By Saundra Amrhein
The Jacksonville region and northeast Florida abound in treasures for visitors, from the beaches of Amelia Island to state parks and nature preserves to the historic relics in the nation’s oldest European settlement of St. Augustine.
But thanks to an abundance of art-friendly entrepreneurs and educators, there are also plenty of chances for visitors to find their internal gems of creative talents in relaxed settings while on vacation and taking a break from the sun. From painting pottery or a canvas, to soap- and beer-making, couples and families can find lots of drop-in classes and workshops, making memories and expressing their artistic sides during their stay.
Here’s a list of some fun, family friendly options:
- Doing Dishes Pottery Studios provide a fun and relaxing setting to paint pottery and fuse glass. With three Jacksonville-area locations – Avondale, San Jose and Saint Johns – the studios invite guests to choose from more than 300 pieces of bisque, as well as stamps, stencils and idea books, in order to fashion their own designs. Afterward, guests’ finished pieces are dipped in clear glaze and fired in one of the studio’s kilns. (Pickup times run up to a week.) No experience is needed. The studios also offer one-hour classes on the potter’s wheel – separately geared for children and adults. Other options include Wine and Design classes, where guests bring a beverage and snacks to accompany a glass fusion class, for example. Ladies Night is held the last Friday of the month for adults. Guests bring their own beverages; snacks are provided. For more information on prices, locations and schedules, visit: doingdishes.com.
- Green Lotus Studios in Jacksonville has something for everyone – offering more than 285 classes, courses and workshops in making organic soaps, organic and natural bath and body creations, bath bombs, organic body butters and lotions, natural and organic lip balms and lip sticks, as well as classes in cheese, wine, beer-making, fermentation, herbalism, aromatherapy, sewing and gardening. At the end of a beginners cold process soap making class, for instance, guests will leave not only armed with new knowledge and an instruction book, but also with a 1-pound loaf of soap they have created and scented themselves. For long-lasting life-style topics, try the “self-sustaining classes” on topics like chicken keeping, gourmet wild gardening and organic pet care. For more information on prices, class schedules and location, visit: greenlotusstudios.com.
- Yes You Canvas! in Jacksonville (with two other locations in the Orlando area) wants guests to find their inner artist in a fun and relaxed setting in a guided painting class on canvass. Guests can bring their own wine and snacks and unleash their artistic expression while learning techniques painting objects in a step-by-step format, or, in a new offering, called “Spread the Word,” they can fashion a piece using folk-art-style letters. Private classes are available for 10 or more people. For more information on prices, location and schedules, visit: yesyoucanvas.com.
- A Chef’s Cooking Studio in St. Augustine brings the delectable art of cooking alive and makes it accessible either through 45-minute lunch-hour demonstrations or afternoon or evening hands-on workshops and classes. The class schedules change each month and are based on traditional dishes from around the world, including from India, Thailand, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece and more. The studio classes stress fundamentals throughout the year, from knife skills and pie dough, to creating pasta from scratch, to yeast doughs, cookie and cake baking and decorating, to canning and pickling. You can plan a private cooking class party with your family and friends, with 10-guest minimums, and pick out your own menu, choosing from popular themes such as “A tour of Tuscany,” “Cooking with Beer,” or “French Classics,” among others. For more information, visit: achefs.com.
- The Cultural Center in Ponte Vedra Beach, a nonprofit local cultural arts organization, is located about 24 miles east of Jacksonville, bringing an array of cultural activities to the beaches in the way of exhibitions, events, classes and workshops for people of all ages, whether they are an art novice or advanced or professional. In addition to events – which range from art tours at area museums; dinners with artists; vendor shows; and farm-to-table culinary classes – the center offers programs for children and adults. Examples of workshops for adults at all skill levels have been a two-day workshop called “The Layered Surface on Clay” that included decorating on pre-bisque clay with stenciling, incising, screen-printing and other methods, followed by post-glaze decoration with iron-oxide transfer decals; and daylong workshops on painting with oil or acrylic. For intermediate to advanced levels, there have been three-day workshops on topics such as abstraction painting inspired by nature. Meanwhile weekend long workshops on sculpting portraits of the human head include the use of red sculpture clay and hand building techniques. Summer camps and art workshops are also available for children. For more information, visit: ccpvb.org.
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