acclaim from journalists and style-makers, who have helped make it an international destination.

Visitors to Castle in the Air quickly realize that it is more than the sum of its parts. A new wonder can be found around every corner. World-class teachers patiently impart technique and skill in the upstairs workshop. An in-house publishing company produces books and ephemera that champion creative courage. One-of-a-kind marvels appear overnight, the work of visionaries who have found a true home at this distinctive and welcoming place.

 

The Castle Crew

Even though Castle in the Air was originally the dream of just one person, today the work requires many hands. Here are some of the people who keep the magic alive.

Alice Armstrong is a talented artist in a number of mediums including calligraphy, book arts, and collage. She has garnered a loyal following among Castle in the Air students for her many inspiring classes, including the series “Drawing and the Art of Seeing” and “Books, Boxes & More.”

Anandamayi Arnold specializes in striking recreations of flora and fauna made from crepe paper. She has crafted worldwide fame through her imaginative surprise ball and paper flower creations—as well as larger sculptural installations—and teaches paper flower-making at Castle in the Air.

Aimée Baldwin is a self-made paper sculptor known for her hyper-realistic crepe-paper art. Her “vegan taxidermy” portrays plants and animals at full scale and to exacting, museum-quality standards. Aimée’s long-feathered phoenix and other wonders can be found at Castle in the Air.

Alexis Berger elevates humble glass into ethereal jewelry sold at Castle in the Air. Her rings, pendants, necklaces, and earrings—as well as glass crowns and other grand designs—echo the Belle Époque period of art, and her pre-holiday trunk shows attract crowds eager for adornment.

Karima Cammell is Castle in the Air’s visionary founder and owner. A painter and writer with a mystical pedigree and a background in evolutionary botany, Karima publishes award-winning books through the shop’s Dromedary Press. She teaches illustration and the popular “Publishing a Children’s Book” class.

Roanne advocates healthy eating and exercise, two practices which give her energy to create and manage efficient systems that always remember the human touch. Rarely seen without her spirited dog Starr, Roanne wrangles Castle in the Air’s scheduling and inventory—wily beasts indeed.

Lynn Dolan enjoys an avid following among crepe-paper enthusiasts thanks to her generous spirit and innovative designs. She teaches seasonal paper botany classes at Castle in the Air throughout the year, and narrates a series of crafting tutorials on the shop’s YouTube channel.

Whitney helps mornings run smoothly in Castle in the Air’s shipping department, filling orders and answering questions from our customers around the globe. When she’s not at the shop, Whitney uses her knowledge of dance and visual arts to teach local middle-schoolers.

Toy Jalanugraha is a beloved teacher of miniature wonders at Castle in the Air, sharing with students her deep familiarity of several disciplines including collage, doll-making, and fabric arts. Her delicate creations (and occasional Thai food treats) radiate delight throughout the shop.

Bill Kemp is Castle in the Air’s master calligrapher-at-large, traveling to visit us several times a year from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bill teaches numerous scripts including Italic, Engrosser’s Script, and Spencerian, as well as illumination and flourishing work.

Bethany Mann teaches curious Castle in the Air students how to invite otherworldly elements into this reality through a variety of media, including fiber arts, painting, and constructed objects. She is one half of the artistic duo Mink & Mann, archivists for the secret society the Ladies of Happenstance.

Clint Marsh is our in-house writer and outreach manager. He designs and edits the Dromedary Press line of publications and the shop’s seasonal newspaper. Look for Clint’s books and pamphlets (as well as those of his gnome-hunting alter ego, Reginald Bakeley) on the shelves at Castle in the Air.

Katrina Martin ushers us into Fairyland with handmade clothing and accessories sold at Castle in the Air. She teaches costume classes for adults and children under the name Finch the Fairy, and can regularly be spotted at the shop dressed head-to-toe in fantasy garb of her own creation.

John McRae is Castle in the Air’s resident marvel-maker, a magpie collector with the Midas touch. A devotee of traditions and materials on the verge of extinction, John rapidly fills classrooms with students keen to learn time-honored crafts such as pajaki, Santos figures, and Dresden-trim jewelry.

Ulla Milbrath has graced our shop and classroom with her charming creations since Castle in the Air’s early days. Merging tradition, tenderness, and practicality, Ulla’s classes impart skill through the making of timeless crafts including chatelaines, love tokens, and reliquaries.

Michael Ogata is the visual director responsible for Castle in the Air’s online tutorials, book trailers, and other videos, using new technology to convey eternal truths. From flower-making to folklore no topic is too esoteric, and Michael’s sharp mind and discerning eye translate our dreams into compelling stories.

Cleo Papanikolas is a painter, printmaker, and illustrator whose work brings unexpected whimsy to everyday objects. Cleo’s large-scale paintings offer a glimpse into her past life as a professional chef, and the Cleomade line of craft kits sold at Castle in the Air draws back the curtain on her creative process.

Kate Rose shares the magic of Castle in the Air by photographing countless pieces of merchandise for display on our website, and does double-duty as one of our trusty shipping department specialists. With a degree in art and art history, this Berkeley native is also an avid fine-art photographer.

Brendan Swift is a modern-day renaissance man. A trained linguist and professional harpist, he notices subtle details others might miss. Brendan’s gentle curiosity comes through whether he is helping Castle in the Air customers, teaching himself calligraphy, or making cider at his family’s orchard in Sonoma.

Paul Veres is a calligrapher, type designer, and publisher of vintage reprint ephemera. He teaches classic calligraphy as well as scripts of his own creation at Castle in the Air, and produces whimsical books, pamphlets, and greeting cards which revive art and stories spanning the history of the printed word.

Sarah Watkins helps keep Castle in the Air afloat as our steadfast bookkeeper, managing myriad records and day-to-day finances. Nimble in mind and body alike, Sarah braves the streets by biking to and from the shop during rush hour, and spends her evenings enjoying dancing and live music with friends.

Ben Yates leads Castle in the Air’s new after-school classroom program, Drawbridge, mentoring young students in calligraphic penmanship and flourishing. An energetic instructor with a keen mind and an insatiable appetite for knowledge, Ben teaches with contagious enthusiasm.