Get Hands-On with These Unexpected Art Classes
From glassblowing to papermaking, get ready to unleash your inner artist.
In Minneapolis-Saint Paul, spring and summer days abound with opportunities to mingle with artists and buy beautiful original pieces. There’s Saint Paul’s American Craft Show in April, Northeast Minneapolis’s open studios during May’s Art-A-Whirl, and two of the country’s top art fairs — Edina Art Fair in late May and Minneapolis’s Uptown Art Fair in August — each of which have drawn painters, potters, jewelers, sculptors and woodworkers for more than 50 years.
These events can spark a craving for rolling up your sleeves and creating something yourself. Here’s a look at where to make that happen. Fair warning: Things might get a little messy.
1. The Textile Center near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis has gained a national reputation for its classes in the fiber arts, including weaving, spinning, felting, knitting and embroidery. Plus, you get the chance to use a professional dye lab.
2. Strap on safety glasses at Skylab Glass Arts’ studio and learn lampworking, a method of glassblowing. This technique uses fixed mounted torches to melt and manipulate colored glass rods into beads, pendants, decorative stir sticks and glass straws.
3. For a more advanced glass experience, check out Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts. Instructors fire up kilns and offer crash courses in glassblowing, plus advanced classes in manipulating molten glass into spheres, vases or bowls. Or you can sign up for a six-week course in creating designs with neon.
4. Northern Clay Center of Minneapolis, another nationally known art hub, offers a variety of workshops that hone techniques in throwing, hand-building, glazing and firing. Its Clay for Couples pottery workshop makes for an unusual (in a good way) date night.
5. Minnesota Center for the Book Arts in downtown Minneapolis shares a building with the renowned Loft Literary Center and is the country’s largest and most comprehensive center dedicated to the book arts. Its classes cover papermaking, marbled paper, bookbinding, box-making, origami, calligraphy, letterpress printing and screen printing.
6. Fired Up Studios in Golden Valley helps students learn how to use a potter’s wheel to spin and glaze pots, bowls or teapots — perfect for beginners or intermediate potters.
7. If yarn and fiber are your mediums of choice, there are plenty of local shops offering classes that teach you how to make scarves, sweaters, hats, funky socks, elegant table runners and more. Minneapolis’s StevenBe, Maple Grove’s Amazing Threads, Saint Paul’s The Yarnery and Stillwater’s Darn Knit Anyway all feature frequent classes and casual gatherings of enthusiastic knitters and stitchers.
8. Grab your paint brush and choose from a variety of classes in painting, such as encaustic painting (using hot wax), portraits and architecture, at Saint Paul’s Wet Paint art supply store. You’ll also find classes in rosemaling, lettering and bullet journaling, plus free sketch-ins (that is, casual meetups among local sketchers for the purposes of finding camaraderie and inspiration).
9. Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace, a beloved Scandinavian import store in Minneapolis, hosts classes in the Nordic arts, such as Viking knit jewelry and Sami bracelets, carving, rosemaling, Hardanger needlework and knitting.
10. The historic Longfellow House near Minneapolis’s Minnehaha Falls offers classes through the Minnesota School of Botanical Art, which uses sketching and watercolors to depict scientifically accurate renditions of plants and flowers.
11. With its constantly changing landscape serving as inspiration, the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers classes in a wealth of mediums. Participants can learn to make willow furniture, use eco-prints on silk scarves, cast garden leaves into jewelry using metal clay or create botanical watercolors.
12. Embrace your inner DIY master and enhance your home décor by making a custom wooden sign at Board & Brush, a Wisconsin-based company that has several locations in the area, including St. Louis Park, Lakeville and Woodbury. Enjoy a glass of wine as you distress the wood, then sand, assemble and paint your boards.
13. Color Me Mine encourages kids and adults to stamp, sponge, stencil and paint pottery projects in The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. Choices range from plates and mugs to vases and cookie jars.
Community art centers can also offer a rich mix of exhibits and classes.
Lakeville Area Arts Center hosts a strong lineup of painting classes, including a series of watercolor, acrylic abstract and plein air workshops, many of which are taught at Ritter Farm Park. Instructor Dan Petrov also teaches how to paint in the classical style of Renaissance and Flemish oil painting.
Rum River Art Center, located in a renovated riverfront milk factory in Anoka, offers painting, photography, plein air, sketching, pottery and mosaic art classes for all ages.
Dye a silk scarf, learn how to make stained glass window hangings, carve spoons or try paper quilling at White Bear Lake’s White Bear Center for the Arts.