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  • Writer's pictureGo Gaston!

Get Creative


Act on your inspirations at any of a number of local make your own art studios. 

Finding yourself spending more and more time browsing, longingly gazing at the pictures of arts and crafts that members have shared and wanting to make your own? Don't let the fact that you haven't touched a paint brush since elementary school art class stop you. If you have the will, there's a way at any of a number of local make your own art studios. 

Choose from informal open studios to structured classes taught by reas­suring experts. Most provide all the materials you'll need, and one even lets you bring a bottle of wine to share among friends. And it's more than paint­ing. Woodworking, stained glass and textiles are some of the other styles and mediums available. 

You just need a willingness to try and positive attitude, regardless of how you rate your art skills. And by the time you leave, you'll have a painting, craft project or even restored furniture to bring home or give as a gift. 



Address: 65 Glenway st., Belmont 

Phone: 704-967-4004 


Inspiration: If you choose a project that involves woodworking, be prepared to use power tools. Instructors teach participants how to operate them safely as part of assembling their projects. 

This studio prides itself in empowering women. Its instructors explain how to use a nail gun or drill, then turn them over to the creator to do it herself. The studio keeps a ratio of one staff member to no more than six artists, so assistance is always available. 

People who don't know what to make can choose among several preselected designs, which are rotated constantly. Plank signs are the most popular creation, but past participants have made canvas and wood hangings, canvas pillows and, during the occasional specialty workshop, jewelry or chunky knit blankets. "We truly see the space as being something your 12-year-old niece or So-year-old grandma can enjoy," said Ryann Fairweather, who co-owns the Belmont location with company co-founder Maureen Anders. 

An AR Workshop class could have someone working on a lazy susan while another creates a wooden centerpiece box and a third assembles a wooden framed sign. "I think the thing that is most unique and awesome is that everyone can come in and make something different," Fairweather said. "Our designers are constantly coming out with fresh and new designs. We always want to do some­thing a little bit different." 


Address: 104 S. Main St., Mount Holly 



lnspiration: Create In Us is a faith-based art studio. Its name comes from Psalm 51:10: "Create in me a pure heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." 

Budding artists will develop and hone their abilities through a variety of weekly classes, each geared toward a different age group. Kindergarteners through fifth-graders who attend Story and Art Hour, which is taught by co-owner and certified teacher Jennifer Smith, grow their love for read-ing by creating art that pertains to that class's selection. Co-owner Vicki Whitmoyer teaches Mini-makers Classes, which allow children age 7 to 12 to work with wood, fabric, paint and other mediums. And Co-owner Andrea Noles teaches children 5 and older in Created to Create classes, which focus on different projects and life lessons about being a good person. 

The studio also offers adult classes, including painting wooden cutouts, Bible journaling and hand lettering. "We really take this on an individual level, even though you're in a class, 11 Whitmoyer said. "We try to cater the experience to the individual." It's able to offer a variety of classes because each owner has her specialty. Whitmoyer, a carpenter, focuses on wood projects. Smith specializes in Bible journaling, which is like mini scrap book­ing. Noles specializes in hand lettering for projects such as greeting cards. 


Address: 4024 E. Franklin Blvd., Unit No. 150, Gastonia 

Phone: 980-329-8009 


Inspiration: The creators of the Wine & Design franchise were part of the season 8 finale of "Shark Tank," the reality televi­sion show that matches entrepreneurs with investors, and they received $500,000. 

Reluctant to try painting? Don't be, said Sheretta Wright, who co-owns this Gastonia studio with her husband, Lendell. 

"We're going to teach you step by step. It doesn't matter what skill level you are. We are here to assist."

Wine & Design has three rules: art should be fun; there are no mistakes, just happy accidents; and keep your paint brush out of your drink. The last is especially important because you can bring your own bottle of wine. While it doesn't provide your drink of choice -and hard liquor isn't allowed -you'll find corkscrews, ice buckets and cups at the studio. Bring your favorite snacks, too. 

Choose from Wine & Design's more than 5,000 paintings. Once you've decided on one, choose a blank canvas or pre­traced canvas, which provides a starting point. Feel free to match the colors in the original or choose your own. 

It's easy to find a convenient time to take part. Join a public art class or host a private party. Try Pop-in and Paint, when you can paint on your own. There also is open studio time. It doesn't have a dedicated instructor, but a studio artist is avail­able to answer questions. There also are painting classes for children, a DIY division that lets you paint items other than canvases and Paint It Forward, when a portion of proceeds go to charity. And if you can't make it to the studio, its On Wheels program will bring its equipment to you.


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