Marie Muscardini opened the beloved neighborhood Handcraft Studio School in 2013 and has been bringing in local artists to teach an array of (frequently sold out) classes ever since. If you have been thinking about joining a similar institution near you, here are a few things Muscardini suggests you keep in mind.
Choose a good school
When it comes to choosing a school, varitey is key. Don’t be afraid to explore around your area. The longer drive might be worth it. Look for a school that has lots of crafts that interest you and one that offers a variety of skill levels. This will give you some flexibility and the option to advance to a higher level after your master a beginner technique.
Start with the right course
Generally, it’s best to start at the beginning. I prefer taking introductory courses, even if it is a skill I am familiar with. Artists always have new and unqiue ways of putting their materials to use, and I find beginner courses give a great introduction to materials and basic methods. Starting from the beginning also lessens frustration — remember, classes are supposed to be fun!
If you don’t know where to start, choose something simple. A craft like block printing is perfect if you are feeling a bit unsettled about diving into a new creative venture. Block printing relies on color and simple designs, often repeated to make a statment. It’s easy enough but comes with great rewards.
Illustrator, prinmaker, and surface designer Jen Hewett’s block-printing class is one of Handcraft Studio School’s most popular workshops — and I was lucky enough to secure a spot. Jen is a masterful artist and has a real eye for design. Her block-print textiles have been making a splash on Instagram this summer and her screen-printed bags and accessories are a local favorite. I was delighted to spend a Saturday with Jen and learn a thing or two about hand-carved block printing.
For my first block print, I started with a needlework design of my own and translated it to pencil, then to the carving surface. I’m so happy with the results of my print and had such a great time at Handcraft Studio, I can’t wait to return! Which brings me to one more piece of advice:
Bring your friends … or don’t!
Going with a friend or a group of friends to a new art class is a great way to bond and make new memories together. However, don’t be nervous about taking a class by yourself — it’s important to do positive things for yourself, and going alone will encourage you to socialize with the other members of your class. Art classes are collaborative, lively environments that are definitely great places to meet new people.
Photography by Lisa Anderson Shaffer.
Looking for a fun project? Watch the video below!