Whether you’re looking for fresh date-night ideas or something new to occupy the homebody days of winter, Buffalo serves up a plethora of opportunities to exercise your creativity in tactile mediums. Local craftspeople are eager to impart their wisdom through workshops that not only produce a take-home product you’ll actually want, but also develop the skills you’ll need to keep on crafting long after class lets out.
There’s an option for anyone, no prior experience—or artistic ability—required. Here’s a collection by the material you work with (and the level of commitment you can handle).
There are two main ways to manipulate glass—by fusing or by flameworking—and Vicki at Expressive Glass can introduce you to both. As an easy intro, her Fun with Fusing class has you layer solid pieces of glass together then place in a kiln to set, producing your choice of jewelry, magnets, suncatchers and more. Or go the next step with one of her flameworking classes, like How to Make Glass Beads or Icicles Galore, which has you shape molten glass that’s been heated over a torch. ($60-75)
You can also head over to the Foundry for Beginner Glass Blowing sessions ($55) with Jason Dederich of Buffalo Glass Company. He’ll teach you how to turn the pipe like a pro while you blow your own ornament.
Want more? Sign up for private classes with Vicki at her studio to delve deeper into the craft.
By hand, by machine or both, learn the techniques that interest you most by choosing a class based on the methods it utilizes. Not sure what you’ll like? Then opt for a class based on the final product you want.
At Rockler Woodworking, you can turn wood two ways: By hand for pens, bottle openers and ice cream scoops; or by lathe for a bowl. They also offer classes specific to a machine if you want to brush up on how to use a router, bandsaw and the like. ($50-75, single sessions)
If you’d rather craft a piece that involves various techniques—say, a cutting board of multiple woods or your own piece of furniture, like a side table—then the Foundry Buffalo has the class for you. Simpler projects are covered in one session, while the more complex are two-day courses. ($75-100)
Want more? The Foundry also offers monthly Woodshop Safety courses ($35) that qualify you for supervised use of their shop going forward, so you can create anything you want on your own schedule. But you won’t leave empty handed: You’ll create a cheese board while learning all the major tools in the process.
Channel the spirit of metalsmiths from centuries past at Roycroft Campus and become a coppersmith in your own right. Turn raw material into a one-of-a-kind copper creation in their Metal Bowl classes, which cover a range of techniques that include stamping and patination. “The students are always surprised at how different all of their bowls look, yet they all seem to be special and unique in their own way,” says Alan Nowicki, Program Director at Roycroft. ($80)
For a modern twist, handcraft your own metal shadowbox shelf at The Foundry ($50), which will have you cutting on a chop saw, welding and finishing with a grinder.
Want more? Just like with wood, the Foundry hosts monthly Metalshop Safety courses ($35) that unlock access to their metalshop during supervised hours.
Think bigger than just painting your own pottery—and instead learn to throw your own. Take to the wheel at Artyard Studio during one of their Try-It or Date-Night classes that lets you dig your hands into the basics of this messy medium to see what you think. ($50)
Or if you’re comfortable making a slightly bigger commitment, go for one of their Beginner Pottery six-week courses (around $210), which gives you time to explore its possibilities. They also offer advanced courses: Good to know for down the road.
Want more? Sign up for an eight-week course at Buffalo Arts Studio hosted by one of their resident artists, offered by season (fall, winter, spring) and open to all levels. ($200-235)
Calligraphy, papermaking, screen printing, book binding and even Japanese woodblocking—if it touches paper in some capacity, WNY Book Arts Center likely has a workshop to master it. Not sure what a technique is? Head over to their site to find helpful descriptions and introductory videos so you know what you’re getting into.
Their robust schedule allows you to dip your toes or full-on commit: They offer single and multi-day classes as well as courses you can build upon (basic, advanced, and so on). ($38-235, discounted member rates)
Want more? Once you’ve completed the workshop, WNY Book Arts members can take advantage of their Open Studio hours, hosted twice a month on Saturdays.
Beyond paint night
Looking for a fun creative outing, but don’t feel like painting another canvas? Check out these crafty alternatives, many of which offer a boozy twist:
- Buffalo Collective: Paint your own wooden sign, selecting your design from the exhaustive library of options. (Buffalo and Amherst)
- MUSEjar: Their vast lineup offers a class to spark any imagination, many with seasonal inspirations. (East Aurora)
- Botanical Gardens: Seasonal flower arranging classes let you hone your skills while crafting your holiday centerpieces. (Buffalo)
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