Handmade with Heart

3 crafty destinations that offer festive gift-making workshops

By Jennifer H. McInerney | Photographer by Jack Foley

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we make lists, check them twice and hope to find the perfect gifts for all the special people in our lives. Often, we run out of both time and ideas and end up exhausting the budget.

Here to help are three South Shore artists who lead personalized gift-making workshops. Each studio offers group classes, girls’ night out events and, in many cases, private parties that enable students to get into the holiday spirit while making one-of-a-kind gifts alongside their friends. All three studios are equipped to lead participants through the creative process.


A HAVEN FOR SELF-EXPRESSION

Haven: The Little Shop of Laura’s

1508 Tremont St., Duxbury

781-452-7219

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Ever since opening in March 2016, Haven: The Little Shop of Laura’s has been living up to its name. Located on Tremont Street in Duxbury, the store measures approximately 400 square feet and every available inch brims with vivid and often whimsical creations made by local artists and artisans. “There’s a lot to look at in here,” says the shop’s proprietress Laura Harvey, a well-known Marshfield-based artist. “I’m not sure I could fit much more in.”

The store is intimate and inviting, thanks to Harvey’s artful arrangement of inventory.

lauraduxbury_bowl_4374-hdrclipThe Little Shop’s vibrant palette includes colorful mosaic wall décor, hand-wrought silver and beaded jewelry, dyed silk scarves, home and garden accessories, fragrant hand-cast soaps, fun and funky art magnets and expressive signs and more. “Nothing is mass-produced,” she says. “The pieces are all made by an artist’s hands.”

Accenting the eclectic collection of merchandise are many of Harvey’s own creations.

Among her many specialties are repurposed, upcycled wooden chairs and side tables that she has reinvented with bold colors and imaginative designs. To keep the inventory replenished, she spends a significant portion of her non-business hours in her workshop at the back of the store, as well as in her home studio. For Harvey, the Little Shop represents the culmination of a long-held dream, an opportunity to showcase her own talents alongside others in the South Shore’s artist community.

Haven has become a gathering place for established artists, savvy shoppers and locals looking to explore their own creativity. Each month, Harvey hosts “Make and Take” workshops for groups of up to five participants who’d like to complete a multimedia project that they might not otherwise attempt at home. She supplies the materials and guidance, and participants do the rest. “At the end of the evening, they take home a finished product of their own creation.”

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Harvey will lead a workshop on December 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the art of personalizing mini canvas collages adorned with initials. The project will include up to three letters (or an ampersand), with one letter on each four-by-four block, to create a customized monogram or individual initials. Harvey primes each canvas ahead of time and starts the project off with an embellished background.

“These little blocks can be hung on a wall, or can be displayed on a shelf,” she explains.

“If we have time, we’ll also create simple Christmas ornaments using wine corks, beads and other festive elements.” In addition to this scheduled evening workshop, Harvey offers private classes both in-store and at people’s homes, by appointment.

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CREATIVITY FOR ALL AGES

Claychick

121-1 Camelot Drive, Plymouth

508-746-8296

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Claychick is a paint-your-own pottery studio in Plymouth but its offerings go far beyond pretty plates and bowls. The cheerful sunlit shop is lined with shelves that display an assortment of ready-to-paint dishware, ornaments and home décor items and brightly colored art canvases and fused glass creations decorate the walls and windows.

Shop owner Chickie Celli taught herself how to use a kiln when her children were young.glassworks_1781-treemug

She began offering crafting classes out of her home and traveled to schools, nursing homes and private residences to help people of all ages unleash their creativity. Since opening Claychick in 2010 she has continued to expand the business’s offerings.

The full-service art studio specializes in do-it-yourself crafts like painted pottery, glass fusing and canvas painting. Most of the lessons can be customized for students young and old and walk-ins are always welcome. Adults can bring children (or four-legged friends) in to create footprint keepsake ornaments or gather a few friends together for a wine glass painting party or a potter’s wheel tutorial. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many children paint ornaments to give as gifts to grandparents and teachers or hang on their own tree.

The goal is not to achieve perfection, says Celli, but to enjoy the creative process. “I hear so many people say, ‘I can’t do that. I’m not creative at all.’ But anybody can do this.” glassworks_jf_4850-hdrCelli’s warm, welcoming manner puts adults and kids at ease. She emphasizes that there is no “right” way to paint. “I ask kids, ‘Do you want to paint a pumpkin as it grows in the garden, or do you want to paint a pumpkin as it grows in your imagination?’ This helps them relax and feel free to explore their own creativity.”

Holiday-themed projects include mugs and plates for Santa’s milk and cookies and large light-up Christmas trees. Claychick also offers convenient take-home kits that include a selection of ornaments and paints. Kids are encouraged to take their time and drop projects off at the studio at a later time to be fired. Prices, which start as low as $6, reflect the cost of the craft item and include painting materials. All pottery is kiln-fired, lead-free and food-safe, and the turnaround time on the glazing process is about one week.

Customers can also learn how to make beautiful fused glass ornaments and candy dishes. After a quick lesson on safely scoring and cutting the glass, people can start arranging the pieces into designs. Celli also provides materials and instruction for canvas painting and hosts special events like birthday parties and other creative gatherings.


SO MUCH MORE THAN SCRAPBOOKING

Kept Creations

15 South Avenue, Unit 2, Whitman

781-447-4010

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When a scrapbooking craze hit about a decade ago, paper crafting stores began popping up all around Massachusetts to meet the demand. But as the popularity of paper crafting waned, many shops closed. Only two such stores still remain in Massachusetts—one of which is Kept Creations in Whitman.

Kim Parkinson, a longtime paper artist, opened her storefront four years ago with the intention of offering a full range of paper crafting supplies and hosting classes that went beyond the art of scrapbooking. Kept Creations has since become a hub for people interested in card making, art journaling, paper quilling and many other paper-powered pursuits.

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While card making is popular year round, the holidays are high season. With so many options—from stamping and embossing to die-cutting, paint and ink and more—there’s virtually no limit to what people can create. Various patterned papers can be collaged and layered with die-cut cutouts or illustrations and embellished with stamps and ribbons.

Most of the materials used at the classes at Kept Creations are pre-cut so that workshop participants can focus on assembling the elements to their liking. Throughout the month of December, the shop will be offering a series of handmade gift classes. One fan favorite for gift-giving is a tabletop calendar, constructed using chip board and paper that features different handmade collage designs for each month. “It’s a great gift because it sits on a desk and is both creative and useful,” says Parkinson.

Another popular offering at holiday time is a paper wreath-making class. The project involves embellishing a circular foam core with hundreds of pieces of 80-pound patterned scrapbook paper all curled and attached to the foam. The festive effect can be customized with different papers.  

craftswhitman_jf_1147-hdrKept Creations continues its emphasis on versatility throughout the year with a monthly project called “Words for All Seasons.” A set of seven wood blocks serve as the foundation for each month’s theme and are customized for the occasion with decorative papers and book pages, letter designs and a variety of adornments. The December letter block project spells out “Believe” with holiday elements and flair. Customers can also purchase a pack of blocks to take home and decorate on their own. “People still love to create personalized gifts and cards,” says Parkinson. “When you’ve taken the time to make something beautiful and unique for someone it really shows them that you care.” 

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