T he holidays are a time for crafting. With long, cold nights spent indoors, what else are you gonna do when friends and family need gifts, the house needs decorating, and peace and good will need to be spread? With plenty of speculation about global supply chain issues set to disrupt gift giving this year, artistic communities around Nevada are offering the chance to bring a little bit of DIY tradition to the holidays with handmade gift and decoration workshops.
2135 Dickerson Road (inside Sierra Water), Reno
Atelier (pronounced, as the French would, “ah-tell-ee-ay”) got its start in Truckee, CA as a combination art retail and workshop space. Last year, Atelier opened a new branch in Reno amongst other DIY businesses on Dickerson Road, and the Truckee owners sold it to Kelly Wallis. She now hosts art workshops with the help of local craftspeople, meaning there’s ample opportunity to try your hand at handmade gifts before the holidays.
“We specialize in, I would say slow craft,” said Wallis. “Things that take a while—artisanal craft, right? Knitting, sewing and embroidery, mending, natural dying, natural wreath making.”
Wallis reaches out to local artists about sharing their skills at Atelier. Some of them teach their first classes ever at her space. She looks for projects that are accessible to everyone, yet still allow people to leave with a quality product. Some upcoming holiday-themed classes include beeswax candle-making, ornament making, and a virtual hand lettering class for custom Christmas cards.
“If the class requires a kit, we will provide the kit to you,” Wallis said. “We don’t want you to have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff to come do a workshop. We’d rather just have it ready for you.”
Schedule + info on Atelier’s website. Class space is limited, and advance registration is required.
Nevada Fine Arts
1301 S. Virginia Street, Reno
Nevada Fine Arts has plenty of great gifts for artists in the family, but they’ve also got something for anyone who’d like to make their own gift, in the form of a hand-cut, dyed and stitched book, or an oil painting of Lake Tahoe.
“We’ll be doing a workshop where students will be able to learn how to make their own hand-sewn sketchbook or journal,” said NFA Manager Frankie Colburn. “We’ll be providing the paper, which is kind of like a multimedia paper … so it will be good for pencil, pen and ink, watercolors, things like that. [And] an oil painting class ‘Painting Tahoe boulders with a pallet knife.’”
NFA has kept a dedicated schedule of art workshops in the past, but the pandemic limited the number of classes the staff can host over the past year. The oil painting class on Dec. 4 at 12:30 p.m., and the bookbinding class on December 11 at 10 a.m. will be the last workshops of the year, but both will give participants a readymade gift in hand by the end. Both are taught by local professional artists, and participants will also receive 10% off a regular purchase of art supplies.
You can register on Nevada Fine Arts’ website.
Copper Cat Studio
300 Kresge Lane, Sparks
Copper Cat Studio is a full-time multimedia art studio and gallery, offering DIY craft workshops and supplies throughout the year, yet owner Katie Packham-Weaver has packed her class schedule for the next month with holiday cheer.
“Between now and Christmas, we have eight workshops scheduled that are specifically with the intention of gift-giving,” Packham-Weaver said. “We’ve got a resin and alcohol ink ornament class. We’ve got, I think, three mosaic pendant classes. We’ve got a couple of mosaic classes. We’ve got a water marbling scarf class with [local artist] Xanadu. And then we’ve got a needle felting class.”
Copper Cat hosts different local artisans to come teach their craft, but Packham-Weaver teaches the mosaic classes—her chosen medium—herself. Students will learn to make personal stocking stuffers, which they can replicate at home or during open studio hours at Copper Cat. Since all class fees cover the necessary materials, attendees are guaranteed to leave with something ready to wrap.
“It’s like, anybody can shop on Amazon and anybody can go to the mall and buy something, but this is something special,” Packham-Weaver said. “As we know, our time is precious. You have somebody spending two or three hours making something for you, and I think that makes it more special.”
More info on Copper Cat Studio’s website. Workshops are open to students 14 and up, and Covid safety measures will be enforced.
Clay Arts Vegas
1353 Arville St., Las Vegas
Pottery is one of those skills that can take a lifetime to master, and unfortunately, due to the medium’s long drying times, any clay gifts ready for Christmas would have to have been started before eating Thanksgiving turkey. However, Tom Bumblauskas and Peter Jakubowski, owners of Clay Arts Vegas pottery gallery, can help aspiring potters start their education any time—including during the Holiday season.
“In terms of holiday, like, hands-on things, it falls into the structure of our regular classes, which we do in eight-week time blocks, and they’re open enrollment,” Jakubowski said. “Folks can start any time or give [classes] as gifts. Each week an instructor does a demonstration and takes people through a new project. And then we have a date night package, which is four consecutive weeks for two people to do it together.”
Clay Arts Vegas is a full-service ceramic studio and workshop, and while they can’t promise you’ll have a gift for Christmas morning, their eight-week courses can make good gifts in themselves for anyone interested in learning ceramic arts—as anyone who enrolls will have the chance to make multiple finished pieces by the end of the session.
However, on Dec. 17 and 18, Clay Arts Vegas will host a community kiln firing where members of the public can apply the final ceramic glaze to unfinished, pre-made pieces from local artists, which will be ready to take home and use after a couple of hours.
“So, it’s the sort of thing that folks can come in and do together, go out, grab a bite to eat, come back and pick up their finished product,” Jakubowski said.
More info on the Clay Arts Vegas website.
B.E.S.T. Arts 4 U Studio’s Snowflake Camp
Winchester Dondero Cultural Center
3130 McLeod Drive, Las Vegas
When it comes to Christmas arts and crafts, sometimes you just need to go back to the classics—especially for children who want to add to the festivities with hand cut and decorated paper snowflakes. Artist Bobbie Ann Howell has been running her Holiday Snowflake Camp for years now, and her classes are geared to children in the Las Vegas area who want to make a white Christmas for themselves in the desert.
“We’ll learn how to fold and make two or three snowflakes of different sizes,” said Howell. “So, it’s learning about the positive, negative shapes and that repetitive pattern. And hopefully they’ll go home with two or three snowflakes they made themselves, and a pattern, and will never make a square snowflake again.”
Howell, who is also program manager for Nevada Humanities, uses intricately cut snowflakes in her work year-round, and believes learning the craft is especially great for children as they’ll be able to use it for many Christmases to come—and potentially teach to someone else.
“I try to bring all the supplies so that at the end they have their own beautiful snowflakes they can take home and put on their door or their window, or just keep making them as I’ve been doing since I was probably nine myself,” Howell said.
Howell will host three 90-minute sessions on December 11 at the Winchester Dondero Cultural Center in Las Vegas, and classes will be open to children ages 8 up. Parents are also welcome to attend.
Participants must register in advance from the program menu here.
Northeastern Nevada Museum
1515 Idaho St., Elko
While Elko’s best known artistic offering is perhaps the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, The Northeastern Nevada Museum has another long-running artistic tradition: the aptly named Second Saturday. For the past 10 years, the NNM hosts a monthly craft and story time for children under 10—and the last one of the year will teach children to make their own ornaments while they hear Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas read aloud.
“I’ve got several different patterns created that they’ll get to make,” said Education Coordinator D’ette Mawson. “They’ll do, like, pipe cleaners and beads, or craft stick snowflakes with glitter glue and sequins. They’re really just kind of simple, easy things, but it’s something fun for everyone to come out and just enjoy the day.”
Mawson said that the event and supplies are all free, but children require parental supervision, which makes it a great occasion for the whole family to try their hands at making personal decorations for their trees.
“Any child that attends Second Saturday is told that they are an artist,” Mawson said.
The next Second Saturday takes place at 10 a.m. on Dec. 11. More info here.
Cover image—Atelier’s winter workshops include “Watercolor Mountain Gift Tags and Ornaments” on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10. More info here. Photo: Courtesy Atelier