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Uncovering the Artist in You: Crafty Cravings

Looking for something new to do with the family or group of friends? Sick of just sitting at home watching movies or playing games? Why don’t you try a craft night out creating something really cool?

In the Fox Cities, there are lots of different ways to try something new and create amazing art. In this blog post, I highlight some of my favorite spots to create art, the different crafts each place has to offer as well as some advice from artists. You never know what your next masterpiece might be, so go out and try something new.

The Fire

Located in downtown Appleton, this artsy place has something for everyone to try. They offer mosaics to make, pottery to glaze, and allow your imagination to go wild using glass. They have pottery including plates, bowls, mugs, salt and pepper shakers, light switch coverings, vases, tiles and so much more! There are so many options that it’s hard to pick just one.

Kathy Boettcher, studio artist at The Fire explains, “Making art is a good outlet and good way to express yourself. It’s a good exercise to expand the way you look at things and learn new processes. It also helps you feel more comfortable with using new tools.”

If you’re up for the challenge of trying new tools, you can make something with glass whether it be your own creation, a pendant, or a design on a glass tile. Mosaics are also another really cool option. Pick out your design and tiles and glue them on. This can be a longer project if you’re really serious about your artwork. It’s also about a two day process since you have to wait 24 hours for the glue to dry before you grout it. Before you leave, don’t forget to grab your friends and snap a pic in front of the incredible mural that’s on the side of their building. Boettcher explains, “Art is something I’m very passionate about and have done all my life. I get to share my knowledge and experience and also connect with people through art.”

Pinot’s Palette

Right next door to the Fire in downtown Appleton is Pinot’s Palette. Set up a painting party with all your friends and create a beautiful painting from the help of a step-by-step guided lesson and a little wine to sip on if you’re of age. This guided lesson will help you use the correct colors and brushes to know how to create the desired painting.

Studio Manager Alejandra Arredondo  says, “Attending a session at Pinot’s Palette-Appleton is a great way to try painting in a relaxed and friendly environment, free from judgement. We don’t grade paintings, but we will do everything we can to ensure that you take something home you’ll enjoy for years to come.”

Having a steady hand is all you need to make your masterpiece. Keep an eye on their website for the next picture you want to paint as they have dates and times for certain paintings. They also offer classes and camps for children. Each painting and class is $35 for a two hour class, $45 for a three hour class that includes supplies and your finished artwork!

There are also open studio times on Saturdays from 9am-1pm. Prices vary depending on what you want to make. They use acrylic paint which is permanent if it gets on your clothes so be cautious about what you wear, but they do offer aprons to wear as well. Arredondo says, “I know for me, that sometimes I need a little ‘push’ to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve found things that resonate deeply with me that I would have never considered, or known for myself, if I hadn’t tried something ‘I wasn’t so sure of’ first. I would encourage others to take a similar journey for themselves by trying something new.” Go check it out to create the next amazing piece of artwork perfect for a wall decoration for your house or a gift for someone special.

Paintin’ Pottery

Our next stop has lots of options on crazy cool things to make! Paintin’ Pottery of De Pere has pottery to paint, glass fusing, mosaics, wine glass painting, silver thumbprint charms, wood signs and canvas painting. With all the choices, you’ll have to make several stops to try them all! Madeline, studio assistant at Paintin’ Pottery says, “Come in and see what we have. Create an experience. There are tons of different medias so see what fits and interests you.”

Two things that are special to them is wine glass painting and silver thumbprint charms. For wine glass painting, schedule a party or walk-in anytime to paint your own wine glass. They are a great make-and-take project as you have to bake it at home. No worries though! Paintin’ Pottery will send you home with your glass as well as instructions. A single glass is $15 or do a set for $25.

If you’re ever stuck because of lack of creative juices, Madeline gave some advice where she finds inspiration, “I find it in a lot of little things. Or if I go into a comic book store, I’ll look at the artistic book style and see how it is showcased or how I fit in with them or how I can connect with that artist. Even everyday items. I’ll look at a specific little thing on a cup or something on the side of the road. I even go to Pinterest since you can never go wrong with that.”

This next project they offer is pretty amazing. After making an appointment, you can use your thumb impression in silver clay to create the sweetest gift for a loved one! After the artist gets your impression, they prep, fire, file, and polish your charm. What a great gift for someone special to you. “It’s really cool to see how many people come in to create something for someone else whether it be for an event, occasion or gift.” There are so many opportunities to create something spectacular, so be sure to check out Paintin’ Pottery.

Fire Escape

Fire Escape in Oshkosh has tons of cool creations to make there too! They offer pottery painting, canvas painting and board painting. Rebecca Graf, owner of Fire Escape says, “There’s less and less art in our schools and less and less time as you get older and it’s a really good outlet for people including myself and that’s why I choose to teach it.”

Something that makes this art stop unique is life-casting. Life-casting is a process of creating a three dimensional copy of a hand or foot using mold and casting techniques. How does it work? First, make the mold. At Fire Escape, they use a fast setting mixture to capture the details. Then, the plaster gets poured after your hand is removed from the mold. It takes about 5-6 hours to set. After the piece is pulled from the mold, it has to dry for ten days before the finishing touches are applied. Depending on who is getting casted, an infant or a whole family, pricing can vary from $35-$200. Make sure to make an appointment for this cool project. Life-casting is an awesome way to capture and preserve memories and make the best gift to be cherished forever.

At Fire Escape, they do awesome things that really help impact and give back to the community such as donations to schools and events with humane societies. Graf says, “ It’s very relaxing making art and many people say that it’s their way to decompress and let go of everything happening in the world.”

Board and Brush

Board and Brush of downtown Appleton offers a fun DIY experience for you and your pals. They offer a variety of different ways to create something special such as workshops, private parties, bridal showers, bachelorette gatherings, children’s birthday bashes, corporate events and fundraisers. Katie Forman, owner of Board and Brush Appleton says, “My favorite part is the customer interaction. It’s personally fulfilling for me to share my love for art with others and I find so much joy in providing the public with a social and creative experience. So many people come to us to gather and celebrate which means we also get to witness and be a part of many important life events.”

Throughout this experience, you will learn how to distress wood, sand, assemble boards, and choose the stain and paint options that you prefer. Don’t worry if you don’t possess the skills to hammer, sand and stain, as the instructors are very helpful and will guide you to whole way through! All workshops have a flat fee which includes everything you will need in order to leave with a new but vintage looking wooden sign to decorate your walls with at home.

Forman says, “The arts can be a way to connect with other people. Board and Brush workshops provide a social experience a dna place for people to gather. Art is also a way for people to express themselves…experiences, feelings, hopes and dreams for the future, and words to live by frequently come out in the pieces customers create. The creative process can be very therapeutic as well.” While you’re there, grab a tasty glass of wine or a nice cold beer to sip on while you create your piece of artwork if you’re of age. It’s the perfect DIY night out.

I hope these artsy stops can give you a place to let your inspiration come alive! Keep your eyes open to the things that surround you and take advantage of them. Art is so alive in the Fox Cities and it’s important to involve yourself with it. Plus, it’s a great thing to keep you, your friends, and family busy on a day where you can’t find much to do. Learn to appreciate art more in the world, but especially your community.

What did you make? Leave a comment below explaining your newest and coolest creation!

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