Artist Spotlight: Elliot Nopp

An assortment of felted gnomes created by crafting wizard Elliot Nopp (10). Nopp is a master of many mediums and has many talents.

Photo by Nathan Wilk

In the Franklin community, there are few as versatile and talented as Elliot Nopp (10), whose mastery of crafts big and small have made him instrumental to the success of the Franklin art department.

Whether in the ceramics room, Makerspace, or his own home, Nopp is always working on something. Entering his house is like visiting a museum of his various interests: a batch of Turkish Delight on the countertop, felted gnomes and mushrooms populating his room, a basement work table messy with scraps of upcoming projects and sanded down wooden utensils. Nearby, a childhood worksheet hangs, which reads “When I grow up, I want to be a woodworker.”

Out his back door is an assortment of structures: an Accessory Dwelling Unit, affectionately known as “The Man Shack” (although all people are regularly allowed entry); a sauna, which Nopp monitors remotely with a cell phone app; and a chicken coop. “My dad, he built the additions to our house with help from his buddies,” Nopp says.

Craftsmanship runs in the family. Nopp’s father has worked at the zoo, built museum exhibits, and started his own wood shop. It is there that Nopp took interest in his father’s work. “I would visit his shop with him a lot of the times and learn about tools and… how he did things,” he says. “When I was ten I built my first thing that I did mainly by myself, which was a human hamster wheel for crazy transportation day.”

Those interests carried into middle school, where they were encouraged by Nopp’s sister, Franklin alumni Ruby Nopp. “I like to needle felt, which I got into the winter of 2016 because she was making these needle felted mushrooms and I asked her how to do it and she said ‘Here,   take this ball of felt; now stab it with this needle.’ Then I made something,” he says.

“I like to give presents, but it never feels good when you just buy them. When you make [the presents] yourself, it feels better. That’s why I make things,” Nopp says. His favorite projects are those which he’s created for his family. “When I was seven, after one of the pig roasts, we had this charcoal, and I drew a picture of a crow on a telephone pole. And I made that for my mother,” Nopp says. “Fast forward eight years, for my mother’s birthday, I made six felted crows, four branch telephone poles, and telephone lines out of wire.” For his father’s birthday, he built a model tree house with pristine detail to illustrate a story from his childhood about a homework-delivering monkey friend.

But Nopp’s labors of love extend beyond just small handmanship. In 2015, he helped found “Camp Killer Whale” at the Environmental Learning Center on Orcas Island, where he now works as a camp counselor. The program has been growing ever since. “It’s becoming a thing where there’s yearly returners,” Nopp says. Most of them are friends and extended family, children and adults.

In the 7th grade, Nopp saw Franklin’s production of Chicago and fell in love with it. “I was super excited about [Chicago], and then I saw Annie and I wanted to do the theatre department.” While Nopp does act—he played a bird-crazed presidential advisor in the 2018 One Acts—he is now found most often in back hallways of the theater department, or on the sky-high catwalk of the auditorium, repositioning LEDs as head designer of the lighting crew.

Nopp plans on incorporating his interests into his career path. “I’m going to start a small store that sells stuff,” he says. “Stuff that nobody wants, like—you know [W.C. Winks] Hardware Store? You go there with a project and they take you into a back hallway and they have everything there.” However, he explains, his future is still open for change. “I have a lot of ideas.”

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