With online shopping more popular now than ever and brick-and-mortar retail stores recovering this year, we may forget that there is an additional option for gifts: This holiday season, you might consider creating your own at a local art studio.
Squirrelly Art Studio + Gift Workshop
“I love that art can be stress-relieving, self-esteem building and fun for all kids, no matter their age or skill level. The best projects are those that make every young artist feel successful,” says Tiffany Jay, owner and art facilitator at Squirrelly Art Studio + Gift Workshop, which currently operates on the patio at Wunderkind, a LEGO cafe and child-amusement center in North Seattle’s Bryant neighborhood. (Squirrelly will move to a hybrid model in mid-November, with some indoor time, spaced out and masked, with windows open, but outdoor classes will still be offered.)
The studio offers art camps and classes year-round to kids, usually for ages 6 to 12, taught by a group of artists. (Most classes were being held outside this fall.) The children experiment with everything from watercolors to acrylics and oil paint to ceramics and jewelry making, as well as woodworking, sewing, dyeing fabrics and baking cakes. (For busy parents, before- and aftercare is also offered.)
This holiday season, Squirrelly has some special projects planned. While the specifics are still a surprise for guests, Jay hints that holiday workshop attendees will be concocting their own bath and body products, making one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and painting something very special for the kitchen. “Gift making is my most favorite art activity to do with kids because it’s amazing to see them overflowing with pride and generosity,” she says. “It’s empowering for them to create truly lovely gifts for their loved ones, and so exciting that they take it home wrapped and ready to give – a real surprise that they create all on their own.”
Emerald City Fired Arts
Emerald City Fired Arts in the Mount Baker neighborhood allows people of all ages to create pottery, mosaics or glass fusion pieces at classes, camps or workshops, or if they just happen to walk in with the intention to create. For the holidays (and year-round), artists provide instruction, materials and supplies – along with granting unlimited time for people to complete pieces. You can make something on-site or take advantage of their Pottery To Go option: you choose a piece, work on it at home with the store’s glaze brushes, stencils and more, and then bring it back to be fired up in their kiln for pickup the next week. Parents also have the option of renting out the space to work on things in private, or for a fun party with friends.
Owner Maidrine Chen believes that everyone is an artist regardless of skill or background, and hopes to encourage everyone to just relax, enjoy the moment and find the artist within. “People often ask me, ‘Am I an artist? I can’t paint … I don’t know what to do. I never learned,’ ” she says. But, she adds, “Art is a part of our lives. If we search inside ourselves, everyone is an artist.”
One of Chen’s favorite things about Emerald City is seeing families come in to work on a project together, such as an occasion when four generations came into the space to make art and the youngest family member was two months old. The eldest? 92.
Chen also loves hearing the many heartwarming stories about whom visitors are making gifts for, and the reasons why. “People come in to explore themselves. But it’s also a place where we can build a bridge and make connections with others. That’s the main thing.”
Art projects and more: